Jason Michael MacLeod
Sep 6, 2007, 3:59 PM
Post #150 of 454
I was in the same situation as you when Iowa State still offered an M.A. in Creative Writing. (It has since been replaced with an M.F.A. in Environmental Writing). I had applied to MFA programs, got into a few, and on a whim I also applied to Iowa State due to their substantial Pearl Hogrefe fellowship which provides full funding for the 1st year and a TA for the second. I got it and went because of the great funding. For all intents and purposes it was an MFA. The structure and scope really wasn't all that different from what I'm doing at Montana now. I did a poetry thesis, took workshops, read submissions at Flyway, etc. So the $64,000 question then is: if I basically did an MFA at Iowa State, why bother with a real MFA at Montana? A couple of reasons. The "F" in MFA is fetishized to the point that it can have a major impact on your future job options. By and large MFA = terminal degree, even if, with the growing popularity of the C.W. Ph.d. programs that becomes debatable. Also, though ISU faired decently in that infamous US News Ranking from '97, Montana is just more of a "name brand" and that brings with it more options/connections. Finally, I just wanted to work on my writing more so when I got in it was a no brainer.
"(allow time to focus on craft, write, get published, teach, be a part of a creative literary community, become involved in lit mags). "
These things you mention can all be done with an M.A. at UNI with the caveat that you would likely have a much harder time getting a tenure track teaching position at a 4 year university. That said, for C.W. positions your publishing record tends to be the most important thing. If your goal is to be an adjunct at Kirkwood they aren't going to care much except that you have a master's degree. If you want to teach at the University of Iowa or Cornell College or Coe, you are likely better off with the MFA (again understanding how much publishing trumps everything). Getting to work on the North American Review is a pretty big selling point though. They are the oldest literary journal in the country and have even published Mark Twain. (And, if you can excuse the momentary & shameless self-promotion, myself in the next issue as well). Is getting an M.A./M.F.A. a waste of time? If you can afford it and don't have anything else pressing to do and use the time to your advantage, then absolutely not. But do I feel I needed to get both? Not at all.
P.S. One very real benefit that my M.A. has provided me while pursuing an M.F.A. was the ability to hired on as an adjunct for teaching summer courses at the local community college. My peers with only B.A.s were just not eligible.
Jason Michael MacLeod
(This post was edited by Hamlet3145 on Sep 6, 2007, 4:07 PM)