Creative Writing

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 Believer, one of the most innovative magazines of culture, arts, and literary nonfiction anywhere. Added to our program and department publishing the acclaimed journals Interim and Witness, this convergence of literary, scholarly, activist journalism and popular arts publishing promises a new and exciting foundation on which to build for the next twenty years. 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 institutional description and learning outcomes, visit the MFA Creative Writing's website.

UNLV Creative Writing Programs

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 also include directed reading in Comparative Literature. Studies require directed work in creative writing, a qualifying examination, and a creative dissertation. Three new Ph.D. BMI Fellows are admitted each year, and are supported by an annual stipend of $26,500, in-state tuition, and health insurance. Financial support comes from a combination of the Graduate Assistantship and the BMI Fellowship. 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 or Creative Writing. 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. application, and how to apply, see UNLV’s Graduate Catalog. For institutional 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.

Literary Nonfiction Writers José Orduña and David Morris join UNLV’s Faculty

José Orduña

José Orduña

José Orduña was born in Córdoba, Veracruz, and immigrated to Chicago when he was two years old. His work explores the ways power has determined his and others' existence as racialized subjects of the United States. His first book, The Weight of Shadows: A Memoir of Immigration and Displacement was published in 2016 by Beacon Press. He earned his M.F.A. in Creative Nonfiction at the University Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

David Morris

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 TimesThe Best American Nonrequired ReadingEtiqueta Negra and The Surfer’s Journal. His honors include the Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is a former Marine infantry officer, and earned an M.A. in British Literature from San Diego State University and an M.F.A. in Fiction from the University of California, Irvine.

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.