Iowa Writers’ Workshop

The University of Iowa’s Iowa Writers’ Workshop is a well-known graduate-level creative writing school in the United States.

It is directed by Lan Samantha Chang, a writer.

A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing is awarded to graduates.

It has been dubbed the top graduate writing program in the country, with 17 Pulitzer Prize winners among its alumni.


Under the guidance of Wilbur Schramm, the program began in 1936 with a gathering of poets and fiction writers.

Paul Engle, a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native, served as the workshop’s second director from 1941 to 1965.

The Writers’ Workshop became a national landmark during his tenure.

For the past 20 years, he has been successful in obtaining donations for the workshop from the business community, including local companies such as Maytag and Quaker Oats, as well as national companies like U.S. Steel and Reader’s Digest.

The Rockefeller Foundation gave $40,000 between 1953 and 1956.

When the workshop was going on, Henry Luce, the publisher of TIME and Life and Gardner Cowles Jr., the publisher of Look magazine (1903–1985), made sure that the public knew about it.

George Starbuck was the Workshop’s director from 1965 to 1969.

From 1969 until 1986, T.C. Boyle, Ethan Canin, Michael Cunningham, Gail Godwin, Denis Johnson, and Jane Smiley were among the writers who flocked to John Leggett’s film.

Frank Conroy, Engle’s longest-serving successor, managed the workshop from 1987 until his death in 2005.

In 2006, Lan Samantha Chang took over as director.


The Iowa Writers’ Workshop is a graduate-level creative writing program at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. It is more widely known as the Program in Creative Writing.

A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in English is awarded to graduates.

Iowa University’s MFA program in creative writing is the country’s oldest.

Alumni and professors

Jamel Brinkley, Charles D’Ambrosio, and Margot Livesey in fiction; Ethan Canin in English and creative writing; James Galvin, Mark Levine, Tracie Morris, and Elizabeth Willis in poetry; Marilynne Robinson; and Program Director Lan Samantha Chang are among the workshop’s instructors as of September 2020.

Alexia Arthurs, Tom Drury, and Amy Parker are among the visiting professors.

Courses and curriculum

Students must take a modest number of classes each semester, including the Graduate Fiction Workshop or Graduate Poetry Workshop, and one or two more literature seminars, according to the program’s requirements.

The modest standards are designed to prepare students for the realities of professional writing, which emphasize self-discipline.

Graduate workshop classes meet once a week.

A limited number of students submit material for critical reading by their peers before each three-hour class.

The lesson is structured around a round-table conversation where students and the instructor discuss each piece.

The mechanics of how the class is run differ from one teacher to the next, as well as between poetry and fiction workshops.

The intended outcome is for authors to get insight into the strengths and flaws of their individual work, as well as for the class as a whole to gain insight into the writing process, whether general or specialized.

Graduates and faculty members have earned Pulitzer Prizes.

Faculty and graduates of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop have won 29 Pulitzer Prizes since 1947, including 18 by alumni, as well as numerous National Book Awards and other literary prizes.

The workshop has produced eight United States Poet Laureates.

More than 40 Pulitzer Prizes have been awarded to University of Iowa graduates and faculty.

Is it difficult to gain admission to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop?

Between 2013 and 2017, 5061 people applied to the workshop, with 135 (2.7%) being accepted.

Harvard, on the other hand, accepted little more than 5% of its applicants for the class of 2021.

Seeing those odds may help to heal the wounds of my 1994 rejection from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

What is the status of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop?

Iowa Writers Workshop image result

The Workshop is still the most distinguished creative writing program in the country, as well as one of the most selective graduate programs in any field, with fewer than 5% of candidates accepted.

The Workshop has been an important part of the University of Iowa’s writing community since it was first set up.

What is the cost of the Iowa Writers Workshop?

Residents of the United States can enroll in the 3-week session for three semester hours or the 8-week session for four semester hours.

The cost of tuition and fees varies from $1,400 to $2,800 (depending on educational level).

Is the Iowa Writers’ Workshop self-supporting?

Students accepted into the MFA program are promised full financial support for up to four years, while the degree can be finished in three years.

Each year, how many people apply to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop?

As many as 50 graduate students are accepted each year, with about twenty-five students each at the department’s for fiction and for poetry.

What is the structure of the Iowa Writers Workshop?

The end result

The Iowa Writers’ Workshop is a two-year residency program that concludes with the submission of a creative thesis (a novel, a collection of tales, or a collection of poems) and the awarding of a Master of Fine Arts degree.

Is the University of Iowa a decent place to go if you want to be a writer?

The writing programs at the University of Iowa are well-known both in the United States and around the world, including top-ranked graduate programs in creative writing (the Iowa Writers’ Workshop) and nonfiction writing.

What are the requirements for admission to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop?

You must complete the online application, including all extra materials, and return a hard copy of your book and a manuscript cover sheet directly to the Writers’ Workshop to be considered for admission to the graduate program (102 Dey House).

By December 15, the manuscript must be postmarked.