Mar 23, 2006, 4:56 PM
All this talk of rankings and how the USN&WR ones are so out of date makes me think that we who have done our research are more in the know and can come up with a better rankings list if we talk about it. So I wanna start the ball rolling by listing what I believe to be the top ten schools in fiction. My caveat is that I haven't done a lot of research on some schools, and I do show a private school bias. But you can definitely make suggestions as this list develops.
1. Iowa - on reputation alone, it's still self-selecting and attracts the most applicants and best students. Add the reputation of its professors (Marilynne Robinson and James Alan McPherson among them), and it's hard to question its place. However, it does have minuses, including the fact that it has a tiered funding system and is seen as conservative.
2. Johns Hopkins - fully funded for all students with Alice McDermott and Stephen Dixon on faculty, as well as a top-notch English PhD wing as complement, Hopkins is definitely an amazing program. The two-year format is pretty new though, so it may not be as well-tested as other programs. Also, the fact that Hopkins is primarily known as a science school may affect environment (read: stuffy).
3. Cornell - the best financial deal among the programs: a fully-funded two years for all students plus a guaranteed two-year lectureship after graduating. Extremely small with four students in each genre admitted each year. No outright stars among the faculty, but an amazing teacher-student ratio, especially with the recent addition of Ernesto Quinones and J. Robert Lennon to the faculty. Also the highest ranked English PhD program among schools that also have MFA Writing programs.
4. Michigan - Peter Ho Davies and Nick Delbanco lead a faculty with a great reputation and a fantastic recent publication record. As of this year, they're also funding all students equally. Even though the funding isn't as good as at other schools, they also have fellowships available upon graduation. Faculty-student ratio isn't great but students seem to be doing quite well regardless.
5. Brown - The place to go if you're feeling cutting-edge and experimental. Fully-funded though cost-of-living is high.
6. Michener Center, UT-Austin - Time, time, time is the key: three years of fully-funded study without teaching responsibilities. The problem is that there's no permanent faculty, so feedback may be inconsistent.
7. Boston University - With Jhumpa Lahiri, Ha Jin, and Peter Ho Davis emerging from BU to become luminaries, there's no doubt that it has emerged as a top program. Problem is that it's only one year and the funding situation isn't great.
8. Columbia - New York location draws excellent faculty but at what cost? Try being at least $30,000 in debt for each year you're in the program. But hey, the location and people to work with are hard to beat.
9. UVA - Ann Beattie and John Casey head a stellar faculty in a fully-funded program.
10. University of Houston - A significant amount of star power among the faculty with Antonya Nelson and Robert Boswell, but not all students are funded and incoming first-years have to teach as soon as they get there.
Other programs that could be on this list, but I don't know enough about them: UC Irvine, University of Montana, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Wash U., Syracuse, NYU, Arizona
(This post was edited by sibyline on Mar 23, 2006, 4:57 PM)