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MFA in Writing

Read. Write. Be Read.

One of the top low-residency programs in the country, the Bennington Writing Seminars is a two-year, rigorous exploration of craft. You commit as much to reading as to writing. You perform critical literary analysis. You craft bold new works of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry, and may work in a dual-genre. You finish with a polished thesis and an academic lecture. All this with the expert 1:1 guidance of acclaimed authors who develop a stake in your work. Our alumni, faculty, students, and staff publish work at the highest levels.

Check out resources and residency information.

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What our Faculty Say

"You just leave feeling inspired . . ."

Models & Mentors

Our faculty-student ratio of 1:1 provides true mentorship. You work closely with a faculty member who is an accomplished writer and a distinguished teacher.

Develop Your Skills

You may focus on one or more genres at Bennington. While most choose to specialize in fiction, nonfiction, or poetry, others work across two genres through our Dual-Genre Degree.

Apply

You may apply to begin during either of the 10-day residency sessions in January (9-19, 2020) or June (4-14, 2020) Application deadlines are September 1 to begin in January, and March 1 to begin in June.

Inclusive Community

We are committed to increasing access to our program for students from diverse backgrounds and to building community through sustained dialogue and practice. We offer scholarships, and fund the emerging voices we want to support and read, including a partnership with the PEN Emerging Voices Fellowship program.

Outcomes

Bennington offer a self-directed pace that allows you to develop a sustainable, lifelong writing practice. We know how important it is for MFA students to gain teaching experience so we've developed the Residential Teaching Fellows program—a first-of-its-kind teaching opportunity among low residency MFA programs, among others.

Scholarships, Fellowships, Loans

We offer a range of scholarships and federal financial aid loans, including The Donald Hall Scholarship for poets (a full scholarship) and the PEN/Emerging Voices Fellowship ($10,000), among others. Please contact us with any questions.

Recent news

Why Bennington? Just ask our alums.

Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney MFA ’13

Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney MFA ’13

Author of the New York Times bestseller, The Nest

Gail Vida Hamburg MFA ’04

Gail Vida Hamburg MFA ’04

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 a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship and the 1991 National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry

Morgan Jerkins MFA ‘16

Morgan Jerkins

New York Times bestselling author of This Will be My Undoing.

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- Cape Verdean Blues
Shauna Barbosa, MFA '17 (Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, March 2018),
Book- We All Love the Beautiful Girls
Joanne Proulx, MFA '14 (Grand Central Publishing, August 2018)
Book- Sing To It
Amy Hempel, MFA(w) faculty member (Scribner, March 2018)
Book- This Will Be My Undoing
Morgan Jenkins, MFA '16 (Harper Collins, January 2018)
Book- Tonight I'm Someone Else
Chelsea Hodson, MFA '17 (Holt Paperbacks, June 2018)
Book- Fire Sermon
Jamie Quatro, MFA '09 (Grove Paperback, January 2018)
Book- Cruel Futures
Carmen Gimenez-Smith, MFA(w) faculty member (City Lights Publishers, March 2018)
Book- Small Fry
Lisa Brennan-Jobs, MFA '09 (Blackstone Publishing, September 2018)
Book- When They Call You A Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir
Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele, MFA '99 (St. Martin's Press, January 2018)
Book- How to Write an Autobiographical Novel
Alexander Chee, former MFA(w) faculty member (Mariner, April 2018)
Book- Song of a Captive Bird
Jasmin Darznik, MFA '14 (Ballantine Books, February 2018)
Book- The Kinship of Secrets
Eugenia Kim, MFA '01 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, November 2018)
Book- Conscience: A Novel
Alice Mattison, MFA(w) faculty member (Pegasus Books, August 2018)
Book- Betwixt-and-Between: Essays on the Writing Life
Jenny Boully, MFA(w) faculty member, (Office House Press, April 2018)
Book- See the Wolf
Sarah Sousa, MFA '09 (CavanKerry, April 2018),
“These words feel like experiences.” Kendrick Lamar
“…a searing exploration of the butterfly effect of trauma and the uncanny persistence of love in improbable circumstances.” Publisher's Weekly
“The miracle of Amy Hempel’s stories is their extreme compassion despite their extreme brevity.” The Believer
“Jerkins deftly examines the intersectionality of what it means to be black and a woman in a society that doesn't always support the combination of these two identities.” Chicago Public Library
“These essays are a welcome battering ram to the chest.” Chicago Review of Books
"…Quatro delivers a startlingly unique portrait of an obsession and the complexities of a marriage." Grove Atlantic
“…a high-energy analysis of popular culture…” Entropy Magazine
"An entrancing memoir…" The New York Times
“A poetic and powerful memoir about what it means to be Black woman in America…” Goodreads
“In Chee’s hands, varied subjects, however disparate they may seem, coalesce…” Publisher's Weekly
“…explores the family dynamic of a feminist trailblazer who defied tradition to fulfill her destiny.” Reader's Digest
“…[a] stunning novel based in part on her family history…” Real Simple
“…a story around political activism, privacy, sexual betrayal, racial tension and homelessness.” The Washington Post
“…ripe with romance and sensual pleasures…” Goodreads
“…Sousa uses retold fairy tales to shed light on modern life…” The Berkshire Edge