Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to be a published writer?

No, you do not have to have any prior works published to be accepted into the program.

Do I have to have an undergraduate degree in English?

No, many of our applicants have undergraduate degrees in areas completely unrelated to fiction, nonfiction, or poetry.

Can an applicant enroll in Columbia University School of the Arts just to take courses?

Writing Program classes are intended for MFA candidates.  


For writing classes open to non-MFA students: Columbia College offers an undergraduate course in creative writing, and the School of General Studies offers a post-degree writing program.


For related graduate degrees, please see the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences program in English and Comparative Literature or the Graduate School of Journalism.

If I am a poet, can I take fiction or nonfiction classes? If I start out in poetry but decide I like fiction better, can I switch?

Class schedules must be approved by an academic advisor within your concentration, and should reflect that concentration, but any student in the writing division no matter what the concentration is eligible for any Writing seminar or lecture classes. Workshops are always within one's concentration. Changing concentrations is possible in rare circumstances with the permission of an advisor in the new concentration, as well as from your old concentration, as well as the submission of new writing samples.

I have been published in the past. May I send in clippings and articles about my work with my application materials?

Yes, but those clippings do not take the place of the creative materials specified in the application.

When sending in my creative materials, may I write more than is required?

The School of the Arts asks that you keep your writing samples to the length specified in the application instructions.

What is the current tuition?

Tuition for the current academic year is detailed here. Please note that this amount is likely to increase each year.

Is there financial aid available?

Columbia University School of the Arts and Columbia University Student Financial Services work carefully with students to arrange the financing of their degrees. Limited scholarships are available to Film & Media Studies MA students. In rare cases, Film & Media Studies MA students may be compensated for teaching assistant and/or research assistant positions. Please see Financing Your Degree for information and important financial aid application procedures and deadlines.

What is the difference between the Writing Program's nonfiction concentration and journalism?

Literary nonfiction (sometimes called creative nonfiction) comprises such forms as memoir, personal essay, travel writing, profile, lyric essay, polemic, meditation, reportage, biography, history, cultural and political commentary, and reviews of the arts. While journalism employs established forms and methods, literary nonfiction uses the full range of techniques it shares with fiction and poetry but refuses to alter provable fact. Literary nonfiction celebrates all that is distinctive in an individual writer's voice and vision.

How do I apply?

You apply using the online application, where you will provide your personal information and all supporting materials. Please see the Admissions and Financial Aid page for information.