Creative Writing MFA


Image shows 4 readers, each in a different bright color -- Trauth in red, Benson in yellow/orange, Purifacto in purple/blue, and Shea green

Readers Trauth, Benson, Purificato, & Shea

The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of South Florida offers small classes, dedicated faculty, a lively reading series, and a supportive atmosphere. Each year we accept approximately nine students who write comics, creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry.

Our MFA students receive a tuition waiver (students pay only semester fees), a teaching assistantship that comes with a stipend, and enrollment in group health insurance. All graduate assistants teach composition in the first year of the program. In the second and third years, they are eligible to teach lower-level creative writing courses and may work as tutors in the USF Writing Center.

Our workshops are conducted in a positive atmosphere. We encourage our students to experiment and to push boundaries. We welcome hybridity; students may stick to one genre or cross genres and take classes in fiction, poetry, memoir, essay, and comics.

Our teacher training is superb. We are one of the few programs in the country to offer training in creative writing pedagogy, and graduates of our program are well-prepared for the difficult academic job market.

Our students are publishing in top journals and have won prestigious prizes such as the AWP Intro Award, the NEA fellowship in literature, the Whiting Award, the National Poetry Series, and the O. Henry Award.

Among our many successful graduates are poet Chelsea Dingman (author of Thaw, a collection of poetry and winner of the 2016 National Poetry Series), fiction writer Karen Brown (winner of the AWP Award in Fiction, the Prairie Schooner Prize in Fiction, and the John Gardner Award), Melissa Carroll (editor of Going Om: Real Life Stories On and Off the Yoga Mat), Phillippe Diederich (author of the novels Sofrito and Playing With the Devil's Fire), Kimberly Karalius (author of the young-adult romances Love Charms and Other Catastrophes, First Kisses and Other Misfortunes, and Love Fortunes and Other Disasters), Christine Lasek (author of the short story collection Love Letters to Michigan), young-adult novelist Alicia Thompson (author of The Psych Major Syndrome), Jim Miller (author of the short story collection Nobody's Looking), poet John Nieves (winner of the Elixir Poetry Prize for Curio and assistant professor at Salisbury University), poet and translator Daniele Pantano (author of The Oldest Hands in the World and translator of The Possible Is Monstrous: Selected Poems by Friedrich Dürrenmatt and The Collected Poems of George Trakl), Alysia Sawchyn (author of the essay collection A Fish Growing Lungs), and Jaquira Diaz (author of the memoir Ordinary Girls and winner of a Whiting Award, Florida Book Awards gold medal, and Pushcart Prize and anthologized in Best American Essays 2016).

Our literary journal, Saw Palm, gives graduate students a chance to gain valuable editorial experience. Students may also gain administrative experience—and sharpen their own presentation skills—through participation in Blank Pages: Creative Writing Symposium, National Poetry Month Festival, Writers Harvest fundraiser, and the 6X6 Student Reading Series. The English Graduate Student Association (EGSA) hosts student-run symposia during the academic year. The Department of English also offers modest assistance to students who are selected to present at national conferences such as AWP.

The USF Visiting Writers Series, the USF Lecture Series, and the USF Humanities Institute bring in many guest speakers for readings, master classes, and day-long workshops. Guest speakers have included Ravi Howard, Kristen Arnett, Sarah Gerard, Patty Yumi Cottrell, Robert Pinsky, Galway Kinnell, A. Manette Ansay, Kim Addonizio, David Leavitt, and many others.