Admission Requirements and Application

APPLICATIONS NOW OPEN FOR 2016-'17

Western's Graduate Program in Creative Writing considers applications throughout the year on a rolling admissions model, but we strongly encourage our students to begin their program of study during the Summer Intensive Residency (July 10 - 24, 2016). We therefore prefer to see complete applications by June 1. Depending on openings in the Summer Intensive Residency, we do admit students later than this (up to July 1), or to begin in alternative semesters, at the discretion of the Concentration Directors and the Program Director. We make admissions decisions on all completed applications within one month.

Please note that current Western undergraduates and all Western alumni applying to the Graduate Program in Creative Writing pay no application fee.

Please inquire directly if you have any questions about dates and enrollment schedules:

Extended Studies Graduate Office, Western State Colorado University

graduatestudies@western.edu / 970-943-2885

International students have some additional university-wide application requirements to those listed here. Please visit the international graduate students application page to learn more.

Western Graduate Program Application Forms

Checklist for Application to the MFA and MA

In addition to filling out the online graduate school application forms (which you will find by clicking on the red button above that says "Western Graduate Program Application Forms"), please also forward the following to Western's Extended Studies Graduate Office, Taylor 303, 600 N. Adams Street, Gunnison, CO 81231, or email to  Graduate Office (graduatestudies@western.edu):

  • An official transcript of the bachelor's degree, including grades of B- or above in at least four (4) undergraduate or graduate courses in literary and/or film studies (either in analytical or creative work). The baccalaureate-granting institution must send the transcript directly to the Western State Colorado University Extended Studies Graduate Office. If students do not have transcripted credit for the requisite four courses in literary and/or film studies, they may make the case to the Admissions Committee for sufficient familiarity with the field by presenting other evidence, e.g. publication, professional experience, or other forms of relevant study.
  • An 800- to 1,000-word personal statement describing your writing experience and commitment to writing. This statement should include a self-assessment of qualifications for admission to Western's Graduate Program in Creative Writing for the chosen degree and concentration.
  • A 20- to 30-page writing sample in the appropriate genre, double spaced and numbered, or properly formatted for the appropriate genre. The Fiction concentration sample should cap at 25 pages and ideally be from a single work. The Poetry concentration sample should include 20 pages of poetry and 10 pages of analytical prose in any genre. The Screenwriting concentration sample should include a complete scene or short.
  • At least two letters of professional recommendation from those capable of assessing the applicant's preparation to succeed in a low-residency program. All letters must be submitted on letterhead, must be originals, less than a year old and signed by the person giving the recommendation.
  • For Poetry Concentration only: Poetry applicants must have sufficient preparation in a foreign language (ancient or modern) to work on translation with aid of a dictionary and other supporting texts during second year of studies.

Western Graduate Program Application Forms

Checklist for Application to the Certificate in Publishing

In addition to filling out the online graduate school application forms (which you will find by clicking on the red button above that says "Western Graduate Program Application Forms"), please also forward the following to Western's Extended Studies Graduate Office, Taylor 303, 600 N. Adams Street, Gunnison, CO 81231, or email to Graduate Office (graduatestudies@western.edu):

  • An official transcript of the bachelor's degree, demonstrating evidence of literary and/or film studies of at least four (4) undergraduate or graduate courses. The baccalaureate-granting institution must send the transcript directly to the Western State Colorado University Extended Studies Graduate Office.
  • An 800- to 1,000-word personal statement describing your writing experience and interest in publishing. This statement should include a self-assessment of qualifications for admission to Western's Graduate Program in Creative Writing for the chosen degree and concentration.
  • A writing sample of 15-20 pages of prose (double-spaced); or 5-7 poems; or a combination of 2-3 poems and 7-10 pages of prose, double spaced and numbered, or properly formatted for the appropriate genre.
  • At least two letters of professional recommendation from those capable of assessing the applicant's preparation to succeed in a low-residency program. All letters must be submitted on letterhead, must be originals, less than a year old and signed by the person giving the recommendation.

Western Graduate Program Application Forms

Change of Application Status

Applicants who have not yet been admitted or who have been admitted but have not yet enrolled may change their degree and/or concentration application status under the following conditions:

Applicants who have not yet been admitted may change the degree status of their applications (e.g., MA to MFA) by making a formal, written request to Extended Studies and then changing the appropriate forms. There is no fee for such a change in degree application status, but applicants must submit all appropriate materials for the new degree (if any are required) in order to be considered. If admission has already been granted but the student has not yet enrolled, admission to a different degree must be approved by the admissions committee of the concentration and the Program Director.

Applicants who have not yet been admitted may change the concentration status of their applications (e.g. Genre Fiction to Screenwriting) by making a formal, written request to Extended Studies and then changing the appropriate forms. There is no fee for such a change in concentration application status, but applicants must submit all appropriate materials for the new concentration (if any are required) in order to be considered. If admission has already been granted but the student has not yet enrolled, admission to a different concentration must be approved by the admissions committee of that concentration and the Program Director.

Applicants who wish to change both the degree status and the concentration status of their applications (e.g. MA in Genre Fiction to MFA in Poetry) may combine the requests in one document.

Western Graduate Program Application Forms

Change of Enrollment Status

After enrollment, students may transfer from one degree path and/or concentration to another with permission of the relevant Concentration Directors and the Program Director. Depending on the point at which students transfer, additional coursework may be required.

MA students who wish to transfer to the MFA track within their concentration must complete the MFA transfer application process before the beginning of the second summer intensive. The application must be approved by the admissions committee of the concentration and the Program Director. Some additional coursework may be required.

Students may apply to transfer from one concentration to another, but must do so by the time they have earned no more than 15 credits in the program, with no further credits in progress at the time of the application. Depending on the point at which students transfer, additional coursework may be required to complete the full degree. The application must be approved by the admissions committee of the concentration into which the student wishes to transfer and the Program Director.

Students who wish to change both their degree status and concentration status (e.g. MA in Genre Fiction to MFA in Poetry) may combine the requests in one process.

Students should know that a concentration or degree transfer may have implications for financial aid (e.g., a transfer from the MA or MFA to the Certificate in Publishing makes the student ineligible for federal financial aid, as that degree is not funded by federal programs). It is up to the student to investigate options for financial aid throughout the process.

Western Graduate Program Application Forms

Checklist for Application to Non-Matriculated Enrollment

Western allows anyone holding a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution to apply for non-matriculated status in the Graduate Program in Creative Writing. Students who are admitted to this status may take as many courses as they wish, at the discretion of the concentration directors. They may also subsequently apply for admission to degree-seeking status, but may only transfer up to nine credit-hours of non-matriculated 600-level graduate coursework for a degree.

Costs per credit/hour are the same as for matriculated students.

To apply to be a non-matriculated student, fill out the online graduate school application forms (which you will find by clicking on the red button above that says "Western Graduate Program Application Forms"), and please also forward the following to Western's Extended Studies Graduate Office, Taylor 303, 600 N. Adams Street, Gunnison, CO 81231, or email to Graduate Office (graduatestudies@western.edu):

  • One-page cover letter explaining your desire to take classes in one of the Graduate Program's three tracks (Genre Fiction, Poetry with an Emphasis on Versecraft, Screenwriting for Film and Television) or in the Certificate in Publishing.
  • 10 to 15-page writing sample in the appropriate genre, double spaced and numbered, or properly formatted for the appropriate genre. The Fiction concentration sample should cap at 15 pages and ideally be from a single work. The Poetry concentration sample should include 10 pages of poetry and 5-10 pages of analytical prose. The Screenwriting concentration sample should include a complete scene or short.
  • Unofficial transcripts documenting successfully completion of baccalaureate degree and other advanced degrees or coursework.
  • Two letters of recommendation.

Non-matriculated credits (graded B- or higher) may be applied to a graduate degree at Western upon admission and approval by the appropriate Concentration Director and the Director of the Graduate Programs in Creative Writing.

Admission to non-matriculated status is subject to approval by the Director of each concentration. Non-matriculated completion of graduate level courses does not constitute or imply admission in the graduate program, as the candidate must still apply to the program and meet the full program admission requirements – but it does provide the opportunity to sample the program before applying for admission into a degree program and fully committing.

Application for Non-Matriculated Enrollment in Summer Intensives

Summer Intensives in Genre Fiction, Poetry, Screenwriting and Publishing are open to the public depending on availability each year, and at the discretion of the instructor and concentration director.

In 2016, the summer intensives available include CRWR 631, “Scansion Immersion,” taught by GPCW Program Director David J. Rothman, and CRWR 661, "Film History and Analysis," aka "Screenwriting Bootcamp," taught by Screenwriting Concentration Director JS Mayank.

Courses meet 1:00-4:00 pm for eight days in the second half of July (In 2016 these dates are M-F, July 11-15 and M-W, July 18-20).

There are three categories of non-matriculated enrollment in Summer Intensives available to the public:

1) Students who have been admitted through our admissions process to non-matriculated status (see above). Such students who wish to attend a Summer Intensive pay the same amount per credit as matriculated MA/MFA students and receive transcripted 600-level graduate credit. These credits are transferrable to degree-earning status if students matriculate into the program at a later date.

2) Students who have completed an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution and who wish to attend a Summer Intensive without becoming officially non-matriculated students in Western's program. Such students can still earn 2 credits of transferrable graduate-level non-degree-seeking credit. Admission is at the discretion of the instructor and the program director, and is subject to availability. Cost: $650.

3) Students who wish to attend a Summer Intensive without earning any credit. Such students may also register at the discretion of the instructor and the program director. The program has offered this option to a wide range of participants, from advanced high school students to members of our local community and visitors who are passionate about writing but not interested in pursuing a degree or graduate credit. Cost: $400.

Participation in a Summer Intensive includes all classes, readings, workshops, lectures and other special events throughout the entire summer program. Please note: tuition does not include housing, meals, travel and any other events that require extra fees. Summer Intensive registration also does not include registration for Writing the Rockies, our national conference that begins on the final day of the Summer Intensive and runs through the weekend (July 20 - 24, 2016). General registration for Writing the Rockies is $400 for all attendees. Scholarships are available.

For options 2 and 3 above, please forward the following to Western's Extended Studies Graduate Office, Taylor 303, 600 N. Adams Street, Gunnison, CO 81231, or email to Graduate Office (graduatestudies@western.edu):

  • A one-page cover letter explaining your desire to take a specific summer intensive class.
  • A 10-15-page writing sample in the appropriate genre, double spaced and numbered, or properly formatted for the appropriate genre. The Fiction concentration sample should cap at 15 pages and ideally be from a single work. The Poetry concentration sample should include 10 pages of poetry. The Screenwriting concentration sample should include a complete scene or a short.
  • Unofficial transcripts.

Non-Matriculated Credit Options for "Writing the Rockies"

Undergraduate and graduate students who are not enrolled in Western's Graduate Program in Creative Writing may apply to earn credit for attendance at our summer conference, Writing the Rockies, through Western's Division of Extended Studies.

Undergraduates can earn degree-seeking credit of 1 to 3 credits in "English 397: Special Topics / Writing the Rockies." Additional fees apply beyond the Writing the Rockies General Registration fee. Western assigns these credits as upper division electives and will record them on transcripts, but students enrolled in other institutions are responsible for determining whether their home institutions accept these credits.

Students with an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution can earn one non-degree graduate-level credit in English 510, which is run through the Western Teachers Institute, administered by Western's Extended Studies Office. Additional fees apply beyond the Writing the Rockies General Registration. Western will record the courses on transcripts, but students are responsible for determining whether their home institutions accept these credits

For more information contact Western's Extended Studies Program at or 1-800-876-5309 , ext. 7, or ExtendedStudies@western.edu.

Transfer Credits

Departmental representatives determine if graduate classes completed at other accredited institutions can be transferred to the respective Western graduate studies programs. Transfer credits must be listed and approved by the major advisor on the degree plan. Transferred graduate credits must be:

Earned at a regionally-accredited institution;

Numbered at the graduate level and accepted as part of a graduate degree program at the sending institution;

Passed by the student with a grade of B- or above (courses with grades such as pass/fail or satisfactory/unsatisfactory are not acceptable);

Earned within the past five years unless a department specifies otherwise;

Account for no more than nine credits towards a Western degree.

Students must provide official transcripts, and request and receive permission in writing from Western to transfer coursework.

Western Graduate Program Application Forms