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 the 11th century about classic Chinese landscape painting. 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 we are 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 to Joseph and La Grande?

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

Q: Are there any Teaching Assistantships available?

A: Unfortunately at this time we are unable to offer paid teaching assistantships.

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.