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MFA in Writing

Read. Write. Be Read.

Steeped in the College's prestigious literary tradition, Bennington's Master of Fine Arts in Writing is consistently named one of the top low-residency programs. Founded in 1994, Bennington's Writing Seminars was one of the first low-residency graduate writing programs in the country. During this two-year, low-residency program, you commit as much to reading as to writing and conceive reading lists that strengthen and broaden your knowledge. You perform critical literary analysis. You craft bold new works of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry inspired by your discoveries. You finish with a polished thesis and a parting lecture. All this with the expert guidance of authors who, throughout your individualized instruction, become familiar with and develop a stake in your work. 

Models & Mentors

Our faculty-student ratio of 1:5 provides a true mentorship experience. You work closely with a core faculty member, writers who have distinguished themselves in their teaching as well as on the page.

Develop Your Skills

Students can focus on one or more genres at Bennington. While most students choose to specialize in Fiction, Non-Fiction, or Poetry, others work across two genres through our Dual-Genre Degree.

Apply Now

You may enter the program during either of the 10-day residency sessions in January or June.  Deadlines are March 1 to apply for June residency; Sept. 1 to apply for January residency.

Inclusive Community

We are committed to increasing access to our program for students from diverse backgrounds and to building an inclusive community through sustained dialogue and practice. We offer scholarships to PEN’s Emerging Writers Fellows and Cave Canem poets and fund the emerging voices we want to support and read.

Outcomes

Bennington's low-residency program offers a self-directed monthly pace that will allow you to develop a sustainable, lifelong writing practice. Though low-residency, we still provide students with teaching opportunities and access to professional development.

Tuition & Fees

We make every effort to put this education within reach for qualified writers through scholarships, grants, and federal loan programs. Our office works directly and individually with students. Please contact us with any questions.

Why Bennington? Just ask our alums.

Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney MFA ‘13
Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney MFA ‘13 img

Author of the New York Times bestseller, The Nest

Gail Vida Hamburg MFA ‘04
Gail Vida Hamburg MFA ‘04 img

Author of The Edge of the World

Katy Simpson Smith MFA '13
Bestselling author of Free Men and The Story of Land and Sea

Bestselling author of Free Men and The Story of Land and Sea 

Charles Bock MFA '97
Charles Bock MFA '97 img

Author of the New York Times bestsellers, Alice & Oliver and Beautiful Children 

Amy Gerstler MFA '00
Amy Gerstler  MFA '00 img

Winner of the 1991 National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry

Morgan Jerkins MFA ‘16
Morgan Jerkins MFA ‘16

Writer at The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Ebony, and Buzzfeed

Tiffany Briere MFA '11
Tiffany Briere MFA '11 img

Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award, Best American Essays, Pushcart Prize winner

Top 5 in the country
writing

Consistently ranked by The Atlantic and Poets & Writers as one of the top five low-residency MFA programs in the country.

Be read.
the nest

Our alumni publish works of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. Check out recent alumni work.

A Rigorous Retreat

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Low-Residency Format

Enjoy the flexibility of a rigorous program that allows you to continue your work life while engaging studiously in the life of letters

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A Two-Year Epic Exploration

Studying for your MFA in Writing at Bennington has been described as a "two-year epic exploration" into the life of letters

Picture Vermont

Vermont Immersion

Immerse yourself in an inspiring residency experience twice a year on our historic campus in the Green Mountains of Vermont

Carriage Barn Reading

New and Emerging Voices

Join a lively and diverse culture that celebrates and supports new and emerging voices

Bookshelf

Read 100 books. Write one.

Create an expansive, customized, reading list to diversify and deepen your relationship with the culture of letters.

in class

Fellowships

Gain valuable teaching experience serving as a Graduate Fellow or online mentor

Talking writing

A Community of Writers

Work alongside high quality peers and alumni, who inhabit diverse spaces in the literary landscape, from novelists with big book contracts to poets at independent presses, teachers and doctors, activists and editors.

Amy Hempel

One-on-One

Study with celebrated and accomplished faculty

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What Our Students Say

When writers are ready to take their work to the next level, they come to Bennington.

Book- Scattered at Sea
Amy Gerstler MFA ‘01 (Penguin Random House, May 2015)
Book- Ordinary Light
Tracy K. Smith, former MFA(w) faculty member (Knopf, March 2015)
A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me(Book)
David Gates, MFA(w) faculty member (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, May 2015)
The Hand That Feeds You
A.J. Rich / Amy Hempel, MFA(w) faculty member (Scribner, July 2015)
Book- Let me tell you
Laurence Jackson Hyman ‘64 (editor); Shirley Jackson (author); Sarah Hyman DeWitt ‘70 (editor) (Random House, August 2015)
Book- Teaching a man to unstick his tail
Ralph Hamilton MFA ‘09 (Sibling Rivalry Press, LLC, March 2015)
Book- Changing the Subject: Art and Attention in the Internet Age
Sven Birkerts, Director of the Master in Fine Arts Writing Program (Graywolf Press, October 2015)
Book- Drinking in America: Our Secret History
Susan Cheever, MFA(w) faculty member (Twelve, October 2015)
Book- Reading Claudius
Caroline Heller, MFA ‘01 (The Dial Press, August 2015)
Book- Almost Famous Women
Megan Mayhew Bergman MFA ‘10 (Scribner, January 2015)
Book- The Story of Land and Sea
Katy Simpson Smith, MFA ‘14 (Harper, August 2014)
"[This book] knocks you over and changes how you view the world…" The Washington Post
"The entire book is rich" The New York Times
"...a twisty, unsettling thriller" The New York Times
"...cuts to the heart of life" Vanity Fair
"...haunting the reader with those human questions" The Chicago Tribune
"...compelling...because it is moderate" The New Republic
"...sideways views that are intriguing" Associated Press
“...that lost world [of] youthful longings.” The Boston Globe
“These stories feel both specific and flexible.” New York Times Sunday Book Review shortlist
“...among the most assured debut novels in recent memory...” Vogue