The total number of students varies slightly from year to year, but generally ranges between forty and fifty students. That number includes both first-year and second-year students, prose and poetry. Variations in total numbers occur because of the way we do our admissions.
Unlike some graduate programs which admit a small number of students and wait-list the rest until the first have responded, we feel the students we want to enroll should know of their acceptance as soon as possible after the January deadline. For that reason, we admit twenty students in prose and twenty in poetry out of the several hundred applications we receive each year. If the pool is particularly strong, we will sometimes create a short waiting list and inform those on it. Students generally know if they have been accepted here by mid-March. We expect about half the people we admit to choose our program, and it has tended to work out that way.
No. The faculty members only begin reading after the deadline has passed and the materials are assembled into folders. Each faculty member reads and selects independently, then they meet to discuss and decide.
We currently have enough teaching assistantships to offer them to about half the people we enroll. For this reason, we do have to rank incoming students to determine who will first be offered these stipends. This is the most difficult, and imperfect, part of our acceptance procedure.
You will be asked to teach one section of freshman composition per semester. In the second year, some of our T.A.'s teach creative writing. You're responsible for your own class of 22 students, but will get plenty of training and help from the composition directors. In return, you will receive a waiver of tuition and most fees (excluding about $800 in fees, including health insurance, that are never waived) and a stipend of $9,000 per year. T.A.s are offered on a yearly basis, but we try to renew all our students who come in on assistantships.
All the parts of your application packet are read by several faculty members in your area of emphasis. However, the most important, initially, is the writing sample. First decisions are based almost entirely on that sample. For this reason, you should include work you not only feel is your best, but which represents the kind of writing you want to be doing here.
We hope not. Our faculty have widely divergent tastes and sensibilities. All tend to agree that what they're most looking for in an applicant's work is "promise"--difficult to quantify but likely to include an original voice, a facility with language, a sharp eye, something to say.
Generally not. Since we have some applicants to the program who have studied here as undergraduates, we try very hard to put everyone on equal footing by making decisions based on what you've put in your application packet. Having met a professor won't change that. A better reason for a campus visit is to help you decide if you want to choose us. If you've never been to Montana, a visit might help you decide if you want to apply. The best time to visit, in our opinion, is after we've accepted you and you're trying to decide between ours and another program. Then you can meet students who would be your classmates, as well as get a sense of the faculty and the place so you can make an informed decision.
They're capped at fifteen, but generally range in the area of ten to twelve students.
All application packets must be complete and postmarked by January 5, 2013.