MFA Programs that are Chill with Speculative Fiction

Creative Writing MFAs
Credit: David Barr Kirtley

My hope is that this list eventually becomes unwieldy and unnecessary as more and more MFA programs come to accept students based on the quality and craft of their writing alone, no matter how speculative or “genre” it may be.

FULL-RESIDENCY PROGRAMS

Arizona State University

Brown

  • Faculty includes (or has included): Brian Evenson
  • Students I know of who got in or were waitlisted with speculative fiction writing samples: 1 (with Afrofuturism)
  • Fully-funded (all MFA students receive tuition waivers and generous stipends to live on)

Chapman University

  • Faculty includes (or has included): James Blaylock
  • Students I know of who got in or were waitlisted with speculative fiction writing samples: 1 (with Mystery)
  • Funding: Moderately-funded (some MFA students receive tuition waivers, graduate fellowships, and teaching assistantships)

Columbia University

Edinburgh Napier University

  • Module in genre fiction includes crime, horror, fantasy and science fiction
  • Faculty includes (or has included): Laura Lam, Daniel Shand
  • Funding: Poorly-funded (minimal scholarships given at the most)

George Mason University

  • Faculty includes (or has included): Art Taylor
  • Well/moderately funded (most MFA students receive teaching assistantships or graduate assistantships that come with tuition waivers and provide a modest stipend to live on, plus additional scholarships through the English department)

Iowa Writers’ Workshop

  • Notable speculative fiction alumni: Doug Dorst, Joe Haldeman, Carmen Maria Machado
  • Fully-funded (all MFA students receive tuition waivers and generous stipends to live on, most with graduate/teaching assistantships)

Johns Hopkins University

  • Students I know of who got in or were waitlisted with speculative fiction writing samples: 2
  • Fully-funded (all MFA students receive tuition waivers and generous stipends to live on)

The New School

  • Students I know of who got in or were waitlisted with speculative fiction writing samples: 3
  • Funding: Poorly-funded (relatively minimal scholarships given at the most, considering the cost of attending)

New York University

  • Faculty includes (or has included): Joyce Carol Oates, Hannah Tinti
  • Notable speculative fiction alumni: Raven Leilani
  • Funding: Moderately-funded (everyone gets 50% scholarship, some receive fellowships that give tuition remission and generous stipend)

North Carolina State University

Ohio State University

  • Faculty includes (or has included): Lee Martin, Nick White
  • Notable speculative fiction alumni: Christopher Coake
  • Students I know of who got in or were waitlisted with speculative fiction writing samples: 1
  • Fully-funded (all MFA students receive tuition waivers and generous stipends to live on)

Sarah Lawrence College

Syracuse University

  • Faculty includes (or has included): George Saunders
  • Notable speculative fiction alumni: Christopher Boucher
  • Fully-funded (all MFA students receive tuition waivers and generous stipends to live on)

Texas State University

  • Faculty includes (or has included): Doug Dorst, Karen Russell
  • Students I know of who got in or were waitlisted with speculative fiction writing samples: 2
  • Funding: Well/moderately funded (most MFA students receive teaching assistantships or graduate assistantships that cover tuition and provide a modest stipend to live on, plus additional scholarships through the English department)

University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa

  • Black Warrior Review
  • Notable speculative fiction alumni: Andy Duncan, Tommy Zurhellen
  • Students I know of who got in or were waitlisted with speculative fiction writing samples: 4
  • Funding: Fully-funded (all MFA students receive tuition waivers and modest stipends to live on)

University of Arizona, Tuscon

  • Fairy Tale Review
  • Faculty includes (or has included): Kate Bernheimer
  • Funding: Fully-funded (all MFA students receive tuition waivers and modest stipends to live on)

University of California, Irvine

University of California, Riverside

University of Kansas

University of Massachussetts, Amherst

  • Notable speculative fiction alumni: Elizabeth Byrne, Melissa Caruso, Su-Yee Lin
  • Funding: Well/moderately funded (most MFA students receive teaching assistantships or graduate assistantships that cover tuition and provide a modest stipend to live on, plus additional scholarships through the English department)

University of Michigan

  • Notable speculative fiction alumni: Kristen Roupenian
  • Students I know of who got in or were waitlisted with speculative fiction writing samples: 1
  • Funding: Fully-funded (all MFA students receive tuition waivers and generous stipends to live on)

University of Mississippi

  • Faculty includes (or has included): Tom Franklin
  • Funding: Fully-funded (all MFA students receive tuition waivers and stipends that range from modest to generous to live on)

University of Nevada, Reno

  • Website says: “Welcomes writers who aspire to high levels of literary quality, including fiction writers working with traditional genres (i.e., young adult, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, horror, etc.).” Also: “We on the faculty value good, literary fiction regardless of subject matter. In other words, we don’t care if a student is writing psychological-realist fiction set at a dinner table in contemporary Sacramento, or a space opera set on board a giant colony ship bound for uncharted space, or a YA novel set in revolutionary France. What we care about is whether these stories are told with a full command of all the tools of fiction writing, and whether those stories are trying in some way to innovate, even within the boundaries of a genre. We on the faculty write a wide range of material, and read even more widely; we’re prepared to help a student work on just about any type of fiction, provided the student wants help, and is prepared to push their work into places it hasn’t yet been. We like to describe our ideal fiction workshop this way: imagine Alice Munro, Octavia Butler, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Ted Chiang, Tobias Wolff, and Madeleine L’Engle as aspiring, unpublished writers, sitting at the same table, trading ideas and exchanging manuscripts.”
  • Faculty includes (or has included): Christopher Coake
  • Moderately funded (some MFA students receive teaching assistantships or graduate assistantships that cover tuition and provide a modest stipend to live on, plus additional scholarships through the English department)

University of New Orleans

  • Faculty includes (or has included): M.O. Walsh (literary mystery)
  • Notable speculative fiction alumni: Bill Loehfelm, Lish McBride
  • Students I know of who got in or were waitlisted with speculative fiction writing samples: 1
  • Moderately funded (some MFA students receive teaching assistantships or graduate assistantships that cover tuition and provide a modest stipend to live on)

Virginia Tech

Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL)

  • Notable speculative fiction alumni: Alice Sola Kim
  • Students I know of who got in or were waitlisted with speculative fiction writing samples: 2
  • Funding: Fully-funded (all MFA students receive tuition waivers and generous stipends to live on)

 

LOW-RESIDENCY PROGRAMS

Emerson

  • Funding: Poorly-funded (minimal scholarships given at the most)

Seton Hill University

Stonecoast

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

MFA Draft Facebook Groups (’19, ’20)

The Insider’s Guide to Graduate Degrees in Creative Writing by Seth Abramson

The MFA Years: Fully Funded Programs list

The MFA Years: Partially or Mostly Funded Programs list

 

CONTRIBUTE

If you or someone you know has previously been accepted or waitlisted at an MFA program with speculative fiction (as in they applied with at least one story that was speculative fiction–it doesn’t count if they submitted only realistic fiction and then pelted their cohort with aliens and wizards), please email grossman.stephaniem@gmail.com. In your note, please include the name of the program, the type(s) of stories that were sent (anything from magical realism, domestic fabulism, slipstream, to high fantasy, hard science fiction, mystery, and horror). You can also include your name/the name of the person you know (but only if you or the other person is ok with that being shared).

 

[Last updated June 2019]

One thought on “MFA Programs that are Chill with Speculative Fiction

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s