Creative Writing Graduate Programs teach the art of language. You could develop your writing through study and practice. Classes might cover both general English topics, craft classes, and even courses about the publishing industry. Workshops offer the chance to hone your work. And of course, gain peer feedback to help improve that short story or poem. Most MFA Creative Writing programs take the format of a two-year program. (In the second year, MFA students may work on crafting a thesis.) That said, you may be able to find a three-year program. And some students study part-time. So, they could earn their MFA on a different timeline.
Young Adult Fiction
But those are far from the only options. You may find programs that offer tracks in:
Not all schools offer coursework in the same genres. So, look around! Don’t want to choose just one track? You may find an interdisciplinary MFA Creative Writing degree program.
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MFA stands for Master of Fine Arts. An MFA in Creative Writing may be an especially common option. Most programs include courses in the department of English and courses about the craft of writing. In addition, programs strive to create a community of writers. They may do that by:
Inviting visiting writers to campus
Holding events, like a reading series
Publishing student-run literary magazines
In a traditional program, students take courses on campus. Some candidates may even pursue a teaching assistantship. That’s where you teach undergrad courses. Or help other faculty members with teaching duties. Often, in exchange for a stipend and/or tuition waiver. But these days, MFA students could pursue other paths. Like an online degree program. Or programs where you take most classes online but do a brief residency on campus. (Often called low residency.) Wondering about admissions requirements? An MFA in writing often considers more than just your undergrad transcripts. The program may look at your past writing experience. And a big part of your application is the writing sample. Samples should likely be in the genre you’d like to study. It could be a novel chapter. Or a collection of poems. Even a play or movie script!
MFA Writing Workshops
Expect workshopping to be a large portion of your program. Workshops are writing intensive courses. Students develop new work for peer review. They submit drafts for peer feedback. Then it’s time for revisions to make the work as good as it can be. These classes might be a great way to produce new work. Plus, learn from what your peers are writing. And, workshops could provide a safe place for students to give and get critical feedback. There’s one other potential plus. Writing workshops often bring together students from different genres. So, you could get constructive feedback from many different perspectives. For example, students writing poetry could offer fresh insights into your creative nonfiction. Workshop requirements may differ by graduate school. Want the specifics? Contact the program director for the MFA program you’re considering.
MFA Writing Courses
Practicing writing in workshop is just part of an MFA. You’ll also take core academic courses. These focus on the craft of writing. For instance, you might learn about point of view. Or different forms and styles of poetry. You’ll study how other writers achieved certain effects. And you’ll try your hand at new techniques. MFA writing courses could include:
Writing for Film
Mystery & Horror Writing
Writing for Young Adults
Graduate English courses typically round out an MFA. A few examples of potential courses include:
19th Century British Literature
Contemporary Women Writers
Courses offered may vary by institution. Check with prospective masters in writing programs for more details about their course guide.
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Creative Writing PhD Programs are writing intense programs like the MFA. But they may have more of a research element along with coursework. So how does this PhD program differ from other doctorate programs? One big difference may be the dissertation. Most doctoral programs ask students to write and present works of original research. In comparison, creative dissertations are usually long-form works. Like:
A short story collection
A poetry collection
This could possibly help jumpstart your writing career. Or at least, serve as a great addition to your professional portfolio. Due to the intensity of the above-mentioned writing requirements, students could potentially complete a PhD program in 3 to 5 years. Program length may vary by school and enrollment. PhD programs in this field may require previous graduate experience, as well as a 3.5 graduate GPA. Additionally, writing schools may ask students to submit samples of their previous work. Check with intended programs for more admissions details.
Creative Writing Graduate Certificate Programs
Graduate Certificate Creative Writing programs might be a great way to quickly build your writing skills and knowledge. These programs typically do not require a minimum GPA for admissions. This may make them more accessible to a wide array of students, so that they can begin to hone their craft. Many certificate programs only workshop one specific genre. For example, they might focus solely on children’s literature. This may provide a focused curriculum without unnecessary academic electives. So, graduate certificates are often on the shorter side. Full time students could potentially earn a Graduate Certificate in one year, although program lengths vary.
High vs. Low Residency Writing Programs
Residency requirements are common in many graduate writing programs. Biannually, students may be required to live and work on campus. This is done to provide a space for students to concentrate on writing, reviewing, and revising their work. During this time, you could be sharing housing with other students from your program. Students are also encouraged to workshop pieces with others in the residency program to further refine the final product. Typically, graduate writing programs either offer a low or high residency option. Low residency writing programs are shorter and may last around 10 days. High residency writing programs are often lengthier, lasting from 2 to 6 weeks. Residency lengths and details may vary by university.
Graduate Creative Writing Program Formats
Pinpointing MFA programs that complement your daily routine could be difficult. But, there are several different program types that could make it easier to study and write…even if you have other responsibilities.
On Campus MFA Programs
On campus programs are what you might picture when you imagine the traditional university experience. Graduate creative writing schools provide the opportunity to develop your work alongside your peers and mentors. Things like workshops and office hours could make it easier to get help polishing your work. Additionally, this might be an opportunity to build professional relationships with classmates. You never know who might be your connection to a literary agent or publishing house.
Online Creative Writing Graduate Programs
Online MFA programs are a great way to stay in your own space while earning your degree. No matter where you live, you could attend classes on your own schedule. And, you could still receive valuable feedback from peers and professors via email or online forums. An online writing degree may be a perfect option for students who work. This way, you could pursue your professional endeavors while honing your craft. It’s important to note that online programs may require students to take part in residency programs. Typically, these are offered in the low-residency format but could require you try travel to campus or a nearby location.
Hybrid Creative Writing degrees offer a little taste of both the above programs. Depending on your personal schedule, you could choose to pursue one style of learning at any given time. For instance, you could take online courses while working. Or, take on campus courses in between jobs. This might be great for current freelance writers because of their constantly changing work schedule. Depending on your future responsibilities, you could plan your semesters accordingly.
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