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


Aug 28, 2008, 8:47 PM

Views: 28818
Re: [dorchester] Choosing an MFA Program (2009)


Some good points, though I can't help but wonder whether the reputation of the schools you mentioned is based on the publishing record of their graduates, or on the USNWR rankings from well over a decade ago. Recently a friend and I were trying to think of the great fiction writers who've come out of Irvine--and we had no problem doing so. Then we tried to do that with Iowa--still no problem. Then we moved on to Columbia and hit a blank. JHU, a blank. And if you're talking poets, it becomes an absolute massacre: UMass @ Amherst has graduated more big-time poets in the last three years than, perhaps, JHU has done in the history of the school. So here's my point: if you look at the schools you mentioned as having some pull with hiring committees, here's what you see in terms of the now-outdated USNWR rankings:

Iowa (#1)
JHU (#2)
Columbia (#4)
Virginia (#4)
Irvine (#6)
Michigan (#6)
Cornell (#10)

So what you're saying is--and I'm not saying you're wrong, so much as that we have to ask why you might be right--hiring committees just coincidentally have the most respect for 7 of the 10 programs which made the top ten in one magazine's rankings more than 12 years ago. Honestly, that just strikes me as hiring committees being out of touch, and wrongly assuming that nothing changes, rankings-wise, over time--even over a dozen years. And those dozen years have been the biggest years of expansion and upheaval in the history of the MFA degree in creative writing.

I guess what I'm saying is, it's going to happen--soon, if not already--that hiring committees say, "let's look at where the best writers are coming from, and/or where the most recent rankings place the different schools out there." And when they do that, programs like Massachusetts are going to really explode in prestige, as will other programs that have made the top 20 in the United States in three straight years of rankings:

Notre Dame*
Washington U.*
Minnesota *
Wisconsin *

* Washington University was 21st in 2007; Wisconsin and Minnesota were 26th in 2007; Notre Dame is 22nd in 2009; Houston is 24th in 2009. In all other years these programs were top 20.

Fudging only a hair, that's nineteen programs that have been in the top 20 for three straight years. That sort of confidence level in the recent rankings--95% agreement--suggests that any hiring committee which only considers six of the above programs (less than a third) prestigious "on their face" is severely out of touch. It's not a huge surprise that hiring committees are a few years behind (as the only rankings done in the 21st century have only been out since January of 2007, or about 18 months), but I don't think it'll be much longer before there's a sea change. In any case, anyone who attends one of the programs above now will undoubtedly, by the time they graduate in 2-3 years, be entering a workforce in which such programs have every bit as much prestige as the schools you mentioned in your post.


(This post was edited by umass76 on Aug 28, 2008, 8:49 PM)

Edit Log:
Post edited by umass76 (User) on Aug 28, 2008, 8:48 PM
Post edited by umass76 (User) on Aug 28, 2008, 8:49 PM
Post edited by umass76 (User) on Aug 28, 2008, 8:49 PM

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