The University of Iowa has one of the United States’s most prestigious writing programs. This school’s MFA program is extremely competitive, especially when it comes to international students. This school only accepts about 50 new students each year, 25 for fiction, and 25 for poetry. This small number includes both International students and students from the United States.
For an international student to be accepted into the writing program, they must first be accepted into the University of Iowa’s Graduate School. An international student must have a Bachelor’s degree (or the equivalent), a 3.00 GPA (or equivalent), and they must be able to speak and write in English.
Once an international student has applied to the Graduate School, they can then apply for the MFA program. There are several items that must be sent to the school once you have applied. These include both necessary and optional documents. These items are listed below. The optional items have an asterisk next to them. A link to each of the required document and English speaking/reading requirements can be found here.
- Academic records/academic transcript
- GRE score*
- Financial statement and Supplemental Financial Aid form
- ToEFL, IELTS, or PTE to prove their knowledge of English*
- Letter of recommendation
- Manuscript/portfolio of recent work
- Statement of Purpose
- Application for Graduate awards
- Department Funding Application
Needless to say, there’s a lot that goes into the application process for this school. Any student, especially international students, will need to be devoted to this process if they even want a chance at being accepted to this school. An article by John Warner, written in 2017 stated, “From 2013-2017, 5061 people applied to the Workshop and 135 (2.7%) were admitted.” Only the best of the best are accepted into this program. It is best to not get disheartened if you are not accepted.
One of the last projects of the MFA program at the University of Iowa is a completed manuscript. One published author, Dina Nayeri, attended the MFA program at the University of Iowa earlier this decade. She is an immigrant, who moved from Iran to the United States when she was a child. She published her first book, A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea, in 2013. While studying at the Writer’s Workshop, she lived and worked among other authors. The writers in the workshop work to critique each other. Sometimes it could be exhilarating to hear good news, but at other times, it hurts to hear what has gone wrong in a story.
Nayeri once wrote a post which summed up her experience at the workshop, “I’m so glad I came here, to this small town, for my MFA. It made me a better woman (hopefully a better writer too), though I paid a heavy price for it. I learned that the reason writing has value is that it’s never going to come easily, that it will take me decades more to be happy with what I’ve contributed to the world.”
There has also been several other famous authors who have either worked or taught in the Writer’s Workshop. Some of the most famous names include John Cheever, Robert Lowell, Flannery O’Connor, and Louise Gluck.
Should You Apply?
After reading all of this, you might be wondering to yourself, “Is it worth my time to apply?” The answer is, “Of course, it is!” OEDb.org ranked the University of Iowa’s Writing Workshop as the number one writing workshop in the country. If you are determined enough to attend an American MFA program, then you may as well apply for the best of the best.
It will be difficult to apply, and even harder to wait to hear if you have been accepted or not. However, if you are accepted into the program, it is sure to change your life forever. You will be surrounded by other creative literary geniuses who are sure to learn a thing or two from. What do you have to lose? Apply today!