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Page history last edited by Caitlin Horrocks 4 years, 4 months ago

This is a page in which I hope we'll get people to post sections about the programs they're in--what attracted them, what they were looking for in a school, how their experience has been, and hopefully a link to the website's mainpage. 


There are many more graduate schools that GVSU alums have attended than are listed here. GVSU Writing majors have attended or been accepted to graduate writing programs at Virginia Commonwealth University, University of West Virginia, Columbia College Chicago, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Alaska, Western Michigan University, Hollins University, Portland State University, Virginia Tech University, Pacific University, and elsewhere. The list is long!



Georgia College & State University

(submitted by Claire Helakoski)

I attended Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville, Georgia. I personally found it to be a wonderful program. This was a 3 year program, which really enabled me time to hone in on my thesis project and ample time to write a complete novel manuscript (mostly over the course of two summers). I went to this program because it was one of two I was accepted to, and this program offered me a paid assistantship. I highly recommend programs with paid stipends because it enables you to avoid going further into debt for your masters education (although the pay is not high). Milledgeville is a very rural area and although I enjoyed living there, I wish I'd done more research on the location before applying to various programs--I applied mostly on descriptions and information I found on my own about the program itself and didn't pay too much attention to location. A plus of a rural-based program is that cost of living is very low so a stipend is enough to pay your rent if you also have some summer employment, which wouldn't be the case in a larger city. If you have a partner who will be moving with you, rural can be a negative as it will be harder for he/she to find work. I also recommend really digging into the class schedules and what courses/special courses are offered. I was able to take several special topics courses including translation, but one of my additional courses was a combined literature course with undergraduates and if these had been the only options on offer, I would not have enjoyed the additional coursework as much. It's also worthwhile asking about or reviewing what kinds of assistantship opportunities they offer. Georgia College has office support and a few other options for the first year, as student teaching doesn't start until year two, which is a little unusual from some other programs. I was able to work on the webpage and typesetting/submission management for their literary journal, which was really valuable experience in addition to student teaching. 


As an aside, the staff at Georgia College has nearly completely turned over since I went there, so although I had a wonderful experience and enjoyed my faculty, I can't personally speak to the current faculty.


Hollins University


If you're looking for a studio program where you will write a lot and have the opportunity to explore multiple genres, this is the perfect place for you. Even the literature courses are taught from a writing perspective.


Degrees offered: M.F.A. in Creative Writing in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, multi-genre. Also offered, three summer programs: Children's Literature (M.A./M.F.A.), Screenwriting (M.A./M.F.A.), or Playwriting (M.F.A.). See the graduate studies website for further information about summer programs.


Length of program: The M.F.A. in Creative Writing is two years.


Options for support: The support at Hollins is improving every year thanks to a substantial grant. Four first years receive graduate assistantships with full tuition waiver and $7,000 stipend, renewable into year two. Other first years may receive partial funding.


In year two, four teaching fellowships are available with full tuition waiver and $7,000 stipend. Teaching fellows carry a 1/1 teaching load and teach a multi-genre creative writing workshop both semesters. GAs may also elect to teach a self-designed course in their second year January term which adds another $1,000 stipend. Potentially a second year with maximum funding could receive full tuition waiver plus $15,000 stipend. As of next year, all students will receive full tuition waiver in their second year. And as I said, every year the funding outlook improves. Roanoke is an affordable place to live and the class schedule and work load allows for a part-time job.


If you're looking for teaching experience, Hollins also provides opportunities for course assistants in 200-level English classes. This is an unpaid position, but looks great on a resume and will give you some in-front-of-a-classroom experience. Additionally, you can volunteer as a tutor at the Blue Ride Literacy Society.



Jeanne Larsen (director):

Poetry, Fiction, Non-Fiction

M.A. Hollins College, Ph.D. University of Iowa


Elizabeth Poliner

Fiction, Poetry

M.F.A. American University


Thorpe Moeckel

Poetry, Fiction, Non-Fiction

M.F.A. University of Virginia


R.H.W. Dillard

Fiction, Poetry, NonFiction

M.A., Ph.D. University of Virginia


T.J. Anderson III


M.F.A. University of Michigan

Ph.D. SUNY Binghampton


Cathryn Hankla

Poetry, Fiction, NonFiction

M.A. Hollins College


Student Life: The Hollins writing community is very close and welcoming. Swannanoa Hall, which houses the Jackson Center for Creative Writing and therefore the M.F.A. program, has a grad lounge just for MFA-ers where most students hang out before, after, and between classes. We also socialize quite a bit outside of class, going to movies, going to bars, hiking, etc., which helps cut down on stress and homesickness.


Hollins University is a very small liberal arts college of about 1,000 students. The undergraduate population is entirely female, while the graduate population is co-ed. This makes for a friendly campus atmosphere, since the undergrads all know each other well, and the grad students don't get lost in a large crowd of students.



Other Opportunities: In the fall semesters, grad students may read poetry submissions for the Hollins Critic, a poetry-focused literary magazine entering its 49th year.


The program brings in many visiting writers to read and lecture and provides grad students opportunities to interact with these writers at receptions following the readings and free lunches following the lecture sessions.


Whatever else: The Hollins campus is gorgeous. Brick buildings, weeping willows, mountains in the background. And Virginia is a great place to experience the South without venturing into the deep South. Roanoke is a four hour from D.C. and within a day's drive of many other places of interest. 


If you have any questions, email me as fosterhk@hollins.edu.




The University of Alaska, Fairbanks



 We are looking for talent. Come here!


Degrees Offered: M.F.A. in P oetry, Fiction and Nonfiction - all 3 years. M.A. in literature - 2 years. M.F.A./M.A. - 4 years.

For the M.F.A. degree one needs 45 credits, 9 per semester which leaves 9 credits left over for whatever one desires. Typically people take extra thesis credits or another workshop. The requirements are 3 workshops, 4 lit classes (it's a lit heavy program but that's a good thing. I feel much smarter only having taken two so far), 2 thesis classes, 2 forms classes and 2 electives.


T.A.s: There are several fully funded T.A.-ships, 24. Most are teaching ENGL 111 (comp), Engl 211 (writing about literature), or ENGL 213 (writing in the social and natural sciences). One must teach ENGL 111 their first semester but after that can competitively submit proposals for either 200 level classes. The great thing about UAF is the composition director bestows graduate teachers with tremendous choice in designing their own classes, even in teaching composition. This can be difficult at first but ultimately is valuable teaching experience and just awesome as you can focus your classes on concepts and readings that you personally find interesting. There are also two funded positions available that are non-teaching. One is doing P.R. for the department and the other is assistant to the composition director. Both are traditionally occupied by a 2nd year grad student. One must go through a competitive application process to obtain either position. Also, even if not getting a T.A. position initially there is a good chance you may be able to slide into an opening in a subsequent semester. It's been happening for people every semester since I've been here (three semesters). In addition to teaching, one must also tutor for five hours a week in the writing center. Don't think of this as an extra burden as it is a lot of fun. You get to work with your peers and basically talk about writing one on one with students for half hour sessions. After teaching 25 students in a classroom, it's a dream come true. Plus, there are phone sessions where you typically talk with students in villages in the bush and the writing center is open to the entire community so, you get to talk to and meet interesting people in the community.





Daryl Farmer - 

Creative Writing - Nonfiction and Fiction.

Ph.D. University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2007.



David Crouse -

Creative Writing--Fiction.
M.F.A. University of Alaska Fairbanks, 1994.

Won the Flannery O'Connor award for short fiction and the Mary McCarthy Prize


Gerry Brightwell -

Creative Writing--Fiction, Non-fiction, Victorian Literature,
Women's Literature.
M.A. University of East Anglia (1989),
M.F.A. University of Alaska Fairbanks (1994),
Ph.D. University of Minnesota (2004).



Derick Burleson -
Creative Writing--Poetry, Non-Fiction
Ph.D. University of Houston, 2000.


Lit Mag: Permafrost is our nationally recognized journal. Graduate students run the entirety of it with a faculty adviser. It's easy to become a reader with opportunities for advancement into editor positions.


The best thing about UAF is that it is in Fairbanks, Alaska. Living here is just an experience as you may guess. Moose frequent the parking lot of the school, there are dog sled races in the middle of town and tons of hiking. There's a hot springs out of town that people like, lot's of restaurants, a microbrewery, pizza places and coffee places, a hipster bar with good music. It's god awful cold and depressingly dark in the winter but will make you a better person. The summer is the greatest time of year. You stay up all night every night and don't realize that you are tired. It gives you mad frantic energy. The stipend does not extend into the summer though so you'll have to get another job to survive. Denali park is only an hour and a half drive away. I've been twice and have seen grizzly bear, moose (once two bull moose fighting), a wolf, Ptarmagin, Caribou and Dall sheep. It's awesome. If you like nature at all this is the place for you. Skiing is popular. Many people ski to school.


The pay is about $1200 a month with slight raises every year. It sounds livable but Fairbanks is expensive so it makes things tight. Dry cabins are a popular option which are cabins without water but do have electricity and are heated by fuel oil which can be expensive but the rent is cheaper than any apartment. It's still around 4 to 6 hundred a month for a cabin. Fuel oil adds another hundred to that. Apartments can be double that or more. Sometimes you can find a cheap studio for 6 to 8 hundred but is usually a complete trash-hole. The university has free showers and there is a place to buy water in large quantities for cheap, also a well with free water a little out of town.


All in all it's a great place to write and hang out with other people who are writing.


If you have other questions feel free to e-mail: jkfish@alaska.edu




Boise State University (If you wear anything besides BroncoGear, you will be shot)

(edited by Jacob Powers)


Degrees Offered: M.F.A. in Poetry and Fiction, M.A. in Literature, Education, and Rhetoric and Composition, M.A. in Technical Communication


Length of Program: 3 years for M.F.A. (48 credit hours, usually 9 credits per semester). 2 years for M.A. (33 credit hours)


Options for support:



  • 2-6 new assistanships every Fall for MFA. Around 10 teaching assistantships for the M.A. program.
  • Assistantships are renewable for the 3 years.
  • With Assistantship, all out-of-state and in-state tuition fees are waived (about $24,000). In addition, health care and "new student" fees are waived.
  • In addition to waiver of fees:
    • Teacher's Assistantship (M.F.A. and M.A.) -- teach one class first semester, two second, then four total for the second year. Stipend varies, but this year is $9,700 for 2007-8 year. For M.F.A., you are eligible to teach a Creative Writing class your second year.
    • Graduate Assistant (M.F.A.) -- Assist the director of the MFA program. Work with MFA Reading Series (reserving rooms, writing up press releases, buying books), work with incoming applications, answer all questions about the program. Stipend varies, but is $8,500 for 2007-8 year.
    • Graduate Assistant for The Idaho Review and cold-drill (M.F.A.) -- assist the editor-in-chief in production of both literary magazines. Stipend varies. This year it's $8,500.
    • Graduate Assistant for the BSU Writing Center (M.A.) -- Help run the writing center (of course). $9,660 for the 2008-9 year.



Faculty and what you need to know about them:



  • Mitch Wieland
    • Graduated University of Alabama with an MFA in Fiction. While there, worked on Black Warrior Review
    • With his knowledge of publishing, he founded and runs The Idaho Review
    • Novel: Willy Slater's Lane, which you can buy cheap on Amazon used. I recommend picking it up to get a feel of his writing style (which is more Southernly)
    • Has been published in The Southern Review, The Kenyon Review, TriQuarterly, Shenandoah, The Sewanee Review, StoryQuarterly, and so forth.
    • Overall nice guy. Knows his stuff when it comes to literary magazines. Has some great stories about working on lit. mags.


  • Brady Udall
    • Graduated Iowa Writer's Workshop with an MFA in Fiction.
    • Novel: The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint, which again you can buy cheap on Amazon. Again, I recommend picking it up to get a feel of his writing style (use of longer, comma-driven sentences, dark humor, light shock value).
    • Short Story Collection: Letting Loose the Hounds.
    • Has been published in Story, GQ, Esquire, and The Paris Review.
    • Again, a nice guy. Has a strong opinion of things, which is a positive characteristic. Supposedly he won't beat around the bush when it comes to critiquing your work. Has some good stories too. Will give you the low-down on what it means to have an MFA without publication.



  • Janet Holmes
    • MFA  in poetry from Warren Wilson College.
    • Collections: F2F (2006), Humanophone (2001), and The Green Tuxedo (1998), all from Notre Dame Press. All can be found on Amazon. It is recommended that you pick them up to get a feel for her writing style.
    • Has been in The Best American Poetry twice.
    • Is the editor of Ahsahta Press, which focuses on poetry publication (http://ahsahtapress.boisestate.edu/).
    • Sweet woman who, like all writers, has stories to tell. Another interesting bit--her husband was a mentor to Charles Baxter.


  • Martin Corless-Smith
    • MFA from the Writer's Workshop at the University of Iowa.
    • MFA in Fine Arts and Printmaking from SMU.
    • Ph.D in Creative Writing from the University of Utah
    • Collections: Swallows (2006), Nota (2003), Complete Travels (2000), and Of Piscator (1997). Check them out to get a feel for his style.
    • Is the current director of the program.
    • A pleasant, funny man who is easy to talk to and has some great stories to tell. He is very approachable, as is all of the faculty.


As for M.A. professors, I'd just keep in mind that each one has their own teaching style and their own specialty, like GVSU. And like GVSU, the program seems to lean on a more liberal mindset (not politically, just in ways of teaching and paper assignments). In general, I haven't heard complaints about any of them and have found that they--like MFA profs--are very approachable.



Student life in the program



First and foremost, I must warn you that most everyone in the program is either married or in a long term relationship. I am not kidding. I'd say 85% are married (mostly M.A.'s) while 13% are in relationships, leaving 2% single. And there's probably a 1% margin of error. What this means is that the program is not incredibly close-knit. This doesn't mean that we do not hang out with one another. It simply means that everyone is off doing their own thing a lot of the time. There are opportunities to hang out with peers (bar, UFC fights, etc.) but it is not as close-knit as my GVSU days. Again, it is not a cut throat program. People aren't trying to one-up you in your face. It's just that creating a close bond with someone may take some work. I would tell you to get married before coming to the program, but that might be trying too hard. With that said...



Student life at Boise State University in general


  • Huge on football. Division I. Every game sells out the 30,000 seat stadium. The entire parking lot is a tailgate party. If you love football culture, you'll love it here. I was completely thrown off on gameday, as everyone was wearing orange and blue and showing school spirit.
  • Very large Student Union Building with all sorts of things to do.
  • Morrison Center for the Performing Arts has some pretty impressive productions throughout the year (Spamalot is the big one this year).
  • Taco Bell Arena is like The Palace, except half its size and half the amount of big performers. Still, this is where they would play if they came to Boise. Past performances include Elton John, Red Hot Chili Peppers, George Strait, etc.


Other opportunities (magazines, presses, and so on)


  • The Idaho Review -- (http://english.boisestate.edu/idahoreview/) This is a great opportunity to work on a national literary magazine. The Review is young, being only seven years old (with seven issues). However, in those seven years it has established itself to be a pretty competitive journal. Several of its stories have been recognized in The O. Henry Awards, the Pushcart Prize, and The Best American Short Stories, both as "best story/poetry" and as "mentionable reads." Authors that have appeared in The Idaho Review include Richard Bausch, Rick Bass, Ann Beattie, Robert Olmstead, Joy Williams, Ron Carlson, and Stuart Dybek. There is a class completely dedicated to working on literary magazines, most of the focus being The Idaho Review, where you get to read from the submissions pile, proof works that are to be published, and help with the overall layout of the magazine. I strongly recommend having some experience with fishladder before coming into the program, though, just so you get a general feel of how the literary magazine world works.


  • cold-drill -- (http://www.cold-drill.com/) Another lit mag opportunity, this one run completely by MFA students (reading, layout, publication, etc.). I would recommend submitting to this one now so you can get a general feel of how to submit to literary magazines. It's a great opportunity to get your first publication out there.


  • Ahsahta Press -- (http://ahsahtapress.boisestate.edu/) -- Graduate Students who are taking publishing courses are able to work on Ahsahta, giving a close-up, hands-on experience on working a small press. This would include reading manuscripts, working on everything up to production, and finally involvement in marketing tasks.


  • There are also many opportunities to work with writing outside the program too. For example, there is The Cabin (http://www.thecabinidaho.org/), which has several opportunities to teach writing and workshops in the community and schools.


Whatever Else


Listen, there's probably something I didn't mention but you have a question about. So email me at jacobpowers@boisestate.edu. No question is too big or too small, so ask away.




University of Wyoming

(edited by Bison Messink)


Degrees offered: MFAs in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Also MAs in various English related fields, but don't bother, unless Laramie Wyoming has some special appeal to you.


Length of program: 2 years


Options for support: This year five students were admitted in each genre (which I believe will stay constant) and two from each genre were funded. The stipend this year is just under $11,000, and you teach one section each semester of freshman composition. The Comp class here is very similar to GV's WRT 150, and is actually structured off of the Grand Valley 150 class. People sometimes throw Dan Royer's name around here.


Quite a few people who didn't get funding through the English department have found assistantships in other areas of the University. You'll probably need to be a bit industrious, but from what I can tell the staff in the department do all they can to help out with that.


Faculty and what you need to know about them: I'll only write about the fiction faculty here, but I do know enough about other faculty that if you wish to know more, we can talk via email, or otherwise.


Brad Watson and Alyson Hagy are the two fiction faculty members, although we will have a visiting fiction writer here next year for a semester (or maybe the whole year, I'm not sure). More on that later.


Brad is a fantastic writer. He's from the South and has a great laid back Southern air about him. His novel The Heaven of Mercury was a National Book Award finalist. He also has a book of short stories, The Last of the Dog Men, which is also really great. But what is better about Brad is that he is a great reader. Better than anyone I've ever met he can read stories and identify exactly what you are doing and not doing, which sounds simple but is not. This makes him less prescriptive and more informative, which is great. And since he is not overly prescriptive, it also allows each writer to be themselves, rather than having whole workshops of people who feel they need to write like the workshop leader, or anyone else for that matter.


Alyson I don't know as well yet. She is on sabatical this semester, but still around quite a bit. She has a slew of books. Snow, Ashes is her latest novel, which people seem to really be liking. I haven't read it yet. She considers herself a much better short story writer, and really loves the art of the short story. Her collection Graveyard of the Atlantic is really great--strong characters, hard descriptions, fishing. I haven't had workshop with her yet, but other fiction students have raved to me about what a great teacher she is. She has a tennis coaching background, and she has a similar approach to teaching. She coaches. She's a good coach.


Fall semester we had a few visits from fiction writers, all of them candidates to spend the year here next year as our Visiting Emminent Writer. Sigrid Nunez, Richard Bausch and Dorothy Allison all visited, but Joy Williams is the one who will be here next year. She was a lot of fun and her fiction is great. She's kind of strange a quirky. I think she'll be good here.


Poetry faculty is Harvey (H.L.) Hix, Craig Arnold, and David Romvedt. Non-fiction is Jeff Lockwood, and Beth Loffreda. We are hiring a full-time non-fiction faculty for next year--the three candidates are Eula Biss, David Gessner, and Joni Tevis.


Location: Laramie isn't as bad as I figured it'd be. It's small (30,000) and there isn't much to do in town that doesn't involve alcohol, which isn't all bad, but isn't all good either. There are some good bars with good beers. There are two bars called The Cowboy. There's a good vegetarian cafe. There's a nice downtown. There's a beautiful campus. There's a WalMart. It's two hours from Denver, if you like big cities, and less than an hour from Fort Collins, if you like hip ones. It's 45 minutes from Cheyenne, which has the worst restaurant I've ever been to.


I feel Wyoming is a comparable place to the UP--sort of like the Upper Peninsula of Colorado--wild, weather whipped, remote; there are some great townies here. Laramie is somewhat Marquetteish I think, to continue with the comparison. The mountains are everywhere and it's  beautiful. If you are in to outdoors stuff there's not many better places.


Football games are fun, and an interesting anthropological event as well.


Student life: The program is small, which is nice, and the MFAers are from all over the country, which is fun. I was surprised at how welcoming it is here, within the department.


Other opportunities: This began last year and looks like it will happen every year now: one program graduate is awarded a month-long residency at Ucross, an artist's colony/ranch in Wyoming, which is awfully exciting.


Annie Proulx is leading a reading group at her house with five fiction writers from the program, which I'm lucky enough to be part of. It is...interesting.


and whatever else: It's a new program (now in its third year), which has some nice pluses. Doesn't carry with it a lot of the engrained traditions many other places have, which maybe you think is a plus or maybe you think is a minus.


There is not the slightest bit of pretension here, which is rare, and incredibly refreshing.


The program here is a lot like Grand Valley's, in a good way. Both were developed at about the same time, with about the same attitudes.


Email me if you's got questions: mbcmessink@gmail.com


The University of Iowa: Nonfiction Writing Program

(edited by T Fleischmann)


Degrees Offered: MFA in Nonfiction (also offered at the university: MFA in Poetry, MFA in Fiction, MFA in Translation, MFA in Playwriting, MA in Literary Studies). I'll only talk about the Nonfiction Writing Program, as the other programs are run differently.


Length of Program: Three years.


Options for Support: Changes a bit year-to-year. The NWP tries to fund all incoming students, and is sometimes succesful. Generally speaking, four students receive full tuition fellowships with a living stipend for their first two years with the expectation of teaching undergraduate nonfiction workshops during their third year. Other students typically teach Rhetoric or Interpretation of Lit for two years with the possibility of moving into nonfiction workshops for their final year, an appointment that also comes with a tuition waiver and living stipend. Students not teaching usually find funding through research assistantships on campus.


Faculty: The faculty is very supportive and generally available to students. Currently, they are John D'Agata (lyric essays), Robin Hemley (memoir, fiction, anthropology), Susan Lohafer (narrative and short story theory), Patricia Foster (autobiography and the body), David Hamilton (poetry, editor of the Iowa Review), Steve Kuusisto (poetry, diversity and disability), Jeff Porter (video essays), and Bonnie Sunstein (ethnographic writing). Those descriptions are mine and maybe could be more accurate. There is also a visiting writer-- this year Mary Ruefle, and last year Lia Purpura-- who teaches a workshop and a readings course. Three or so other writers usually come each semester to do a reading and a guest workshop.


It's been my experience that the faculty is very open to a variety of styles, and that they encourage different takes on what an essay is and can be. Also, there will be a new hire for next year.


Course Work: Students must take a workshop each semester for their first two years, and aren't allowed to repeat a workshop with the same professor twice. During the fall semester, all incoming students take History of the Essay together, which is taught on a rotating basis by the faculty. We also are required to take three Readings courses, either in Nonfiction or in Poetry or Fiction. These courses have different subjects every semester and are also taught on a rotating basis-- I've been in one on the innovative essay, one on photography in nonfiction, and one on lying in nonfiction. Additionally, students pick an outside concentration in which they must take three graduate level courses. This can be something as connected as Literature or Poetry, or something as seemingly disconnected as Geology or Mathematics. Like all courses, the outside work is done on a pass/fail basis, the idea being that you explore an interest that would further your writing. The third year is usually devoted to thesis writing.


Student Life: Most everyone is social and friendly. There's a nonfiction bowling team and a nonfiction cover band. Most weekends someone in the program or in the Writer's Workshop is throwing a party, so it's easy to meet people if you want to. People drink a lot of beer.


Other Opportunities: You can take a class on editing a literary magazine, which involves working on the Iowa Review. There's also the Nonfiction Now conference held in Iowa City every other year, which gives you a chance to meet some big names and all that jazz. Every semester or so someone from a press or journal comes in to give a talk with students (last year was Heidi Julavits of The Believer, this year it's the editor of Sarabande Press). Iowa City has a lot of readings outside of our program, and the Writer's Workshop tends to bring in hip names, so you get to meet quite a few people just by benefit of living in the city.

There are also a few other awards given. Four students are named Museum Fellows every year-- they give a reading with faculty at the University Art Museum, are given a large stipend, and get an office at the museum. Also, there's a fellowship available for a graduating student to stay on an additional year and write.


&c: Overall, I'm very happy that I came here. I'm glad to answer any questions anyone has. Maris Venia is also a GVSU alumn in the program, so you can get two points of view if you'd like. 




and so on.


Maris' &c: I second everything T said.  This is my first semester in the nonfiction program at Iowa so I'm still getting a feel for things, both academic and social, but so far I'm happy that I came here.  What I've been most impressed with is the welcoming nature of Iowa City as a place (it's young and mobile, somewhat like Ann Arbor), the people here, and the program.  I went to Nonfiction Now in 2005 and I'm looking forward to going again this year (free admission with two hours of service during the weekend of the conference (monitoring things, picking writers up from the airport, etc)).  I feel that Grand Valley's writing program really helped to prepare me for what I'm doing and what I will be doing over the next three years.  


Tom answered a lot of my questions while I was applying (and later while I was registering for classes, picking an apartment, choosing my first bar to go to here), so I'm happy to follow his lead.  Feel free to e-mail me: maris.venia@gmail.com  I'm also a TA for Interpretations of Lit if you have questions about that whole gig.  Which is a good gig, by the way.  



Miami University of Ohio: M.A. in Rhetoric and Composition

(edited by Megan Ward)


Degrees offered: MA in Rhetoric and Composition, PhD in Rhetoric and Composition; MA in Literature, PhD in Literature; MA in Technical and Scientific Communication; MA in Creative Writing (Fiction and Poetry).  I'll just speak to the MA in Rhetoric and Composition, as that was my program.


Length of program: 2 years.  36 credit hours with exam option, 30 credit hours plus 6 thesis hours with thesis option.


Options for support (fellowships, TAships, etc.): The program at MU won't accept anyone without funding, so everyone there has some sort of assistantship.  Most people teach.  The TAship is 2 classes your first year, 1 each semester, and 3 classes your second year, 2 in the fall and 1 in the spring.  The classes are introductory composition and composition and literature.  Some creative writing students are able to teach a writing workshop.  The package is about $12,000 for an MA, $15,000 for a PhD.  However, you have to carry health insurance as a student, which could be $800 per year if through the school, and there are fees, that come to about $600 per semester.  Also books and such.


Other support includes working for the MU Press or working for the Center for Writing Excellence.  The Center for Writing Excellence is an assistant director position that works either in the WAC program or the writing center.  That would be 20 hours per week with no teaching.


Faculty and what you need to know about them:  The faculty at MU are heavily research oriented.  Most teach a 2/2 load, usually one of those classes being a grad class, the other being undergrad.  You can look at the faculty online but some of them are: Katherine Ronald, women's rhetorics and director of the Howe writing center; Heide McPhee, technological rhetorics and director of the Digital Writing Collaborative; Cynthia Leweicki-Wilson, disability studies and composition studies; Jon Tassoni, basic writing and director of college composition; LuMing Mao, linguistics and director of the grad program; and Jason Palmeri, digital rhetorics.


Student life: The student life for grad students is rather restricted, as the town itself is heavily undergrad oriented, as is the school.  The town is mainly just a few blocks with a lot of bars and no bookstores (aside from textbooks).  There is a Kroger and a WalMart.  But there are a lot of good activities happening, between grad parties, get-togethers, and readings.  Cincinnati is a bit of a drive, 45 minutes, but doable, especially for some good Indian food.  Most of the student life will consist of getting together at people's houses for some drinks and movies.


Other opportunities (magazines, presses, and so on): There is OxMag, which can be found here, which is an online publication through the grad department.  It isn't somewhere that you can publish yourself, but it is an opportunity to be a reader or editor.  There are a lot of chances for everyone, both creative writing and not, to share their work, whether creative or professional.


If you have any detailed questions, you can alwys email me at mwardm@gmail.com .  I'd be happy to talk with you more indepth about my experience or about the little bits I know of other programs.  The website for the programs can be found online and even contains the grad handbook.  Good luck!




Clemson University: Master of Arts in Professional Communication

Clemson, SC

(Edited by Kiera Prince)


Degrees offered: The English department offers a Master of Arts in Professional Communication, English and a Ph.D. in Rhetorics, Communication and Information Design. I'm currently in the Master of Arts in Professional Communication (MAPC) program and talk mainly about the MAPC degree because it's what I'm pursuing. The MAPC program is well known in the South Carolina area and graduates of the program are highly sought after by employers like IBM and Apple. 


The MAPC program has required core classes in rhetoric, visual communication, and workplace communication. There are other classes, but you can read about them in detail here. Typically you take the core classes in the first year and the second year is where you build your specialization. I haven't declared mine yet, but I'm interested in multi-modal composing and teaching professional writing. Along with the coursework, students complete a thesis or client project. They must also pass an oral exam and meet language requirements. Thus far, I love the set up of the program because its flexible. Even though the M.A. isn't the terminal degree as far as teaching, many students go on to be very successful in their fields. 


Length of program: The program is typically 2 years for full-time students. Some students may take longer for defense of their thesis. It varies for part-time students. 


Options for support: The English department offers graduate assistantships in the writing center, Multi-media Authoring, Teaching and Research Facility (MATRF), and in other areas of the department. My assistantship is in the writing center which involves tutoring students across the university. Other students in my program have an assistantship working in the MATRF, which entails maintaining the lab during open hours. Students working in the MATRF learn a great deal about computer maintenance and software (such as Adobe Suite, Camtasia Studio, and other industry level software). The assistantships are great because they cover tuition and include a stipend (which seems to vary from year to year). Students who earn at least 18 credits and take the required composition teaching course are able to qualify for second year assistantships. Second year assistantship allows students to teach freshman composition courses. Almost all of the second year students elect to do so unless they want to go after a fellowship that is more suited to their interests. Assistantships also include health insurance through the university (there is a fee). While you won't get rich, its possible to live comfortably and come away from the program very little additional debt. 


Faculty and what you need to know about them: Dr. Tharon Howard currently serves as director of the program. One of his main areas of research include usability testing (He and previous graduate students have done some amazing work with eye tracking studies) and digital publishing. Because the faculty members have a wide range of interests that would be cumbersome to list, I have included the link to the faculty page. In general, the faculty here are very eager to work with graduate students and encourage them to pursue research and areas of study that interest them the most. 


Student life: I was told that Clemson is "centrally isolated." This is very true. The city of Clemson is small and to me, represents the quintessential college town, but is surrounded by other small towns and is adjacent to city life. Even though it is a research university, the bulk of the student body is undergraduate. Because of its location, there aren't many major stores. However, Clemson does have a nice downtown area that is bustling on the weekends, especially when there are football games (go Tigers!). Another thing: Everyone here eats, lives, and breathes Clemson Football. It isn't just the university, its all of the surrounding cities. 


Living situation: On-campus housing is very limited for graduate students. Everyone I know in my program lives off campus. Most of the apartments are student based around Clemson and surrounding cities like Seneca, Central, and Pendleton. It has a very small town feel to it, but if you're like me and are already tired of the student apartment life scene, then you might want to search other areas. I live in Anderson, which is 20 minutes from the university. In exchange for a commute, I live in what I consider to be a more city-like atmosphere. There are a variety of grocery stores, a mall, and restaurants. Anderson is by no means the happening place to be. The nearest major city is Greenville, SC, which is 45 minutes away. In general, expect a drive if you want to go do something fun outside of Clemson.  If you live more than 10 minutes from campus, having a car is a must. The bus system is not that great. This area is referred to as the Upstate, a collection of smaller cities and towns in South Carolina. There are many pluses to the area: Gas is cheaper (right now). Apartment rent is typically cheaper than what you see in Allendale.


Activities: There are farmers markets in abundance during the summer months here. Fresh produce is always on hand because Clemson is considered a rural area. If you're seeking culture, it is probably best to head to Greenville for theater, bar scenes, music, restaurants, etc. Some graduate students frequent some of the bars located in downtown Clemson. If you're really craving the city, Atlanta, GA is only 2 hours away. 


Weather: It will be hot. Really hot. Pro tip: Don't move here in the summer months to a third floor apartment like I did. Also, the humidity is worse than it is in Michigan.


Other opportunities: Many MAPC students who don't want to teach in their second year often apply for fellowships in other departments in the university. It really depends on your interests. The department is very supportive in helping to make that happen. In the program, there are many opportunities to take on client projects. They actually encourage it because you may chose a large client project instead of writing a thesis. In two of the three courses I'm taking, we're actually working on a few projects for clients in the university. Some of our work was actually on the local news. It's a pretty awesome experience and while intimidating, you get to apply what you're learning to something that people need. Students are also apart of the Society of Technical Communication and attend conferences and workshops.

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