Literary Arts


Admission is highly selective, and is based primarily on the quality of the applicant’s literary writing.

Your writing sample, therefore, is the most important part of your application. In putting your sample together, you should emphasize quality rather than length. Your writing sample should be in a single genre.

Writing Sample

Suggested Length

Writing samples may comprise a single work; an excerpt (or multiple excerpts) from a longer work; or multiple short works; or some other combination.

30 – 40 pages (double-spaced is typical; you may use an alternative format if integral to the work.)

15 – 20 pages (any format)

One or two electronic projects.

30 – 50 pages (any format)

Applying for Multiple Tracks

If you want to be considered in more than one track, you must complete two separate applications, including two separate application fees and two separate writing samples. Owing to the design of the online application system, you must use a different electronic mail address for each application (so if you only have one electronic mail account, you'll need to create a second account in order to submit the second application).


Applicants submit a writing sample in plain-text format (preferably as a PDF document) less than 5 megabytes in size as part of the online application. If your work cannot easily be sent in this format (i.e., it has sculptural elements that you do not feel you can document in any but three-dimensional models), send it by regular mail to: Graduate School, Brown University, Box 1867, Providence, RI 02912. You may also include web address links for works that are best read online.


Applicants’ writing samples are reviewed for admission by at least two members of the faculty. Because the Literary Arts Department receives a large number of applications, faculty members cannot provide critiques of individual samples. The Department does not grant interviews to prospective students.

Additional information

Admission is highly selective, and is based primarily on the quality of the applicant’s writing.
Some candidates find it useful to visit schools to get a feel for each particular program in advance of applying.
The Literary Arts Department welcomes applications from candidates from around the globe — in recent years, students from abroad have accounted for around 10 to 30% of the students enrolled in the MFA program.