»

Subscribe | Give a Gift Subscription

Log In or Register | Help | Contact Us | Donate

Advanced Search

Main Index » Writing and Publishing » MFA Programs
creative writing ph.d. ?
Edit your profilePrivate messages Search postsWho's online?
You are not signed in. Click here to sign in.
If you are not a member, Register here!
139163 registered users
First page Previous page 1 ... 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 ... 84 Next page Last page  View All


sayno


Sep 15, 2009, 9:42 AM

Post #1201 of 2090 (21214 views)
Shortcut
Re: [gcsumfa] random [In reply to] Can't Post

You (and your troll) must have a mental issue. Get over it. Seriously. I’m done with you.


__________



Sep 15, 2009, 10:14 AM

Post #1202 of 2090 (21199 views)
Shortcut
Re: [gcsumfa] random [In reply to] Can't Post

Funny thing is, I've read Martone's first book, and it sounds just like Raymond Carver...

Boom!

If you read the MFA threads, you know people worry about (and sometimes bend) their aesthetic to raise their chances of admission. Not that the schools recommend it (We support a WIDE variety of writers with the SAME temperament and political views!) but, much like you'll see on those peer pressure docs on PBS, it exists all the same.

I imagine one has to be so talented to get a PhD, it doesn't matter. Or who knows -- maybe it's the opposite. Maybe the PhDs are like the Olympics, where each minor variable carries great risks or rewards. Maybe shaving the epiphany will shave thousands off your income.

I suspect the truth is somewhere in the middle. The (whole two) profs I spoke with wrote all kinds of stuff, applied to fairly 'traditional' schools, and tailored their applications accordingly. In hindsight, they felt their more experimental stuff was bullshit anyway.

On the other hand, you've got folks like Tom Kealey, who Tobias Wolff said only got into Stegner because his application mixed it up a bit (one epiphany job, one 'risky' story).

So what I appear to be saying is, if anyone wants to stroke my balls, I'll be in the back.


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Sep 15, 2009, 10:19 AM)


gcsumfa


Sep 15, 2009, 10:21 AM

Post #1203 of 2090 (21188 views)
Shortcut
Re: [sayno] random [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Here goes again, gcsumfa and owenj stroking each other’s balls late at night!


Wow--are you serious?

I thought you had some good posts on this last page or so, and assumed we'd ceased this childish nonsense. I was just responding to his question that he threw out to the board; I wasn't agreeing with him to disagree with you.


(This post was edited by gcsumfa on Sep 15, 2009, 10:23 AM)


owenj


Sep 15, 2009, 1:12 PM

Post #1204 of 2090 (21153 views)
Shortcut
Re: [Junior Maas] random [In reply to] Can't Post

Sayno, you crack me up. We were doing so well. Now for some morning ball-stroking (the best kind).

In reply to Junior Maas - I know it happens (the aesthetic-bending) - and I think I already know the answer, but to return to this to information that might actually help applicants, I think it's a bad move to try to convince a program that you're one type of writer when you're another just to get in to any program. I suppose if I had to do it over again I might have sent more traditional stuff to one place and more experimental stuff to another, but I'm all over the map aesthetically so I went with what I thought was my best writing and got into a bunch of different programs. Maybe there are some programs so rigid in their aesthetic that they would be horrified to admit a 'traditional' or 'experimental' writer but even if you manage to convince one program you're one thing when you're not why would you want to go there? I think claims about particular program's aesthetic rigidity are usually exaggerated, anyway. There's also such a wide spectrum of writing - I'm not sure I even know at this point where the line is drawn.


aiyamei

e-mail user

Sep 15, 2009, 2:43 PM

Post #1205 of 2090 (21106 views)
Shortcut
Re: [sayno] random [In reply to] Can't Post

Ok, Sayno, so you're a troll. The problem with being a troll is _not_ that we'll all find out who you 'really' are and remember it and put you on some mythical blacklist -- no, nothing like that. The problem is that this _is_ who you really are. And the magnificent thing about fiction and poetry is that they don't offer any cover for the small of spirit. Your senselessly scrappy, fight-picking, wisdomless, inane little self will be splayed for all to see in your work, and you will fail, and you will fail on these terms.

Any one of the anonymous posters around here could be David Foster Wallace's ghost come back to earth to go slumming, as it were, here on these boards. But not you, my friend. No, not you. Pull yourself together.


(This post was edited by aiyamei on Sep 15, 2009, 2:44 PM)


belgium


Sep 15, 2009, 2:54 PM

Post #1206 of 2090 (21092 views)
Shortcut
Say no to SAYNO [In reply to] Can't Post

Sayno,

I agree 100% with Aiyamei. I just can not believe how ceaselessly you resort to sophomoric and mean-spirited ad hominem attacks.

Gcsumfa asked a couple of good questions that would probably benefit all of us... and you pop back with something about certain people scratching each others' scrotums? And earlier you make a derogatory statement about retards? Has civility no hold on you?

Oh, and for the record, I am not DFW's ghost!



Ridiculous Words

(This post was edited by belgium on Sep 15, 2009, 2:56 PM)


Woon


Sep 15, 2009, 2:57 PM

Post #1207 of 2090 (21087 views)
Shortcut
Re: [belgium] Say no to SAYNO [In reply to] Can't Post

There's a word I should add to my GRE flash cards -- "ad hominem." I already know what "scrotum" means. Thank you.


owenj


Sep 15, 2009, 3:12 PM

Post #1208 of 2090 (21076 views)
Shortcut
Re: [belgium] Say no to SAYNO [In reply to] Can't Post

My first thought was that sayno, myself, and gcsumfa might all be the same posters due to the temporal proximity of our posts, but, having mostly dismissed that as a possibility, I now think that instead of rejecting sayno's well-researched, well-argued claims that we should all offer sayno a big virtual hug in apology for asking him to substantiate his claims. It really is unfair for everybody here to keep scratching each other's virtual retarded balls with our endless questioning of his rock-solid guidance.

EDIT - Sayno - in the event that you are not offered up a big internet group hug as an apology for your mistreatment - it is customary in these situations to go out with a massive flame-out. I believe it would be rude to disrespect this long-held, much revered internet-message-board more. I eagerly await your explosive farewell.


(This post was edited by owenj on Sep 15, 2009, 3:21 PM)


gcsumfa


Sep 15, 2009, 5:24 PM

Post #1209 of 2090 (20965 views)
Shortcut
Re: [Junior Maas] random [In reply to] Can't Post

 
I haven't read his first book, but have you read his recent work? Dude wrote a book made up entirely of contributor notes; he pulled it off well, I think.

Anyway, I agree with the rest of your post...the answer is probably somewhere in between.



In Reply To
Funny thing is, I've read Martone's first book, and it sounds just like Raymond Carver...

Boom!

If you read the MFA threads, you know people worry about (and sometimes bend) their aesthetic to raise their chances of admission. Not that the schools recommend it (We support a WIDE variety of writers with the SAME temperament and political views!) but, much like you'll see on those peer pressure docs on PBS, it exists all the same.

I imagine one has to be so talented to get a PhD, it doesn't matter. Or who knows -- maybe it's the opposite. Maybe the PhDs are like the Olympics, where each minor variable carries great risks or rewards. Maybe shaving the epiphany will shave thousands off your income.

I suspect the truth is somewhere in the middle. The (whole two) profs I spoke with wrote all kinds of stuff, applied to fairly 'traditional' schools, and tailored their applications accordingly. In hindsight, they felt their more experimental stuff was bullshit anyway.

On the other hand, you've got folks like Tom Kealey, who Tobias Wolff said only got into Stegner because his application mixed it up a bit (one epiphany job, one 'risky' story).

So what I appear to be saying is, if anyone wants to stroke my balls, I'll be in the back.



sayno


Sep 15, 2009, 6:06 PM

Post #1210 of 2090 (20947 views)
Shortcut
Re: [owenj] Say no to SAYNO [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
My first thought was that sayno, myself, and gcsumfa might all be the same posters due to the temporal proximity of our posts, but, having mostly dismissed that as a possibility, I now think that instead of rejecting sayno's well-researched, well-argued claims that we should all offer sayno a big virtual hug in apology for asking him to substantiate his claims. It really is unfair for everybody here to keep scratching each other's virtual retarded balls with our endless questioning of his rock-solid guidance.

EDIT - Sayno - in the event that you are not offered up a big internet group hug as an apology for your mistreatment - it is customary in these situations to go out with a massive flame-out. I believe it would be rude to disrespect this long-held, much revered internet-message-board more. I eagerly await your explosive farewell.


Hmm, some lifers popped in to cheer you up. Keep your head up and sit here day and night, with your eyes bulging, waiting for me to show up, or while I’m gone for work, you guys (gcsumfa and owenj) can entertain each other, you know, “substantiating” each other’s “claims.”


owenj


Sep 15, 2009, 6:52 PM

Post #1211 of 2090 (20933 views)
Shortcut
Re: [sayno] Say no to SAYNO [In reply to] Can't Post

You've said at least three times that you were 'done' - come on, show us you mean it! This is barely a flame-out. I know you can do better. I will hit 'refresh' until you do this the right way.

While you were at work?? You said you were in a PhD program - you're not fully funded? What's going on here!


gcsumfa


Sep 15, 2009, 8:50 PM

Post #1212 of 2090 (20894 views)
Shortcut
Re: [owenj] Say no to SAYNO [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey Sayno,

For the most part, if P&W didn't send me an email whenever someone replied to one of my messages, I wouldn't respond so quickly.

Sorry to disappoint you--you're not that special! I look forward to reading your latest goodbye cruel fora post!


(This post was edited by gcsumfa on Sep 15, 2009, 8:52 PM)


bktv


Sep 18, 2009, 12:28 PM

Post #1213 of 2090 (20692 views)
Shortcut
Re: [sayno] USC and Missouri [In reply to] Can't Post

First, two comments. 1) USC's stipend is not bad. If you are willing to have a roommate(s) and live a little ways from campus, you can definitely make it. I lived off it while doing my MFA (MPW) there. It's at least $18k, and has a great health insurance plan that includes dental. I found it easier to live off USC's stipend in LA than the $12k from UT-Knoxville (most PhDs at UTK get $14k), even with the "cheaper standard of living."

2) Missouri's PhD program DID accept at least two poets from outside the program this year. One posted on this board, and another I know personally. I don't know about the fiction acceptees, though.

In other news, I've decided to go for round three of PhD apps., after finishing my MA in Lit. this year. I'm curious as to what Seth has to say about the benefits of applying to critical programs that would allow you to take workshops toward a degree, even if you still had to do a critical dissertation. Anyway, I think I'm going to apply to both CW PhDs and Lit. PhDs, and see what happens. Here's my list:


Creative:

Cincinnati
Missouri
Ohio
USC
Utah
UT-Knoxville
UW-Milwaukee

Critical:

Columbia
Michigan
Syracuse
Vanderbilt
Virginia
Washington U. St. Louis
UW-Madison

Also Considering:

Creative: Denver
Critical: Cornell, Brown, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Iowa, Indiana, Oregon, Johns Hopkins, Florida, Purdue




LesK
Les
e-mail user

Sep 18, 2009, 1:08 PM

Post #1214 of 2090 (20680 views)
Shortcut
Re: [bktv] USC and Missouri [In reply to] Can't Post

bktv,

First, good luck. Second, what are you contemplating as specialties? This seems particularly important re: the Crit programs.

As for the CW programs, I'd contemplate adding one from the state of Texas (or Oklahoma State U), as, I think, those programs seem to be funded relatively well (sometimes great, sometimes just sustainable). Likewise, they seem to be a bit more "under the radar"--with the possible exception of Tech and that big stipend--so it's possible you could up your chances for a funded acceptance. Otherwise, your choices look awesome to me.

If you'd like more info on Cincy, I've just gone through the TA training portion of orientation & classes start Wed, so feel free to PM me.


gcsumfa


Sep 18, 2009, 4:12 PM

Post #1215 of 2090 (20646 views)
Shortcut
Re: [LesK] USC and Missouri [In reply to] Can't Post

LesK--good post. I think every one should apply to Texas Tech, given their funding packages and reports that their application totals are still fairly low.

I was accepted at Oklahoma State; the funding is around 11K, w/ a 2/2 teaching load of comp. There is a full tuition waiver--I mention this because the website is somewhat confusing. At least, this is what the grad secretary told me when I was in touch with them in the Spring of '08.


GDClark
George David Clark
e-mail user

Sep 18, 2009, 6:58 PM

Post #1216 of 2090 (20617 views)
Shortcut
Re: [gcsumfa] USC and Missouri [In reply to] Can't Post

As of this spring USC's stipend was over 21k and their students get two years on fellowship with no teaching responsibilities. I met at least one student there who was making it work without a roommate.


umass76


Sep 18, 2009, 7:12 PM

Post #1217 of 2090 (20609 views)
Shortcut
Re: The Future of PhD Study for Poets and Writers [In reply to] Can't Post

BKTV,

I think you've asked the question of the century--perhaps literally--as far as graduate study for poets and writers is concerned. I do think many of the discussions over the value of the CW Ph.D. have (perhaps necessarily, given the nature of this medium) missed the boat somewhat on many of the complexities of the issue.

First, the primary value of the CW Ph.D. is, and will be for the foreseeable future, some combination (or all) of the following: 1) funded time to write; 2) continued participation in a community of artists; 3) teaching experience in the field (creative writing) most graduates will be seeking employment in; 4) a greater likelihood of direct mentoring than with the MFA, due to the level of engagement required by a dissertation versus a thesis; 5) an opportunity to remain (as tends to be most productive for those with artistic temperaments) outside the 9-to-5 workaday world/schedule; 6) a slight advantage over other job applicants in a situation where the CW Ph.D. graduate and another without a CW Ph.D. are essentially neck-and-neck for a position; 7) the opportunity to study poetry with a level of seriousness not possible either in college or in private workshops or courses (though often possible in MFA programs as well).

At this point, the growth rate of CW Ph.D. programs is glacial, even as MFA programs are multiplying at an almost alarming rate (around 6 new programs per year, or 60 per ten years). MFA program growth may not reach its "saturation point" for many, many years--as evidenced, in part, by how many of the top universities in the country have yet to initiate a program (Harvard is coming soon, as discussed on the ALC MFA Blog, but even that's a few years away). Another way of looking at it is to say that one of the nation's great cities for poets, for Philadelphia, will see its first CW MFA this fall (at Temple; story here). Until MFA programs reach a saturation point, a) they will remain the most widely-recognized terminal degree in the field of creative writing, and b) little thought or effort will be attached/put into to the "prestige question" re: CW Ph.D. programs, which is to the detriment of graduates of these programs because employers don't know or haven't decided yet what cultural capital accrues to such degrees. I will say that, it's true, this process is starting--Houston, Georgia, Florida State, and USC, in poetry, have made a name for themselves (and perhaps a couple other programs)--but with only 35 programs, and with a program-creation rate of less than one per year, there's less "at stake" right now in even the few analyses of CW Ph.D. programs that have been undertaken or one might undertake. Anyone who says they "know" what the degree is worth is kidding themselves; the first large batch of CW Ph.D. graduates is only just hitting the job market this decade, so there's little precedent to which one can refer. Certainly, it's worth noting that--in the only study of this sort that, to my knowledge, has ever been done--the placement statistics for the 1,200+ current professors at the top fifty colleges and universities in the United States break down this way:

Professors Who Graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison Currently Working at a Top Fifty College or University: 23

Professors Who Graduated from Any of the Thirty-Five U.S. Universities That Have CW Doctoral Programs Working at a Top Fifty College or University: 27


When you consider that (as I recall) perhaps two of the 27 professors mentioned above (in the second category) graduated from that university's CW doctoral program, and that both of those two went to highly-esteemed MFA programs (making it unclear what the CW Ph.D. was adding to the equation), one has to conclude--not that we know what the degree is worth--but that, again, we don't know. It is simply too early to say. If someone were to ask me that question now I'd probably say, "Come back to me in 15 to 20 years and we might know something."

To my knowledge, University of Wisconsin-Madison is the only traditional (i.e. critical dissertation) doctoral program in English Literature that has an Internal Minor in Creative Writing. It also happens to be home to the #6 MFA program in the country, meaning that during the course of one's Ph.D. here one is essentially meeting all the requirements for graduation from one of the nation's top Master's programs in the field (except, technically, the thesis, but one produces enough work in one's workshops to put together a thesis if one wanted to). The difference is that having an English Literature degree has a proven track record on the job market; it makes one a "double-threat" of sorts in that one then has two terminal degrees--and in two different specializations--rather than (in effect) one terminal degree in one specialization (the situation of someone with an MFA and CW Ph.D.). It's very tough to analogize those two situations, except to say that--objectively--the former is considerably more desirable at the time present time and under the present conditions, especially given the field of Poetry Studies being a recognized area of specialization in English Literature doctoral programs (i.e., one can study poetry obsessively in a traditional Ph.D. program, and, as many poets have already proven to us, you can continue writing poetry in a traditional Ph.D. program, especially if you're somewhere that you can take workshops for credit).

But applicants to CW Ph.D. programs and traditional programs often have different goals; if one's goals conform to those I listed at the beginning of this post, a CW Ph.D. program may well be a good fit. If one has a strong desire for several of those same goals, but also academic study of poetry and a significantly enhanced job-market portfolio, one might well do a traditional Ph.D.--while, yes, risking the likelihood that one will get much less writing done, relatively speaking at least, in that sort of program (i.e., you can certainly continue writing--just as those with a full-time job often write regularly; certainly, it's no worse than that and likely much better--you just won't write as much).

I chose University of Wisconsin-Madison because I felt it was--and now believe it is--the perfect compromise between the two goal-sets. It is, I truly believe, the best of both worlds, and not just because a) Madison is one of the best places to live for four to six years in the United States, but also b) I want to be able to approach, understand, and internalize poetics from not merely an aesthetic standpoint but also a conceptual one. I think that will make me a better reader of poetry and a better writer. My honest opinion: I can't imagine any poet or writer considering a Ph.D. not at least applying to University of Wisconsin-Madison. I think you owe it to yourself to at least have that option, if admitted. Because a third major reason to come--reason "c)"--is that sometimes you come to a point in your life when you want an entirely new challenge that nevertheless acknowledges your current values and interests. Doing a traditional Ph.D. is very different from doing an MFA, but then--really--doing a CW Ph.D. is also very different from doing an MFA. UW is the only school in America, as far as I know, which lets your first three years seem very similar to a CW Ph.D., and then lets you do the critical dissertation that will make you a very attractive find on the job market (keep in mind that only two Ph.D. programs in this entire conversation--University of Wisconsin-Madison and, to a lesser extent, University of Southern California--could be said to be "highly regarded" or "prestigious" English Ph.D. programs; UW is #17 nationally [and First Tier in contemporary American literature], while USC is a Top 40 program).*

Best to all,
Seth

* UIC and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee are knocking on the door of the perennial top 40 for English Literature doctoral programs but are not quite there yet (and it's not clear whether either is in the moving-up phase; it seems more likely they're either in a holding pattern or in slight decline, based on at least a rankings-only analysis [with all its evident limitations]). The problem, of course, is that while UW is ranked #17 on the basis of the degree we're talking about here, even USC isn't really in the top 40 because of its creative writing doctoral degree, but because of the quality of its English Department (and anyone familiar with MFA internal politics will know that that's not one and the same, and certainly not to the professors and administrators who oversee hiring of tenure-track faculty).


(This post was edited by umass76 on Sep 18, 2009, 7:13 PM)


umass76


Sep 18, 2009, 7:23 PM

Post #1218 of 2090 (20601 views)
Shortcut
Re: [umass76] The Future of PhD Study for Poets and Writers [In reply to] Can't Post

Addendum:

It's worth noting that Wisconsin-Madison was the only traditional Ph.D. program I applied to that allowed--indeed encouraged--me to send a creative portfolio, and to whose admissions committee my accomplishments in the field of creative writing (e.g. publications) were relevant. It's also worth nothing (and this is no coincidence, either) that the Director of Graduate Studies in the English Department at UW--basically, the effective head of the entire graduate program--is not only a Poetry Studies scholar but specializes in contemporary American poetry. In fact, she runs a Contemporary Poetry Reading Group (that sometimes meets at her house) which is attended not only by Ph.D. students doing the Internal CW Minor (and some who aren't), but by MFA students as well. And did I mention that UW also is home to perhaps the second-most highly-regarded post-MFA fellowship in the country (the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing fellowships), and that the fellows regularly hang out in the same building as the English Department? In other words, there's a CW community at UW which extends way, way beyond the fact that there's the nation's only (that I know of) internal CW Minor here.

Seth


bktv


Sep 18, 2009, 8:18 PM

Post #1219 of 2090 (20583 views)
Shortcut
Re: [umass76] The Future of PhD Study for Poets and Writers [In reply to] Can't Post

To GDClark: The USC stipend has gone up $3k+ in only three years. That bodes well for future applicants. From all of my info., USC takes care of its PhD students.

To Seth: Maybe you noticed this already, but every critical program that I've listed is ranked in the top 100 as an English department (except Cincy and Denver), and also ranked in the top 100 as a Creative Writing program (whether MFA or PhD or both). Wherever I go I want a community of writers, even if I can't take two workshops a semester for credit. In some ways, I'm already an anomaly because I now have an MFA and a lit. MA. Two or three others here at UT-Knoxville are with me there, but I'm the only creative writer in the contemporary literary theory class, for example. I enjoy critical and creative work, and sort of think it's easier to get into a top-50 PhD critical program than any? of the CW PhD programs. UT-Knoxville usually places several MA lit. grads into top 50 PhD programs, so I think I'd almost be better off trying for that than doing pure CW PhDs.

I appreciate your data concerning hiring at top-50 schools, but I guess I don't care as much about teaching at a top school, although certainly getting a PhD from such an institution is bound to help your job prospects generally. What I think a critical PhD (and probably a CW PhD, to a lesser extent) would get me is hiring versatility at a smaller school that might need a little creative writing teaching, but also an area of literature or comp. I'd be fine with such a combo position, as long as it was tenure track. I have also noticed, through scouring English department pages (literally over 200), is that schools that offer the CW PhD tend to hire CW PhDs, which I guess is no surprise. I also think that mid-level schools (emerging, trying to increase their academic reputation) would prefer the PhD as a degree to the MFA, if for no other reason than statistics that claim "98% of our faculty hold PhDs". It's prestige, even though writers realize that what matters is the writing and publication.

To LesK: Thanks for the good wishes. I really hope this is my last year applying. I don't want to go back to adjuncting, and my application is much stronger than it was before this Lit. MA. Still, I've ruled out Texas Tech, and several others, because they rejected me two years ago, and I received no encouraging signs to reapply. At USC and Missouri, though, I was led to believe that I'd have a fair chance if I applied again. For my critical concentration, I'll probably go the direction of my MA thesis—the short story as a genre, and early American manifestations of it (Irving, Poe, Hawthorne).


umass76


Sep 18, 2009, 9:21 PM

Post #1220 of 2090 (20565 views)
Shortcut
Re: [bktv] The Future of PhD Study for Poets and Writers [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi BKTV,

I hear you, definitely, but I think the lens you're using to look at these programs is problematic. For instance, the CW (here, Conventional Wisdom) in the Lit. Ph.D. field was, for decades, "Don't attend any program that's not in the top ten, or you'll have a near impossible time getting a job, and you certainly won't get a job anywhere you'd want to live." The most recent Penn colloquium advised exactly this, and that was within the last ten years. I always thought that CW was a little harsh, but that's what it was. Over the last five years, what happened was that the top Lit. Ph.D. programs dramatically cut the size of their incoming cohorts--Duke, for instance, by around 70%--due to limited funding and a bad job market in the humanities. One consequence of that (because the CW for Lit. Ph.D. programs looks at the job market 10 years out, because the average Lit. Ph.D. takes around 8.7 years to complete) is that now the CW says the same thing as before, but replaces "top ten" with "top twenty." While that's still pretty draconian, remember that there are maybe 500 "major" colleges and universities in the U.S., and 149 Lit. Ph.D. programs. Consequently, the current CW for Lit. Ph.D. applicants is akin (statistically) to saying to undergrads--presuming, for a moment, that the job market for college grads would be as bad as the market for English professors, which is unthinkable (it would mean the country was having another Great Depression)--that you need to go to one of the Top 75 universities in the country to have a good chance of getting a job you'll want want upon graduation. That makes the current CW seem a lot more reasonable; in USNWR terms, it's like saying to undergrads that you'll want to go to a school at the level of University of Connecticut or better to get a good job. Again, harsh, but not completely absurd. And the placement statistics bear that out: 934 of the 1,183 professors in the study I did (79%) went to a top 20 Lit. Ph.D. program.

Now, I understand you're not necessarily aiming to work at a top 50 college or university, and that's understandable--but with the job market as tight as it is, there's a "spillover" effect to the statistics above. In other words, it's becoming the case that when you look at the English departments of less well-known universities you're seeing largely professors who came from (say) the top 50 programs, even if it's not as exclusively (not to the tune of 79%, at least) the top 20. I guess my point is that, in a context where there's 149 Lit. Ph.D. programs and 142 full-residency MFA programs, saying that a school is in the "top 100" doesn't really mean very much anymore. The question, increasingly, is better looked at as a question of percentages--e.g., the top 20% of Lit. Ph.D. programs (which would be the top 30 programs in the U.S.) or the top 20% of MFA programs (which would be the top 28 programs, or, as I've designated them, the top two Tiers of programs).

I'm afraid to say that Lit. Ph.D. programs are as hard to get into as CW Ph.D. programs--if not harder. Some yield-exclusive acceptance rate data for Lit. Ph.D. programs:

University of Chicago: 2%
Penn: 2.1%
NYU: 2.2%
Northwestern: 2.5%
UIC: 3%
Brown: 3.1%
Princeton: 3.3%
Texas: 3.3%
UC Berkeley: 3.8%
UCLA: 4.1%
Rutgers: 4.4%
SUNY Buffalo: 4.4%
Tufts: 5.4%
UMass: 5.5%
UC Irvine: 6.8%
UNC: 6.9%

Here's the scary part: a place like (say) SUNY Buffalo is ranked around 40th in the U.S. among Lit. Ph.D. programs; the MFA equivalent would be a program ranked around 37th or so. So:

George Mason (37th) acceptance rate: 11.7%
SUNY Buffalo (40th) acceptance rate: 4.4%


And now, let's look at a comparable CW Ph.D. (which would be one ranked around 10th out of the 35 in the U.S.). In fact, let's cheat--big-time--and look at a school ranked sixth among CW Ph.D. programs, i.e., relatively speaking, much more prestigious in its grouping (theoretically) than either George Mason or SUNY Buffalo are in theirs: University of Cincinnati.

University of Cincinnati (6th) acceptance rate: 11.1%

But there's another rub: poets and writers are only competing against themselves when they apply to CW Ph.D. programs. When poets and writers apply to traditional Lit. Ph.D. programs they are, as a rule--though certainly less so when they have academic M.A. degrees--at a substantial disadvantage to everyone else. Traditional M.A. grads have theses excerpts to use for their application portfolios; these are excerpts that have been worked on for years and have had professorial review. In contrast, most MFA graduates have no such critical sample to hand and must on their own create one in a short span of time.

The point is that getting into the 100th ranked Lit. Ph.D. may well be easier (for anyone) than getting into, say, USC's CW Ph.D. program, sure. But when you compare apples and apples, getting into a critical Ph.D. program is a significantly steeper hill to climb. I promise you, BKTV (and others) I don't say this to be self-aggrandizing. I say it as a warning. I don't want to go into too much detail about my own application experience for doctoral programs except to say that I definitely came into it with the view you have now, BKTV, and I came out of it with a wildly different view. I mean, you've got the 6th best CW Ph.D. in the country, Cincinnati, getting twenty-seven applicants in fiction (granted, its weaker genre, but even if poetry got as many applicants--a national trend-bucking near statistical impossibility--we'd still be looking at 27 poetry applicants for the sixth best program in the nation). Compare that to the #6 Lit. Ph.D. (say Princeton, though different rankings have different takes on the top 10) and you're looking at three hundred and five applicants annually (and if we say University of Chicago, which we easily could, that's be five hundred and forty-two applicants annually). And most of them have academic Master's degrees and can (for the moment) write critical circles around their CW brethren, all things being equal.

So, statistically speaking, if one really wants to strategize one's list, one should apply to--I'd say--three Lit. Ph.D. programs for every one CW Ph.D. program. Possibly even 4:1.

Be well,
Seth

P.S. Only 35 schools, out of the several thousand in the U.S., have CW Ph.D. programs; banking on using a CW Ph.D. to get a job at one of those 35 schools is not a wise strategy, as those 35 schools represent perhaps 2% of the total stock of U.S. colleges and universities, maybe less. I don't know if you were implying that that was part of your strategy, but I thought I'd point that out, in any case.


bktv


Sep 18, 2009, 10:37 PM

Post #1221 of 2090 (20548 views)
Shortcut
Re: [umass76] The Future of PhD Study for Poets and Writers [In reply to] Can't Post

The numbers are scary, and ideally, I agree with the UPenn forum. But realistically, it's already too late for me to get into a top 10 program. Top 20 isn't out of the question, and I hope I land in one.

I admit some imprecision in my previous numbers. The top 100, as you point out, isn't saying much. I stretched them a bit to include Ohio, which is ranked in the 80s for English departments. Without Ohio and Cincinnati, I could have said "top 60," which fits a little better with the numbers you suggest, and is close to the top third of PhD granting institutions. Let's look at the top CW PhD programs in terms of overall English department rankings:

Florida State University 87t
University of Cincinnati unranked
University of Denver unranked
University of Georgia 58t
University of Houston 87t
University of Illinois at Chicago 41t
University of Missouri 58t
University of Southern California 38t
University of Utah 63t
University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee 52t

That means none of the best CW PhDs are even in the top 30. Actually, I think USC (at 38) is the highest ranked of any school granting the CW PhD. So, is it professional suicide to get a CW PhD? The question for me is whether or not a CW PhD from a school, say, in the 50s or 60s, would be worth about the same as a Lit. PhD from a school in what, the 20s or 30s?

Many of the top English Departments have no graduate creative degree, so those PhD grads aren't going to take creative jobs, for the most part. (Berkeley, Stanford, Yale, UPenn, Princeton, UCLA, U. Chicago, Duke and etc.) Over the summer I read D.G. Myers' fascinating history of creative writing programs (The Elephants Teach), which although somewhat dated ('95), does go far in explaining the unsteady relationship between creative and critical sides in English departments. The implication behind the book is that many top English scholars (and this could be changing with Harvard starting an MFA) don't take contemporary creative work seriously. I have observed this, in varying degrees, at both my graduate institutions. I wonder if this is a contributing factor to the decision of many of the top English departments to avoid MFA programs.

If we take into consideration that MFA programs are expanding and will need faculty, and that fewer CW PhDs are granted than Lit. PhDs, it seems that a CW PhD might still be valuable, especially if it allows you to improve and publish your creative work. But, I suppose it depends on whether or not the CW PhDs can convince the academic establishment that the PhD needs to be the terminal, academic degree for getting teaching positions. I'd agree that is hardly the case now. It is still based on publication success and critical reception, regardless of "scholarship" or teaching ability.


gcsumfa


Sep 18, 2009, 11:10 PM

Post #1222 of 2090 (20529 views)
Shortcut
Re: [umass76] The Future of PhD Study for Poets and Writers [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To



In Reply To


Now, I understand you're not necessarily aiming to work at a top 50 college or university, and that's understandable--but with the job market as tight as it is, there's a "spillover" effect to the statistics above. In other words, it's becoming the case that when you look at the English departments of less well-known universities you're seeing largely professors who came from (say) the top 50 programs, even if it's not as exclusively (not to the tune of 79%, at least) the top 20. I guess my point is that, in a context where there's 149 Lit. Ph.D. programs and 142 full-residency MFA programs, saying that a school is in the "top 100" doesn't really mean very much anymore. The question, increasingly, is better looked at as a question of percentages--e.g., the top 20% of Lit. Ph.D. programs (which would be the top 30 programs in the U.S.) or the top 20% of MFA programs (which would be the top 28 programs, or, as I've designated them, the top two Tiers of programs).


Yeah, but most creative writers aren't going to enroll in lit/crit PhD programs, where their primary area will become secondary. Most PhD lit/crit programs in the top 50 aren't as open-minded as Wiscy, either, and I doubt the faculty would want to work with someone who doesn't plan to publish scholarship.

So, I don't think this is much of an issue; in other words, for a job at Mid State Bible College Tech of Mines, I don't think the PhD CW'er is going to be competing for an undergrad CW-Lit combo job with a creative writer with a PhD in Lit.

And even if he is, chances are he'll have more pubs, since he wasn't bogged down writing a dissertation on The Faerie Queen for 4-5 years.


(This post was edited by gcsumfa on Sep 18, 2009, 11:12 PM)


bktv


Sep 18, 2009, 11:12 PM

Post #1223 of 2090 (20527 views)
Shortcut
Re: [bktv] The Future of PhD Study for Poets and Writers [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I should modify what I wrote to include Cornell's combo MFA/PhD degree, which would clearly beat out any other CW PhD in terms of overall English department ranking.


umass76


Sep 18, 2009, 11:12 PM

Post #1224 of 2090 (20525 views)
Shortcut
Re: [bktv] The Future of PhD Study for Poets and Writers [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi BKTV,

Just to help out, I have the Composite Ph.D. rankings for English Lit., they may help fill in the gaps:

#117 Ohio University
#123 University of Denver
#131 University of Cincinnati

Here's how the schools you mentioned fare in the Composite rankings:

Top 40

#32 University of Southern California
#38 University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee

Top 50

[None].

Top 50% (Top 75)

#51 University of Illinois at Chicago
#54 University of Georgia
#59 University of Missouri

Below Top 50% ("Below Average")

#76 University of Utah
#79t Florida State University
#129 University of Houston

The Composite rankings use a Total Score based on the 1995 NRC Ranking (the NRC rankings being the most important and influential ranking of doctoral programs in the U.S.), average USNWR ranking (using the 2001 and 2005 data), PhDs.org ranking (with Placement Rate, Educational Effectiveness, and Faculty Quality all set as "Extremely Important," and all other factors set to "Display Only"), and a poll of traditional Ph.D. applicants from the WGI website.

In any case, it's important to remember that--increasingly--poets and writers are getting traditional Ph.D. degrees (though honestly they've been doing it for years; fully one-half of my workshop professors at Iowa had traditional doctorates in English Literature), so to think that CW Ph.D. graduates are only competing amongst themselves and/or MFA-only job candidates isn't necessarily correct. And in a job market competition between someone with (say) a Minnesota MFA and a Minnesota traditional Ph.D., versus someone with a Florida State MFA and a Florida State CW Ph.D., I think the former will have a significant advantage, assuming other factors (notably publication history) are equal.

Be well,
Seth


bktv


Sep 18, 2009, 11:24 PM

Post #1225 of 2090 (20514 views)
Shortcut
Re: [umass76] The Future of PhD Study for Poets and Writers [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey Seth,

I was just using the 2009 USNWP rankings here: http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-english-schools/rankings

Granted, they haven't changed much from the 2005 set, and aren't as thorough as the composite rankings.

First page Previous page 1 ... 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 ... 84 Next page Last page  View All

Main Index » Writing and Publishing » MFA Programs

 


P&W Newsletters

Sign up to receive our monthly email newsletter to stay informed of the latest news, events and more.

Click to Sign Up

Subscribe to P&W Magazine | Donate Now | Advertise | Sign up for E-Newsletter | About Us | Contact Us

© Copyright Poets & Writers 2011. All Rights Reserved