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Jul 28, 2010, 8:54 PM

Post #1951 of 2092 (27465 views)
Re: [rhouston] Southern Mississippi [In reply to] Can't Post

My up-front advice is: if you know you're going to be applying to PhDs, take some summer Uni or Community College classes *before* you get to the program, then take (and pass) the test right away so you don't have to worry about it.

In my experience, foreign language requirements are hard and fast, no getting around them as they are usually dictated by the graduate school (I think) and not individual departments. However, you're usually offered several different options for fulfilling the req such as:
1) Having done significant coursework (such as a major or minor) in a FL within the last five (or so) years.
2) Taking 2 upper-level FL courses (equiv of junior and senior undergrad classes) for a minimum of B+ (or maybe B? I'm a little fuzzy on this all).
3) Taking a written translation/comprehension test with open book.
4) Taking a multiple-choice computer test with no open book.

I should say too that at my school you can demonstrate plain old proficiency in two languages or advanced proficiency in one. So you don't necessarily have to know two languages.

The FL requirements are tough because it's just hard to fit an undergrad language class that meets four days a week into one's teaching and class-taking schedule. Another bummer is that there's usually no summer tuition waiver (again, this may vary from school to school), so if you want to knock out the FL req in the summer, you have to pay for the classes.

Still, it is and can be done all the time.

My route, just FYI: I had taken several French classes in college (10 years ago) and had a fellowship that gave me a semester off from teaching (though I was still taking classes), so I took a one-semester intermediate French class pass/fail, passed it, then spent the first month of the summer basically reading through the rest of the text book and all other French text books I could beg, borrow or steal. I spent 3-6 hours per day, for four weeks, teaching myself French, then took the computer exam and scored advanced proficiency.

In defense of the FL req (and believe me, I am sympathetic to your feelings), it does help lend an air of "legitimacy" to the CW PhD and helps inch the degree's reputation closer towards being academically, rigorously on par with a traditional Lit PhD.

Also, it's very possible that some PhD programs don't have FL reqs, but I don't know which those might be.


Jul 28, 2010, 9:18 PM

Post #1952 of 2092 (27459 views)
Re: [spamela] Southern Mississippi [In reply to] Can't Post

as an addendum: Some Unis offer FL reading comprehension classes specifically tailored to grad students to prepare them for a translation exam. So applicants should poke around course listings and see if those options are available at the schools where you will apply. Although, OP, it sounds as if you have had recent FL courses, so maybe it's just a matter of reviewing so that you can pass the exam right away.


Jul 30, 2010, 9:34 AM

Post #1953 of 2092 (27389 views)
Denver [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey, anyone at Denver care to chat? I'm curious as to why the web site says it's a 3-year program. How is that possible? They also seem to present themselves as "experimental"/avant garde. Is that true? My poems are not that kind of writing at all. Thanks.


Aug 2, 2010, 6:03 PM

Post #1954 of 2092 (27315 views)
Re: [Lil Bit] Florida State [In reply to] Can't Post


I'm somewhat in the same boat.

I'm uber nervous to be finishing up my MFA thesis this May. And the next logical step is to start looking into PhD programs. But it is so scary!

I've been reading this thread, lurking, for some time now. I had no idea that PhD programs were so competetive!! I have a few, I guess - general - questions.

1. Do I need a PhD? I thought MFA was terminal, but according to everyone (and many job postings found while surfing), I guess it's not going to be enough to get me even a non-tenure track freshmen comp position. :( I'm (somwhat) published. I have one chapbook, several modest mag pubs, but I'm not stellar. I'm coming from a relatively new and unknown MFA program, too. I'm thinking all of this will work against me in the job market.

2. If I do turn out to need a PhD, is creative writing the best route to take - thinking about employablity (is that even a word?? :-p). I'm considering also a Rhet and Comp PhD, or even possibly straight up lit. I'm a poet at heart, but... um... I'll need a job at some point. Would it be more practical to go the rhet and comp route?

3. Would I even be able to get in to a program?! Ahhh...!!! Accepting like... 2 poets a year some places? I don't consider myself in the top... .5% of poets out there. That is scary too.

4. And also - those of you who are married, how do you sell said idea to spouse? Looks like most programs will require a cross country move. My hubby's a computer engineer, and while very supportive of my wild dreams... if he can't get a job in say, middle of nowhere town X... we simply cannot go. :-/

What makes me soooo nervous is the vast amount of unknowns. I would LOVE a PhD, and know that at some point in my life... I'll get one. I want to jump right in... it's so exciting. I'm just nervous I guess... and there really are not many resources out there to learn more about PhDs in English, in general - creative writing in particular!

I'm really eyeing up Houston, though. Man, funding package looks nice... and I'm a Texan so I'm partial. I hate student loan debt, and I think I could live off stipend if hubby had an ok job in Houston. But it must be so competetive right? How would chances for someone like myself (measly chapbook pub, few mags) to get in? Would they laugh at my application and use it to line their birdcages? Also, feasible to work outside PhD, like, say - in academic advising (that's what i do now!).

Anyway, there's my ramble. Thanks, all of you out there, who post info and educate the rest of us. This thread is absolutely invaluable, and has really openned my eyes to the sheer competetiveness to PhD programs out there.


Aug 3, 2010, 11:58 AM

Post #1955 of 2092 (27279 views)
Re: [kghoerth] Florida State [In reply to] Can't Post

So I went to an MFA program, was fully funded, and wrote and wrote and wrote. Now, a year later, after adjuncting and tutoring and making money in other stupid ways, I feel like I need to go back. The only options I see:

-Another MFA, in a writing related field (playwriting)


-Another fully-funded degree in the arts

I just want the time and money offered by an MFA in order to finish my manuscript. Yes, I am lazy and don't want a real job. Don't judge.

Glinda Bamboo

Aug 3, 2010, 1:53 PM

Post #1956 of 2092 (27266 views)
Re: [blueragtop] Florida State [In reply to] Can't Post

We're ALL lazy and don't want real jobs!!

Well, I'm not so much lazy (very hard working when it comes to my writing, actually) but good lord, not having a real job would rule.

Some people do go on to get second MFAs, you know. I've always found that kind of weird -- and the second MFA programs don't mind?? -- but it sounds pretty good to me!


Aug 4, 2010, 3:47 PM

Post #1957 of 2092 (27218 views)
Re: [spamela] Southern Mississippi [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks, Spamela. While I was probably hoping more for the answer that one could navigate around the FL requirements altogether, I at least have some idea now of how FL requirements can be and are satisfied, especially for those programs which require more than just record of 12 hours (100- and 200-level) of foreign language course study. I've also found in my research that some doctoral programs allow you to take, let's say, twelve hours in another concentration--something like journalism, history, etc., perhaps?--as a replacement for one (if there are two) foreign language requirements. I can't remember what programs those were off the top of my head though. Regardless, again, appreciate your feedback, Spamela. It'll help the decision-making process.


Aug 4, 2010, 3:58 PM

Post #1958 of 2092 (27210 views)
Re: [rhouston] Southern Mississippi [In reply to] Can't Post

You're welcome! The alternatives that you've found sound really interesting and promising. And again, I'm sure different schools have different plans to help CW students navigate those choppy waters. I know the FL reqs were a huge anxiety for me (as I am not particularly foreign-language savvy) and they do slow people down (in terms of finishing the degree) if they're not planned for pretty well in advance, so it's good that you're looking into it now.


Aug 14, 2010, 8:26 PM

Post #1959 of 2092 (27023 views)
Re: [sonshineslocs] creative writing ph.d. ? [In reply to] Can't Post

I didn't take a look at this whole long thread, so someone may have already mentioned these, but I applied for PhD programs a while back and I know of 3 specific ones:

- Texas Tech University (I got my MA in Literature there - great place, great faculty, but starting to get pretty competitive to get into)
- University of South Dakota
- University of Illinois, Milwaukee

My experience with applying for these programs was a strange one. I applied twice to the PhD program at TTU - once right after my Master's and once a year later. I got accepted the first try (but was very very lucky to have one of the people who was on the committee a professor I had been working with who believed in me) but turned it down for the program at USD. The second time was after I found that USD wasn't for me (not a bad program, just not for me) and I didn't get accepted :(. As for Univ of Ill, I was basically put on the waiting list without having a clue to it and suddenly got an acceptance (but with no funding or teaching assistantship offered with it) after I had accepted at USD. While I was thrilled to get the acceptance (since I know Univ of Ill is so prestigious), I turned it down for 2 reasons - the first is that there was no TAship offered and there was no way I could afford, even with financial aid, to go without a TAship - and the second was because I had already accepted USD and I didn't feel right about suddenly declining their offer after I had accepted. Even though USD didn't work out, I don't regret that decision.



Aug 15, 2010, 7:30 PM

Post #1960 of 2092 (26992 views)
Re: [tammay] creative writing ph.d. ? [In reply to] Can't Post

This is the Texas Tech in Lubbock? (By 'great place', do you mean the school? Or do you mean Lubbock? ...Lubbock, Lubbock, Lubbock...TX. 11th in size, 1st in xenophobia...)


six five four three two one 0 ->


Sep 4, 2010, 10:31 AM

Post #1961 of 2092 (26779 views)
Re: [freeverses] creative writing ph.d. ? [In reply to] Can't Post

hi, i'm excited to hear about phd in creative writing as well. however, i am very concerned about the gre subject test. i did very well in the gre verbal but don't think i can do as well on the gre subject test. how much does the score matter and if possible could you share your score\process of studying for it?

thank you

In Reply To

Buy this book!

e-mail user

Sep 4, 2010, 1:19 PM

Post #1962 of 2092 (26765 views)
Re: [Junior Maas] creative writing ph.d. ? [In reply to] Can't Post

As a graduate student, I went to the English grad student conference at Texas Tech. Nice school, horrible place to live.

The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.


Sep 5, 2010, 11:54 PM

Post #1963 of 2092 (26710 views)
Re: [nightsky27] creative writing ph.d. ? [In reply to] Can't Post

I scored in the 40th. percentile. Pretty bad, I know. But I got into a top-ranked creative writing Ph.D. program. Writing sample, writing sample, writing sample! As far as the GRE subject test, I think a program's looking for basic competence. Some may disagree.


Sep 7, 2010, 5:02 PM

Post #1964 of 2092 (26657 views)
Re: [jacksonbliss] USC [In reply to] Can't Post


i'm considering applying to usc. I know they require the gre subject test. if you don't mind how was your score or how important a role did it factor in acceptance?

also, how diverse is the student body. i know it's a small program but is there a range of backgrounds\styles?



Sep 7, 2010, 7:00 PM

Post #1965 of 2092 (26644 views)
Re: [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi guys,

I've got a new article up at The Huffington Post that I think is relevant to this community:

Six Myths About the Creative Writing Master of Fine Arts

I hope you'll read it and pass it along to others (via Facebook, Twitter, &c)! So many folks misunderstand the degree and why it's something all of us here are interested in.

Best to all,


Sep 18, 2010, 4:37 PM

Post #1966 of 2092 (26502 views)
MAs [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey, have any of you applied to MAs as well as PhDs? I have an MFA but no Bachelor's, and I'm wondering if I'll have a better chance at getting into an MA--and then maybe a PhD afterward. Advice?

Stephanie Kartalopoulos

Sep 18, 2010, 9:46 PM

Post #1967 of 2092 (26483 views)
Re: [Lil Bit] Florida State [In reply to] Can't Post

Lil Bit,

Even if you are uncertain about wanting a PhD or wanting to teach as part of a very traditional academic sort of career path, I think that applying to programs is a hugely worthwhile thing to do. I think that my advice is a bit against the grain of how people have considered your thoughts over the last couple of months, but I do still very much believe that the PhD is one of the most amazing, life-changing, and expansive experiences you can have.

There are many people who doubt whether they want this degree once they are in their programs. There is something, though, about taking courses you never otherwise would have had the chance to take--and learning the things involved in them--that only adds to your sense of self, your confidence in your ability to pursue intellectual ideas that may not have otherwise been appealing to you, and your appreciation for the entire universe of thought, ideas, inquiry, experience, etc. that can contribute--sometimes in the strangest and most unexpected ways--to your creative pursuits. For me, in my program (I am at the University of Missouri), it has been a HUGE revelation to take classes in mathematics theory, to take poetics classes, to even take my required theory class and to learn that it's something I don't need to be afraid of (and can even love, given the right areas of theory). I've also developed a love of poetry criticism and contemporary poets--whose work I can consider intellectually and not only as models for my own poetry--who I may not ever have explored so closely, so seriously.

In a doctoral program, you will teach. You will also be exposed to the high-level administrative structure of departments and the university-at-large (which should be nothing new for you, since you've been exposed to the beurocracy and politics of even a community college). You might even be exposed to the university's publishing activities (Mizzou has publishing internships, and I spent time with Persea Books taking a publishing internship and finding, actually, a strange love of that industry and a strange confidence in myself reading unsolicited manuscripts, reading for contests, and working on pre- and post-publication publicity and tour management for some of persea's poets). You might have opportunities to work as part of your grad assistanceship in the writing center, or in other areas of the university that will expand and change your ideas of what the 'job market' could be for you and how the ideas of intellectual pursuit/academic scholarship and professionalization can work in parallel to each other, through notions of fortuitous intersection, and sometimes in happily diverging ways.

I've gotten so much out of my program. I went from my first year--having breakdown after breakdown and sitting in professors' offices crying uncontrollably because I (in my 30s, having spent 5 years on 'break' from school while I worked and taught...) didn't think I could do this, didn't think I was smart enough, etc--to now, my third year, considering the possibilities for intellectual pursuit, scholarship, and professionalization that are beyond anything I eve could have imagined for my life...and starting to read for comprehensive exams, which add a new and different level of confidence in myself as a thinker, a scholar, and just an intelligent person with something to say and questions to ask about the things I read.

Ultimately, I have no clue what the job market will be in a couple of years or what I will decide I can and can not handle about the job market. Maybe I will be lucky and find a great job--or even an OK enough job--in a town or city I like, or maybe I will have to think of a Plan B. But no matter what, the ways that I have grown as a person, a writer, and a thinker make being in my program PROFOUNDLY worthwhile.

I say apply. I say see what happens--if you get in anywhere or not--and then figure out what to do then. You can say yes. You can defer admissions. You can say no. See how you feel about it then, when it really is a question of whether or not the PhD is right for you to take on instead of a question of what happens if you take the time, energy, and money to send out some applications!


Jessie Carty
e-mail user

Sep 22, 2010, 3:15 PM

Post #1968 of 2092 (26406 views)
Re: [stephkarto1] Florida State [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm still torn about the PhD. I finished my MFA in January 2009 at the age of almost 34. Now I'll be 36 in February and I wonder if it is too late to even think about doing a PhD. I'm adjuncting now and I like working at a community college but I wonder about taking that extra step...to have the chance to do more scholarship and to, perhaps, give myself a shot at university level teaching...


Stephanie Kartalopoulos

Sep 22, 2010, 4:11 PM

Post #1969 of 2092 (26396 views)
Re: [jacarty] Florida State [In reply to] Can't Post

I still say do it. In my PhD program, there are people who start in their mid-late 30s and people who start in their 40s. I started after I turned 31, which I know is a small bit younger, but it's not HORRIBLY younger. An application will give you the chance--once you get an admissions offer--to then decide yay or nay (after giving yourself the months of time between applying, waiting, hearing to really think about it...). If you don't apply, then you don't have ultimate power over what you do.

In Reply To


Sep 24, 2010, 1:14 AM

Post #1970 of 2092 (26348 views)
Re: [kghoerth] Florida State [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey, kgoerth. I don't have a a whole lot of advise for you but more just commiseration because I'm going through a lot of the same thoughts as you right now.

I'm in a different place because I finished my MFA about 5 years ago (though in screenwriting, not creative writing, though I've spoken w/several of the programs and they said that was OK) and only started thinking about a PhD a few years ago. Well, basically, when I learned that there WERE PhDs in CW - once I found out I've been obsessed since.

The biggest thing I identified w/that you said was how the hell do you get your spouse to move. My BF and I aren't married yet but it's in the plans, and he is a TV producer (not the kind where he makes millions and I get to sit at home and write, unfortunately) so he REALLY can't move anywhere else. I applied to USC's program last year and, surprise surprise, did not get in. (if you've read some of the other posts in here you may have heard that they accept 4-6 students a year, depending on fellowship funding, out of 100-120 applicants, and only half of those are fiction, so really 2-3). Unfortunately, that's not just the only program in CA, but on the whole west coast. ARGH!!!

This will now be the 3rd year I'll try the phd application race. The first year I applied to U of Utah and didn't get in (Thought I was going to move to Utah... that's a long story... well, memoir, actually...). I was a little surprised then, because I thought myself a competitive candidate, but was just learning how tough these programs were to get into. The next year I tried USC and no-go. Now, the third year, I realize that I'm fooling myself to only apply to one (or even two) places if I really want to do this. And, I think I do.

To answer one of your questions, Kghoerth, (instead of just rambling about myself... sorry... first post on this thread, gotta get it all out there...) about if you "need" a phd - someone put it well at the beginning of these posts (in page 2 or 3... I skipped from page 5 to 79, LOL) that you're OK with just an MFA if you want to write and only write, and you should get a phd if you know you want to teach. I think it was more eloquent than that, something like "Get an MFA if you would write even if you couldn't teach, and get a PhD if you would teach even if you weren't writing." This was advice to someone who was trying to decide between MFA and PhD - you're in a different boat because you're finishing an MFA and wondering if you need a PhD. I still think it's applicable in a way because I think that the PhD is for folks who really love academia, for better or for worse, and who are OK putting up with the BS that comes along with it (politics, etc.) in order to stay in the realm of academia their whole life.

If that's you, then I encourage you to apply and to apply to 5+ schools, which is my goal this year. I THINK I'm going to apply to: USC (again, sigh), U of Utah (again, sigh), UNLV, Denver U, Hawaii (just cuz - hawaii! Awesome!) and perhaps something in Texas or U of Illinois, Chicago. I'm mostly choosing based on location. I'm jealous of all you east coasters who have oodles of options (well, comparatively...)


Sep 24, 2010, 1:18 AM

Post #1971 of 2092 (26347 views)
Re: [jacarty] Florida State [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
I'm still torn about the PhD. I finished my MFA in January 2009 at the age of almost 34. Now I'll be 36 in February and I wonder if it is too late to even think about doing a PhD.

Jesse - I work at a college in admissions where I often have folks in their late 40s or 50s coming in to finish their BA. 36 and too late to do a PhD? Bah! If you want to, do it! I had a lady (an applicant to my school) tell me once that she told a friend "but I'll be 50 by the time I have my degree!" and her friend answered back "you're gonna be 50 one way or another. Do you want to be 50 with a degree, or 50 w/o a degree?" I loved that.


Sep 24, 2010, 1:38 AM

Post #1972 of 2092 (26344 views)
Re: [nightsky27] creative writing ph.d. ? [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
hi, i'm excited to hear about phd in creative writing as well. however, i am very concerned about the gre subject test. i did very well in the gre verbal but don't think i can do as well on the gre subject test. how much does the score matter and if possible could you share your score\process of studying for it?

thank you

In Reply To

nightsky27 - from what I'd heard and what I've read on here, I don't think it's all THAT important. THe admissions gal at USC said that they literally look at the creative sample first, then the critical, then the transcripts, letters of rec and statements get about equal weight in the middle, and then the GRE/GRE Lit scores are REALLY mostly used just to get fellowship money. However, upon not getting in this year, she was kind enough to let me know what I could do better next time and did mention that the average scores for the GRE verbal section was 705 and for the subject test, it was 640. She emphasize again that those are definitely not the most important parts of the application, just an obvious place I could improve. I think I had a about a 450 on the literature GRE, which is the 49th percentile. I have heard from other peeps on this board that said they were accepted to a program with a score in the 40th percentile.

I used the princeton review book which I think is pretty good. I actually did not take many lit classes in college somehow, lol, so I've been listening to survey of lit classes from iTunes U to fill in the gap. I also am studying English Literature for Dummies and American Literature for Dummies, which are both embarrassing titles for someone to own who supposedly loves literature, but which fills in the gaps between what I'm familiar w/ (which would basically be Greek Mythology to Modern American Poets... so, like, everything.....)

Hope that sort of helps.... :)


Sep 24, 2010, 9:27 AM

Post #1973 of 2092 (26328 views)
Re: [ShenaniganC] Florida State [In reply to] Can't Post

In short, you're the best X-D

LOL, thanks for responding to my rambling questions. I'm pretty set on it now. Well, a PhD anyway. A PhD in what, not so sure.

I've always been a teacher first, writer second. I can't escape it. :-P Even though, let's be honest, sometimes I would love to just write. So your advice makes perfect sense to me. I'm deciding between a PhD in Creative Writing (IF I can get in to the right program, big IF there I'm learning) OR a PhD in Rhetoric and Composition. I'm still really unsure about the whole deal, and it turns my stomach to think of applications, rejections, MOVING AWAY (ahhh!!), six more years minimum of study, but... I think it'll be worth it B-)

Keep us posted when you get in somewhere! I've got my eyes on UH (I know, longshot) but I won't be applying for at least another year or so, likely 2012.

Good luck!!!!!



Sep 24, 2010, 4:30 PM

Post #1974 of 2092 (26299 views)
Re: [kghoerth] Florida State [In reply to] Can't Post


Don't you worry; if I get accepted somewhere, I'll be shouting it from the mountain tops!

I too have wondered about just doing a PhD in comp/rhetoric or even an MA in that, since I already have a good writing background. My main thing is that I'm afraid I'll never have time to write if writing isn't actually PART of the program. Also I had ADHD and I think I would get bored of a purely academic program. I need some spice in there to get me through 3, 5, 7 years - whatever it is.

Let us know what you end up doing also! Congratulations in your imminent MFA graduation. It's not a bad idea, either, just to take a year off to visit "real" life again. Just don't stay for too long - writers shrivel up and die there.... :D

By the way, I have a list I made of every PhD in CW i could find in the US or Canada and there's about 34 total. I see that there's 5 at least in Texas. If you want me to send you any of that info, please let me know. I'm trying to create a database of all the programs. I wonder if we could somehow create a database on this board where people could fill in things they know about different schools, such as fellowship award amounts, total years, # of applicants and how many students they accept, etc. I have no idea how to do something like that. It would be like an Excel Wiki.....

Anyway interested in helping w/a program like that, please let me know! It might be quite helpful for folks since this is a newish degree and not a lot of consolidated info out there. My email is shannon (dot) corder (at) gmail (dot) com.

Eric Weinstein

Sep 25, 2010, 1:20 PM

Post #1975 of 2092 (26264 views)
Re: [ShenaniganC] Florida State [In reply to] Can't Post

I've also been toying with the idea of getting a traditional/literature PhD after the MFA. Does anyone have any experience with/thoughts on this?

Hans Landa: You'll be shot for this!
Aldo Raine: Nah, I don't think so. More like chewed out. I've been chewed out before.

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