Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

Welcome from the Director of Creative Writing

Rated by The Atlantic Monthly as one of the five best "unique/innovative" programs in the country, the Creative Writing International programs at UNLV were designed to appeal to students who see themselves and their writing within a world context. Our commitment to world literature provides a unique experience that differs from many traditional creative writing programs. The program’s international emphasis stems from the belief that the best writing is done by individuals who know that literature is something created from more than self-expression. To that end, we seek students whose work strives to create dialogue between private imagination and public concern.

The Master of Fine Art’s program began in 1997 and in the years since has consistently been in the top 50 of such programs in the country. The department, in conjunction with the Black Mountain Institute also offers a program leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy – English with a Creative Dissertation. This program centers on the study of English and American literature and is designed to train students for careers in the teaching of English at the college or university level, as well as for careers in writing, editing, and publishing. The program of study includes course work in English and Creative Writing, a qualifying examination, and a creative dissertation. Both the MFA and Ph.D. programs at UNLV are closely affiliated with the Black Mountain Institute which yearly brings writers from around the world to read, speak on pressing issues, and engage in panel discussion with other writers and thinkers, as well as the substantial audience these events bring.  Recent visitors include Jamaica Kinkaid, Caryl Phillips, Azar Nafisi, and Maggie Nelson whose book The Argonauts won the 2015 National Book Award in Non-Fiction.

Degree Information

MFA in Creative Writing

All students who are admitted to the MFA receive a GA of $15,000 a year, which includes in-state tuition and health insurance. Graduates of UNLV’s MFA program have gone on to secure tenure-track teaching jobs, gain admission to Ph.D. programs in Creative Writing, publish books, and enter the workforce as editors, writers, and arts administrators. UNLV also routinely supports recent graduates with part-time teaching opportunities in the department. Students also have the opportunity to work on the literary journals Witness and Interim. For more information about MFA application materials and program requirements, see UNLV’s Graduate Catalog.

UNLV Creative Writing Programs

Ph.D. with a Creative Dissertation

The Department of English, in conjunction with the Black Mountain Institute, offers the Black Mountain Institute Fellowship for students pursuing a doctorate of Philosophy in English with a Creative Dissertation. The program—which is centered on the study of English and American Literature—includes course work in literature and creative writing, a qualifying examination, and a creative dissertation in fiction, literary non-fiction, or poetry. Cross-genre work is also acceptable. Three fellows are admitted each year and are supported by the BMI fellowship, which comes with a stipend of $26,500 annually. The Ph.D. with a Creative Dissertation is designed to prepare students for careers in writing, teaching at the university level, editing, publishing and any other profession that involves an understanding of the humanities.

Admission is limited to those who hold an MA or MFA in English or Creative Writing. Distinguished BMI fellows include David Armstrong, Olivia Clare, Matt Shears, Vu Tran, and Heather Winterer, just to name a very few. For more information about Ph.D. application materials and program requirements, see UNLV’s Graduate Catalog.

Neon Lit

Begun by MFA 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. It is held on the last Friday of each month at the Writer’s Block in downtown Las Vegas. See Neon Lit’s website and YouTube Channel for more information.


The core faculty of the MFA and Ph.D. programs in Creative Writing is Maile Chapman, Claudia Keelan, Donald Revell and Douglas Unger. Admitted students follow a three-year program that includes literature and writing courses, time abroad, completion of a manuscript of fiction, literary non-fiction, or poetry (cross-genre is also acceptable) a literary translation, and a critical essay.

Emerging Writers Series

The Emerging Writers Series features writers just emerging on the scene. The writers who come for this series are chosen entirely by the students in the MFA and Ph.D. programs. In the 2016-17 season, Jamal May and Dustin M. Hoffman will be the visiting emerging writers.

Alumni Reading Series

The Alumni Reading Series yearly celebrates the literary successes of graduates of the program. Recent alumni readers include Vu Tran and Sasha Steensen. The visiting alumna reader for Fall 2016 is poet-translator Mani Rao.