Friday, September 28, 2012

Creative Writing Masters Programs in Texas

Stephanie Brooks joins us on As We Were Saying to discuss advanced education opportunities in creative writing. She is a freelance writer, essayist, and blogger and currently writes for 

Top 3 Creative Writing MFA Options in Texas

There's a lot of debate among writers about the value of creative writing MFA programs (Master of Fine Arts). While the majority of MFA programs can't guarantee that you'll become a well-known writer, poet, essayist, screenplay writer, or playwright, they do guarantee that you'll have a few years to spend a good amount of time developing as a writer with the help and support of other writers. If you're looking into creative writing MFA programs in Texas, here are three of the top ones you should consider:

1. The Michener Center for Writers (University of Texas at Austin)
The Michener Center for Writers at UT-Austin is consistently ranked as one of the top ten creative writing MFA programs in the nation by Poets & Writers. This MFA program also offers the most funding in the nation to MFA candidates. As of right now, the Michener Center offers $25,000 per year stipends and provides full tuition assistance to all of its writers. Writers can specialize in fiction, poetry, playwriting, or screenwriting at the Michener Center, and they get to spend their time in the 3-year program developing as professional writers in the beautiful, lively, and quirky Austin, Texas.
The Michener Center is highly selective, accepting only around five or six new students per genre per year. The program considers GRE scores, previous academic records, recommendation letters, and writing portfolios during their admissions selection process.

2. University of Houston's Graduate Program in Creative Writing
Ranked 19th in the nation and 11th for poetry, University of Houston's three-year creative writing MFA program has long been well-respected. In fact, Houston's program has been considered one of the best ever since it was founded in the 1970s, when it was the first graduate writing program in the Southwest. University of Houston does not provide full funding to its MFA students. It does, however, typically provide generous scholarships and teaching assistantships that cover most of the costs associated with attending the school. MFA students at U of H can specialize in fiction, poetry, and non-fiction.
Approximately 20 students are accepted to the University of Houston's creative writing MFA program each year. Like the Michener Center, University of Houston considers GRE scores, academic records, letters of recommendation, and writing portfolios when selecting students. Students also have the option of going on to get their Ph.D.'s  in Creative Writing and Literature, if they desire to work in academia.

3. Texas State University's MFA Program
Texas State's MFA program for creative writers is growing in popularity and prestige by the minute. It's currently ranked 45th in the nation by Poets & Writers, and it's attracted the likes of Dennis Johnson and Tim O'Brien to serve as visiting faculty members. Texas State's 3-year program is considered a combination of a studio and academic program. This means that students take a good number of creative writing as well as literature classes before they receive their degrees. MFA students typically fund their studies with fellowships and teaching assistantships. You can specialize in either fiction or poetry at Texas State.
Around twenty students are accepted to Texas State's program each year. Prospective students are assessed by the admissions department based on their transcripts and writing portfolios.

While the MFA programs listed above are arguably the most prestigious in Texas, there are a number of other creative writing graduate programs you may want to research. Unfortunately, none of the programs listed above offer online classes. So, they can be a bit difficult to fit into a busy schedule. If you're interested in online options, you may want to consider the University of El Paso's online MFA program, which doesn't have a residency requirement. Ultimately, you may have to search around a little bit to find the best MFA program for you, but your effort will be worth it when you end up in the right academic environment!

Stephanie Brooks is a freelance writer, essayist, and blogger. She currently professionally writes for and enjoys blogging about education, creativity, and motivation. Stephanie appreciates your comments, questions, and other feedback.


J. A. Bennett said...

Great article! I'm seriously considering taking the GRE this fall and appying for UNT's program. How would you rank the programs in the DFW area?

Ruby Johnson said...

Good information to have if you want to advance your writing.
Thanks for posting.

Stephanie Brooks said...


Unfortunately, there aren't a whole lot of graduate programs for creative writers in the DFW area. I believe that UNT's program may be the only one. UNT has an excellent program, and I've heard a lot of good things about it. I actually have an acquaintance who taught there and loved it. It's good to keep in mind, however, that UNT offers a M.A. and a Ph.D. in Creative Writing. An M.A. is a little different than an MFA. M.A. programs are usually two years in length (instead of three), and, unlike an MFA, an M.A. in Creative Writing isn't necessarily a terminal degree that will qualify you for tenured teaching positions at universities. You'd need to get a Ph.D. after your M.A. to qualify for full-time college teaching positions.

If you're not interested in working an academia and you just want to improve your craft, however, UNT's M.A. program is an excellent choice.

Stephanie Brooks said...


Thanks for your feedback! I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

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