MFA Program in Creative Writing

Founded by Richard Hugo, our MFA program has been going strong for over 50 years. We offer long winters, brilliant peers, a diverse and engaged faculty, excellent funding, and community that lasts long after the program ends.

We provide students with a variety of awards, fellowships, scholarships and TA positions. TA’s teach one class per semester in exchange for a tuition waiver + stipend. We provide excellent training for teaching both composition and creative writing. We also offer Truman Capote Scholarships - tuition waivers and stipends without the obligation of teaching.

Students take 4 workshops in fiction, nonfiction or poetry; 1 techniques course; 4 literature or special topics courses; and a year-long, one-on-one mentorship with a faculty member that results in a thesis manuscript. We offer elective courses in critical theory, film, storytelling and teaching with a focus on preparing writers to teach a variety of courses at the college level.

More than 50 of our graduates hold tenure-line positions in creative writing at universities across the country; 13 of them are directing these creative writing programs.

Students direct their own reading series, Second Wind, pairing second year MFA students with community writers. They also edit and publish Cutbank, a noted literary journal featuring poetry, prose, art and critical work by both emerging and established artists. The Editor-in-Chief receives full funding.

University of Montana MFA students smile in the classroom in front of a board with poetry snippets.

Former students have published widely (over 27% of our graduates have books with reputable publishing houses). Our alumni include Sandra Alcosser, Kim Barnes, Judy Blunt, Kevin Canty, Emily Danforth, Chris Dombrowski, Rick DeMarinis, Michael Fitzgerald, David Gilbert, Andrew Sean Greer - winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Shannon Hale, Frances Hwang, Megan Kruse, Melissa Kwasny, Aryn Kyle, J. Robert Lennon, Abi Maxwell, Neil McMahon, Deirdre McNamer, Colin Meloy, Janisse Ray, Steven Rinella, Kim Todd, Amanda Eyre Ward, James Welch, Robert Wrigley and William Finnegan - winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Autobiography. 

Our program actively assists students in creating successful careers with writing.

Each year we welcome semester-long visiting writers in both poetry and prose. We also sponsor frequent readings and workshops by short-term visiting writers. Past visitors include Sherwin Bitsui, Marilyn Chin, Charles D'Ambrosio, Timothy Donnelly, Alexandra Fuller, Walter Kirn, William Kittredge, Catherine Lacey, Chang-rae Lee, Sandra Lim, Barry Lopez, Eileen Myles, Alice Notley, Peter Orner, Gregory Pardlo, D.A. Powell, Claudia Rankine, Mary Szybist, Jess Walter, and Dara Weir, among others.