Full-time: 1 year
Next start date
2018 Semester One – 26 February
2019 Semester One – 4 March
Available locations
Programme type
Research options available

Programme overview

The MCW is for writers working on a large-scale creative writing project: a novel, short story collection, full-length work of creative nonfiction, or poetry collection.

The programme is convened by the award-winning novelist and short story writer, Paula Morris. Acclaimed poet Selina Tusitala Marsh co-supervises poets in the programme.

The best portfolio each year wins the Sir James Wallace Master of Creative Writing Prize of $5,000, New Zealand’s richest prize for a creative writing student.

Master of Creative Writing sampler (PDF 432kb)

Programme structure

The MCW is a one-year, full-time programme of study with entry in Semester One only. You will enrol in CREWRIT 797 Creative Writing (120 points).

If you are writing a novel, short stories or creative non-fiction, you are expected to produce a portfolio of between 40,000 and 80,000 words. Poetry collections should have a minimum of 80 pages.

You’ll attend two weekly classes during semester: the workshop and the seminar.

In the workshop, you will submit drafts of stories, poems and novel sections for discussion and feedback, and take part in weekly writing exercises.

The weekly seminar is a forum for thinking and talking about writing. In these classes we discuss published work and explore the key issues of technique you need to consider in your work.

The seminar hosts a range of visitors, including local and international writers; practitioners from the world of film, radio and theatre; and speakers from the publishing and literary arts world.

Recent visiting writers have included Teju Cole, Frankie McMillan, Lucinda Hawksley, Michel Faber, Elizabeth McCracken, Louise Welch, Zoe Strachan, Ben Okri, Stephanie Johnson, Eleanor Catton, Owen Scott, David Mitchell, Colm Toibin, Sebastian Barry and Anita Desai.

Subjects available in this programme

2018 entry requirements

Programme requirements

The MCW is a highly competitive programme.

You should have a book project in mind or already underway and demonstrate a clear creative focus and accomplishment in your chosen genre.

To enrol in a MCW you need to have completed one of the following at a recognised university (or similar institution):

  • A four-year bachelors degree
  • An honours degree
  • A three-year bachelors degree, and a professional qualification in writing or at least three years of professional experience in writing

Professional experience can include previously published creative writing, working in a field involving writing such as journalism or copywriting, involvement in writers’ groups or participation in writing events.

You will also need to submit a portfolio of creative writing that is judged by the convenor to be of sufficient standard for entry into the programme.

Further programme requirements

English language requirements

If you are an international applicant whose first language is not English you will need to provide evidence of your English proficiency.

You will require an IELTS Academic score of 6.5 with no bands less than 6.0. See alternative English language requirements.

How much does a Master of Creative Writing cost per year?

2018 fees

Domestic students
International students

Fees are set in advance of each calendar year and will be updated on this website. 2018 fees are inclusive of 15% GST, but do not include the Student Services Fee, course books, travel and health insurance, or living costs. Amounts shown are indicative only. In addition to the tuition fees, there is a Student Services Fee of $6.78 per point, estimated at $813.60 for full-time study (120 points). Fees will be confirmed upon completion of enrolment into courses.

*Please note: amounts shown are indicative and estimates only.

Find out about financial support information

Scholarships and awards

Find out about the scholarships you may be eligible for.

Student loans and allowances

Are you a New Zealand citizen or resident? You could be eligible for a student loan or allowance.

Cost of living

Get an idea of how much accommodation and general living in Auckland will cost.

Key dates

All candidates must submit two applications: one to the University of Auckland, and a separate portfolio application to English, Drama and Writing Studies.

You may submit your application at any time, but no applications will be read by the convenor of the programme until November. Successful and waitlisted candidates will be advised by the end of November.

Please note: We will consider late applications if places are still available. International students should start the application process as early as possible to allow sufficient time to apply for a visa.

Application closing dates

Semester One 2018
1 November 2017

Start dates

Here are the start dates for the programme.

Other important dates

See important dates for the academic year, including orientation, enrolment, study breaks, exams, and graduation.

How to apply for the Master of Creative Writing

All candidates must submit two applications: one to the University of Auckland and a separate portfolio application to the programme convenor. Please note that you must be accepted both by the University and by English to receive a place on the MCW.

We do not operate a rolling admissions process. 

Application deadline

The deadline for MCW applications is 1 November.

Please remember that a University acceptance does not constitute an offer of a place on the MCW. Entry to the MCW is highly competitive, and successful and waitlisted candidates will be advised by the end of November.

University application

For the University application, students must submit:

  • Full contact details
  • All previous academic transcripts
  • A current comprehensive CV including professional experience, education, publications and prizes

This application must be submitted as an Application for Admission. You can make this application at any time. Note that it does not guarantee you a place on the MCW.

Portfolio application

For the portfolio application, applicants must submit:

  • Full contact details
  • All previous academic transcripts
  • A current comprehensive CV including professional experience, education, publications and prizes
  • A creative writing sample of up to twenty pages (double-spaced, 12-point type) of either fiction or creative nonfiction or poetry (one genre only), ideally work-in-progress
  • A one to two page summary of the book you intend to work on during the MCW year

This application must be submitted to english@auckland.ac.nz with the subject heading MCW application / Applicant Name.

You may submit your application at any time, but no applications will be read by the programme convenor until November.

Where could this programme take you?

This programme will equip you with the skills you need to finish your book through putting pen to paper. Our graduates have published books with a range of publishers including Penguin Random House, Bloomsbury, Auckland University Press, Huia and USP Press. These graduates include Linda Olsson, Emily Perkins, John Adams, Sonja Yelich and Renee Liang.

Student career planning service

Once you become a student at the University, you can get help with planning and developing your career from Career Development and Employability Services.

Rachel completed a Master of Creative Writing and her novel has been selected for publication in Greece.

Read more

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Outside Auckland
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