All the Answers

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a foreign language requirement?

There is no foreign language requirement either to apply to the program or to complete the degree.

Do I have to take the GRE?

No! GRE scores are no longer required.

What part of my application to the program matters most?

The most important element of your application is without a doubt your writing sample (10-15 pages for poetry, 15-25 pages for prose). We weigh this sample more heavily than letters of recommendation or GPA, and so should you; however, no application is complete until we have all application forms, official transcripts and letters of recommendation.

Do you have specific requirements for the Graduate Admissions Essay?

The Graduate Admissions Essay should be an 800-word letter stating your reasons for pursuing the MFA.  The most important component of your submission is your writing sample, but you should consider the admissions essay another opportunity to familiarize us with you as a writer and as a candidate for our program.

Where do I send my application materials?

The program application (along with a $75 application fee), transcripts and TOEFL (for students from non-English speaking countries) should be sent to the university’s Graduate Studies Office:

Graduate Studies Office, 206 Showalter Hall, Cheney,WA 99004-2444.

Your admission essay, writing sample, and letters of reference are collected directly in the Creative Writing program office:

The MFA at EWU
Eastern Washington University
668 N. Riverpoint Blvd. #259
Spokane, WA 99202

**We love trees, so we encourage you to send your Graduate Admission Essay, Writing Sample and GSA letter electronically to** Please include the subject line: Application Materials

Application Deadline For All Genres: February 21, 2020

Do I have to send all my application materials in one envelope?

No. TOEFL scores are sent directly from the agency which administers the test. For transcripts and letters of reference, applicants may choose whether to have their respective institutions and recommenders send these materials directly to the appropriate locations (as noted above) or they may elect to collect these materials personally and forward them to us — either all together with other materials, or separately.  Applicant-forwarded documents must arrive in the format specified by the graduate studies office (see APPLY page for details).

Can I apply for a TA in my second year?

Teaching assistantships are offered almost exclusively as two-year appointments to incoming, first-year students. There may be individual instances of second year TA appointments, but second-year students are eligible for other types of financial aid, as specified on our Financial Aid information page.

How many teaching assistantships do you offer first year students?

The number of TAships available for incoming students each year varies, and can be as many as 8 in Composition, along with another 4-8 in Literature.

Besides first year-awarded TAships, are there other opportunities for teaching experience?

Yes.  Many students are able to gain experience teaching literature through our English 170 Graduate Assistantship. See our Financial Aid page for more information. Additionally, our WITC (Writers in the Community) internship offers students experience in the teaching of creative writing at various community placements. In all cases, faculty mentorship and pedagogy training are provided. Additionally, TAs are encouraged to apply for a chance to teach creative writing at EWU in their second year. These students teach one section of introductory creative writing, (they have the freedom to create their own unique curriculum) which replaces their composition class for that quarter.

How many students do you accept into the program each year?

About 20-24.

How old are most of the students in your program?

The students in our program range in age from people straight out of college to older, non-traditional continuing students, some of whom have already experienced careers in other fields. Every year’s incoming class is different in its makeup. It is consistently inconsistent in this regard, however the trend as of late has been that the bulk of our students are in their twenties and thirties.

Can I extend my program of study from two years to three?

Yes, you may take as long as six years to complete your MFA degree. However, only students enrolled full-time (taking a minimum of ten credits per term) are eligible for financial aid. If you enroll at twelve credits per term and fulfill specific course requirements, you will finish the program in two years. Once students have finished all coursework, they do occasionally elect to spend an extra quarter or more in residence, enrolled part-time, in order to complete work on the thesis. At present, there is no financial aid available to students who stay on in this way.

How difficult is it to find a place to live? Where should I live and is rent expensive in Spokane?

Most of our students have little trouble finding rentals not too far from the Riverpoint campus where all of our classes are held. Spokane is an affordable city; apartments go for $550/month and upward, with most of our students paying about $700/month for rent. Since almost all of the MFA classes will be held at the Riverpoint Campus in Spokane, most students prefer to live nearby rather than in Cheney, where the main campus of EWU is housed, and where TAs teach their classes. The Cheney campus is 17 miles away, and an EWU student ID grants free rides on the public transit system. Spokane offers the majority of the area’s restaurants, coffee shops, museums, book stores, and general culture. Most of our students choose to live either in historic Browne’s Addition or the lower South Hill, although neighborhoods like the Perry District and Peaceful Valley, and others north of the river are steadily on the rise. Here is a link to some information on Spokane's great neighborhoods. Students looking to save on rent sometimes choose to live with other members of their cohort they meet through email or the incoming and current students' Facebook group. There is also more information about Spokane on our Our Literary City page.

How will I choose a thesis advisor?

During your first year you will have a chance to work with any faculty member in your elected genre. Toward the end of your first year, in anticipation of the following year’s work on your thesis, you will be asked your preference for faculty thesis advisor, with whom you will work on the thesis project during your second year. Your thesis advisor will also act as your academic advisor during this time, from the end of your first year until completion of the program.

As an incoming student, do I have to choose which genre I want to concentrate in, or can I wait and make that choice later? Can I apply in more genres than one?

Your writing sample must include work in the genre for which you want consideration as a degree candidate; it will be reviewed by the faculty who write primarily in that genre. If you choose to apply in more than one genre you must submit a complete writing sample for each genre for which you want consideration. Very occasionally, and with consent from the thesis director, students will submit a final thesis that is a hybrid of work in more than one genre; with equal infrequency, MFA candidates elect to switch genres midway through the program — such a switch must be approved by your advisor and by the program director, and generally involves extra coursework.

Do I have to have a BA or BS in order to apply?

Yes. You may apply before having completed your Bachelor’s degree; however, the degree must be in hand before enrolling.

What sort of academic background do most of your students come to the program with? Do I have to have a BA in English/Creative Writing?

Though the majority of our students have some formal, academic background in the study of literature and/or creative writing, such a background is not mandatory. The desire to write coupled with some inherent ability to do so, as well as a desire to read penetratingly — these are our only real requirements. Some of our most interesting and successful students have come to the program with formal training in completely unrelated disciplines, including medicine, law, philosophy, anthropology, history, and many others.

I notice all of your coursework in fiction focuses on traditional literary fiction. Do you have any classes focusing on genre fiction? What kind of fiction can I send in my application packet?

It's true that our core fiction faculty teach and write mainstream literary fiction almost exclusively. We do, however, offer occasional courses stretching beyond this, including seminars in speculative literary fiction, YA fiction, detective novels, etc. We are aware of various genre breaking and genre stretching trends in fiction today, and we encourage experimentation of all kinds! So long as the work is original, imaginative and non-formulaic, we are in favor. In submitting your writing sample please bear this in mind. We are generally inclined toward fiction which is well crafted and unique, and not toward fiction which is formulaic or easily characterized as mainstream genre fiction.

Sometimes I see your program under the name "Inland Northwest Center for Writers," and sometimes "The MFA at EWU," what's that all about?

Our MFA program is the oldest in the state, and when it first began it was called the Inland Northwest Center for Writers. We have decided to simplify and update, which is why we are now The MFA at EWU. Official transitions of this nature take time, so please bear with us as we make this change. You can now follow us on Twitter @EWUmfa, on Instagram @MFAewu, and on Facebook @EWUMFA.