Writing Application Requirements

Writing applicants must specify a concentration in Fiction, Nonfiction, or Poetry.

All manuscripts (except in poetry) must be double-spaced. Creative materials should be in a 12-point font.

ALL applicants MUST submit the following:

  1. Essay: Choose a work of literature that was written and published within the last ten years and write a 1,000 word essay in response to it. The work to which you choose to respond must correspond to the concentration to which you’re applying (for example, Fiction applicants should write an essay in response to a work of fiction).
  2. Personal Statement: No more than two double-spaced pages. (Tell us, briefly, what you hope to get from the Writing Program; what you have read lately that has been especially illuminating to you as a writer; and what you are currently working on.)

Applicants must ALSO submit materials for the concentration they specify, as outlined below:

Fiction: No more than 25 double-spaced pages--one or several stories, a portion of a novel, or a combination. If submitting a novel excerpt, please attach a brief plot synopsis.

Nonfiction: No more than thirty double-spaced pages of nonfiction of literary quality--one or a combination of works of memoir, personal essay, opinion, reportage, biography, and/or criticism. Academic papers are acceptable though not encouraged; the faculty committee will evaluate them on the basis of literary skill rather than scholarly excellence per se.

Poetry: No more than ten single-spaced pages of poetry, with no more than one poem per page.

Literary Translation at Columbia, a part of the MFA in Writing Program, offers students the chance to pursue a joint course of study in writing and translation. Students may mention their interest in the joint course of study in their admissions statement but they don't have to formally declare their commitment to completing it until the end of their first semester in the MFA program.