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motet
Dana Davis / Moderator
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Mar 1, 2011, 6:04 PM

Post #1 of 169 (30550 views)
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Choosing an MFA Program (2013 - 2014) Can't Post

The application season for 2013/2014 is approaching and choosing the right MFA program can be a difficult and sometimes agonizing decision. There are so many choices to be made when it comes to the type of program, cost, location, and duration. Which is best, a full-time program or a low residency? Is it affordable? How's the funding? Will you be freezing cold for most of the year or sweltering in the humidity? Can you spend three years or only two?

This topic is a good place to start answering these questions and others.


Click on this link to view the previous years Choosing an MFA thread

For a complete listing of all the active topics in this forum as well as our archives, click here: DIRECTORY - Topics in the MFA Forum

Good luck to all 2013/2014 applicants!



(This post was edited by motet on Mar 18, 2014, 10:21 AM)


JoanneMerriam
Joanne Merriam


Mar 7, 2011, 2:13 PM

Post #2 of 169 (30342 views)
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Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program (2012) [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't want to derail this new thread, but Dana had suggested it would be an appropriate place to ask about MLAS (Masters of Liberal Arts and Sciences) degrees. I am in the process of applying to Vanderbilt's. I live in Nashville and get a tuition reimbursement benefit from my employer, which will pay 70% of the cost of one course per semester, which mitigates most of my concerns about going into debt for a degree I don't need. The MFA program at Vanderbilt is full-time, so my only other option is a low-res program. From what I can tell, most of those still require you to do more than one course at a time, and I can't afford that.

So I had pretty much given up on getting a Masters, but then Mark Jarman (of Unholy Sonnets fame, and head of the English Department at Vanderbilt) suggested I look into Vanderbilt's MLAS, which is designed to be taken one course at a time, at night, for people who have full-time M-F type jobs. It also has the advantage of not requiring you to write the GRE, which I wasn't looking forward to, and since it's not focussed just on English you can take a really diverse group of courses, which is good for me since my goal is strictly learning and has nothing to do with my career aspirations. I have, I think, a very decent chance of getting in, since they require a B average from your undergrad and I had a B+ average, and I have publications, and I add to their "diversity" since I'm an immigrant.

So since I've only just heard of this degree, I was wondering if anybody else had any impressions/anecdotes/concerns/information about it. Has anybody done one, maybe at Vandy or maybe at another school?


Editor: 7x20 * Upper Rubber Boot Books
Most recently: Apocalypse Now: Poems and Prose from the End of Days (Atwood, Bacigalupi, JCO, etc.)

Writer: joannemerriam.com * The Glaze from Breaking (poetry)


pongo
Buy this book!

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Mar 7, 2011, 3:16 PM

Post #3 of 169 (30323 views)
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Re: [JoanneMerriam] Choosing an MFA Program (2012) [In reply to] Can't Post

Just a note on low-res programs. Goddard, and others along the same pattern, don't do courses in the ordinary sense. You set up a study plan for the semester, then carry it through, reporting to your advisor at set intervals.

Of course, you don't get the tuition reimbursement and so on, so it isn't a good idea for you, Joanne, but I wanted to get the concept straight.


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

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

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


maida


Mar 8, 2011, 1:33 PM

Post #4 of 169 (30217 views)
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Re: [JoanneMerriam] Choosing an MFA Program (2012) [In reply to] Can't Post

Sounds like a great option for you, Joanne! Wish I knew something about it, but I don't. I'd love to pursue a one-course-at-a-time program that allows you to select from a diverse group of courses. Good luck!


Tabby


e-mail user

Mar 8, 2011, 9:13 PM

Post #5 of 169 (30144 views)
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Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program (2012) [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd like to put in a plug for the MA in Creative Writing at Ohio University. (I'm a PhD in nonfiction there right now).

Spiel—

OU is a small program, only 2-3 in per year per genre, so each student gets great faculty one on one time. There's a lit fest (this year Tobias Wolf, Padgett Powell, Rita Dove, Debra Marquart) and visiting writers throughout the year. OU supports three respected pubs (NOR, Quarter After Eight, Brevity). All in all, a solid writing community. As for quality of of life, Athens is a groovy little Appalachian town, great farmer's market, downtown.

Of course—full funding. (TA ship)

My insider info is that while the PhD is very competitive, the MA doesn't receive that many applicants. (MA less sexy than MFA?) Yet, despite the MFAs in abundance, this year's MAs (so far) have been admitted to creative writing PhD progs at Utah and UNLV. (Last year, FSU, South Dakota and Kansas). If you are considering the PhD after, this is a good place to be. Grads also go on to the MFA.


http://www.kellykathleenferguson.com


JoanneMerriam
Joanne Merriam


Mar 9, 2011, 11:16 PM

Post #6 of 169 (30047 views)
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Re: [pongo] Choosing an MFA Program (2012) [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks, David, for straightening me out.

I got my transcript yesterday. It's been about 15 years since I've looked at it - I'd forgotten I'd taken some of these courses! And have no memory of one of them ("The Rise of Modern Science").

Vanderbilt wants to know my GPA, my Major GPA, and my GPA Scale. My GPA is on my trasncript, and I can figure out my major GPA (3.77 WHAT) but what is a GPA Scale?? (That's not really a real question - I'm going to call them tomorrow to get them to explain it to me - I'm just puzzled.)


Editor: 7x20 * Upper Rubber Boot Books
Most recently: Apocalypse Now: Poems and Prose from the End of Days (Atwood, Bacigalupi, JCO, etc.)

Writer: joannemerriam.com * The Glaze from Breaking (poetry)


hamlet3145


Mar 10, 2011, 12:26 AM

Post #7 of 169 (30040 views)
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It is kind of a weird question, but they probably just want to know if it is a 4 point scale or 5 point scale, i.e., 3.77 out of 4.0 or 5.0. (I'm sure it's the former here). I really don't know of a university that uses a 5 point.


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Mar 10, 2011, 8:06 AM

Post #8 of 169 (30018 views)
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I also rather suspect that the longer you've been out of college, the less important the GPA is. (Although, with a 3.77 in your major, you probably don't have to worry about that.)


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

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

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


JoanneMerriam
Joanne Merriam


Mar 12, 2011, 10:23 AM

Post #9 of 169 (29928 views)
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Re: [jmmacleod] Choosing an MFA Program (2012) [In reply to] Can't Post

I hope that's all it is, since that info is easy to get (it's 4.0). The one person who can answer my question at Vandy was out sick this week, so hopefully she'll be back Monday.

This morning my task is to send one of recommenders all the info he needs to write me a kick-ass letter.


Editor: 7x20 * Upper Rubber Boot Books
Most recently: Apocalypse Now: Poems and Prose from the End of Days (Atwood, Bacigalupi, JCO, etc.)

Writer: joannemerriam.com * The Glaze from Breaking (poetry)

(This post was edited by JoanneMerriam on Mar 12, 2011, 10:24 AM)


ThreeDogTruck


Mar 17, 2011, 1:59 PM

Post #10 of 169 (29775 views)
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Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program (2012) [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
The application season for 2012 is approaching and choosing the right MFA program can be a difficult and sometimes agonizing decision ...


Hey folks,
Just wanted to post that the Optional-Residency program at University of British Columbia is, in my humble opinion, the best low-res MFA on the planet.
I hope to finish my degree there in Fall 2011 after 4 years of part-time study.
The deadline is in early September ... check it out if you have interest -- www.ubc.ca
The faculty are utterly amazing and devote immense amounts of attention to the students ...



mfa app
mfa app

Mar 29, 2011, 10:40 AM

Post #11 of 169 (29590 views)
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Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program (2012) [In reply to] Can't Post

Congratulations to those of you already considering MFA acceptances and best of luck to those still waiting to hear from schools.

As you make your MFA decision, please keep in mind that Seth Abramson's poll is based only on MFA applicants such as yourselves, people who have never attended any MFA program. This is as useless as having only those who have never read a book review books, or having the Academy Awards voted on only by those who have never seen a movie.

So please do not give credence to Seth Abramson's MFA rankings that were published in P&W.


mfa app
mfa app

Mar 29, 2011, 10:40 AM

Post #12 of 169 (29589 views)
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Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program (2012) [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
The application season for 2012 is approaching and choosing the right MFA program can be a difficult and sometimes agonizing decision. There are so many choices to be made when it comes to the type of program, cost, location, and duration. Which is best, a full-time program or a low residency? Is it affordable? How's the funding? Will you be freezing cold for most of the year or sweltering in the humidity? Can you spend three years or only two?

This topic is a good place to start answering these questions and others.


Click on this link to view the previous years Choosing an MFA thread

For a complete listing of all the active topics in this forum as well as our archives, click here: DIRECTORY - Topics in the MFA Forum

Good luck to all 2012 applicants!



RM2
Rosalie Mingus

Mar 29, 2011, 3:21 PM

Post #13 of 169 (29546 views)
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Re: [mfa app] Choosing an MFA Program (2012) [In reply to] Can't Post

mfa app,

Oh, my. Seth does take a beating about his numbers. I used his ratings to identify the top 20 schools; some of his forum posts I found useful. You really can't use them for too much more than that. The fellow obviously cares a lot about rankings, but he doesn't really have the resources, cooperation, or expertise to do what he seems to want to do. I don't think it's unfair to say that he doesn't have the quality or quantity of information required to publish what he publishes in the form he publishes it...

The best resources really are the Delaney articles in the Atlantic. Delaney is smart and honest about it--he says what can be said, he knows what he doesn't know, and he describes the landscape in a manner that can't be misconstrued, misused, and is an honest representation of the best information we have. His articles are a couple years old, at this point, though...

rm


jburche


Mar 31, 2011, 4:01 PM

Post #14 of 169 (29430 views)
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Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program (2012) [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi all,

I'm in the midst of the MFA applications: studying for the GRE (the math section is going very slowly), working on my SoP and looking at schools. I'm going to be applying to both low-residency and full residency programs, so I'm excited to see what happens. My question is: when do you know you're ready for an MFA? I haven't published anything and I struggle writing believable characters at times (though this is getting better with practice). I have the other basics down and am plugging away on my work. I'm just a little nervous that I should wait until I have things published or until I feel extremely confident about my stuff (rather than mildly or momentarily confident). Or are these things that come after the MFA?


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Mar 31, 2011, 4:08 PM

Post #15 of 169 (29427 views)
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Re: [jburche] Choosing an MFA Program (2012) [In reply to] Can't Post

When you're ready for an MFA isn't a matter of your level of skill; it's your commitment. Are you committed to improving your craft, and spending two or three years working primarily at that? Then you're ready.


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

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

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


JessieB


Mar 31, 2011, 4:20 PM

Post #16 of 169 (29421 views)
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Re: [pongo] Choosing an MFA Program (2012) [In reply to] Can't Post

If it's level of commitment, then I'm in somewhere. Thanks!


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Mar 31, 2011, 4:29 PM

Post #17 of 169 (29417 views)
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Re: [JessieB] Choosing an MFA Program (2012) [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, there's when you're read and when some program wants you. Those aren't always the same. But there are a lot of programs out there, if you are willing to settle for good (but not famous) teachers.


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

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

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


silkentent
Margaret DeAngelis

e-mail user

Apr 6, 2011, 10:02 PM

Post #18 of 169 (29242 views)
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Re: [motet] Choosing an MFA Program (2012) [In reply to] Can't Post

An article in Huffington Post by Seth Abramson about Penn State's plans to close their MFA program.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...ml?ref=fb&src=sp

I am, quite frankly, surprised at the level of praise Seth gives this program. I mean no disrespect to anyone who is a graduate of it, on the faculty, or currently in it, but . . . it left me completely cold. I live in Pennsylvania, a scant 90 minutes from the main campus, and did take a look at it, as a traditional program I could manage without moving, really. The atmosphere I encountered was not open, friendly, encouraging. (I was invited to look into it by a faculty member.)

So I am really not surprised that the university is cutting it, since it didn't seem to be something that they were very invested in. But I am surprised at what Seth says about its reputation. That reputation hasn't reached the wannabe writer circles I travel in.


Margaret DeAngelis
Markings: Days of Her Life
http://www.silkentent.com/Trees


alamana
Jennifer Brown


Apr 7, 2011, 7:15 AM

Post #19 of 169 (29215 views)
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In Reply To
But I am surprised at what Seth says about its reputation. That reputation hasn't reached the wannabe writer circles I travel in.


I think he's basing that reputation on his own rankings. Which, in my opinion, doesn't always add up.


Be regular and orderly in your life, that you may be violent and original in your work. -- Flaubert

http://www.jenniferkirkpatrickbrown.com

(This post was edited by alamana on Apr 7, 2011, 7:16 AM)


JessieB


Apr 7, 2011, 12:47 PM

Post #20 of 169 (29179 views)
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I'd also heard from Seth's blog about how amazing Penn is, but it's too far from where I might be to even consider. I DO have a question about Pitt State. I haven't heard much about it on Seth's blog or elsewhere and am wondering what people think of the program. I really like the teachers and the students, but I heard they only accept something like 6 fiction writers a year, which is scary to me. I don't think there are any other MFA programs in that area, except Chatham, which I'm also applying to, but haven't heard anything about. Since you're from Pennsylvania, do you know anything about those programs?


silkentent
Margaret DeAngelis

e-mail user

Apr 7, 2011, 1:20 PM

Post #21 of 169 (29175 views)
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In Reply To
I'd also heard from Seth's blog about how amazing Penn is, but it's too far from where I might be to even consider. I DO have a question about Pitt State. I haven't heard much about it on Seth's blog or elsewhere and am wondering what people think of the program.

Allow me to refine some terminology, here. The soon-to-be-cut program under discussion is at Penn State, The Pennsylvania State University, a land grant college in the north central part of the state. It has the main campus, where the football team is headquartered, as well as many satellite campuses, many of which offer full 4-year degrees, as well as the medical school (The Penn State College of Medicine) in Hershey, which I used to be able to see from my classroom, and the law school at Dickinson College in Carlisle. (The law school was always separate form Dickinson College. Penn State bought it about ten [?] years ago.) My more recent master's degree is an MA in American Studies, earned entirely at the campus in Middletown, PA (near Three Mile Island, which is in oine of the muncipalities of the school district where I taught). "Penn," on the other hand, always refers to the University of Pennsylvania, a private university in Philadelphia and one of the Ivy League. It does not, ti my knowledge, have an MFA in creative writing, only one in studio arts. Around here, a reference to "Penn," as in "I'm applying to Penn" or "I'm going to visit my cousin at Penn," means you are going to Philadelphia. "I go to Penn State" means the land grant college with the football team. Here is a link to Penn State's MFA in creative writing: http://english.la.psu.edu/...masteroffinearts.htm The University of Pittsburgh is never referred to as "Pitt State," only "Pitt." Once a private university, it is now "state-related," as is Temple University. Like Penn State, Pitt has many satellite campuses, and a football team at its main campus in the city. Tuition is on a par with that of Penn State, with different schedules for PA residents and out-of-state residents. Here is a link to their MFA program http://www.creativewriting.pitt.edu/graduate In addition, Pennsylvania has the State System of Higher Education (PSSHE), which comprises 14 separate and independent colleges that were once known as "teachers' colleges," then "http://gradstudies.carlow.edu/creative/index.htmlstate colleges," and are now known as universitites. I am a graduate of Millersville University, called Millersville State College when I was there in the late 1960s. Of these, Cheyney Univesity is historically black. Lincoln University, also historically black, is a "state-related" university as well. No PSSHE school has an MFA in creative writing. Lock Haven University has a Bacehelor of Fine Arts in studio arts. Chatham's program is well known, although I don't know too much about it. Carlow University in Pittsburg also has an MFA in Creative Writing (http://gradstudies.carlow.edu/creative/index.html) Everybody's a university now! (That's a sentiment from a close friend who is the dean of admissions at one of the PSSHE school.) I don;t know much about Carlow's program, either. Carlow's program is low res. Chatham's (it's Chatham University -- everybody'a a university!!) has both a traditional residential program and a low res.


Margaret DeAngelis
Markings: Days of Her Life
http://www.silkentent.com/Trees


JessieB


Apr 7, 2011, 2:20 PM

Post #22 of 169 (29162 views)
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Re: [silkentent] Choosing an MFA Program (2012) [In reply to] Can't Post

Sorry for the bad terminology. I'm in Kansas City and have been my entire life, so I know nothing about Pennsylvania. I did look at Carlow, but forgot about it in my post. Thanks for reminding me!


silkentent
Margaret DeAngelis

e-mail user

Apr 7, 2011, 4:34 PM

Post #23 of 169 (29136 views)
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Re: [JessieB] Choosing an MFA Program (2012) [In reply to] Can't Post

Gee -- I didn't expect my post to show up as a solid block of text with a random link in the middle.

According to Penn State's website, the MFA program is still inviting applications.


Margaret DeAngelis
Markings: Days of Her Life
http://www.silkentent.com/Trees


blue_skies


Apr 9, 2011, 7:59 PM

Post #24 of 169 (29017 views)
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Re: [JessieB] Choosing an MFA Program (2012) [In reply to] Can't Post

West Virginia University is about an hour from Pittsburgh and has an MFA.


umass76


Apr 10, 2011, 6:40 PM

Post #25 of 169 (28955 views)
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I'm not looking to get into a discussion of the rankings, but let's just be really clear here, anyway. There is no such thing as "my" rankings. Penn State ranks in the Top 10 among MFA programs for selectivity -- fact. Based on hard data. Penn State ranks in roughly the Top 25 for funding among MFA programs -- fact. Based on hard data. Penn State ranks in the Top 40 for postgraduate fellowship and residency placement for the period from 1998 to 2011 -- fact. Based on hard data. Three-year polling of nonfiction applicants places PSU among the Top 10 nonfiction programs, and three-year polling of hundreds and hundreds of fiction and poetry applicants puts the program in the Top 40 in those genres -- again, this is based on data collected from applicants. In 2010, I wrote that Penn State was underrated, along with more than 25 other programs; that wasn't to say Penn State is a Top 10 or even Top 20 or Top 25 program, but that the program's then-#44 ranking was too low, given that that barely put the program in the top 33% of programs nationally. Whatever one thinks, the program deserves to be ranked in the top third of programs -- I merely thought it should be higher than #44, given its funding and selectivity and placement and popularity among applicants in three different genres. But my statements about PSU have been based, from the beginning, on polling and hard data -- not on "my own rankings." No one here has any idea whatsoever where I would place PSU in "my own rankings."

Seth Abramson


(This post was edited by umass76 on Apr 10, 2011, 6:41 PM)

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