Thursday, April 23, 2015

MFA Programs and Admission

This came out of a question posed to creative writing faculty at Washburn:

Applicants should choose locally and globally.

KU might be a good choice to apply to, as well as schools taught by other well-known writers.

This link:

This link has many legitimate programs listed:

Also, GTAs, grants, etc. are rewarded with the acceptance, listed with the application process. The deadlines are important to keep in mind.

Start by taking the GRE ASAP, then begin researching--keeping track of deadlines, what each school wants, etc.


From Liz:
1. Funding: Today Huffington Post released its second annual (presumably?) list of underrated creative writing programs, noting that the programs they list "fully fund a sizable percentage of incoming students." Some programs still don't offer CNF, and others have students work in all three genres, so more digging would be necessary, but it's not a bad place to start:

2. Location: I started my search for MFA programs based on where I wanted to live. I don't know that I would necessarily recommend that as a strategy for everyone, but it worked out pretty well for me, so I can't entirely knock it, either. ;) If your student wants to stay close to home (and if Kansas is indeed home), KU is a great choice--a solid CNF program, and it's been mentioned on the above list both years, too.

3. Teachers/mentors: There are a couple of ways to approach this. If she already has writers she admires who do the sort of writing she's hoping to do, she can look them up to see whether they teach in an MFA program somewhere. If not, getting a hold of copies of the Best American Essays, the Best American Travel Writing, and/or the Best American Science and Nature Writing from the past several years and seeing which writers tickle her fancy might not be a bad idea.

Mabee has Best American Essays from 1986-2008; it also has electronic copies of Best Women's Travel Writing 2014 and Best American Magazine Writing 2014, which I'm not directly familiar with but sound worth looking at!

4. Specific programs: There are some niche programs that focus on the sort of writing I associate with National Geographic: for example, Chatham University has an MFA program that has a focus on writing about place (travel/nature/environment/etc.): A search for "literary journalism" also turned up Ball State's graduate certificate in literary journalism, which I don't have any solid knowledge about, but it seems like it could be an interesting way to test the waters (the courses may be applied to a master's in journalism), or just learn some useful skills without having to commit to an entire degree:


From Izzy:
Students should apply to lots of programs, because 1. getting admitted and funded is tough, and it's good to have options, and 2. sometimes it's only the process of getting accepted that makes it clear which school is the best fit. I'd love to know what others have advised students to do, but when finances allow it I usually suggest applying to 6-8 programs.


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