School of the Art Institute of Chicago :: NewPages Guide to Creative Writing Programs

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School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)

MFA in Creative Writing

Contact Information:

36 South Wabash Ave., Ste. 1201

Chicago, IL 60603


Program director: Ruth Margraff

Program contact: Amber Da

Phone: (312) 899-5094


Program Information:

Degrees offered: MFA

Type of program: residency

Length of program: 2 years

Genres: poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, screenplay, essay, collaborative projects

Enrollment: 60

Total credits required: 60

Application deadlines: January 15, 2014

Scholarships: yes (see website)

Assistantships: yes (see website)

Core faculty: Sally Alatalo, Jesse Ball, Mark Booth, Janet Desaulniers, Calvin Forbes, Adam Levin, Sara Levine, Ruth Margraff, James McManus, Beth Nugent

Visiting faculty: Carol Anshaw, Rosellen Brown, Anne Calcagno, Kevin Coval, Mary Cross, Amy England, Abigail Elizabeth Geni, Matthew Goulish, Todd S. Hasak-Lowy, Beth Kathleen Hetland, Jill K. Magi, Jennifer Magnus, Richard O'Reilly, Elise Paschen, Bin Ramke, Jill Riddell, Deb Olin Unferth

Publishing/editing courses: yes (see website)

Reading series: Writing Department Graduate Lecture Series

Recent visiting writers: George Saunders

Program description: The two-year Master of Fine Arts in Writing (MFAW) at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) distinguishes itself from more conventional writing programs in that it both questions typical genre distinctions and nurtures traditional writing approaches. MFAW students are immersed in an arts environment within the nation’s second-highest rated MFA program, encouraging them to participate in an active community of artists, writers, and scholars. Collaboration is complemented by the program’s self-directed nature: students work closely with faculty advisors who are also prolific practitioners in their fields to create a course plan specific to their interests.

This inclusiveness is the program's unique strength: an approach that fosters a community of writers and artists who are encouraged to evolve according to their interests, be it poetry, story, essay, drama, or collaborative projects that meld diverse literary and visual disciplines into new forms of artistic expression.

SAIC's writing program does not track genre, and you are not limited in the ways in which you can work. The student-driven program provides the freedom to cross between media, and it emphasizes process.

  • A variety of opportunities exist for you to intersect with the institution, the museum, and its affiliate organizations.
  • Five writing fellowships, in which graduate students assist in teaching sophomore seminars, are available each semester.
  • Four teaching assistantships for undergraduate writing classes are available.
  • SAIC Graduate Thesis Exhibition includes the work of writing students who incorporate the visual in their production.
  • Other editorial opportunities exist for writing students with the award-winning F Newsmagazine.