Sep 30, 2007, 12:21 PM
Post #10 of 104
I completed an MA in Spanish Literature at Washington University in St. Louis in 2005. Now, I am in the process of applying to MFA programs, and I wanted to share my opinions and experiences with financial aid.
Wash U provided all students accepted into the Spanish MA with full tuition waivers and stipends of about $15K per year. The MA was 3 semesters, and you had to teach for 2.
First of all, I am most thankful that I did not go into debt doing my MA. While Spanish is, in theory, more "useful" than creative writing, any kind of humanities degree probably isn't going to put you in a postion to earn a ton of money afterword. Unless you want to get into some kind of business field and eventually pursue an MBA, which was not my bag. At this point, I am teaching Spanish at a Catholic high school in rural Missouri. I like my job, although I make less than $30K and am still incurring tuition expenses to get my Teaching Certificate.
Just FYI: if you think you're going to teach English or writing K-12 after completing your MFA, then you may have a rough go of it until you're fully certified, which implies at least another 20 hours of coursework in education. It's feasible, but you'll probably end up going part-time at night, and it's highly unlikely that you'll get any financial aid for that. And of course, you can't count on being fortunate enough to land a tenure-track position at the university level right out of grad school.
One of my undergraduate professors once told me not to look at the MFA as a professional degree, that is, as something that's actually going to earn you money. Hopefully it will get you closer to publication and to teaching at the college level if that's what you want, but you should have a back-up plan. And, as I say, unless you have skills to enter the business world or some other high-paying industry, you're not going to be making much once you graduate. Don't combine that situation with massive debt.
In addition, I found my teaching experience at Wash U to be highly valuable. You may think that teaching high school or at a community college sounds shitty, but to me, it's at least better than sitting in a cubicle 40 hours a week. so having some teaching experience during your graduate years can help expand your options after completing your degree.