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 PhD program 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.

THE THESIS

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. 

FUNDING

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 a full tuition remission, health insurance, and a salary. 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 of American, British, and world literature in the Department of English. During their final year, the funding package is as follows: for one semester students serve as a TA or AI for a creative writing course and for the other semester they receive fellowship support with no responsibilities other than to concentrate on their thesis.

Exact salaries are updated annually by the university, the current TA, AI, and fellowship compensation ranges from $13,684 to $15,074, depending on appointment type and whether students previously hold a Master’s degree. The total value of our program’s compensation (inclusive of tuition remission and health insurance) comes to approximately $27,000 to $29,000.

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 your funding package, students must be making adequate progress toward your 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, your financial support via fellowship and employment as a TA/AI is contingent upon making adequate progress toward your degree and upon fulfilling your TA/AI responsibilities to the satisfaction of your supervising faculty and the Graduate Advisor. Additionally, your TA/AI appointment requires that you maintain full-time graduate student status.

Each year several contests and awards are available to our students. These include:

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

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.

BAT CITY REVIEW

Students in the New Writers Project can gain editing experience with Bat City Review, our literary journal run entirely by graduate students. The English Department offers a practicum in editing a literary journal, which serves as an introduction to the role of literary journals in the U.S. during the past century. 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, Dean Young, 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.

See the latest issue of Bat City Review here.


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  • New Writers Project

    Department of English
    204 W 21st Street B5000
    Austin, Texas, 78712-1164
    (512) 471-4991