Frequently Asked Questions
Who can apply for a Stegner Fellowship?
Anyone interested in a fellowship is welcome to apply.
I’m not a U.S. Citizen. Can I still apply?
Yes. Anyone may apply, regardless of nationality. If accepted, for visa purposes you would be considered a non-matriculated graduate student at Stanford; we would work with you to obtain a J-1 visa.
I’m in my forties; am I too old to apply for the Fellowship?
We have no age requirements for the program. We have accepted people as young as 22 and as old as 75.
What is the application deadline?
Applications will not be accepted prior to September 1 and must be submitted online or postmarked no later than December 1 in order to be considered.
What is the application fee?
US$85. When you apply online you must pay the fee by credit card. If you apply by mail please send a check or money order made payable to Stanford University. Do not send cash.
Can you help me choose which of my works to submit?
Submit whatever work you feel best represents you as a writer.
Is publication required for submission of an application?
No, although publication in literary journals frequently appears in the profile of a Stegner Fellow.
What academic prerequisites are required?
We do not require any specific academic background. Many fellows have completed an MFA, but we have admitted writers who have no formal training or college degree. Admission is based on the merit of the writing.
Do I need to take the GRE?
No; please do not send us GRE or any other test scores. They will not be considered and will be discarded.
Do I need to take the TOEFL?
No; please do not send us TOEFL or any other test scores. They will not be considered and will be discarded.
Do I need to have letters of recommendation or transcripts sent?
No; please do not have letters of recommendation or transcripts sent. They will not be considered and will be discarded. We only ask for the contact information of two recommenders so that we may contact them directly if we feel it is necessary.
How should the manuscript be formatted?
Fiction manuscripts should be double-spaced. You may format poetry manuscripts however you feel best represents the poetry you are submitting. It does not matter whether or not your name appears on each page. For hardcopy submissions, please do not staple any of your application materials; use paper clips instead. We will not review books, CDs or any materials other than your manuscript printed on standard paper. These items will be discarded if they are sent. Do not submit your manuscript in page protectors, folders or binders.
Do my recommenders need to be professors or teachers who know my writing?
Not necessarily. The selection committee evaluates the writing. What we ask the recommenders is more of a character reference. We want to know how they view your potential as a workshop participant.
Can I submit only one short story/15 short stories/two novel excerpts as my fiction manuscript, even though that’s not listed as an option on the application form?
Yes, if that’s how you will be best represented. The selection committee’s main concerns are making sure they see your best work and making sure they get a good feel for your writing.
What is the word limit for my manuscript?
Fiction manuscripts should be approx. 9,000 words. Poetry manuscripts should be 10-15 pages in length.
My fiction manuscript is 9,100 words; do I have to cut any of it?
Long applications won’t be disqualified. However, the selection committee reserves the right to stop reading any applications that are heinously over the word limit.
Can I submit science fiction/part of a mystery novel?
Yes, with a caveat: though we do not consider genre novels and literary novels mutually exclusive, consider that if accepted to the workshop, you would be exchanging ideas with 9 other authors who probably write fiction outside your given genre. The Stegner workshop is a course in literary fiction, not in science fiction/mystery, and all manuscripts are therefore judged as literature.
Can I submit work that has been previously published?
Yes, if you feel it is the work that best represents you as a writer. However, please submit them in manuscript format. Any actual book copies will be discarded.
Can I submit creative nonfiction, memoir, or a screenplay that I have written?
No. We only offer fellowships in poetry and fiction so a submission in other genres will limit the applicant’s chances of receiving the fellowship.
Can I submit a manuscript or writing sample in a language other than English?
No; the Stegner fellowship program focuses on English fiction and poetry. Manuscripts not in English will not be able to be reviewed by our faculty committee. Additionally, workshops and readings held as part of the program are only conducted in English.
I write both poetry and fiction, can I apply to both categories in the same year?
No. The program has changed its policy and will no longer accept applications in both categories from the same person. ***NOTE: Submission in both genres will disqualify the applicant from consideration in either category.***
Can I submit two fiction applications or two poetry applications in the same year?
I live abroad; how do I pay the application fee?
If you are applying online, you can pay by credit card. If you are applying by mail, you can pay by international money order. These can sometimes be purchased at your local bank (you usually don’t need to have an account, just the money) or post office. Failing those options, Western Union will draft international money orders. One of these options should be available in every country. Also, if you have relatives living in the U.S., you may ask them to mail you a U.S. check. We cannot accept credit cards or cash by mail.
Did you receive my application?
When you apply online you will receive electronic confirmation that your application was submitted. Contact us right away if you do not receive an emailed confirmation within a day or so. For mailed applications, due to the volume we receive there is no way we can check; please do not ask us this. If you need reassurance, use a delivery confirmation service or include a self-addressed, stamped postcard with your application.
Can you add some information to my application after I have submitted it?
No, we cannot alter or add information to your application form, manuscript, or statement of plans once we have received it (the only exception is if your or your recommender’s contact information changes). Please make sure your application is ready and complete before you submit it. Please do not contact us to let us know one of your manuscripts has been published or received an award; this information will not have any bearing on our decision.
How many applicants are there for the fellowship?
We received over 1,500 applications last year for the 10 fellowships.
How are applicants chosen for the fellowship?
Manuscripts are read thoroughly by a committee of our faculty. The committee members then discuss the merits of the manuscripts they consider the most suitable for the fellowship, reread several of them and pass them along to other committee members, and eventually reach a consensus on five applicants in each category. Applications are never read by current students/fellows. Note that the manuscript is by far the most important part of the application, followed by the statement of plans; the information requested on the application form itself is essentially for biography.
What does the selection committee look for in a manuscript?
Good fiction or good poetry – that’s all. The best advice we can give is to seek the advice of other writers when preparing your manuscript.
How is the statement of plans evaluated, and how long should it be?
The statement of plans is helpful to the selection committee because it helps give them a sense of why you are applying for the Stegner Fellowship. The prompt is intentionally open-ended. The statement may not exceed 1000 words and most applicants submit one to two pages.
When are applicants notified of the committee’s decision?
All applicants will be notified of their status in April. Please do not contact us before then asking about your application, unless you want to notify us of a change in your contact information.
Can you tell me if I was shortlisted?
No, please do not ask us. Our notifications are strictly boolean. We never release feedback. Please understand that this is the only way we can keep our application fee reasonable considering the tremendous volume of applications we receive.
Can you tell me if my application is out of contention?
No, please do not ask us before April.
When do you contact recommenders?
We do not necessarily contact recommenders of successful applicants at all, and if we do we may do so at any time; please do not try to use your recommenders to gauge the status of your application.
If selected, can I defer my admission?
No. Fellowships are offered specifically for the following two academic years and may not be postponed; we want candidates to be serious about their intention to come to Stanford.
If I am not selected, can I apply again?
Certainly. If we are unable to award you a fellowship this year, it should not be taken as a prohibition of your reapplying; we look forward to following your growth as a writer. Many past Stegner Fellows applied more than once.
Can you give me feedback on my manuscript or tell me why I wasn’t selected for a fellowship?
No, we cannot provide any comments on manuscripts or on applications submitted, due to the extremely large volume we receive.
Besides attending workshop, what will be expected of me as a fellow?
The obvious expectation is that you will write, revise, write, with the goal of a finished manuscript ready for publication. The Creative Writing Program also hosts various lecture series and reading events; in the past, we have enjoyed the presence of guest speakers such as Jorie Graham, Joy Williams, E.L. Doctorow, Claudia Rankine and Jeffrey Eugenides. We also have a visiting poet-in-residence and a visiting writer-in-residence each year. Attendance at events related to these series is not only an expectation, but an enrichment in the life of a Stegner Fellow. Fellows also participate in campus readings throughout the year, and offer special programs to Stanford’s undergraduates.
Is residency required?
Yes. One must live close enough to Stanford to attend the weekly workshops as well as readings by visiting writers.
Can I keep my full-time job during the fellowship period?
The purpose of the fellowship is to give writers as much time as possible to work on their writing, free from the time constraints of full-time employment. Holding a full-time job during the fellowship runs counter to the intention of the fellowship.
When does the fellowship begin and end?
The workshop coincides with Stanford’s academic calendar. Fellows have the summer off to work, write or travel.
Do I get any kind of a degree once the fellowship is completed?
There is no degree attached to the Stegner Fellowship. We view it as more of an artist-in-residence opportunity for promising writers to spend two years developing their writing in the company of peers and under the guidance of Stanford faculty.
Does Stanford offer an MFA in Creative Writing?
No. Though the Stegner Fellowship Program is in some ways similar to an MFA program, no degree is offered.
How much is the fellowship and how long is it?
The fellowship includes a living stipend of $26,000 per academic year. The program also pays for each fellow’s tuition and health insurance. The program is a two-year program; admissions are staggered so that there are ten first year fellows and ten second year fellows at Stanford at any given time.
Is it possible to live on the fellowship?
The Bay Area is a very expensive place in which to live. Realistically, a person needs to have some form of supplemental income, which most commonly means working during the summer.
Is there an opportunity for me to teach to supplement my income?
Sometimes. Teaching appointments are not guaranteed, as priority goes to Ph.D. students who need the experience for their degree.
What do people do after the Fellowship is over?
All fellows have the opportunity to apply for a two-year lectureship teaching undergraduate fiction or poetry at Stanford. Fellows make a variety of career moves in “life after the Stegner.” Some go on to graduate programs, some are independently successful as writers, some go on to adjunct or tenure-track university teaching positions, or to other fellowship opportunities.