Admission is highly selective, and is based primarily on the quality of the applicant’s writing. Your writing sample, therefore, is the most important part of your application. In putting your sample together, you should emphasize quality rather than length. Your writing sample should be in a single genre.
The suggested length of a writing sample is:
Fiction: 30 – 40 pages (double-spaced is typical; you may use an alternative format if integral to the work.)
Poetry: 15 – 20 pages (any format)
Digital Language Arts: one or two electronic projects
Cross-Disciplinary: 30 – 50 pages (any format)
Please note that writing samples may comprise a single work; an excerpt from a longer work; or multiple short works.
If you want to be considered in more than one genre, you must complete two separate applications, including two separate application fees and two separate writing samples.
Applicants’ writing samples are reviewed for admission by at least two members of the faculty. Because the Literary Arts Department receives a large number of applications, faculty members cannot provide critiques of individual samples. The Department does not grant interviews to prospective students.
A completed application should include:
- Graduate School application fee
- Online application form
- Personal statement
- Writing sample (upload as one PDF file)
- Transcripts (Upload a PDF file -- if you are accepted, you'll submit official transcripts at that stage)
- Referee information (upload information for at least three letters of support)
- TOEFL or IELTS results (for international students) - [For more information see "Foreign Students" under FAQs]. Brown code for TOEFL: 3094; Department code: leave blank. For IELTS, have score sent to Brown Graduate School, Box 1867, Providence RI 02912 USA.
- FAFSA form. This should be filed in November, December or January by ALL U.S. applicants who seek departmental funding, even if you don't plan to take out a student loan.
The online MFA application is now available -- this is for those seeking entry in fall 2021. Applications must be finalized and submitted electronically by 11:59 pm EST on the 15 December deadline. The online application system will no longer process new or incomplete applications after 11:59 pm EST on 15 December. If your application is pending but not sent by that deadline, it WILL NOT get processed.
No late applications will be considered and no changes/updates to applications or writing samples will be accepted.
GRE scores (subject or general) are not required (nor are they given consideration).
While you must post the information by the deadline, the referees may submit their letters through the online system after the 15 December deadline has passed; we recommend that letters be submitted no later than 15 January.
Applicants who have previously completed all or part of an advanced degree in creative writing at another university should include a separate letter explaining what special circumstances lead them to pursue an MFA at Brown (this should be uploaded with your personal statement – but should start a new page, and carry a header of "Work toward a master's degree in a related field"). Without this explanatory letter, the faculty will not review the application. (The primary accepted basis for completing a second advanced degree in writing is the stated desire to pursue work in a different genre.)
All applications must be submitted electronically at the online application web site using one of the following browsers Firefox (within latest 2 versions); Microsoft Internet Explorer (8.0 and above); Chrome (within latest 2 versions); Safari (5.1.7+ or latest version).
During the months of November, December and January, applicants who are US citizens (or holders of permanent resident status from the US State Dept.) should complete the Federal Financial Aid Form, listing Brown as a school to which results should be sent. Not completing this process may jeopardize financial aid offers.