Applying to the MFA in Creative Writing

The application process for all NC State graduate programs is handled entirely through a web-based tool. Step-by-step information and Frequently Asked Questions are available as well as telephone and chat-based assistance should you encounter any problems as you begin your application.

On the first page, enter MFA Creative Writing in the box that asks for the degree or program. Indicate whether you are applying for admission only, or admission with financial aid (e.g. assistantships). If you are applying for aid, for first choice click Teaching Assistantship, as this is the primary form of aid we have to offer. Please note: The deadline for applying for admission and financial aid is February 1. All application materials must be received by this date. Applications are reviewed only once a year, for fall admission. 

All the pages of the online application will go straight to the Graduate School, and they in turn will make the files available to us. In addition to the application form, your application should include the following materials:

  • The Personal Statement is a part of the online application process, submitted with your application form. Please explain your interest in our MFA program. As part of this online statement, you may include a statement of goals.

    If you have been working and wish to submit a copy of your résumé or curriculum vitae, please do so through the Upload area for Resume/CV in the application.

    NOTE: You can only upload one file into each Upload area in ApplyYourself. Please make sure to combine all documents into a single file. If you try to upload a second file, it will replace the first one.
  • Writing Sample: Your sample is a critical part of the application. Take time and care with it to be sure that it represents your best work. Bear in mind that your writing sample will likely figure most prominently in the faculty's decision to accept you for the MFA. Applicants need to submit both a creative and a critical writing sample as follows:
    • Creative Sample: at least two stories or novel chapters totaling 25-40 pages; for poetry applicants, 10-12 poems.
    • Critical Sample: No more than 15 pages of writing that demonstrates your ability to succeed in graduate-level literature classes, a required part of the MFA curriculum.

      Combine your writing samples into one document and upload in the Other Documents section.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Direct your recommenders to the instructions in ApplyYourself for submitting a recommendation letter online. The interface allows recommenders to either write directly online or to upload a text file. Select three qualified recommenders, preferably people able to speak to your reading, analytical and writing talents, as well as your general academic aptitude. Ask that they submit a letter along with the cover sheet, since those sheets have scoring grids but very little room for the more helpful extended comments. At least two of the three letters should be from academic professionals.

    For students using a service, such as interfolio, for distributing their letters of recommendation, you will want to direct your letters to
  • GRE scores are sent directly by ETS (the Educational Testing Service) to the Graduate School. You will need to have taken the Graduate Record Exam general test within the past five years. For more information about the three parts (Verbal, Quantitative, Analytical Writing) see the ETS website at: There are no absolute minimum cutoff scores, but our recent average for the GRE Verbal is approximately 161 and 4.5 in analytical writing. Students who are offered Teaching Assistantships typically have significantly higher than average GRE scores.

    The test can be taken once in any calendar month. It can be retaken as well on the same schedule. We will keep your highest scores, and scores remain valid for five years. Indicate that your scores should be sent to NC State University by using institution code 5496. (Department code is not necessary.) We do not require the subject test in English.

    Scores for the Verbal and Quantitative sections are machine scored and typically reach NC State within two weeks of your taking the test; however, the Analytical Writing portion of the test takes longer. Consequently, do not assume that your complete GRE scores can reach us in less than a month.
  • Transcripts: Unofficial transcripts from any undergraduate or graduate institution you have attended should be uploaded with your application. If the department recommends that you be admitted, you will then be asked to submit official transcripts to the Graduate School. Only upon receipt of official transcripts will your admission be official.  
    • Official Electronic Transcripts should be emailed to  
    • Physical copies of official transcripts should be mailed to:

The Graduate School
North Carolina State University
1000 Main Campus Drive
Campus Box 7102
Raleigh, NC 27695

Admissions Protocol

As soon as an application is complete, it is scheduled to be reviewed by the MFA director and MFA faculty. If you are pushing the deadline, your application may be competing with as many as 50 others for when it will be read. It would be helpful to apply earlier than at the last possible moment. All applications will be vetted by all the relevant MFA faculty members. Then, only after the department's recommendation is reviewed and approved by the Graduate School is a candidate officially notified of the decision. Your official notification of the decision will be available online from the dean of the Graduate School. If accepted to the program, the English graduate director will send you information about enrolling for classes. The graduate director will also notify you if you have been awarded an assistantship.​​​​​​​