Helen Zell Writers Program

  • 3187 Angell Hall
  • 435 South State Street
  • Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1003
The Helen Zell Writers’ Program is a fully-funded two-year graduate program in creative writing leading to the Master of Fine Arts degree, followed by a guaranteed, fully-funded year-long post-graduate residency based in Ann Arbor. During their two years of coursework, students concentrate in either fiction or poetry. Alumni have gone on to accomplish remarkable things, garnering—in recent years—the National Book Award, The Yale Younger Poets Award, the Whiting Award, the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize, the Lambda Literary Award, and many other honors. Their work has appeared in acclaimed venues such as The New Yorker, and been anthologized in collections such as The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Poetry.


The Zell Visiting Writers Series, hosted by the Program and presented in partnership with the University of Michigan Museum of Art, brings the best authors in contemporary fiction and poetry to Ann Arbor for readings that are free and open to the public. Recent Visiting Writers and Writers in Residence have included David Mitchell, Kazuo Ishiguro, Anne Carson, and Louise Glück.


A part of LS&A, the Program received a donation of $50 million in 2013 from Helen Zell, Chicago philanthropist and University of Michigan alumna—the largest gift of its kind ever given to a writing program in the United States. The intention of this gift was to permanently fund the program, sustain its growth, and provide full and equal financial support to all its students.