The Creative Writing International Program: offering the M.F.A. and Ph.D.

The 2017-18 academic year marks the 20th anniversary since the founding of the creative writing program at UNLV, and we’re pleased to celebrate by announcing a new concentration in Literary Nonfiction to add to our concentrations in Poetry and Fiction which are consistently ranked among the finest in the nation. Our program is designed to appeal to developing writers who see themselves in a global context. By offering an intensive combination of workshops, literature classes, critical studies, study abroad, literary translation, explorations of genres other than the chosen concentration, active teacher training plus opportunities to gain practical experience in literary publishing, our mission is to provide an ideal educational framework for perfecting one’s art while at the same time cultivating the cultural and social awareness of the public intellectual and person of letters. All M.F.A. and Ph.D. students are fully funded for the three years of studies for their degrees. Our faculty is committed to excellence in teaching, and to close, one-on-one mentoring. UNLV is one of the most diverse, multicultural universities anywhere, set in the dynamic urban center of Las Vegas, which is a fascinating and yet affordable place to live. Our partnership with the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute (BMI) provides opportunities for students to engage in creative and literary activities and in socially meaningful events for the city of Las Vegas and its greater community. Also, BMI now publishes the acclaimed journals Interim and Witness. All of this combined, we hope, will continue to attract the finest developing writers, the original, talented minds and spirits who will continue to encourage what our program has been built upon from its beginnings―a nurturing, thoughtful atmosphere of eye-opening global vision in a literary community committed to making positive contributions to the world.

Degree Information

MFA in Creative Writing

Students admitted for the M.F.A. in Fiction, Poetry or Literary Nonfiction follow a three-year course of studies that includes literature classes, writing workshops, genre forms courses, a residency abroad, completion of a literary translation and a critical essay, and, for the M.F.A. thesis, the completion of a book length manuscript deemed by the faculty to be of publishable quality. All students admitted for the M.F.A. receive a Graduate Assistantship of $15,000 per year, in-state tuition, and health insurance. A high percentage of our graduates have published books and other writing and have gone on to tenure track teaching jobs; or they have entered the workforce as writers, editors, arts administrators, teachers and activists for nonprofits, not only in the United States but around the world. The Department of English also routinely supports recent graduates with part-time teaching opportunities. For more information about the M.F.A. application and how to apply, see UNLV’s Graduate Catalog. For an institutional description and learning outcomes, visit the MFA Creative Writing's website.

UNLV Creative Writing Program

Ph.D. With A Creative Dissertation

The Department of English in partnership with the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute, offers the Doctorate of Philosophy in English with a Creative Dissertation, supported by a Graduate Assistantship combined with the Black Mountain Institute Fellowship. Students must declare a genre concentration in Poetry, Fiction, or Literary Nonfiction. The three-year course of studies toward the Ph.D. puts its major focus on English and American Literature, but can include directed reading in Comparative Literature, with directed work in creative writing, a qualifying examination, and a creative dissertation. Writers also gain valuable experience in literary publishing as editors of “Witness”.

Two new Ph.D. BMI Fellows are admitted each year, in alternating genres. Our current admissions schedule is to admit students for entering classes as follows: Literary Nonfiction – 2021, 2022; Fiction – 2022, 2023; Poetry – 2021, 2023. Applications for a genre not in the admissions rotation will be returned.

All Ph.D. BMI fellows are supported by an annual stipend of $26,500, in-state tuition, and health insurance. The Ph.D. with Creative Dissertation is designed to prepare students for careers in writing, teaching at the university level, editing, publishing, arts administration, and/or any profession that is informed by and advantaged by an understanding of literature, arts, and the humanities. Requirements for admission include an earned M.A. or M.F.A. in English,  Creative Writing, or related field. Past Ph.D.s with Creative Dissertation Fellows include Olivia Claire, David Armstrong, Alissa Nutting, Matt Shears, Vu Tran, Heather Winterer, and many others. For more information about the Ph.D. and how to apply, see UNLV’s Graduate Catalog. For more description and learning outcomes, visit the Ph.D. English with Creative Dissertation's website.

Neon Lit

Founded by M.F.A. alumna Kat Kruse in 2010, Neon Lit is a completely student-run reading series featuring writing of students currently in the Creative Writing programs at UNLV. Events are held on the last Friday of each month at the Writer’s Block, an independent bookstore and community center in downtown Las Vegas. See Neon Lit’s website and YouTube Channel for more information.


Our Creative Writing International program is proud to announce that Literary Nonfiction writers José Orduña and David Morris will join our core faculty in 2017-18, to teach alongside poets Claudia Keelan and Donald Revell, and fiction writers Maile Chapman and Douglas Unger. In fall, 2018, journalist and MacArthur Fellow, Adrian Nicole Leblanc, will be visiting faculty.

Our program’s partnership with the Black Mountain Institute also offers mentoring in literary nonfiction and publishing stewarded by its director (and editor of The Believer), Joshua Wolf Shenk; and BMI provides opportunities for forums and close-up experiences with prestigious visiting writers, fellows and teachers. Recent visitors include: Malena Morling, Walter Kirn, Cheryl Strayed, Katherine Boo, Adam Johnson, Jamaica Kinkaid, Caryl Phillips, Azar Nafisi, Maggie Nelson, City of Asylum writer, Hossein M. Abkenar, and others too numerous to list. See the Black Mountain Institute's website for more information.

World Class Creative Writing Faculty in Fiction, Literary Nonfiction, & Poetry

Maile Chapman, Ph.D.

Maile Chapman
Maile Chapman is the author of the novel, Your Presence Is Requested at Suvanto, short-listed for the Guardian First Book Award and a finalist for the PEN Center USA literary award in fiction. Her stories have appeared in A Public Space, Best American Fantasy Writing, Dublin Review, Boston Review, and GRANTA Online, and elsewhere. She received her MFA in fiction from Syracuse University and her…

Claudia Keelan

updated Keelan's photo
Claudia Keelan is the author of eight collections of poetry, including most recently, We Step into the Sea: New and Selected Poems (Barrow Street), Ecstatic Émigré: An Ethics of Practice (Poets on Poetry Series, University of Michigan Press), O, Heart (Barrow Street, 2014) and Missing Her (New Issues Press). She is also the translator and collector of Truth of My Songs: Poems of the Trobairitz (…

David Morris, MFA

David Morris
David Morris is the author of two books of nonfiction, including The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. From 2004 to 2007 he worked as a reporter in Iraq for Salon and the Virginia Quarterly Review. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, Etiqueta Negra and The…

Donald Revell, Ph.D.

Donald Revell
Donald Revell is the author of fourteen collections of poetry, most recently of Drought-Adapted Vine (2015) and Tantivy (2012), both from Alice James Books. Revell has also published six volumes of translations from the French, including Apollinaire’s Alcools, Rimbaud’s A Season in Hell, Laforgue’s Last Verses, and Verlaine's Songs without Words. His critical writings have been collected as:…

Douglas A. Unger

Douglas A. Unger
Douglas Unger is the author of four novels, including Leaving the Land, a finalist for the Pulitzer, and Voices from Silence, about the era of repression and terror in Argentina, as well as Looking for War and Other Stories. Recent stories, and numerous essays, have appeared in Narrative, Boulevard, The Writer’s Chronicle, Witness, The Brooklyn Rail, and elsewhere. He is a former fellow of the…

Emerging Writers Series

The Emerging Writers Series features writers just emerging on the literary scene. Writers who visit and read for this series are chosen entirely by the students in the M.F.A. and Ph.D. programs. Recent visitors include Jamal May, Dustin M. Hoffman, Lucas de Lima, Bridget Lowe, and Manuel González.

Alumni Reading Series

The Alumni Reading Series yearly celebrates the literary successes of graduates of the program. Recent alumni readers include Dan Josefson, Vu Tran, Sasha Steensen, David Armstrong, Alissa Nutting and Mani Rao. The visiting alumni reader for Fall 2017 is writer-scholar Juan Martínez.