APPLICATION FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Is everyone funded?
Yes! All of our students are fully funded. We offer two main sources of funding, the Grisham Fellowships and Teaching Assistantships.
Each year we award two incoming students with John and Renée Grisham fellowships (one in fiction and one in poetry), a $60,000 package that includes full tuition and an annual stipend of $14,000, renewable for three years. During this time, Grisham fellows have no teaching responsibilities. The time is a gift for them to hone their craft, and we do everything we can to see that they have the resources and encouragement to use their time to its fullest potential. While there are no teaching duties for Grisham fellows, sometimes a Grisham fellow wishes to teach for the experience, and if that’s the case, we can oblige.
Other incoming students receive Teaching Assistantships, and the current stipend structure for the Fellowship is $10,250 per year, which includes $250 for the health insurance premium. Along with the stipend, TA’s will receive a tuition scholarship from the Graduate School covering resident tuition. In addition, if you are not a resident of Mississippi, TA’s will receive a waiver of the nonresident tuition fee for themselves/spouse. Graduate teaching fellows usually begin by serving as section leaders and graders in the English Department’s 200-level literature or 300-level Shakespeare classes. In their second year, M.F.A.s often teach the English Department’s 100-level composition sequence or 211, Intro to Creative Writing. More experienced instructors may be assigned to 300-level literature or writing classes. We’ve had good luck with our students being invited to teach various creative writing classes, which helps those who wish to pursue jobs in academia once they graduate. M.F.A. students typically feel the teaching load is not onerous and they have enough time to accomplish their writing goals.
Are there other sources of funding?
Yes. For example, students who teach summer or intersessions make additional income, and third year students are able to apply for Dissertation Fellowships which free students from teaching responsibilities in their final year or final semester. We also give contest and prize money, such as our new Elvis Meets Einstein Award, which gives a few grand every spring to both a poet and fiction writer for a one-page piece of work that’s both smart and funny.
What is part of the application is weighed most heavily?
The writing sample, by far.
Can I exceed the page limit in my work sample?
Sorry, no. Please limit yourself to no more than 20 double-spaced pages of fiction, or ten pages of poems (single-spaced is fine).
What’s the preferred method for receiving letters of recommendation?
There are several acceptable methods. You may send electronic letters, uploaded to your application. You can do this by filling out your on-line grad school application and submitting it. After paying the $40 fee, you will be directed to a page where you submit your recommenders’ information, and they will be able to upload their letters at that time. Another method is to use the ETS “My Credentials Vault” which is through Interfolio. Or, you may include hard copies (sealed, signed) in your application, or have them snail mailed separately.
What should be in my letter/statement of intent?
The letter of intent should be one or two pages, and should address your desire for graduate study in creative writing at Ole Miss and provide any pertinent information regarding your background. You will be automatically considered for the fellowships and assistantships, but if you do NOT wish to be considered, please state that in your letter of intent.
Is there a minimum GRE score?
We don’t have a cut off. Of course, high GRE scores make us happy and may allow us to offer extra money in the form of a graduate school Excellence Fellowship (a few thousand a year, on top of the regular graduate student stipend, awarded to candidates with high GREs and GPAs). But if a candidate is compelling we are willing to overlook a poor performance on the GRE exam.
What’s the GRE code?
Our institutional code is 1840; with this code, your scores are uploaded electronically into your file.
How do I apply?
Send your UM Graduate school application (link is found on the “How to Apply” section of Prospective Students) to the graduate school, along with your transcripts and GREs. Then, send your other application materials (letters of rec, if you are sending hard copies, as well as your writing sample, and statement) to the English Department. Please don’t send these materials as “certified” or “signature required.”
* The deadline for receiving all phase one applications is January 5.
Please address to:
Beth Ann Fennelly
Director of the M.F.A. Program: Poetry OR Fiction
Department of English, Bondurant Hall C135
P.O. Box 1848
University, MS 38677
Can I apply in both fiction and poetry?
Yes, if you are equally interested in studying both. To do this, you’ll apply to the Grad School in the same manner, with a single application. Then, when you send your materials to the English Department, please include TWO writing samples, one in each genre, and in your statement of purpose please address your wish to be considered in both genres.
Do you ever offer fee waivers for cases of severe economic need?
Yes. Contact the program director for approval. Then, if approval is granted, email Paige Duke at the Grad School (firstname.lastname@example.org) your application number once your electronic application has been submitted. You will later receive an automated email reminding you to pay, which you can ignore.
Can I visit?
Students who are accepted to our program will be invited to visit campus, meet with students, attend classes, and get a feel for how great the town is.
Can a student be admitted for the spring term beginning in January?
Sorry, but we only accept admissions for the fall semester.
Is it possible to take workshops in another genre while at Ole Miss?
Of course; it’s encouraged. While students will specialize in either fiction or poetry, we believe one can learn a lot about one’s chosen genre by studying another. In addition, students can take workshops in creative non-fiction and screenwriting.
Is there a language requirement?
No. Students may study languages if they wish to.
Must I have a B.A. in English to apply?
If I’m applying in fiction, can I send a novel excerpt?
If you wish. You may send up to 20 double-spaced pages and you may include a one page summary that situates the excerpt for the admissions committee.
How would you characterize the students who attend your program?
There is no “typical” student in the sense that they come to us from all over the country and from a variety of backgrounds. We have students fresh out of undergrad, and others returning to school after years in another profession. The one thing they all have in common is a passion for reading and writing and an earnest desire to improve.
What do you students do after graduation?
Anything and everything. Many go into teaching, editing, or publishing. Some do freelance writing or journalism. Some go on to Ph.D. programs. And some follow unexpected paths that support their writing goals.
This year’s graduating class might serve as an example. Abby Greenbaum moves to Rome, Georgia to teach at Berry College. Elizabeth Kaiser will teach at the Southern University of New Orleans. Anya Groner also heads to New Orleans to teach at Xavier University—and they’ll be roommates—so now we have a Mardi Gras headquarters! Burke Nixon will teach at University of West Georgia. Travis Blankenship heads to Kentucky to work for Teach for America. Ryan Bubalo is moving to Seattle, Washington to work as a grant officer in international maritime education development. Corinna McClanahan Schroeder is moving to CA to earn her Ph.D. at USC. She received the Annenberg Fellowship, USC’s highest honor, 5 years of funding ($30,000 a year, two of those years without teaching). Wendy Buffington and Bill Boyle will delay graduation until December as they both won Dissertation Fellowships. Go, team!
Q. Where can international applicants get more information?
A. Please review the Office of International Programs website. You will find helpful information on the application process, entrance requirements, academic programs and housing options.
You may also want to review the website for the Graduate School.
Please review this web page for graduate entrance requirements.
To find information on the TOEFL or IELTS score requirements please visit:
A checklist of application materials can be found at:
Information on the deadlines for application material can be found at:
Is it true that the Ole Miss MFA softball team didn’t win a game last year?
Um, yes, that’s true. Our team Airships (named after the beloved Barry Hannah novel) might have metaphors that can leap tall buildings in a single bound and transitions faster than a speeding bullet, but we need a little help in the outfield. And infield. Perhaps you could be the one to right this ship.