Mentorship - You benefit from the one-on-one attention of your faculty mentors and from online discussions in a small cohort of three to five students. Each semester, your faculty mentors also respond individually to packets of your creative work.
Flexibility - The low-residency model makes it possible to maintain your family and work life while dedicating time and energy to your craft.
Experienced, Diverse Cohort - Our students tend to be older than in traditional MFA programs so they bring a greater wealth of work and life experience to group discussions and their own writing.
Intensive Summer Residencies - Our summer residencies are unlike anything you’ll find in a traditional MFA program. You live and breathe writing 12 hours a day, taking classes in the morning, attending craft seminars in the afternoon and readings at night. You also meet with visiting writers and editors, participate in individual conferences, attend thesis defense sessions, join publishing seminars and eat two meals a day with your fellow writers and faculty. This level of immersion and intense interaction sparks lively discussions that recharge everyone’s creative energies.
Diverse - We welcome all talented writers who love literature and want to add their voices to the contemporary literary landscape.
Tight-Knit and Supportive - This literary community offers camaraderie and a sense of belonging. Having such close bonds with your fellow students enables you to take risks and be truly vulnerable in your writing. And this community continues well beyond degree completion.
Multi-Genre - There is always cross-pollination among the genres — poetry, creative nonfiction and fiction. You may focus on just one genre or work in two with our cross-genre option.
Convenient Location - Our midwestern location draws students and faculty from all regions of the United States.
There are four things we look for when hiring faculty:
Published books with respected presses, book awards and published in multiple genres.
Mentors who are deeply committed teachers and will champion students' work and growth and foster a strong literary community.
Those who will challenge our students through their coursework so they become even stronger writers and thinkers.
Diversity - Our faculty should reflect the diverse perspectives represented in our country so we aim to hire people from a variety of ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds.
To understand the sensibilities of your mentors, you should read their work. Their poems, books and articles can all be found with their AU faculty biographies and elsewhere online.
The MFA director will ensure that you work with as many faculty mentors as possible leading up to your thesis semester. After working with multiple faculty mentors, you should know them well enough to select a thesis advisor who will provide you with useful, critical feedback.
The Ashland MFA Program offers professionalization workshops and conversations with editors, agents and publishers during every summer residency. We also invite literary agents or senior editors of journals and independent literary or university presses to address the students and faculty in a variety of sessions.
MFA students can choose to serve as lead editors or the managing editor of the Black Fork Review, a journal of poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. If your focus is poetry, you can also apply for a graduate assistantship to work at the Ashland Poetry Press.
As for teaching opportunities, our MFA students can apply for Graduate Teaching Assistantships. If you’re selected, you will receive training in a pedagogical course and earn $2,494 for each course you teach. Based on availability, you may be able to teach five classes during your time in the MFA program.