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Creative Writing & Publishing Arts Frequently Asked Questions

  • What should I include in my portfolio? Is academic writing acceptable? Can my writing sample be part of a larger work?

    A portfolio is a collection of your creative writing in one genre: fiction (10-15 pages), poetry or literary nonfiction. You may submit part of a novel or memoir. If your short story runs longer than 15 pages, don't worry. Submit it in its entirety. Academic writing is not acceptable. You should apply in the genre that you would like to concentrate on.
  • Can I apply in two genres?

    Yes. In your portfolio, include two complete writing samples, one in each genre to which you are applying. In your personal statement, make it clear that you are applying in two genres and your reasons. You will be admitted in only one genre, and the MFA committee will decide, based on your portfolio, which genre that will be. 

  • When should I apply?

    Apply as soon as you have your materials ready. It takes the Office of Graduate and International Admission and Enrollment a while to process applications, and they prefer to process them as they come in rather than receiving all of them on Feb. 15. So, if you can, get your materials in before the deadline. 

  • Are there assistantships or grants?

    Several Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) positions are available in the University Writing Program for M.F.A. students in their second year who have successfully completed CWPA 761 Teaching Writing.

    During the first year of the M.F.A., students are eligible to apply for a Klein Family Supplemental Instructor (SI) position, where they receive a small stipend to assist a professor with an undergraduate School of Communications Design or Writing Program class. In addition, there are a limited number of assistantships in media and publications.

  • My undergraduate GPA is below 3.0; can I still apply?

    Normally, a low GPA will disqualify you, but if there are extenuating circumstances, you can include your explanation in your personal statement.

  • Can I visit a class?

    We prefer that you join us for our reading seriesAttending a reading is a good way to get a feel for our program, and chat with students and faculty. Let us know you are coming, and we can introduce you to some of our grad students. Email program director Kendra Kopelke at .
  • I have been out of school for a while. Do my letters of recommendation have to be written by my former college professors?

    No. But the most useful letters are written by people in the field of writing who can speak about your work. You can get letters from employers, but no family members, please.
  • Is an academic background in English or writing necessary to apply to the program?

    No. The quality of your writing portfolio is a significant part of your application. Students come from a range of backgrounds and careers.
  • May I schedule an interview?

    We don’t require interviews, but you are welcome to make an appointment with the director, Kendra Kopelke. Also, Jaye Crooks, our academic program specialist/adviser, can answer most of your questions on the phone or by email.

  • What is plork?


    Work + Play = Plork.

    It’s what happens when writers feel free to experiment and to play. Possibilities open up. That's when you get someplace new. In your first semester at UB in your Creativity: Ways of Seeing class, you will be introduced to plorking.

    This spirit of play will carry into your classes when you make books, work on a Wiki with your fellow classmates, perform your work and more.


  • How long will it take me to complete the program?

    Most students complete the 48-credit degree in three years. Students take an average of two classes a semester, sometimes three, which meets the requirements for financial aid.
  • I got my undergraduate degree 20 years ago. Will I fit in?

    Absolutely. Our students range in age from 22 to 72.
  • What about diversity?

    The program provides a safe space for learning, discussion and fellowship that encourages exploration of our varied experiences. Students of all backgrounds are welcome to join us in this endeavor. We have a diverse community of students.