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MFA in Creative Writing

robertsont06robertsont06 Posts: 626Registered User Member
edited May 2013 in Graduate School
I used to post on this board a WHOLE LOT when I was applying to Undergrad programs as a terrified senior in high school. Now I'm almost a terrified senior at the University of Chicago ready to begin my search for the best MFA program for me. (And to think I thought I'd never go to grad school... oh, how things change over four years.)

So what are you guys' takes on MFA programs in Creative Writing?

I've seen the "rankings" and they are a good starting place, but now I need to get more personal with people who attend these schools, or anyone who knows a bit about them.

So far, I like:

U of Texas
U of Iowa
U of California-Irvine
U of Florida
Boston U
U of Mass-Amherst

The most important things to me are 1) cost/aid ratio, 2) falculty, 3) climate. (I'm really tired of this frigid Chicago weather.)

Thanks guys! :)
Post edited by robertsont06 on

Replies to: MFA in Creative Writing

  • monydadmonydad Posts: 6,261Registered User Senior Member
    Check out Cornell and Johns Hopkins.

    They meet your weather citeria about as well as Iowa and U Mass do.
  • Hope2getriceHope2getrice Posts: 1,154Registered User Senior Member
    i know i trumpet this a lot, lol, but JHU has a top 2 Creative Writing program in the country under Writing Seminars and one of their professors is writer: Alice McDermott.

    Financial Aid is usually pretty good, especially with all the fundraising they've done, + the climate is much better than Chicago, and the faculty are certainly top notch.
  • robertsont06robertsont06 Posts: 626Registered User Member
    Oh yeah, I'm also looking at class size. I know ther was a year when JHU only admitted 2 people! Bigger classes (8+) may suit me better/ increase my odds of getting in.

    but Cornell seems really nice. I almost went there for undergrad.

    Any more suggestions anyone?
  • minoafrauminoafrau Posts: 519Registered User Member
    Syracuse, althought that doesn't improve your weather situation.
  • swifty27swifty27 Posts: 202Registered User Junior Member
    I'm an undergrad at UC Davis right now, and I have to say that the graduate CW program here seems really excellent. Maybe not the highest ranked, but up-and-coming, I think, as it's still a relatively new program but already very good. I've gotten to take some workshops with the graduate faculty, and all of them have been amazing people, with impressive publication records to back them up. Plus, Davis is a great little town and the weather is definitely nicer out here in sunny Cal than in Chicago! Do be aware, though, that the CW program is for an MA, not an MFA. But in any case, the English Dept seems to really take care of their grad students, there are tons of reading events and it seems like a pretty tight-knit community. Good luck, wherever you end up!
  • robertsont06robertsont06 Posts: 626Registered User Member
    much thanks swifty27. I hadn't thought of looking there, but I definitely will now. :)
  • flexfit0flexfit0 Posts: 63Registered User Junior Member
    All things considered, Michigan and Iowa are the best packages for MFA in creative writing.
  • rainoffire87rainoffire87 Posts: 110Registered User Junior Member
    I applied to 8 MFA programs this year, and got into 1 so far (still waiting for 2). I don't want to scare you, but rather warn you-- they are extremely, utterly brutal to get into and are, most likely, one of the hardest (if not the hardest) grad. program to get into. Some programs (as you said) will only take 2-4 students out of 300 apps. CUNY Hunter, for example, accepted 8 out of 330 this year. The main problem with applying to them is that theyre so damn unpredictable-- 90% of your app. is based on your writing sample. If they don't like your sample, you're sunk. Doesn't matter if you got a 4.0 from Harvard.

    The average number of schools that I've seen people apply to is 12. 12 is a good number-- it's best to apply to 13-15 if you can afford it. 8 is considered on the lower end. You need to cast your net wide because you don't know who will love/hate your writing. My friend applied to 5 and got rejected by all; another applied to 11 and got into 1, and, a third applied to 13 and got rejected by 11, waitlisted at 2.

    Polish your writing sample-- make sure it's perfect. I spent a few months polishing mine-- it's a novel that I've been working on. Also, make sure your statement of purpose stands out. Every program that I've applied to said that the s.o.p. is the next thing they look at after the sample. It needs to be intriguing, it needs to grab the professor's attention. Boring stuff will be thrown out. You can't lie, obviously, but try choose something crazy/fascinating that's happened to you and write about that.

    As far as good programs, obviously Iowa is at the top. It's been number one since MFA's were invented. Also excellent are Michigan, Virginia, Texas, UMass Amherst, etc. Columbia has a solid program, but their funding is awful and they are widely criticized for this; they are also "easy" to get into w. an acceptance rate of around 17%. Another EXCELLENT program is Cornell- extremely competitive--they accept around 4 students.. but every student is fully funded. If you like NYC, Hunter, New School, NYU, are great. NYU is, surprisingly, decent to good with funding.

    For more info, search MFA blog on google-- there's tons of info. there. I'd also recommend buying Tom Kealy's MFA Handbook. It's incredibly helpful.

    This whole MFA process has really been an eye-opening, frightening experience. But if you're like me and you realize that you want nothing more than 2-3 years to write, an MFA is invaluable. I'm still waiting to hear about funding and am nervous that I won't be able to afford it... we shall see-- an MFA has been my dream for years now.

    Good luck and let me know if you have anymore questions.
  • J Thomas LoreJ Thomas Lore Posts: 2Registered User New Member
    Thanks Rain, that information was very helpful.
  • roberthhidroberthhid Posts: 356Registered User Member
    Just a bump on this thread since DS1 just went through this process. First, this blog MFA Blog: MFA Tip Sheet is more valuable than anything on CC if you are interested in getting your MFA. Second, it is harder to get into a fully funded MFA program than to get into Med School. This year Iowa had 1200 applications for 25 spots. Johns Hopkins had 225 applications for 5 spots. And 5 spots means 5 spots- that's all they accept and then there is a short waiting list. Last year JHU did not use the waitlist at all for their poetry MFA slots. Your school, your grades, your recs count for almost nothing (they might be used in a tie-breaker situation.)
    The only thing that really counts is your portfolio and whether its the type of writing the adcom is interested in. Finally, there are simply no safety schools among the fully funded (tuition free and get a stipend) schools so as rainoffire87 states you probably should apply to a lot of them. DS1 was quite fortunate to get into a top program but be prepared to take a year off and re-apply.
  • BlackRose101BlackRose101 Posts: 1,886Registered User Senior Member
    old thread, but it's still good :)
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