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Some elite, smaller programs waive tuition and provide a stipend (Hopkins pays ,000 a year, Cornell ,000) for every student, typically requiring work in a related position, such as being a teaching assistant. programs is likely to be partial, if available at all. Brooklyn College may seem a bargain at ,580 in tuition for its two-year program (,700, out of state) but the program loses talent to schools that provide full tuition remission and stipends, Ms. The class entering Boston University’s one-year creative writing program this fall will be the first in which all students receive a full tuition waiver and a ,800 stipend.
John Mc Nally, an Iowa graduate who based a satirical novel, “After the Workshop,” on a washed-up graduate of the Iowa program, has described his own experience there as affected by “bitter jealousies, competition” and writing to please instructors and classmates. David Win-grave, a New York University student, says that at first the camaraderie, the attention on his work and the mounds of feedback were “thrilling.” But it was easy to lose focus and feel frustrated, and he learned to rely on only a few trusted readers.
The writer sits silently while classmates comment first on what is working, then go back around to comment on what is not. “We try to see if a person seems rational and, frankly, unneurotic, because if you get someone with a screw loose, it can be disruptive to the group.”Achieving workshop harmony can be a challenge. He also points out that criticism is coming primarily from peers who “are people who don’t know anything about writing, which is why they are in the program.”The workshop can take getting used to.
A graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Seth Abramson is the author of two collections of poetry, Northerners (Western Michigan University Press, 2011), winner of the 2010 Green Rose Prize, and The Suburban Ecstasies (Ghost Road Press, 2009).
Presently a doctoral candidate in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he is also the co-author of the forthcoming third edition of The Creative Writing MFA Handbook (Continuum, 2012).
” was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize when she was 29, is similarly inured to the critics. With tuition high for a degree not known for its marketplace potential — on average $27,600 for a two-year program at a public university, $72,600 at a private — funding is often the deciding factor in program choice.
“Most critiques I read of creative writing programs or writing in the academy are kicking entities that don’t actually (in my experience) exist.”Karen Russell, whose book “Swamplandia! Iowa, Syracuse University, Vanderbilt University, the University of Wisconsin and the University of Michigan also have fully funded programs. Low-residency programs typically offer no grants or T. Before that, says Leslie Epstein, who was the director for 36 years before stepping down last year, it too lost students to schools with better aid packages, prompting it to up its game.
Among them: the pervasiveness of digital media and celebrity culture, where anyone with a blog feels like a best-selling novelist-in-waiting; the rise of memoirs, a natural extension of the online selfie writing culture; the popularity of magical realism and noir fiction novels, which have turned many 20-somethings on to literature; and changes in generational attitudes, aspirations and culture.“The younger generation is making career choices determined by quality of life,” says Jeannine Blackwell, dean-in-residence at the Council of Graduate Schools and a professor at the University of Kentucky. Barth, a National Book Award winner in 1973, called his students “advanced apprentices.”M. Students have come to expect education to be prescriptive, she says. They allow students to test their stamina (and talent) for what Timothy Donnelly, chairman of the Writing Program at Columbia, calls a “radical lifestyle choice.”The best also hone technique and train students to read analytically. Donnelly puts it, students develop an appreciation for the “sensuous aspect of language” and the ability to translate their experience of life onto the page. “And then I think, ‘Well, let’s roll up our sleeves.’ ”Creative writing programs are designed as studio or academic models. They typically offer fiction and poetry tracks, though “creative nonfiction” is gaining ground, as are screenwriting and playwriting. programs are low-residency — they meet for about two weeks on campus or some other on-ground spot (New York University, for example, gathers low-residency students in Paris); the rest of the semester is conducted online. and is contemplating pursuing the degree, says: “What writers don’t understand is that there is little pragmatic about the M. A.” Of a dozen writer friends who went on to earn M. A.s, most, he says, are now doing “whatever they might have done before getting the degree,” including restaurant management, real estate and writing Web content.
She sees that as a reflection of undergraduate education that emphasizes specialization and pre-professionalism, with little room for the arts, reading or writing. A., adding a year because students needed more time to develop.“Our understanding of what it takes to be an artist is geared to an era’s myths,” Ms. The best provide a temporary respite from a fast-paced culture unsympathetic to the pursuit of art for art’s sake, and an opportunity to find a community of like-minded people who validate your work and motivations.
The twenty-five programs listed below fully fund a sizable percentage of incoming students, yet still receive less attention from applicants than they deserve.
They are not — or not yet — among the very best creative writing MFA programs in the United States, but applicants looking to balance out an application list dominated by highly-ranked, high-selectivity programs would do well to consider, too, some entrants to the following list: All of these programs (with the exception of University of Arkansas and Ohio State) will need to spend much more time on their online promotional materials in order to make the jump from this list to the bigger one: the Top 50 national rankings, as published by Poets & Writers.