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So what do the different degrees mean

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 2 months ago

Graduate programs in creative writing have been increasing exponentially over the last twenty years. Typically they offer most writers 1) time and space to write, 2) a structure and community in which to grow as writers (and in some cases work on a book-length publishable project), 3) further avenues for academic study of classic and contemporary literature or the theory and craft of writing, and 4) networking opportunities for writers and teachers.


Most graduate programs in Creative Writing don't require that you have an undergraduate degree in writing. And they typically will not guarantee you a job teaching creative writing (at least not in and of themselves). Given the increasing numbers of creative writing graduates and the relatively fixed number of tenure-track jobs, you should be aware that there is often intense competition for college teaching jobs. You should consider graduate study primarily as a time to work on your own writing, and to learn about other writers and the craft of writing. We'll get back to steps towards application later.


Graduate programs in Creative Writing come in three varieties:


1> THE MA (Master of Arts) of English is not a terminal degree; usually, MA programs are two-year programs that then lead into either an MFA or a Ph.D. program. They are degrees in English, which means a balance of literature and creative writing, sometimes linguistics, or TESOL, composition studies, or whatever.


2> THE MFA (Master of Fine Arts) is the typical terminal degree for Creative Writers. It's primarily a performative degree, in that most MFA programs are focused (for better or for worse) less on scholarship and criticism and more on producing a publishable body of work (a novel, a collection of short stories, a collection of plays, a book of poetry, a memoir, or an essay collection).


3> THE PH.D. programs are typically more scholarly and focused on criticism and reading than a MFA degree. Until recently, there was no Ph.D. in Creative Writing; there were Ph.D.'s in English in which you would write a creative project instead of a critical dissertation. This trend has been changing for the last several years.

Some writers get one or more. Some writers get all three (!).

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