Credentials and Experience

As an applicant, you are expected to have some familiarity with writing in your chosen area of concentration before beginning graduate-level courses, although you need not be a published or professional writer. Fiction students should have read in their area of interest and explored their writing voice. Nonfiction applicants should have read in their field and been exposed to some journalistic fundamentals. Applicants without such familiarity might need to take introductory courses elsewhere, or, depending on their development as writers, they might receive permission to take a core course in the program as a provisional student. (See Admission Status below.)

All graduate writing students are expected to be proficient in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and usage. Applications lacking this proficiency will be rejected. The program does not require a graduate entrance examination or proficiency in a foreign language. The Writing Program is not designed for students who need help with issues relating to English for Speakers of Other Languages.

Application Documents

Application materials should be submitted online. On the application form, applicants must indicate the concentration in which they wish to specialize. Admission is based on a competitive evaluation of the Advanced Academic Programs standard application materials (including an application, application fee, recent transcripts) and the following Writing Program materials, which each applicant must submit: (Applicants should closely review all the information below; improper or incomplete applications are major reasons for delay or rejection.)

The Statement of Purpose should describe the applicant’s education, experience, and interest in the chosen writing area and share the applicant’s aspirations as a graduate student and as a writer. Statements of Purpose are reviewed for content, creativity, and interest in literary writing. The statement also must describe the applicant’s recent reading. The statement should not exceed three typewritten pages (single- or double-spaced) and may be supplemented with a brief additional biographical sketch or résumé from the applicant. The Statement of Purpose should specify whether the applicant seeks degree status or permission to take only a specific course or two, with the desired courses cited.

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.

Area of Concentration

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 nine required for a single-concentration degree.

The Writing Seminars

Applicants are reminded that Johns Hopkins has two graduate creative writing programs. Students interested in the MA in Writing program should follow the application process above. Students interested in the full-time MFA program, The Writing Seminars, should follow that program’s separate application procedures. Applying to one program does not count as an application to the other. For more information about the Seminars, call 410-516-6286 in Baltimore or click here. The MA in Writing program accepts applications year-round; the Seminars accepts applications until a January deadline for a cohort class the following fall. The part-time MA program offers courses year-round in Washington and Baltimore; the full-time MFA program offers courses only in the fall and spring in Baltimore. The full-time program is only for Fiction and Poetry students; the Writing Seminars does not have a graduate program in Nonfiction.

Admission Status

Applicants to the MA in Writing program are either rejected or accepted as a degree candidate, provisional student, or special student. Earning provisional student and special student status in the Writing Program does not eliminate the eventual need to submit full writing samples and undergo a full admissions review when requesting degree candidacy. Additionally, the Writing program differs from other AAP graduate programs in the status of provisional and special students:

(1) Provisional students who want degree candidacy in the Writing program must complete the provisional course or courses with a grade of A- or higher to request degree candidacy.

(2) Special students in the Writing program must get adviser permission for every course they take.

(3) Unlike other AAP graduate programs, the Writing program does not allow applicants to enroll in a program course without some type of review of writing samples and a Statement of Purpose, even if those applicants request special student or provisional status. The requirements and standards of the desired course will determine the admissions review for a request to register for that course; some courses require greater writing experience than others. Courses completed as a provisional or special student will count toward an MA degree if the student later earns degree status.

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