Dec 30, 2008, 9:58 PM
Post #226 of 347
Just to clarify, Utah is ranked as a 'Top 5' PhD program by Atlantic Monthly - curious where you heard the #2 ranking? I don't think it matters much, though, rankings are pretty arbitrary - I think they can help you narrow the choices, but not definitive. Regardless, Utah is an awesome, well-respected program.
Re: [germericanqt] MFA vs. Ph.D
[In reply to]
As far as the choice of MFA vs PhD - I would say it depends what you want out of a degree - it is true that a PhD may make you a more attractive candidate for teaching positions, but it's also a different degree from most MFA programs. I'm curious what you perceive to be the disadvantages? One obvious is that the BA->PhD will take you minimum five years. My experience has been that the focus on the study of lit and crit is higher in a PhD program than in most MFAs (most, not all!) in that you'll likely take more literature classes than workshops, and the year or more you spend studying for comprehensive exams is all about literature and criticism. I think that studying literature is as useful to a writer as taking workshops, so this might be what you're after - this was ideal for me, but if you feel like you're more interested in a 'craft' focus, the MFA might be a better choice, but again, this depends on the program. For example, if the ideal program for you is the Michener - I'm guessing a PhD program is very, very different. For one, in a PhD program you'll teach. At Michener you won't, but you'll also make more money at Michener. Also consider if 'time to write' is high on your list of reasons for grad school that a Phd doesn't really offer this (at least in the first 3/4 of my program) - I have time to write, but not any more than I did before I was in grad school. The difference is that all my time is devoted to thinking, talking, and writing about literature, which is great. Another consideration is that PhD programs are in some ways more competitive tham MFAs in that most applicants already have MFAs. I'm not sure how this works with BA->PhD admissions, in that you'll only be competing with (I assume) very talented people without MFAs, but I would cast your net as wide as you can - apply to as many programs as you can afford to and see what happens. Another thought is that it won't hurt you to go get an MFA and then pursue a PhD, which is what most of my colleagues have done. It'll take you another couple years to do, but if you're not really sure you want to commit five years to a PhD you might have a better idea of what you want out of the degree(s) after getting a 2 or 3 year MFA. It probably wouldn't hurt to go talk to the faculty at Utah, as well, if you're in the area.