The University of Pittsburgh supports its MFA students through a number of funding opportunities.
In each incoming class, the Writing Program awards two Teaching Assistantships to incoming students in each of the three genres, so there are six students each year who enter as TAs. At any given time, approximately 18 students in the Writing Program are active TAs.
Every year, between 11 and 21 new students enter the MFA program. Of these, six students are awarded TA positions. This means that between 25% and 50% of each year’s entering students are fully funded (with salary, medical benefits, and tuition remission).
Pitt’s English Department is well-known for its excellent teacher preparation, which is an asset to students who seek careers in teaching after graduation. English Department TAs teach 1 course per semester, typically a course with 24 students or fewer. For teaching this course, work defined as requiring approximately 20 hours per week, full tuition scholarships and medical benefits are provided, and TAs are paid a salary. TAs who are making satisfactory progress as students and teachers will have their appointments renewed for an additional two years. After the second year, TAs generally teach advanced composition and introductory creative writing classes.
William S. Dietrich Fellowships
In Fall 2017, the Writing Program will award three 1-year William S. Dietrich Fellowships to incoming students across the genres. These carry a stipend of more than $22,000, the equivalent of a TAship plus medical insurance, and tuition remission. Recipients will not teach during the fellowship year and will subsequently shift to TA status in their second and third years of study. Starting in 2018, the number of fellowships will rise to six, continuing thenceforth. With the inauguration of these new Dietrich Fellowships, the Writing Program will offer full-funding to all graduate students it admits.
K. Leroy Irvis Fellowships
MFA applicants will be considered for K. Leroy Irvis Fellowships, which are designed to help the university recruit and retain underrepresented minority graduate and professional students, and ultimately enhance their presence in the professorate. These fellowships provide distinguished minority graduate students with individual mentoring and a first-year stipend independent of teaching responsibilities. The value gets adjusted each year, but the fellowship carries full tuition remission, medical benefits, and a stipend of at least $16,000. The stipend for an Irvis Fellowship is the same as for a TAship, and details can be found here. In addition, Irvis fellows receive $250 for books to use at the Book Center. The Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences has awarded 4 Irvis Fellowships to MFA students since 2008, and the department has been invited to nominate an entering MFA student for an Irvis Fellowship every year beginning in fall 2014.
The Department of English provides funds (at present, $400 each year) to support travel for graduate students participating in professional conferences. This money is normally used to make up the difference in expenses after students have exhausted other available resources. Generally, students must present their work at a conference in order to be eligible for these funds, but those attending the Associated Writing Programs conference will receive funds for service at the Writing Program's book fair table or on its social media.