Thinking of Applying to an MFA Creative Writing Program? Read this First.
A Letter from the Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program Director, Dr. Christian Kiefer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Every MFA Creative Writing program is distinctive, even though our marketing materials tend to tout some of the same benefits: a sense of community, award-winning writers on the faculty, publication records of alumni, and so on.
But what of Ashland University’s program? Not every MFA program is a good fit for every prospective MFA student. Who will thrive in our low-residency program in creative writing and where will it take them?That depends.
At Ashland, we make it our priority to ensure that each student feels heard and cared for in our MFA Creative Writing program. I follow up repeatedly with students to make sure everyone has my cell phone number and to be responsive when anyone needs help. That help can be as simple as, “Hey, I just wanted to talk to another writer for a minute.” That kind of lifeline can make all the difference.
It’s an exciting period of American letters where, at long last, a great many voices are being included in the discussion. These are the voices that just five or 10 years earlier may have been excluded in a publishing landscape known for exclusion. One of the values of the Ashland University MFA degree is a clear commitment to inclusion, representation, and diversity.
And where will you go from here? Do you want the two years to be a time to just work hard at writing? Do you want teaching experience to take in the education field? Do you want to claim your place in the editing and publishing world? Become a literary agent?
MFA Creative Writing programs are designed in specific ways for specific learning outcomes. Ours is built like a studio art program, focusing heavily on student writing. There are discussions of pedagogy, of editing, of various ways in which a student might put their MFA to work for them, but the heart is the Ashland MFA is student work. There are other programs focused on careers in teaching and publishing and I direct students with those specific interests to those.
We want graduate students with a kind of obsessiveness about writers and writing, ones who want to connect with others who share that. If that’s not what writing is all about, what are we doing when we do this work?