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Nonfiction Writing (MFA in English)

The MFA in English with a focus in nonfiction writing is awarded by the Graduate College.

Admission Requirements 

Applicants must meet the Admission Requirements of the Graduate College and the department offering the degree program (review the Nonfiction Writing Program Website or the General Catalog for departmental requirements).

Estimated Cost of Attendance

Tuition and fees vary by degree program and the type of student you are.

Application Deadlines 

  • Fall Semester—Must be postmarked by December 13, 2013
  • Spring Semester—not offered
  • Summer Session—not offered

Application Procedures 

To apply to the Nonfiction Writing Program (NWP), you will need to submit some application materials to the Department of English and some to the Office of Admissions.

Materials to send to the department:

  • A paper copy of your statement of purpose (no more than 500 words) explaining your reasons for choosing this degree program
  • A paper copy of your 20- to 30-page writing sample representing any form of literary nonfiction, such as a personal essay, cultural commentary, in-depth portrait, interview, memoir, or feature story
    • Your writing sample may consist of a single 20-30 page piece of writing, a collection of shorter pieces, or an excerpt from a longer piece.
    • Submissions should be double-spaced with a one-inch margin in 10- to 12-point font and should include your name on each page.
  • The NWP Online Application, including:
    • A plain-text version of your statement of purpose, copied and pasted into the application form
    • A .doc, .rtf, or .pdf file of your writing sample, combining multiple pieces of writing (when applicable) into one document
  • Three Letters of Recommendation (PDF) with signed cover sheets from professors, editors, or other writing professionals
    • Letters may be sent from a dossier service; directly from recommenders; or from applicant in a sealed envelope with recommender’s signature across the seal. (If letters are send directly from a dossier service, the Iowa cover sheets may be omitted.)
    • If you are unable to obtain letters from professors, editors, or writing professionals, you may send them from supervisors or others who can speak to your work ethic and suitability for graduate study.
  • An Application for Graduate Awards (PDF)
  • An NWP Financial Aid Application (PDF)
  • Your official academic records/transcripts from all postsecondary institutions (current and former UI students do not need to provide UI transcripts)
  • NOTE: The Nonfiction Writing Program does not require GRE scores. However, exceptionally high GRE scores may help us secure funding for an applicant after we have decided to admit him or her. (The university's institutional code is 6681; the English department’s code is 2501.)

Materials to send to Admissions:

  • Your application for admission to the university and the application fee (see details under "Apply")
  • A second set of your official academic records/transcripts from all post-secondary institutions, in addition to the set for the Department of English (current and former UI students do not need to provide UI transcripts)
  • International students must satisfy the university's English-language proficiency requirement by sending their official TOEFL scores (the university's institutional code on the TOEFL is 6681; the English department's code is 2501).
  • Once recommended for admission, international students must send a Financial Statement.


If you Apply Online, the $60 application fee ($100 for international students) is payable by Discover, MasterCard, or Visa. If you cannot pay by credit card, you may Download and Print an Application (PDF) and pay the fee by check or money order in U.S. currency made payable to "The University of Iowa."

PLEASE NOTE: The answer to question B2, "intended department or graduate program of study," is English/Nonfiction Writing, and the program code, for those filling out the paper application, is 08N. (English/Creative Writing, or 08C, represents the Writers' Workshop, the MFA program in fiction and poetry.)

Contact Information 

Office of Graduate Studies (Nonfiction)
Department of English
The University of Iowa
308 English-Philosophy Building
Iowa City, IA 52242

Office of Admissions
The University of Iowa
107 Calvin Hall
Iowa City, IA 52242-1396