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Oct 12, 2005, 9:13 PM

Post #1 of 9 (3250 views)
List of Programs Can't Post

I have a problem in that I have almost no one to talk to insofar as which MFA programs are worth their salt. I have a former professor who is advising me, and he recommended PITT, and Michigan, which I think are great ideas, but he apparently doesn't know much about the other schools I'm considering. I'm also interested in U Toronto, Boston, Brooklyn College (CUNY). Does anyone have any first hand experience with these schools? Thanks.

Stacy Patton Anderson

Oct 13, 2005, 5:42 PM

Post #2 of 9 (3224 views)
Re: [jtibbett] List of Programs Can't Post


you've definitely come to the right place. What you need to do first is read through this MFA board. There is a ton of information buried here about various programs, both in-res and low-res. Most of the more prestigious programs offer money so that you don't have to incur additional debt to complete the degree. Once you go through the threads you'll have a handle on the basics, then you can start investigating the websites of individual schools that might interest you, and reading up on their faculty. It's taken me over a year to decide finally where to apply, so just be patient--there's a great deal of information out there.

welcome to the speakeasy--

Stacy Patton Anderson


Oct 13, 2005, 6:25 PM

Post #3 of 9 (3221 views)
Re: [jtibbett] List of Programs Can't Post

What kind of school do you want to attend? A prestigious one? A school that gives full funding? A school that offers a MFA and not a MA like BU? Are you applying in fiction or poetry? Off the top of my head, Pitt is on the decline and doesn't offer much funding. Michigan is strong and very selective.


Oct 13, 2005, 11:04 PM

Post #4 of 9 (3205 views)
Re: [shadowboxer] List of Programs Can't Post

Sorry. It seems obvious to me now that I should have said these things up front. I write fiction almost exclusively, and that is the only kind of writing I want to work on in a program. I want a school that is selective, and that has full funding. Also, I'm really looking north (including Canada) rather than south, though I'm not ruling anything out. As far as prestige, I'm not sure whether I should pay attention to that. What I mean is that as long as the product is good, I don't care about the brand name. Insofar as the program itself, I would like very much to study theory, but what I'm really after right now is critical feedback and time to write. I don't care whether it's an MFA or an MA, so long as 1. It's fully funded, and 2. I get time to write. So, BU is a fine choice, and it's one of the schools I'm considering, though my first choice is U Toronto (which, by the way, also offers an MA).


Oct 14, 2005, 3:34 PM

Post #5 of 9 (3179 views)
Re: [jtibbett] List of Programs Can't Post


Check your messages.



Oct 14, 2005, 9:23 PM

Post #6 of 9 (3159 views)
Re: [joefazio] List of Programs Can't Post

Joe gave me a run down (thanks Joe) of BU, and it was really helpful, and gave me an idea of how to set criteria for the kind of program I need to find. For example, BU seems to be based around shorter works, but what I really need right now is time to write my novel -- that's the number one thing in the world for me right now, so I need to find a novel-based program, or at least a program that allows for that option.

Buy this book!

Oct 15, 2005, 1:28 PM

Post #7 of 9 (3145 views)
Re: [jtibbett] List of Programs Can't Post

If all you really want is time to write your novel, move back in with your parents. You'll waste a whole lot of time and money if you go to an MFA program looking for lots of spare time, and you'll take a space that could go to someone who wants, and will benefit from, the educational part of the program.


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Oct 16, 2005, 11:51 AM

Post #8 of 9 (3118 views)
Re: [pongo] List of Programs Can't Post

Oy. Let me rephrase. I'm not after "spare time," I'm after time to write. I want a program that isn't going to bog me down and keep me from writing my novel. That is, a program that is going to help me write my novel, rather than make me concentrate on other things. To be more specific, what I wanted to know was whether anyone knew anything about the way the programs I listed in the original post are run. I guess the only way I can find that out is to write directly to the people in charge of those programs. I was trying to avoid that because my experience has been that schools have a sales pitch, a standard (and fairly persuasive) spiel they'll give you rather than answering your questions. But it looks like there is no way around it. If I get any interesting answers, I'll post them here for others who may be interested.

Peace be unto you, or the atheistic version of that.

Kaytie M. Lee

Oct 16, 2005, 12:21 PM

Post #9 of 9 (3115 views)
Re: [jtibbett] List of Programs Can't Post

Many schools will give you the email or contact information of students who are willing to be contacted about the program. Though you're still likely to get a rosy picture, a student will be able to better answer your questions about how classes are run. Ask to be put in touch with a fiction student, and then grill that person with these questions.

My opinion, without knowing much about you or these programs:

Sounds like you would be best off in a program with a strong mentoring element. With a mentor, you'd have the same person looking at all of your pages throughout your education.
Without the opportunity for 1-on-1 work (or at least the opportunity to take the same professor's workshop more than once or twice) it's going to be more difficult to write a novel in school. Say you switch professors after writing 100 pages. Unless the new professor is very understanding and has a lot of time to kill, she is not going to want to read 100 pages before getting to your new work. She is also going to have different, often contradictory feedback for the portion you've already written and had workshopped. While it can be beneficial to receive other opinions, it can also stall the writing process.

If you are looking to focus primarily on the novel you wish to write, you may want to avoid programs with a heavy theory element. You might find yourself resentful of your time and money if you're in theory classes and having to write academic papers. (But if you plan to use your degree to teach, you will need these theory classes, as well as a TA position which will sap up your time but pad your resume.)

Finally, I'd like to suggest that the novel you write in grad school NOT be one that requires heavy research on your part. Mine was, and though I love the result, I had to take an extra year to finish it. Of course, that was in addition to writing other things as well.

Good luck,

Kaytie M. Lee Last Updated November 2008


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