PLAN OF STUDY
The MFA program requires a total of 48 hours of coursework, typically fulfilled through 16 three-credit courses, which students take across three years (six semesters, three courses per semester). Our students take several different kinds of courses and seminars to fulfill the course requirements. Writing workshops are the most important part of your coursework and are meant to provide a supportive and challenging environment in which you receive and provide constructive criticism. Our students also take Literature for Writers/Studies seminars offered by NWP faculty and visiting writers. Covering a wide range of topics, these seminars involve significant critical reading, writing, and analysis from a practitioner’s point of view.
In addition to the MFA programs’ workshops and seminars, students find a wide variety of graduate literature courses available through the Department of English. NWP students regularly enroll in non-creative writing graduate courses, and while Ph.D. students typically make up the majority of students in these classes, students will also find other writers as well as students from other departments (Comparative Literature, Art History, Anthropology, American Studies, etc.) in these courses. According to their particular interests and research, NWP students also take courses (mostly graduate, but occasionally undergraduate) in other departments university-wide.
Each student earning an MFA is required to complete a master’s thesis, a significant collection of polished creative work representative of your time in the program. For some students, it will be a book-length manuscript (novel, story, or poetry collection); for others, it will be a substantive body of work not yet in manuscript form. Decisions about the nature of your thesis will be made in consultation with your thesis advisor. Although students may decide to take organized coursework every semester, students in their final year of the program typically enroll in thesis hours, which provide dedicated time for students to prepare their theses.
The New Writers Project discourages its students from switching genres or degree programs, since this may lead to additional coursework and/or extended enrollment. We expect our students to submit their Thesis in the genre (fiction or poetry) they specified in their applications. Students who wish to change genres before or during their study need the approval of two members of the creative writing faculty and the director of the New Writers Project.
All students in the New Writers Project receive three years of full funding through a combination of teaching assistantships (TA), assistant instructorships (AI), and fellowship support. The complete package includes full tuition remission, health insurance, and a salary or fellowship stipend. In addition to providing funding, these appointments offer invaluable opportunities for our students to gain creative and professional development.
During the first two years of the program, students serve as teaching assistants for survey courses in American, British, and World Literature in the Department of English. During their final year, the funding package is as follows: for one semester, students TA or AI in a Creative Writing course; for the other semester, students receive a full fellowship equivalent to one semester of TA salary. The fellowship comes with no responsibilities other than to concentrate on the thesis.
The 9-month TA stipend for the 2021-2022 academic year was $19,000. The 9-month AI stipend for for the 2021-2022 academic year was $21,000. UT provides all eligible AGS employees with 100% premium support for AcademicBlue SHIP, the student health insurance plan. You can learn more about UT Academic Graduate Student Employee insurance options here.
In recent years, we have been able to award all NWP students $4,000 of total summer funding through the generous support of the Crawley Research Grant program and through the Department of English. While this funding is renewed annually, we anticipate its continuation. UT alumnus John Crawley created the grant as his way of giving back to the creative writing program that influenced his student life and future career.
In order to remain in the MFA program and to maintain their funding package, students must be making adequate progress toward their degree. This includes maintaining at least a 3.0 GPA; fulfilling core requirements in a timely fashion; and adhering to the university’s codes of conduct, academic integrity, and compliance and ethics guides, including not behaving in a manner that impedes, interferes with, or disrupts any University teaching, research, administrative, learning, or other authorized activity. Failure to meet any of these standards may result in non-renewal of funding or termination from the program.
Renewed on a semester-by-semester basis, financial support via fellowship and employment as a TA/AI is contingent upon making adequate progress toward the degree and upon fulfilling the TA/AI responsibilities to the satisfaction of supervising faculty and the Graduate Advisor. Additionally, TA/AI appointments require students to maintain full-time graduate student status.
Each year, several contests and awards are available to our students:
- Keene Prize for Literature
Available to all currently enrolled UT students, this annual prize in creative writing accepts submissions in fiction, poetry, drama, and nonfiction prose. The winner receives $50,000, and three runners-up divide another $50,000. Established through an estate gift from UT graduate E.L. Keene, the Keene Prize stands as the most generous student-writing award in the country.
- Michael Adams Thesis Prize
Michael Adams Thesis Prize
The Michael Adams Prize, selected by distinguished external judges, gives yearly awards to one fiction and one poetry thesis. The award typically comes with a $1,000 to $2,000 prize.
- Andrew Julius Gutow Academy of American Poets Prize
As one of the Academy of American Poets University and College Poetry Prizes, the Andrew Julius Gutow Academy of American Poets Prize recognizes the achievement of an undergraduate and a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin. Each winner will receive $100 and a one-year membership to the Academy of American Poets. Winners 23 years old or younger will also be considered for the Academy’s Aliki Perroti and Seth Frank Most Promising Young Poet Award. The winner of the Aliki Perroti and Seth Frank Most Promising Young Poet Award will receive $1000.
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Students in the New Writers Project can gain editing experience with Bat City Review, the UT literary journal run entirely by UT graduate students. The English Department offers a graduate course titled "Practicum in Editing", which serves as an introduction to editing and managing a literary journal.
Past Bat City Review contributors include Tomaž Šalamun, Dara Wier, James Tate, Patricia Lockwood, Noelle Kocot, Zachary Schomburg, Matthew Zapruder, Mary Jo Bang, Maurice Manning, Colm Tóibín, Stephen Dunn, Aimee Bender, George Saunders, H.L. Hix, Dorianne Laux, Terrance Hayes, Ron Savage, Denise Duhamel, Marilyn Hacker, Ben Lerner, C.K. Williams, Thylias Moss, Craig Arnold, G.C. Waldrep, Shane McCrae, James Gendron, Donald Revell, Terese Svoboda, Khaled Mattawa, Tracy K. Smith, and Anthony Doerr.