Writing Fellowships & Opportunities

Find a Teaching Opportunity

First- and second-year students can enroll in teacher training through the "Writer as Teacher" seminar, and are offered a wide variety of teaching opportunities on and off campus through our Columbia Artist/Teachers program (CA/T) and the Incarcerated Writers Initiative (IWI) directed by Alan Ziegler, Professor of Professional Practice in Writing in the Faculty of the Arts. In their second year, students are eligible to serve as Teaching Assistants in the Undergraduate Creative Writing Program. No prior teaching experience is required. Additional opportunities for all students are announced on a rolling basis throughout the year.

In addition, during the summer, Columbia offers writing workshops and seminars for high school students, taught by Writing Program students and alumni. Between ten and twenty rising second-year students are hired to teach each summer, and are generally invited back to teach again the following summer. 

For all 3-week courses, the salary is $7,334 (before taxes) for teachers with MFA degrees in progress, with an additional $1,250 bonus (before taxes) for developing their courses.

Courses available to current MFA students generally consist of a morning seminar and afternoon workshop. Class time will be spent completing writing exercises, reading and discussing published literature, exploring issues of method and craft, and workshopping student writing. In addition to class time, teachers must be available for individual conferences with students, though the timing of these is flexible. The number of positions varies, and is dependent upon student enrollment. To be eligible, graduate students must be in good academic standing.

Student Service Positions and Special Fellowships

Each year, thirteen 2nd-year students are appointed as Chair’s Fellows, who assist with the administration of the Writing Program. Additionally, there are nine positions for 2nd-year students to assist in administering the CA/T program, including the Incarcerated Artists Project and the Veterans Workshop, and several service positions assigned to work in various departments of the Dean’s Office.  Students appointed to these various service positions receive between $7,500 and $18,000 in compensation.

In addition, each year, the two students elected co-presidents of the Our Word student group receive $7,500 each in compensation, and the four senior positions on the Columbia Journal staff each receive a $10,000 salary for the academic year.

2nd-Year students in Fiction are eligible to receive Felipe De Alba Fellowships, providing $5,000 to $15,000 each in supplemental tuition remission. These fellowships are awarded by the Fiction faculty in recognition of the excellence of student work submitted in the first year. Normally, four to six students a year receive De Alba Fellowships.  

On a similar basis, one student is selected each year by the poetry faculty to receive the Linda Corrente Fellowship, awarding $3,500 to $5,000 in additional support to a second-year Poetry student, and one 2nd-year Fiction student is selected by faculty at the end of the spring semester to receive the $15,000 Henfield Prize.

Select Prizes and Fellowships

Felipe P. De Alba Fund for Writers

The Felipe P. De Alba Fund for Writers provides merit fellowships of up to $15,000 for MFA students in Fiction. Students may not apply for a De Alba fellowship. A panel comprised of two members of the Writing Program faculty and one established writer from outside Columbia University selects recipients from a pool of candidates nominated by the Chair of the Writing Program and the Dean of the School of the Arts in consultation with faculty in the Writing Program. Fellowship recipients are notified in April of their first year of study. Nominees may be asked to submit writing samples. Funds are disbursed in the fall of the following year and applied to the cost of tuition and fees.

Henfield Prize

The Henfield Prize, established through the generosity of the Joseph F. McCrindle Foundation, is one of the most prestigious awards available to young fiction writers. The Prize, which recognizes the best work in fiction by a second-year graduate student in the Writing Program, is given annually at the end of the academic year, and carries an award of $15,000. The Prize is judged by the Writing Program’s full-time fiction faculty. There is no application process for the Prize, but nominees may be asked to submit writing samples. The recipient of the Prize is notified in May, and receives a check for $15,000. Columbia is one of five universities nationally whose creative writing programs have been selected to award an annual Henfield Prize.