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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Frequently Asked Questions

1. I’m confused. What do I need to do for my fiction sample?

  • There are two parts to your fiction application:
    • Part 1: Your writing sample, no more than 20 pages, (along with Vita or résumé) is due December 15. This must be mailed to the following address:
      Sarah Harwell
      Associate Director of Creative Writing
      English Graduate Office
      401 Hall of Languages
      Syracuse University
      Syracuse, NY 13244-1170
    • Part 2: Your online application is due December 15. You will need to fill out the online application, include a personal statement and a teaching statement, send one copy of your transcript and request three letters of recommendation to be uploaded online by the recommenders. You will also need to upload your writing sample. Finally, if you are an international student you will need to take the TOEFL and have the results sent in.
  • Apply Online
  • REMINDER TO POETRY APPLICANTS: UPLOAD your 10-12 poems with your CollegeWeb graduate application by December 15.
  • Do NOT mail in your poetry writing sample.

2. Do you have a non-fiction track?

No, we don’t, although we do offer a memoir class by Mary Karr.

3. Are GREs required?

No, GREs are not required.

4. I’m a foreign student. Do I have to take that TOEFL? Are the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) accepted?

The TOEFL is required. We will also accept IELTS scores.

5. I’m a foreign student. Do I get financial aid?

Yes, you will be eligible to receive the same funding packages as the students from the United States.

6. Can I come visit and sit in on classes?

We discourage this unless you’ve been accepted to the program and are trying to make a decision about whether or not to come. We are happy to answer questions via email: Sarah Harwell,; or, if you have questions about the application process: Terri A.G. Zollo,

7. I’ve been published a lot. Will my publications help me get into the program?

No. Your writing helps you get into the program.

8. I applied before and didn’t get in. Does this mean I’m not a writer? Should I apply to law school instead?

We get hundreds (really) of applications. We try to pick the people that we think can benefit from being here but also are working at a fairly high level. However our rejection of you is not an accurate assessment of your ability. Unfortunately no one can tell you if you will become a writer. Some of us here have been rejected a lot and were too stubborn or foolish to take it as a sign of our lack of abilities. Our advice? All you can do is keep writing. If you want it bad enough you will keep at it. And if you keep at it you will get better. And going to law school will not help you or hurt you. Although you will be able to eat when you get out, so that’s a good thing.

9. What is Syracuse like?

Syracuse is home to the world’s biggest snowplow. Also it has the lowest incidence of skin cancer in the USA. Cheap, within 5 hours of 4 major cities, and a great place to write. See our list of alumni. Snow boots are required.