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Main Index » Writing and Publishing » MFA Programs Re: [calumnian] Choosing an MFA Program (2009): Edit Log


Jul 26, 2008, 3:59 PM

Views: 30580
Re: [calumnian] Choosing an MFA Program (2009)


Hi there! Okay, I'll take a crack at it. In answer to your question, based on your criteria you're missing:

1. University of Califonia at Irvine
2. Cornell University
3. Indiana University
4. Purdue University
5. University of Oregon
6. Ohio State University
7. Syracuse University
8. Johns Hopkins University
9. University of Illinois
10. University of Iowa
11. Southern Illinois University
12. University of Notre Dame
13. Minnesota State University at Mankato
14. University of Massachusetts

That said, I'm not sure what you meant by criteria #3. The only notably experimental-friendly program you've got on your current list is Brown, and all of the programs on both your list and the list above require students to select a concentration. I don't know of any schools that specifically prohibit a student from taking seminars out-of-genre (at Iowa, for instance, I could take all fiction seminars for two years if I wanted, despite being a poet and in the poetry-concentration program), but I also don't know of any programs that allow, say, poets to do more than (at most) take one workshop out-of-genre across a two or three year program, which wouldn't really qualify as "interdisciplinary" given the fractional number of credits a single workshop brings (in the big picture of the entire degree). The only program I'm aware of that specifically has interdisciplinary studies as part of its official mission statement, and not merely an (at most) across-the-board, minimal core requirement, is Northwestern University's new MFA, which meets most of your requirements except for the all-important funding piece.

Most importatly, though--and the reason I've put such a barrage of school recommendations, above--is that it would be extremely unwise for any applicant to apply to only four schools, particularly when two of those schools (Wisconsin and Virginia) are tied for the lowest acceptance rate in the United States (1.5%), and two others (Brown and Michigan) are only a fraction behind. Minnesota is also an incredibly hard admit. I know you said your list is just an early draft, but at the same time, I just want to make sure (for your sake!) that your four rigid requirements are not so rigid that you end up applying to anything less than ten schools--fifteen, if all of them are going to be in the U.S. top 25.

Taking your requirements into account, though--and now specifically thinking about requirement #3--I'd say the biggest omissions on your list are Cornell University, University of Iowa, and University of Califonia at Irvine. Claims that Iowa has a conservative aesthetic are ridiculous; in both the poetry and fiction programs, I've never seen anyone do anything but write whatever and however they feel like writing, period.

If a program admits you, it means--by definition--they're looking to support you in writing better the sort of poetry/fiction that already got you into the school in the first place. It's one reason I think aesthetic prerequisites (almost always based on hearsay, anyway) aren't very helpful in making application-related or matriculation decisions, as the admissions process is a self-selecting process in at least one sense: MFA faculties don't, as a rule, admit people just for the purpose of trying to fundamentally change their aesthetic.

Best of luck,

MFA Rankings and More at: http://www.sethabramson.blogspot.com/

(This post was edited by umass76 on Jul 26, 2008, 4:01 PM)

Edit Log:
Post edited by umass76 (User) on Jul 26, 2008, 4:00 PM
Post edited by umass76 (User) on Jul 26, 2008, 4:01 PM

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