Graduate assistantship stipends have greatly increased, and now range from $12,500 up to $24,000 a year (plus tuition waiver). Presently, all full-time students funded. Assistantships not only offer teaching opportunities in writing and rhetoric coursework, but also undergraduate creative writing classes as well. Assistantship assignments also include opportunity to coordinate VCU’s national literary awards, including the Cabell First Novelist, Levis Reading Prize, and Tarumoto Prize in short fiction. Newly established travel stipends for MFA students for summer writing conference and study abroad travel, as well as yearly travel funding and registration waivers for students attending the annual AWP conference. Due to the competitive nature of the process, VCU can not offer such assistantships to part-time applicants. For additional forms of financial aid (i.e., loans), please see:
For current student tuition and fees, see https://www.vcu.edu/enroll/sa/.
Graduate Assistantships (GA) for MFA Program
The Graduate Assistantship (GA) is the creative writing program’s primary source of funding for its full-time students. All GAs include a full tuition waiver plus 9-12 month annual stipend. The current average GA yearly stipend is $14,000 but some select GA positions (Cabell Fellow, Levis Coordinator, Blackbird Lead Associate Editor) have higher annual stipends of up to $24,000.
As of October 15, 2018, MFA applicants who are aplying for full time enrollment and wish to be considered for a possible Graduate Assistantship must also must submit a separate for graduate assistantship applicaition as part of the VCU online application process. As a part of that online application you will be asked to submit a single additional document that contains the following (in numbered order):
1) Provide a brief list of any/all creative writing workshops you've participated in the past 5 years, along with a paragraph long assessment of the not only what you feel you obtained from the workshop experience but also what/how you contributed to it.
2) An undergraduate, graduate or professional paper, or other piece of expository prose of 5-10 pages (i.e. - typically a sample literary analysis/research paper).
3) A brief essay (1-2 pages) in which you discuss some or all of the following:
· Your teaching experience (consider previous graduate assistantships, public and private school, college and university, community programs);
· Your educational background and your particular interest in a graduate degree, suggesting where your education seems to be leading;
· Why working in the Writing Center, faculty research, or teaching in the classroom attracts you, and what qualifications you might have for such assignments.
Again, please save/submit your “GTA application” as one document containing all three items listed above as a part of your general VCU online application.
Additional Assistantships for continuing MFA Students
Cabell First Novelist Fellowship
Each year, one third-year MFA fiction student is awarded the Cabell First Novelist Fellowship which comes with a full tuition waiver and a 12-month stipend of $22,000. David Baldacci, VCU alumnus and Richmond writer (Total Control, Absolute Power), graciously funded a graduate student fellowship from 2004 to 2007 to help establish the First Novelist Award. The Baldacci Fellowship was awarded to a second-year MFA fiction student to assist in administering the First Novelist Award. Starting in the fall of 2008, the Cabell Associates of VCU’s University Libraries began to underwrite the annual fellowship. Named after the famed Richmond author James Branch Cabell, the Cabell Fellowship provides year-long assistance in the administration of the competition and in making the arrangements for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award ceremony each November.
Previous First Novelist Fellows:
Kate Vatter – 2018
Julie Geen – 2017
Cade Varnado – 2015/2016
Kate Zipse – 2014
Matt Phipps – 2013
Chad Luibl – 2012
Shannon O’Neill – 2011
Joel Kabot – 2010
Dale Smith – 2009
Elizabeth Hahn – 2008
Matt Crady – 2007
Andrew Blossom – 2006
Michelle Poulos – 2005
Patty Smith – 2004
Michaux Dempster – 2003
Levis Prize Coordinator
Additionally, the MFA program designates one continuing 9-month GA to be the Levis Coordinator. This position is responsible for the administration of the University’s national competition and in making the arrangements for the Levis Reading Prize ceremony each September.
Previous Levis Coordinators:
Caitlin Etherton – 2018
Emily Block – 2017
Rachael Hägglund – 2016
John-Michael Bloomquist – 2015
Christian Detisch – 2014
Lena Moses-Schmitt – 2013
Katelyn Kiley – 2012
Emila Phillips – 2011
Gregory Kimbrell – 2010
Andrea Cleary – 2009
Ben Dombroski – 2008
Kate Beles – 2007
Anna Journey – 2006
Other Funding Opportunities for Graduate Students
Other scholarship support may be available to qualified students from the School of Graduate Studies. See:
David Wojahn, Director of Creative Writing
Thom Didato, Graduate Programs Advisor