What is the Application Process Like?
Generally speaking, you should aim to apply to eight to 12 schools. That might seem like a lot of programs, however, it will increase the likelihood of acceptance and it will help you to have options when you are accepted. Out of this group, at least two should be schools you should be able to easily get into, two should be high-ranking schools, and the rest should be somewhere in the middle. Make sure to rank your schools in order of preference — but don't forget this important advice: Only apply to schools you would be happy to attend!
You'll need transcripts from at least every university you've received a degree from. Some programs will require only your BA degree transcripts, other programs will want to see transcripts from every school you've attended. Pretty soon, you'll start to get confused as to what school requires which items. Make a spreadsheet now.
You'll also most likely need GRE scores from the general exam, but you may also need GRE scores from the GRE Literature in English exam. Be sure you know whether you need scores or not and that you sign up for your exam(s) early enough to have the school receive your application packet in plenty of time.
You'll need at least two recommendation letters for most schools, three letters for some schools. It's best to get a recommendation from at least one published writer if you can. If you can't, then you should have a professor at a university or someone familiar with your work write your recommendation.
You'll need a personal statement. This will vary by school, but you'll find that they'll want to know why you want an MFA, what your career plans are, and a bit more about you. The length is variable, but most schools will want to see three to five pages.
The crux of your application will be your writing sample. Check carefully to see your school's required writing sample lengths and adhere to them! You may as well get used to the fact now that you'll have to follow submission guidelines to the T.
Your school may or may not require you to write a critical essay about a work similar to what you would like to write. Again, follow directions. The goal here is for admissions committees to evaluate your ability to critically analyze works.
Naturally you'll need to fill out financial aid paperwork and the official school application. Also, most schools require an application fee, but some may waive this fee if you demonstrate financial need. Check with the admissions committee.