The Memorial Union Terrace, located right next door to the Program in Creative Writing, features cheap beer, food, and free events in the non-winter months. Photo © University of Wisconsin-Madison Board of Regents.

SPOTLIGHT: Fiction MFA Lucy Tan
Lucy completed her MFA at UW-Madison in 2016, receiving the August Derleth Prize for excellence in teaching. She also returned to Madison as the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing’s James C. McCreight Fiction Fellow, in 2018. Lucy is the author of What We Were Promised, which was long listed for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and named a Best Book of 2018 by The Washington Post, Refinery 29, and Amazon. Her work is published or forthcoming in journals such as McSweeney’s, Asia Literary Review, and Ploughshares. Read more about Lucy at

Madison is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country, with bike lanes on most major roads and many pathways reserved specifically for cyclists. Photo © University of Wisconsin Board of Regents.

Winter in the Arboretum, a ten-minute bus ride from the Creative Writing offices. Photo © University of Wisconsin Board of Regents.

MFA Administrator Sean Bishop and former poetry fellow Rebecca Hazelton get ready to introduce an MFA reading at Avol's Books. Photo © Oliver Bendorf, 2011-13 MFA.

Contact Us

MFA Administrator Sean Bishop
Program in Creative Writing
Department of English
600 N. Park St, H.C. White Rm 6195
University of Wisconsin
Madison, WI 53706

phone: 206-491-1505
fax: 608-263-3709

The Graduating MFA class of 2019

MFA Graduation, 2019. Left to right: Emily Shetler, Wes Holtermann, Christopher J. Greggs,
Rebecca Bedell, Kabel Mishka Ligot, Alexis Sears, & Rebekah Hewitt.

MFA Admissions

Students who have earned a BA or equivalent degree may apply for admission to the MFA program in fiction or in poetry. Please read this page carefully before applying at

Fiction writers and poets are admitted in alternating years. This year we are reading fiction: the application period opens in mid-September and closes December 15, 2021, for admission in fall 2022. We are not reading poetry applications this year; the next application deadline for poetry is December 15, 2022, for admission in fall 2023. All application materials—including transcripts, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, a writing sample, a CV, and the application fee—must be submitted online in pdf format by midnight, U.S. Central Time, on December 15.

Application Process

In Fall 2021 we are reading for fiction only. To submit online, please prepare the materials listed below, in pdf format. Please note that the applications system may not be active or up-to-date until mid-September. However, it is strongly recommended that you begin the application and request your recommendations as early as possible; you do not need to have all of these materials prepared the moment you begin the application:

For questions about the MFA Program, writing sample, or statement of purpose, please contact Sean Bishop, Faculty Associate and Program Administrator, at For all questions related to the online application itself, or technical problems, please contact Robyn Shanahan in the Department of English. As a courtesy, please make sure your question is not answered on this website before emailing.

Once you've prepared the above materials, you may apply online by clicking here.

Wisconsin Protocol

Like most institutions with a graduate program in creative writing, the University of Wisconsin-Madison is a member of the Council of Graduate Schools and as such is bound to the following resolution: "Students are under no obligation to respond to offers of financial support prior to April 15; earlier deadlines for acceptance of such offers violate the intent of this Resolution." You can see the full resolution as well as a list of council members by clicking here.

We at Wisconsin advise any applicant who is feeling pressured to accept another MFA program's offer before the April 15th deadline to simply send the program a friendly email that states, "I see that your institution is a member of the Council of Graduate Schools. As such, I believe that I have the right to consider your offer up until the April 15th deadline as established by the council. Thanks so much!" Most universities are big places where one hand doesn’t know what the other hand is doing. Showing them you know your rights will help ensure that your rights are respected. At Wisconsin, our promise is simple:

Finally, we urge all MFA applicants to know their rights and to ask the schools they're applying to in advance if they are members of the Council of Graduate Schools. If they're not familiar with the CGS's resolution, send them a link to this page. We hope that by spreading the word regarding applicants' rights, all students can begin their graduate studies on the right path.

Campus Visits for
Prospective Students

While we are happy to answer questions about our graduate programs via email and to meet with anyone who has been admitted to the MFA program, it is difficult for us to meet with potential applicants or with applicants who have yet to be accepted. We wish this were not the case, but we are a small group trying to run three significant programs, teach our classes, and attend our meetings, and then there's that writing thing we try to find time for. In short, we just have no time to meet with all the applicants who are interested in our program. We also worry that it's a bit unfair for some people to have what amounts to on-campus interviews and others not to have that face-time.

We also cannot provide you with contact information for our current MFA students unless and until you've been admitted to the program (or placed on the wait-list). Again, we receive over 600 applications for our program and our 12 graduate students cannot handle the requests we have for their time. You are always welcome to come to campus and take one of the University's free guided tours or self-tour yourself around. Feel free to poke your head in the Creative Writing suite at 6195 Helen C. White Hall, which will give you a sense of our program. If you don't see a dartboard and several glass bookcases full of faculty, fellow, and student books—and if you don't hear laughter—then you are not in the Creative Writing suite.

Creative Writing Admissions FAQ

If you do not find your answers in this FAQ, please look through the Graduate School FAQs before contacting Sean Bishop, Creative Writing Program Administrator, at