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Choosing an MFA Program (2009) (2010) (2011)
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raqueltio

e-mail user

Sep 9, 2009, 8:56 PM

Post #501 of 1018 (14760 views)
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     Re: [insertbrackets] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

I agree with you about OSU! I wd.have applied there for fiction---they have Erin McGraw, Andrew H's wife---if I could have gone out of state. You are soo lucky to go there. Wish you continued happiness and success!
Raquel


Peaquah

e-mail user

Sep 9, 2009, 11:58 PM

Post #502 of 1018 (14718 views)
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     choosing schools [In reply to]  

Hi all, I've been reading this forum for the past several years, but this is my first time posting. I'm finally applying to programs this year in fiction, and have been putting together a list of schools. I know most of mine are extremely competitive, but I'm all right with that. If I don't get in, I'll just work on the writing for a year or two and re-apply. The two most important factors for me are funding and the peer group--meaning I'd like a small class, but I'm willing to apply to some bigger programs as well. The main six schools are pretty standard:

University of Iowa
University of Wisconsin-Madison
University of Texas
University of Michigan
University of California-Irvine
Cornell

One of my undergrad professors recommended throwing in a Florida school (or two) as well as the University of Arizona and Syracuse. I've peeked at the schools' websites, but would love to get some insider's information on the programs. Has anyone attended U of F? Any other programs that should be on the list? I'm willing to move almost anywhere, with the exception of NYC--just not a big city girl.


kbritten

e-mail user

Sep 10, 2009, 8:23 AM

Post #503 of 1018 (14685 views)
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     Re: [peaquah] choosing schools [In reply to]  

Peaquah - I would recommend putting some quality higher admit schools on your list. Getting into a top-tier school is not necessarily an indicator of success or quality of writing, it's a very subjective process.

As for Florida schools, UF is actually my #1 choice, even if I got into Iowa or Cornell. It's about two hours away from where I am now, about 6 hours from mom, in a pretty cool college town that is not as hot as the rest of the state (it snowed in Gainesville once! The great dusting of '96). I would really like to work with Padgett Powell in fiction, they offer full funding to everyone, tuition remission (for the most part, there are some fees) and a low cost of living. They have successful alumni as well. Hope this helps!


Peaquah

e-mail user

Sep 10, 2009, 9:07 AM

Post #504 of 1018 (14680 views)
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     Re: [kbritten] choosing schools [In reply to]  

Thanks kbritten--I appreciate all the info about U of F. I think I will add it to my list! You're right that this process is very subjective, and getting into a top tier school isn't a "make it or break it" situation for a writer. I definitely want to add some higher admit schools to the list, but I want to be excited about them. I'm just trying to get a feel for a few of the other schools via people like you who very kindly volunteer helpful information! Thanks again.


theplaiddress


Sep 11, 2009, 3:44 PM

Post #505 of 1018 (14591 views)
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     California College of the Arts [In reply to]  

New to this whole process, and already addicted to the forum... So I discovered CCA just yesterday, and after looking through their website and their MFA lit journal (Eleven Eleven), it seems like a pretty good fit for me. I have a couple questions though...

Firstly, the website encourages multi-genre/media sort of work, as it is an art school. Is it necessary to (or looked down upon not to) create work in multiple disciplines, outside of the elective classes? I like visual arts, but I don't do them and I tend not to incorporate them into my own writing. I do tend to have a imagistic bent in that writing, though, and it's pretty darn experimental, if that helps.

Also, in terms of money (of course), CCA is clearly an expensive school in an expensive city. They seem to offer some scholarships and TA-ships, but does anyone have any insight onto the number of students that might get some kind of funding, and how much funding that might be?

[I did find this on the CCA website: 1) The graduate writing admissions committee selects a limited number of outstanding students for the prestigious graduate merit scholarships. For the 2007-08 academic year the renewable award was $16,000 per year. 2) The graduate division awards several entering students special diversity scholarships. Last year these renewable awards ranged from $8,000 to $20,000 per year. 3) Teaching assistantships are based on merit and are awarded by the graduate chairs in conjunction with graduate faculty in the second year.

But what do "a limited number" and "several" mean?]

Thanks!


umass76


Sep 11, 2009, 4:58 PM

Post #506 of 1018 (14575 views)
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     Re: [theplaiddress] California College of the Arts [In reply to]  

TPD,

I'm afraid that CCA isn't all it's cracked up to be. My understanding is that they accept around 38 people per year, across all genres, and have money for less than a handful. Even when they do pay, 16K really isn't enough to live on in that area. Plus CCA is ranked where it is (83rd out of 140 programs, though there were only 132 programs at the time the ranking was done) for a reason--all things being equal, the cohort there is going to be much weaker than is optimal. Everyone--totally understandably--who's starting out researching MFA programs believes/hopes they're going to find the Holy Grail (an ideal city like NYC or SF, coupled with the full funding every single MFA student has a right to expect), and I'm totally sensitive to that quest. But it's best to accept now, as we all must, that that just isn't going to happen. There are only a handful of fully-funded programs in major urban centers--and only 35 or so fully-funded programs nationally, total--and none of them in New York, Chicago, or San Francisco (and I could add Los Angeles to that, as University of California at Irvine is technically not in the city). One day, hopefully, this will change! But I'm afraid it won't be this cycle. Best of luck,

Be well,
Seth Abramson
Abramson Leslie Consulting [for MFA applicants]


(This post was edited by umass76 on Sep 11, 2009, 4:58 PM)


theplaiddress


Sep 11, 2009, 5:04 PM

Post #507 of 1018 (14571 views)
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     Re: [umass76] California College of the Arts [In reply to]  

Probably why I haven't found a whole lot about them on the forums or any of the blogs. This is helpful, thanks. I kind of knew I needed to sustain a little cynicism for this process, but I was holding out....


Peaquah

e-mail user

Sep 12, 2009, 10:31 AM

Post #508 of 1018 (14504 views)
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     Alaska? [In reply to]  

Has anyone had any contact with the University of Alaska-Fairbanks program? I know from their website that they offer quite a few T.A. positions to both first year and second year students, which is great. As a funded program, it seems to get very little press. What do you guys think--is this mostly because of the location? I grew up in Alaska, and love the idea of moving back to write, but just wanted to get a little more info before tossing my hat in that ring.


tonimac


Sep 14, 2009, 6:17 PM

Post #509 of 1018 (14384 views)
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     Re: funding [In reply to]  

I would just like to stress that, even though no one wants to make a decision based purely on funding, you apply to programs that have a friendly history of being generous. Or at least make sure funding weighs appropriately in your decision making.

I may have to drop out of my MFA; no funding, and right now, no work.

So. Just saying.


kbritten

e-mail user

Sep 14, 2009, 6:19 PM

Post #510 of 1018 (14382 views)
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     Re: [tonimac] funding [In reply to]  

That sucks Tonimac, what program are you with right now?


tonimac


Sep 14, 2009, 6:28 PM

Post #511 of 1018 (14376 views)
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     Re: [kbritten] funding [In reply to]  

Thanks. I don't want to say, just because I don't want word to get back that I was bad mouthing the program on the internet. It's possible.

Really, my program is fantastic. I've been so happy to be here.

But there's no funding. From what I can tell, only one incoming MFA student received funding. The rest of us are working off campus. No work to be found on campus, and very little off has been found by me. I'm wrestling with the practicality of staying in a program that every week will give me a panic attack because I can't afford the train fare to get to campus. Let alone cable bill, rent, etc.

I want this MFA. I just don't know if I want it at the expense of my sanity.


Peaquah

e-mail user

Sep 15, 2009, 3:47 AM

Post #512 of 1018 (14321 views)
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     Re: [tonimac] funding [In reply to]  

I'm really sorry to hear that as well! It's awful that so many people have such a precarious MFA experience funding-wise. Although it doesn't make your situation any better, thanks for sharing. It makes me think very carefully about the 3-4 schools I want to add to my list. I hope everything works out for you.


Woon


Sep 15, 2009, 6:08 PM

Post #513 of 1018 (14266 views)
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     Re: [peaquah] funding [In reply to]  

Mississippi anybody? Anyone has any insights?


Peaquah

e-mail user

Sep 16, 2009, 10:55 PM

Post #514 of 1018 (14177 views)
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     Re: [Woon] funding [In reply to]  

Still trying to nail down a list of schools. Things recently changed for me--my husband decided not to apply for grad programs--so I'm adding to my list! I'd like to shoot for 12 schools, I think, that aren't all really competitive. So far I have 10. Thoughts? Red flags?

University of Iowa-Iowa City
University of Wisconsin-Madison
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
University of California-Irvine
University of Texas-Austin
University of Florida-Gainsville
U of Arizona-Tuscon
Ohio State University-Columbus
University of Virginia-Charlottesville
Syracuse

In addition to those, I'm debating between the following--I'd like to choose two. I don't have any particular attachment to these:

Cornell-Ithaca, NY
University of Minnesota
University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa
University of Arkansas-Fayetville
UMass-Amherst
Ole Miss (possibly--I don't know much about the program)

I originally had the University of Alaska-Fairbanks on the list because I was in love with the location, but I emailed them and found out T.A.s only teach composition, and spend five hours a week tutoring in the writing center. I'd at least like a *shot* at teaching creative writing, so I struck it from the list. I was an undergrad at the University of Montana and really loved it, but I'd like to branch out for graduate school. Can't recommend the program highly enough, though, for those looking for a beautiful location, great community, and talented profs.

Thanks all!


unsaid78


Sep 17, 2009, 12:44 PM

Post #515 of 1018 (14101 views)
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     Re: [peaquah] funding [In reply to]  

You've got a lot of really competitive schools on your main list, so I'd suggest moving Alabama up to the list of places you'll apply. It's a great program, where you can go for 3-4 years if you choose, great lit journal, fully funded, awesome director and receives less applications than most of the other programs you've got listed. I had a good experience with them during app season (on the poetry side). Also, they tend to notify applicants way earlier than everyone else which is nice lol.


www.mfachronicles.blogspot.com - Follow us as we begin our 1st years in MFA programs!


__________



Sep 17, 2009, 2:39 PM

Post #516 of 1018 (14074 views)
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     Re: [unsaid78] funding [In reply to]  

I had an amazing experience with them, too. Both the faculty and students are very giving.

However, the year I applied, they accepted only 2% of applicants -- less than Iowa. (Not that it's harder to get into than Iowa, but still...there might not be a 'safety' school.)


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Sep 17, 2009, 2:41 PM)


shortino


Sep 17, 2009, 3:43 PM

Post #517 of 1018 (14049 views)
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     Re: [Junior Maas] funding [In reply to]  

Has anyone heard anything about a new MFA program at Temple? I know they have one starting at some point, but if it's going to be starting in Fall of 2010 (as was reported on Seth Abramson's new ALC blog), shouldn't some information appear soon?


Peaquah

e-mail user

Sep 18, 2009, 2:42 AM

Post #518 of 1018 (13976 views)
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     Re: [unsaid78] funding [In reply to]  

Thanks all for the thoughts. It's tough to advise someone else on their list of schools, but I appreciate it.


WanderingTree


Sep 19, 2009, 12:34 AM

Post #519 of 1018 (13889 views)
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     Re: [peaquah] funding [In reply to]  

Does anyone know what's going on with Notre Dame's funding this year? I'm thinking about applying but want to know what my chances are of receiving full funding.


morganapple


Sep 23, 2009, 11:46 AM

Post #520 of 1018 (13703 views)
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     SDSU [In reply to]  

anyone have info, firsthand or otherwise, about the program at San Diego State, specifically for poetry? Just curious.


greenpenquills


Sep 27, 2009, 7:24 PM

Post #521 of 1018 (13521 views)
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     Nonfiction programs [In reply to]  

Hi everyone-

I'm planning to apply to some MFA programs this year and I'm having a great deal of difficulty choosing schools. I only want to apply to five or six of the best (and preferably best funded) programs because I'm only applying places I would definitely go if accepted. I don't mind trying again next year if that's what it takes to get into the right program. I'm about to graduate undergrad (Occidental College) so I'm in no real rush, but I wanted to give it a shot because I know it's what I want to do.

My main difficulty is that I'm looking for schools that offer a nonfiction emphasis. That narrows down the field quite a bit. So far, my list includes:

Iowa's Nonfiction Program
The New School
University of Arizona
Sarah Lawrence
University of Oregon

However, I'm not sure what funding is like at most of those schools. I know IWW is fully funded, but I believe the Nonfiction program is only funded half-time for most students.

Does anyone have information about any of those programs in general as well as their funding or any suggestions for additional schools to look into? I feel very lost and overwhelmed at this point in my search and I want to be sure I'm well-informed.

Oh, I should also note that I haven't taken the GRE and am really hoping not to have to because I'm terrible at standardized tests, so schools that require that are off my list for the time being.


(This post was edited by greenpenquills on Sep 27, 2009, 7:26 PM)


Mae Fields



Sep 28, 2009, 4:45 AM

Post #522 of 1018 (13461 views)
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     Re: [greenpenquills] Nonfiction programs [In reply to]  

Hi there,

Just popping in for a moment to share some info about my program (U Oregon). This forum was helpful to me last year.

UOregon fully funds all admitted students for two years. Your degree is paid for, your health insurance is 100% paid for, and a domestic partner / children may sign onto your insurance with their policies being 80% paid for. You teach one class which you're paid for (everyone teaches creative writing the first year. The second year you teach composition or alternately you may apply for several competitive fellowships in the program where you will have a job outside the comp. department.) The program is currently deciding whether to transition to three (funded) years.

I don't believe UO officially offers a non-fiction emphasis, but I do know the program is cross-genre friendly. There is also flexibility in that some poets will take fiction seminars (though these are in addition to the required poetry seminars) and vice versa. Also, Laurie Lynn Drummond is a huge cnf fan and I believe she teaches a cnf class though it may not be regularly offered, and Geri Doran is teaching a cross-genre narrative seminar this spring.

This is my first year, so I'm not sure how the creative thesis would work, but I expect you would have more flexibility as a student in fiction than in poetry. Do contact the school and they'll put you in touch with someone who can give you more solid answers about working creative non-fiction into the degree program. Hope that helps!


gcsumfa


Oct 5, 2009, 1:47 AM

Post #523 of 1018 (13235 views)
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     Re: [greenpenquills] Nonfiction programs [In reply to]  


In Reply To
Hi everyone-

I'm planning to apply to some MFA programs this year and I'm having a great deal of difficulty choosing schools. I only want to apply to five or six of the best (and preferably best funded) programs because I'm only applying places I would definitely go if accepted. I don't mind trying again next year if that's what it takes to get into the right program. I'm about to graduate undergrad (Occidental College) so I'm in no real rush, but I wanted to give it a shot because I know it's what I want to do.

My main difficulty is that I'm looking for schools that offer a nonfiction emphasis. That narrows down the field quite a bit. So far, my list includes:

Iowa's Nonfiction Program
The New School
University of Arizona
Sarah Lawrence
University of Oregon

However, I'm not sure what funding is like at most of those schools. I know IWW is fully funded, but I believe the Nonfiction program is only funded half-time for most students.

Does anyone have information about any of those programs in general as well as their funding or any suggestions for additional schools to look into? I feel very lost and overwhelmed at this point in my search and I want to be sure I'm well-informed.

Oh, I should also note that I haven't taken the GRE and am really hoping not to have to because I'm terrible at standardized tests, so schools that require that are off my list for the time being.


You might want to rethink that strategy. At many places, submitting a GRE score is just a formality, and just a basic review of a study guide can get an average score (not great, but just average/mediocre). You limit your options severely by foregoing the GRE, IMO.


Joe A. I.


Oct 7, 2009, 12:09 PM

Post #524 of 1018 (13114 views)
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     Re: [gcsumfa] Nonfiction programs [In reply to]  

gcsumfa,

The University of Oregon MFA program is fully funded. They don't offer a non-fiction concentration, though.
The New School offers some funding, but is not fully funded.
Sarah Lawrence has a reputation for dismal funding.


cecilpeoples


Oct 11, 2009, 11:43 PM

Post #525 of 1018 (12937 views)
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     Re: [FreakingOutInBd] Choosing an MFA Program 2010 [In reply to]  

hey folks, I did the whole MFA process last year and received a few bites for fiction. but each program I was accepted to placed too much emphasis on literature and teaching. so I've decided to do the painful process all over again this year.

does anyone know where I can find a list of schools that focus on craft and workshop? I'm willing to go anywhere for my MFA. my main concern is having TIME to write, not having to stress over research papers and read awesome books that provide no help to me, personally, as a short story writer.

thanks!

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