The most important part of an application is the Writing Sample, which should be the applicant’s best attempt at creative writing or journalism in the concentration of interest. The samples should total about 15 typewritten, double-spaced pages, or about 3,500 to 4,500 words, in the concentration of interest. Samples do NOT have to be a single, lengthy piece of writing. A combination of several shorter pieces is recommended as long as the combined length of all pieces equals the requirements. For more suggestions on writing samples in each concentration, see below.

Applicants may submit copies of the published equivalent (print or digital) of the above lengths, although submitted samples do not have to be published. The samples should be no more than five years old. Writing that is not in the chosen concentration can supplement but will not be counted in meeting the length requirements above. Academic papers, internal business reports, speeches, or government documents generally are not recommended as writing samples; the samples should be creative writing, blogging, or journalism in the chosen concentration. Applicants may submit uncompleted work as part of their sample, but they should label any incomplete work. Applicants should not submit the only copy of their work; samples cannot be returned.

Samples by Area of Concentration

On the application form, applicants must indicate the concentration in which they wish to specialize. The program’s admissions committees offer the following additional suggestions for writing samples for each concentration:

Fiction: Up to four short stories or novel chapters, or any combination of the two forms, demonstrating literary content or themes.

Nonfiction: Up to five separate works of modern nonfiction about any subject, but demonstrating goals beyond a typical news report. Any nonfiction form or combination of forms, including feature article, commentary/blogs, memoir, travel, essay, profile, biography, book chapters, and creative nonfiction, is permitted. Academic assignments, term papers, government reports, or scholarly criticism generally are not acceptable nonfiction writing samples.

Dual-Concentration Applicants

In rare cases, applicants may seek degree candidacy in Fiction and Nonfiction by submitting full writing samples in each area. Students applying in both concentrations should explain their multiple interests and reading in a single Statement of Purpose. The program makes individual admission decisions for each concentration. Dual-concentration students must complete two to four more courses than the 10 required for a single-concentration degree.

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