From the Desk of the Director
Congratulations. If you are reading this, your writing life has already started. You may feel like graduate school is time set aside until your “real writing life” begins, but I’m here to tell you that the three years you spend with us in Oxford will be part of a journey that will continue for the rest of your life. This is why the process of choosing a program includes much more than requirements, stipends, or other technical matters. You also need to ask yourself: Where do you want to be, what do you want to do, and who do you want to spend your time with?
Because decisions about graduate school really begin with people. Our small program began less than twenty years ago and quickly made a name for itself mostly due to our exceptional faculty; talented writers but also inspiring and generous teachers, mentors, and friends. We have 9 writers on full-time staff, and around 24 MFA students in our program, creating a student-teacher ratio of less than 3:1. Take a look at our faculty and the short videos on our site to see us at work and play. Every student that is accepted into our program is fully-funded, with a variety of extra funding and exciting scholarship opportunities available, including the UM Longleaf Scholar program.
Mississippi is a complicated place, haunted by its history. But these roots are interwoven with a rich tradition of literature, art, and genuine hospitality. The shadow of Oxford resident William Faulkner looms large here, and his historical Rowan Oak estate is physical testament to our literary legacy, including Mississippi writers like Richard Wright, Eudora Welty, and Natasha Trethaway. Today Oxford continues to be a magnet for writers and artists throughout the deep south. It also helps to have a nationally recognized restaurant/bar scene, James Beard Award-winning chefs, and the best independent bookstore in the country. But more than anything what attracts writers here is the culture of writing, story-telling, and literature that permeates everything; to be a writer in Oxford is to be a notable asset, someone who is appreciated and honored.
The UM MFA program is a proud part of this legacy, with many great writers passing through our halls as teachers or students, from Jesmyn Ward, Richard Ford, and Barry Hannah, to recent MFA grads Bill Boyle, Molly McCully Brown, and Jimmy Cajoleas. Take a look at our “Student Successes and Testimonies” page or our e-brochure to see what our recent graduates think about their experience here and what they have been able to achieve. Don’t just take our word for it – we encourage you to ask around about the UM MFA program. We are confident you’ll hear great things about us and Faulkner’s “little postage stamp of native soil” that we call home.
Welcome. We can’t wait to meet you.
Director of the MFA Program
University of Mississippi
Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
Currently celebrating its seventeenth year, our MFA program has been ranked one of The Atlantic Monthly‘s “Top Five Up and Coming Programs,” and was recently ranked number 6 in “Top 10 Universities for Aspiring Writers” by College Magazine. Features include funding, cost of living, selectivity, teaching load, curricular structure, and placement of graduates. That a program only 17 years old has cracked the Tier One ranking is a notable accomplishment–congratulations to our current students, our growing list of distinguished alumni, our faculty and our supportive administration for this recognition. We specialize in what we do best, fiction and poetry, and supplement our specialities with creative nonfiction, screen writing, and eco-writing. Students here benefit from our well-endowed readings series (the fall of 2015, Visiting Writers included Claudia Rankine and Craig Santos Perez) and interactions with the John and Renee Grisham Writer-in-Residence (a yearly appointment for an emerging writer). A student-run readings series and our literary magazine, The Yalobusha Review, are just some of the opportunities that our students can take advantage of. Our environment is close-knit and encouraging, and Ole Miss was ranked in The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s 2010 list of “Great Colleges to Work For. We are located in Oxford, Mississippi, home of Faulkner’s Rowan Oak, literary conferences, the best bookstore in the South, an active music scene, and great restaurants, 70 miles from Memphis.