Dear Prospective Applicant,

Thank you for your interest in our program. Applicants often ask us about the profile of a successful candidate. Like most competitive programs, we get more applicants than we can admit, and those we admit usually possess profiles that exceed the minimum criteria. Here are some things to consider as you decide whether our program is the right fit for you. The application requirements are further below.

Our successful candidate is one who has an excellent proficiency in the source language; a deep and sustained passion for literature, literary study, and creative writing; a compelling portfolio that shows promise in the art of literary translation; and an abiding interest in international literature and global literary exchanges.  Many of our applicants have spent a semester or a year in a country where their source language is spoken. We welcome bi-lingual and multi-lingual applicants as well as those with a strong and active heritage language. We also admit international students who possess near-native proficiency in English. Alongside valuing creative writing and foreign language skills, we also value analytic and critical skills, as we hope to produce translators who can translate but also reflect and write about translation.

Because there is no formal undergraduate degree program in translation in the US, we make every effort to evaluate applicants holistically: some have attained bachelor’s degrees recently or some time ago, while others hold advanced degrees including the MA or MFA. We welcome graduates of world languages, comparative literature, creative writing, and literary studies, but also of programs in the social sciences, fine arts, and natural sciences so long as they demonstrate commitment to the literary arts.

About language matches: while the majority of our students translate from world languages in which we have faculty mentors, we also admit students translating from other languages, provided that they demonstrate excellent source language proficiency.

Important Deadlines

Application Deadline: January 15th (for all programs)

How to Apply?

To apply online, go to the UI Graduate and Professional Admissions website.

After you submit your application, you will receive email instructions on how to establish your HawkID and password in order to access your Admissions Profile on MyUI, our online portal for students. All supporting materials can and should be uploaded through your Admissions Profile. If your academic program requires letters of recommendation, you will be asked to provide the contact information of your recommenders on your Profile. The recommender will then receive an email from the Office of Admissions instructing them on how to upload a recommendation letter and/or recommendation form.

Applicants for admission to the graduate program must meet the Admission Requirements of the Graduate College and the department offering the degree program (review the General Catalog for departmental requirements). See the Manual of Rules and Regulations of the Graduate College on the Graduate College website for additional information.

Requirements for Admission

  • Applications are reviewed only through the University of Iowa Graduate College website located at Graduate and Professional Admissions. For more information on details on how to apply, see the appropriate "How to Apply" section below.
  • The Supplemental MFA Application Form. Complete and upload it to your Admissions Profile.
  • A Portfolio of Writing: 8-10 pages of literary translations from your source language (along with originals and a brief translator’s note); 8-10 pages of original writing in English, critical or creative.
  • A statement of purpose indicating that the applicant understands the nature of the graduate program for which there are applying. In a well-organized essay (600 words, written in English), describe why you are seeking admission to our Literary Translation graduate program; how your current and past experiences have prepared you for graduate study in this field; your future academic and career plans; and any additional information that may aid in evaluating your candidacy. Include in your statement your address, telephone number, and e-mail address.
  • Undergraduate and graduate transcripts.
  • Three letters of recommendation. To be uploaded by the recommenders, these are signed letters on official letterhead to assist us in judging the applicant's potential for graduate study. Letters should include the basis for the recommenders' judgment and, particularly, their assessment of the applicant's strengths and weaknesses, ability and motivation to succeed in graduate school.
  • A curriculum vitae or résumé.
  • The Graduate College requires a minimum TOEFL score of 550 for Paper-based testing, 81 for Internet-based testing, or a minimum IELTS score of 7.0 (with no section score lower than 6.0) for international applicants whose native language is not English. Exceeding these scores does not guarantee admission, and average scores of students who are awarded financial aid are significantly higher. All students submitting IELTS scores must also take an on-campus English Proficiency Evaluation prior to registration. For Fall 2021 applicants, the Graduate College has approved the use of DuoLingo as a temporary additional testing option, as an alternative to TOEFL and IELTS. UI Graduate Admissions will use an official minimum requirement of 105 for admission and all students admitted on the DuoLingo English Test (DET) scores will be required to take the on-campus English Proficiency Exam when they arrive.
  • You should also provide evidence of advanced competence in the foreign language (normally three years or its equivalent  of college level work), and substantial preparation in English literature.


For additional questions about graduate studies, students may contact Jan Steyn.