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How to Apply

Program Deadline

Application and Admissions

Successful applicants will be admitted as writers of either poetry or fiction. 

Please note: Applicants will not be able to apply to both poetry and prose; applicants must choose one genre. Applicants must have a Baccalaureate degree by the time of expected enrollment. Although the degree need not be with a concentration in English, the applicant should demonstrate sufficient skill in undergraduate language and literature courses to enable him or her to enroll in graduate English literature courses. We do not accept Non-Candidate for Degree status applicants to our program. We do not offer online courses. Our program is a full-time residency program.

The GRE is not required for MFA applicants.

Submitting Your Application

  1. Transcripts:
  2. Submit Electronically: Applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate English proficiency. Applicants are required to provide an official score report from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The minimum accepted TOEFL score is 620 on paper, 260 on the computer or 106 on the internet. The test date must be within two years of the application deadline. We do not accept any test other than the TOEFL.

    Applicants who have earned or will earn a Bachelor's or Master's degree are exempt from submitting an official English proficiency score if:
    • The degree was earned from an institution where the language of instruction is English, exclusively. This exception does not apply if some classes completed were taught in a language other than English. Verification from the school may be required.

    • The degree was earned from a country where the official language is English (United States of America, Australia, England).
  3. Submit Electronically as PDF Documents through the Online Application: 
    • Transcripts: 
    • A writing samples along with their applications:
      • Poetry applicants should submit 15 pages. Each new poem must start on a new page.There is already a prompt in the Poetry application to upload the Poetry writing sample.
      • Prose applicants should submit a writing sample of sufficient length to allow us to judge the applicant's work not to exceed 40 pages, double spaced, of fiction (part of a novel or several short stories).
      • Clearly labeled academic Statement of Purpose: Concise, up to two pages in length, double spaced, about your academic and research background, your career goals, and how Michigan's graduate program will help you meet your career and educational objectives. Disregard the 500 word limit stated on the application.
      • Clearly labeled biographical Personal Statement: Concise, up to two pages in length, double spaced, about how your personal background and life experiences, including social, cultural, familial, educational, or other opportunities or challenges, motivated your decision to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Michigan. This is not an academic Statement of Purpose, but a discussion of the personal journey that has led to your decision to seek a graduate degree. Disregard the 500 word limit stated on the application.
  4. A curriculum vitae/resume, no page limit.
  5. Admission Conduct Code: The Admission Conduct Code question is part of the online application process. You will be prompted to provide the necessary information and your response will be submitted electronically.
  6. Three letters of recommendation: When you register your recommenders in the ApplyWeb application, each recommender will receive an e-mail notification to complete the recommendation form through ApplyWeb.
  7. When completing your application please be sure to select a sub-plan, either poetry or prose.

Please Note: All credentials submitted for admission consideration become the property of the University of Michigan and will not be returned in original or copy form. We do not archive applications. Therefore, any materials submitted in a previous application for the Helen Zell Writers' Program must be resubmitted. 

The University of Michigan requires certain entering international students to be screened for tuberculosis (TB). This requirement is in response to recommendations from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Michigan Advisory Committee for Elimination of Tuberculosis to screen individuals from countries where TB is common. Screening will be offered free on campus and a TB infection would not jeopardize a student's visa status. Health care is completely confidential. For further information, visit the International Mandatory Tuberculosis Screening website.

For the academic year 2014–2015, students from the following countries (identified by the World Health Organization as together accounting for 80% of the world's TB cases) with an F–1 or J–1 visa type and a Form I–20 or DS–2019 issued by U–M will be screened for TB:

Afghanistan Nigeria
Bangladesh Pakistan
Brazil Philippines
Cambodia Russian Federation
China (includes Hong Kong SAR) South Africa
Democratic Republic of the Congo Taiwan
Ethiopia Thailand
India Uganda
Indonesia United Republic of Tanzania
Kenya Vietnam
Mozambique Zimbabwe

The English Department will be closed December 24th through January 1st, although the deadline is January 1st. 

Make sure you receive an electronic confirmation of your submitted application.

Click here to proceed to the online application.

Email admissions questions to or call 734.763.4139.