The MFA Program in Creative Writing is happy to announce that we will become a three-year MFA program, beginning in Fall 2017.
Established in 1972, the MFA Program in Creative Writing is one of the nation’s oldest and best-regarded MFA programs and continues to offer what is the traditional terminal degree for academics specializing in creative writing. Since the program’s inception, the number of institutions granting MFA degrees has increased exponentially: In 1972, you could count the number of American MFA programs on one hand. Today there are 219. Originally established as a three-year program, our MFA in Creative Writing shifted to a 2-year program in the early 1990s. In 2014, in order to make the program more ethical and competitive, we decided only to admit as many students as we could fully fund, bringing our size down from a peak of 60 students to approximately 24-28. In 2017 we will move to a more rigorous and flexible three-year model, admitting the same number of students per year (about 12, typically four in each genre of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry).
A note from the Program Director explains further:
In the last decade, it's become clear that this MFA program increasingly offers a whole lot more than workshops and craft classes and thesis advising and nice December weather. We now have at least nine top-shelf literary magazines, small presses, or other literary projects housed in the MFA program: DIAGRAM, Essay Daily, Fairy Tale Review, Fairy Tale Review Books, Letter Machine Editions, March Xness, New Michigan Press, the MFA Program's flagship publication Sonora Review, and The Volta. While they’re here, many of our students have done internships at Kore Press or Chax, the Letterpress Lab, UA Press, the Biosphere 2, the Institute for the Environment, and many other places. Our MFA program supports really quite a few organizations and extracurricular activities like WIP, Many Voices, Infuse, Salon (on hiatus this year), and that’s not even getting into the excellent readings from the Prose Series and the UA Poetry Center's reading series.
We’ve heard from our students that the 2-year program is really intense and rewarding, but that and it can be hard to balance all these opportunities and obligations with teaching and class-taking and writing, which is our most important work. And many of our graduating students have told us that a third year could have really helped them develop their theses into more ambitious and successful books.
We’ve been listening.
So beginning in Fall 2017, we’re moving from the current program, a 2-year, 36-credit program, to a 3-year, 42-credit program. This will allow our students to only take 2 courses a semester, like the other graduate programs in English, along with a new one-credit MFA colloquium, which is an all-MFA meeting for an hour every 2 weeks to have conversations about ethics in memoir, research strategies in science and poetry, how to strategically manage one’s time as a writer, gender bias in the literary world (and in the MFA world), and race & racialization & whiteness. In Colloquium this year we also had a wide-ranging conversation with Alice Notley, and another with a visiting editor from Orion and Pacific Standard magazines about writing for glossies, and one more with three recent MFA alums who just had their first books published this year: Lawrence Lenhart, Benjamin Rybeck, and Natasha Stagg. Additionally there were a lot of doughnuts.
This new MFA program simply preserves the things we love about the old program—the great workshops, the rangy craft classes, interdisciplinarity, and all the opportunities an MFA program can offer—and gives students more space to take advantage of them. It’s simply more flexible. Students can still complete the MFA in 2 years or 5 semesters, if they like. But all students will be offered full funding for up to three years, typically with teaching assistantships. We're all very excited about what our students will be able to accomplish with their work/art/craft given a little more time to build and study and grow.