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

The Creative Writing International program at UNLV attracts, inspires and develops globally-engaged writers who are grounded in the local. Led by this vision, our program nurtures diverse writers and develops a socially-engaged and active writing practice. All M.F.A. and Ph.D. students are ;fully funded for the three years of studies toward their degrees, $21,000 (with opportunities for additional funding from the Black Mountain Institute) and $30,000, respectively.

Our mission, innovative programs and people foster an educational environment in which writers can perfect their art. To carry the work into the world of challenges we all face, the program also supports serious writers in cultivating the cultural, social and global awareness that any truly engaged public intellectual will need to navigate times of epic crisis. We also encourage applications from and admit several international writers with high competency in writing in English each year who contribute to our literary community.

To support our mission, the curriculum features an intensive combination of workshops, literature seminars, study abroad, literary translation, and community events along with explorations of genres other than their chosen concentration. The program also offers teacher training plus opportunities to gain practical experience in literary publishing. Our faculty is committed to excellence in teaching, and to close, one-on-one mentoring.

A high percentage of our graduates have published widely, publishing fiction, literary nonfiction, journalism and poetry with mainstream and indie presses, as well as in nationally esteemed venues such as W. W. Norton & Company, Grove Press, Viking, Sarabande, Ecco, Soho, The Best American Poetry, McSweeney’s, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere. Many have also gone on to secure tenure track teaching jobs or have entered the workforce as writers, editors, arts administrators, film producers, teachers and activists for nonprofits and community organizations not only in the United States but around the world. The Department of English also routinely supports recent graduates with part-time teaching opportunities.

UNLV is the nation’s first truly multicultural university and has one of the most diverse student bodies in the United States. Set in the dynamic global city of Las Vegas, at the crossroads of the American Southwest, our program recognizes and places partnership at the center of our literary engagement.

Central to those partnerships is our longstanding relationship with the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute (BMI). This partnership provides opportunities for students to engage in creative and literary activities with visiting Black Mountain Institute Fellows in socially meaningful literary events for the city of Las Vegas and its greater community. The Department of English and BMI also publish the acclaimed journals Interim and Witness, giving students hands-on experience with literary publishing.

Degree Information

MFA in Creative Writing

All students admitted for the M.F.A. receive a Graduate Assistantship of $21,000 per year,& covered in-state tuition, and health insurance. Students admitted for the M.F.A. in Fiction, Poetry or Literary Nonfiction follow a three-year course of studies that includes writing workshops, genre forms courses, literature classes, a residency abroad, completion of a literary translation and completion of a book length manuscript.

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. All Ph.D. BMI fellows are supported by the Ph.D. stipend of $21,000 plus an additional $9,000 fellowship from the Black Mountain Institute, for a direct financial support package of $30,000 plus covered in-state tuition and health insurance.

Students must declare a genre concentration in Poetry, Fiction, or Literary Nonfiction. The three-year course of studies toward the Ph.D.concentrates on English and American Literature, and can include directed reading in Comparative Literature. As well, the curriculum includes mentored work in creative writing, a qualifying examination, and a creative dissertation. Ph.D. candidates 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 – 2024, 2025; Fiction – 2025, 2026; Poetry – 2024, 2026. Applications for a genre not in the admissions rotation will be returned.

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 Joe Milan, Jr., Olivia Claire, Wendy Wimmer, Maegan Poland, Leia Penina Wilson, David Armstrong, Alissa Nutting, Oscar Oswald, Matt Shears, Vu Tran, Heather Winterer, and many others. For more information about the BMI-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'swebsite.

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 usually 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 poet and translator Wendy Chen and journalist, Literary Nonfiction writer and cultural strategist Roberto Lovato have joined our faculty to teach alongside poet Claudia Keelan, fiction writers Maile Chapman, Douglas Unger, and nonfiction and fiction writer David J. Morris.

Our program’s partnership with the Black Mountain Institute also offers opportunities for forums and close-up experiences with prestigious visiting writers, fellows and teachers. Recent BMI Fellows and national and international award-winning visitors include: Hamif Abdurraquib, Tayari Jones, Melissa Febos, Bonnie Chau, Lisa Ko, Kristen Arnett, Derek Palacio, and Cities of Asylum Writers Maryam Ala Amjadi, Ahmed Najii Saleh, José Olivera Castillo and Hussein Abkenar. 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 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 second novel, forthcoming from Graywolf Press in 2025, is about the nature of memory in a family affected by Alzheimer’s disease as well AD/HD, its many comorbidities, and the occult. She received her MFA in…

Wendy Chen, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Headshot of Wendy Chen
Wendy Chen is the author of the novel Their Divine Fires (Algonquin Books) and the poetry collection Unearthings (Tavern Books), which was the winner of the Wrolstad Contemporary Poetry Series. She is the editor of Figure 1, associate editor-in-chief of Tupelo Quarterly, and prose editor of Tupelo Press. Chen is the recipient of the Academy of American…

Claudia Keelan

Claudia Keelan headshot
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 (…

Roberto Lovato

Assistant Professor
RL Profile
Roberto Lovato is the award-winning author of Unforgetting (Harper Collins), a “groundbreaking” memoir the New York Times picked as an “Editor’s Choice.” Newsweek listed Lovato’s memoir as a “must read” 2020 book and the Los Angeles Times listed it as one of its 20 Best Books of 2020. As founder and lead strategist of #DignidadLiteraria, Lovato joined authors Myriam Gurba and David Bowles in the…

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 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), 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…

Douglas A. Unger

Douglas A. Unger
Douglas Unger has published 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. His fifth novel, Dream City, will be published in fall, 2024. Recent stories and numerous essays have appeared in Narrative, Boulevard, The Writer’s Chronicle, Witness, The…

Breakout Writers Series

The “Breakout Writers Series” or 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: Tyriek White, Leila Chatti, Karla Cornejo Villavicencio2, Cherie  HiJones, Wayétu Moore, Jamal May, Dustin M. Hoffman, Lucas de Lima, Bridget Lowe, and Manuel González and many others.

Alumni Reading Series

The Alumni Reading Series yearly celebrates the literary successes of graduates of the program. Recent alumni readers include Marianne Chan, Jean Chen Ho, Clancy McGilligan, Alissa Nutting, Juan Martínez, Sasha Steensen, and Mani Rao. Alumni author Joe Milan, Jr., will visit in 2024.