skip to main content
MFA English Program
University of Mississippi

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 total package that includes full tuition and an annual minimum 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 a minimum of $11,500 per year, which includes $250 for the health insurance premium. We have a variety of small scholarships and other funding to add to this minimum, bringing the average total stipend is about $15,000 for all students. 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 Assistants 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 occasionally 199, 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?

After you have moved into Phase II of the application process, please ask your recommenders to email their letters to the Graduate School and to

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.

How do I apply? 

Please see the “How to Apply” section of  the Prospective Students link.  There are two phases of the application process.  First, we want your writing sample and letter of intent/statement of purpose.  If we contact you, and you’re moved into phase II of the application, you send payment ($50) and transcripts to the graduate school.  You will ask your recommenders to send emails to the graduate school and

* The deadline for receiving all phase one applications is December 15.

Can I apply in both fiction and prose?

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 ( 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 prose 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 prose, 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.

Where can international applicants get more information?

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.