Applying to the Program

Application Deadlines

October 1, 2017 is the application deadline for those interested in beginning the program with the January 2018 residency. 

April 1, 2018 is the application deadline for those interested in beginning the program with the July 2018 residency.

*Please note that we no longer have a rolling-admissions policy. Although applications will be accepted any time, they will only be evaluated in the two weeks directly following these deadlines. Our new approach to admissions will allow us to acknowledge the reality that applications to our program are growing in both number and quality. We are determined to accept the very best students we can for the limited number of spots available.

How to Apply:

We are looking for candidates who show strong promise as creative writers and who also demonstrate a commitment to the serious reading of literature. Additionally, we seek students who are self-motivated, able to work independently, and capable of making positive use of criticism to improve their writing.

Applicants must have completed a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution, usually with a major or minor in a literary field. Applicants without significant undergraduate credit in literary studies should address how they have made up for this deficit in their personal statements. Committee review of MFA applications will be based on the following:

  • Writing sample in appropriate genre (see below)
  • Performance in previous undergraduate and/or graduate programs (as measured by GPA, awards, internships, etc.)
  • Two (2) letters of recommendation
  • GRE (verbal)*
  • Maturity, preparation and experience as demonstrated in the personal statement

* Although the GRE is not absolutely required, a good score in the verbal section will enhance your candidacy. If you wish us to consider your GRE scores, direct the Educational Testing Service to submit them to Murray State University, code 1494.

Application Materials:

  1. Send the following items to Murray State Graduate Admissions and Records, B2 Sparks Hall, Murray KY 42071-3312:
    • Completed graduate admission application completed online or through the mail as per the directions found here.
    • A non-refundable application fee of $40.
    • Official transcripts from every educational institution you have attended (graduate or undergraduate) other than Murray State University. Transcripts should be mailed directly from the registrar's office of each institution.
  2. Send the following items electronically to Carrie Jerrell, MFA program director, at
    • Writing sample (assembled according to the guidelines).
      All applicants must declare a specialization in fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction and submit a writing sample within the chosen genre. The writing sample may be composed of one or multiple works. Prose samples should be double-spaced, and all samples should be typed in a legible font. Applicants who would like to be considered in more than one genre should submit multiple writing samples.
      • Fiction: 20-30 pages
      • Creative Nonfiction: 20-30 pages
      • Poetry: 15-20 pages
    • 200- to 300-word personal statement addressing your experience and goals as a writer.
      Note: Please include the writing sample and the statement in the same Word document and attach it to an email with Application Materials in bold in the subject line.
  3. Send two letters of recommendation (directly from recommenders), either electronically to Carrie Jerrell at or via traditional mail to Carrie Jerrell, MFA Program, English and Philosophy Department, Murray State University, 7C Faculty Hall, Murray KY 42071-3341.

Note: Recommendations sent electronically should be sent as Word documents and attached to an email marked MFA Recommendation in bold in the subject line.