Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I haven’t been in school for 25 years, and so getting conventional letters of recommendation is impossible. What should I do?

A: Good question. Any letter from a professional associate that can attest to your ability and desire to pursue this degree would be appropriate.

Q. I’m not sure my portfolio meets your standards. Would you mind reviewing it and giving me constructive criticism before I submit my work?

A: We cannot comment on the work of non-enrolled students.

Q: What are you looking for in the portfolio?

A: We agree with Mi Fei, speaking in he 11th century about  classic Chinese landscape painter. He praised creative works that are animated by “the skill of the heart, which is superior in the things that it can grasp.” That’s a complex statement that surely involves writing with an element of the inevitable, of a sympathetic nature, of an engagement with other lives, of skill or craft, which are evidence of an awareness of literary precursors. So what are we looking for is all of that, plus a thoughtful reflection on how the rigors of pursuing the MFA will be possible for you in the next two years.

Q: Will there be any effort made to help us arrange possible carpooling?

A: Yes. Enrolled students can make these arrangements via the program listserv.

Q: Are there any Teaching Assistantships available?

A: We will begin offering two teaching pedagogy courses summer 2016 (pending final approval): Teaching College-Level Writing and Teaching College-Level Literature. During each of the live residencies, summer and fall, we offer on-line teaching tutorials for interested students. Spring term 2016 (pending final approval) we will offer a limited number of faculty-guided teaching practica both on campus and on line. The practica are designed to provide teaching strategies for both the teaching of creative writing and the teaching of literature.

Q: Are there any scholarships or fellowships?

A: Yes, beginning in Fall 2015, we are offering a limited number of small need-based tuition waivers that are applied towards fall, winter, and spring tuition.

Q: What is the student to teacher ratio?

A: In writing workshops it currently varies between 3-10:1. Seminars are larger, currently 15:1.

Q: Can I choose my thesis director?

A: Maybe, though it depends on how many students are enrolled in a genre. Highly enrolled genres divide students among the faculty teaching in that genre.

Q: Is there an advantage to beginning with the June rather than the October residency?

A: Yes, we think so. The program was originally conceived of as a summer to summer program, building strong student cohort identities with the program. We recognize though that not everyone will be able to plan precisely according to our preference. We will work with students on an individual basis to assure timely progress through the program.