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Gretad08
02-23-2010, 02:31 AM
So I need some help from you writerly types if you have a chance.

I'm thinking about an M.F.A. in writing. There's a university here that has a working adults program, 15 months once a week for 4 hours.

Anyway, does anyone here here have a writing degree? Do you have any job ideas (other than teaching) that might present themselves if I obtain this degree?

I'm just trying to make a practical decision, but also, one that might lead me to a career I might enjoy.

Whaddya think?

KathleenD
02-23-2010, 02:39 AM
I have always rather suspected that as a credential, it mainly prepares you to teach writing, as opposed to publish writing.

I know several people with an MFA who are all lovely people, and they are adjunct professors (which is like a professor with no job security or benefits) of creative writing, but their pub credits (if any) are all mainly literary magazine stories. Which are very nice, but not exactly career kinds of things, if you define career as that which you rely upon to keep the kids in shoes and the dogs in kibble.

If your career goal is to be a writer of books, you could probably save the tuition money and use it to keep yourself fed while you... wrote a book.

That is of course my opinion, and an actual MFA holder may well disagree.

Chris P
02-23-2010, 02:47 AM
I imagine it's not necessary, but I know of one agent who (at the time I checked his blog) would not take a manuscript from someone without an MFA (don't ask me who, I've forgotten).

I considered it, but (1) I don't have the time, (2) I don't have the money, and (3) it just seemed like one more thing to make me worry too much and never submit anything.

I've decided to take my chances and do without one. We'll see how it works.

Medievalist
02-23-2010, 02:52 AM
M.F.A. is not a teaching degree. It really isn't. It's a degree that is very much oriented to writing for publication. Most M.F.A. programs concentrate on poetry, small press fiction, or essays, rather than genre fiction.

Those M.F.A.s with tenure tend to be well-published, and rare. M.F.A.s with lectureships or adjunct or visiting appointments are increasingly rare as the job market tightens, and they rarely teach writing poetry or fiction. They teach freshman comp, and similar classes.

Go look at the Chronicle of Higher Education and Higher Education online and peruse with care the job listings.

There are jobs for technical writers, but increasingly they want someone with a degree in technical writing in addition to experience in a specific field.

Gretad08
02-23-2010, 02:58 AM
Thanks all for responding so quickly.

My interest in this particular program was piqued b/c the graduate thesis consists of writing in whatever genre you prefer out of poetry, fiction, non-fic, and scriptwriting.

Once this is finished, 2 faculty members help to research publishing opportunities for your manuscript.

I thought this was a pretty attractive feature, but who knows.

scheherazade
02-23-2010, 03:36 AM
I've considered an MFA off and on for a few years. I don't think the credential itself is worth much, unless you want to teach. Even for teaching, the MFA is losing its value these days with more schools offer the lucrative (for them) MFA program, and more students go on to complete PhDs in writing. It's increasingly competitive to find a job teaching in a college with an MFA, though it certainly is still valuable for teaching in community programs, adult extension, etc. There's a lot of discussion about this on the Poets and Writers website forum at pw.org, at least there was a couple years ago when I last looked.

So the other reason for pursuing an MFA, which ideally should be your main reason, is for personal benefit. An MFA allows you to devote yourself to improving your craft, putting together a substantial piece, and joining a community of like-minded, academically-oriented writers. I think that has its most value if you can afford to devote your entire life to the MFA, ie, you do the MFA right after undergrad, or you "quit" your regular life and use the MFA as a transition time to focus solely on writing. The intensity of working on writing all the time (except for perhaps teaching or research responsibilities), being able to engage fully in the community, is the real advantage of the course.

I still toy with the idea of doing an MFA if I had the money and could escape from real life for awhile, but I don't think I would do it part-time while working. Maybe it works for some people, but to me it seems like the stress it places on your life is not worth the benefits. There are a number of ways you can commit to finishing a novel and get high-level feedback without the financial and academic obligation of an MFA. A number of schools offer "master class" courses in novel, short story, and poetry writing, where you work together with a gruop of students over perhaps a year, send a large number of pages, get feedback, and keep working. The cost is maybe $1000 (varies by school of course), the course is intense (again, varying by school), but you aren't "stuck" if you find the feedback isn't what you need or the intensity is too much or the teachers are trying to force your story to be something it is not. I've heard a lot about MFA programs teaching students to write the same.

My local university offers courses like that through night school, but I also know that Gotham Writers Workshop (writingclasses.com) also offers the same thing online if you don't have any local options. Another option is to sign up for an online mentorship where you can work with a writer or an editor to improve your novel.

I've taken a number of writing workshops in town or online and they've been a huge help, though I'm beginning to outgrow their benefit (aside from the motivation of deadlines that they provide!) I'd recommend if you are considering an MFA to at least take one or two writing workshops locally or online before you apply (if you haven't already), to see if you benefit from that kind of environment and to decide whether it is something worth investing a large amount of time with.

But if you're looking at the MFA more for career leverage, I think there are much more effective ways to spend your time. Taking some courses in editing or corporate communications will make you much more employable than an MFA. An MFA really is more about the process than the destination.

thothguard51
02-23-2010, 03:39 AM
Once this is finished, 2 faculty members help to research publishing opportunities for your manuscript.

This is usually done through a scholastic or university press.

I have several friends with MFA's and they advised me not to go this route unless I wanted to work in publishing or the entertainment industry, starting on the bottom rung as an assistant to an assistant. They also told me it almost ruined them...they were becoming literary snobs... lol.

If you are interested in this solely to advance your own writing, I would suggest looking up authors you like and researching their educational back ground. I bet a dollar on a donut the majority do not have MFA's degree's. Hell, they are offering them on line now a days. I don't think they are as prestigious as they once seemed...

djf881
02-23-2010, 03:40 AM
An MFA that is funded is like a subsidy for your writing. It's time you can spend writing, and working on building your professional reputation as a writer, through publication of short stories. The publication and the reputation can get you teaching gigs. The degree itself is pretty limited as a credential; it might be looked upon favorably in the advertising industry.

An MFA program is also an opportunity to build connections to faculty and visiting writers.

Any MFA you pay for is probably a mistake; unlike other advanced degrees, an MFA doesn't really improve your likely earnings very much. And doing an MFA part-time while working seems to defeat most of the purpose. Evening classes at most universities are rarely considered prestigious and are rarely selective in admissions. If the program is not selective, your classmates will likely be working at a low level and you won't get much out of a workshop with bad writers.

I obviously don't know a lot about the particular program, but it doesn't sound like a good idea to me.

Kweei
02-23-2010, 03:40 AM
You don't need an M.F.A. to write. But if this is something that interests you and something you' really want to have/explore, I would look into it and see if it's a right fit for you :)

I know. Totally not helpful!

djf881
02-23-2010, 04:04 AM
My interest in this particular program was piqued b/c the graduate thesis consists of writing in whatever genre you prefer out of poetry, fiction, non-fic, and scriptwriting.

Once this is finished, 2 faculty members help to research publishing opportunities for your manuscript.

I thought this was a pretty attractive feature, but who knows.

That sounds like something that's much worse than having an agent.

If they're doing this, it's because they expect that their graduates probably won't be able to get representation after completing the program.

I don't know much about you or your writing, but I feel confident that you are already at least good enough to not get an agent, without paying for any kind of course.

skippingstone
02-23-2010, 04:09 AM
I have an MFA and I am damn proud of it. It was hard friggin' work and no question the program made me a better writer. That being said, I think there's a place and time in your writing life when it's useful and it's definitely the case that people mature past the need for them. I happened to hit that sweet spot, however, which is why it was such a great experience for me.

If you are talented, hard working, committed to your craft, and confident about the direction you want to go in, you don't need an MFA. But then, heck, you probably don't need any degree because you may well be working in a patent office coming up with mathematical theorems in your spare time.

As for an MFA helping to land you a job? Bwahahahahaha. Uh. No. It won't help you there. Really, it's little more than a license to toil in obscurity.

Still, I will always defend MFA programs or at least mine. I only wish we'd had a football team.

Sevvy
02-23-2010, 04:25 AM
I'll chime in since I'm actually studying to get my MFA right now in a low-residency program. I love it, it has been a tremendous help for me and my writing, but I'm not going to say that every writer should do it.

The MFA is the terminal degree for writers if you want to teach, you don't need the PhD, and as far as I've seen, the PhD isn't that common, but it is gaining ground. A big difference between a traditional MFA program and one like mine is the teaching component. Traditional MFA students teach to subsidize their education, whereas low-residency programs don't have that opportunity. But the MFA is really geared towards helping the writer improve their writing.I've learned a lot since I've started, and been exposed to so many ideas and writing styles, to authors I never would have read if my teacher hadn't assigned me the book (and I've been glad to read everything they've thrown at me so far).

Another big positive is the people you'll meet. I have so many writing friends now it's kind of ridiculous, and everyone is supportive of each other because we're all going through the same thing. Plus the teachers are a big help, very friendly, and very accessible. They teach at my school because they love working with other writers and teaching the craft.

There are some good reasons not to go into an MFA program though, one of which is cost, especially if you're not going to the type of program that offers teaching fellowships or a lot of scholarships. Also, and please don't anyone get offended at this, some people just aren't good at school. Going to college, and especially a graduate program, is a lot of work, and you'll probably have to do some academic papers analyzing writing techniques in novels and short stories as well as work on your own writing.

I would definitely say you should do some research, and talk to some of the teachers or the students to get a feel for what the program is like.

I wrote about my own experiences in my program here (http://fictionmagoria.wordpress.com/2009/10/01/about-the-low-residency-mfa/) and here (http://fictionmagoria.wordpress.com/2010/01/04/a-few-bits-of-writing-wisdom/). Also, I'm a genre writer, not a literary fiction writer, so an MFA isn't just for the Joyce wannabes either, if you were worried about fitting in. Any writer can benefit from the experience, I think.

creativexec
02-23-2010, 04:29 AM
I have an MFA in dramatic writing from NYU. My original goals were to complete a graduate program in order to teach in the NYC public schools, but I went to Hollywood instead.

I have no regrets over the time and hard work put into my MFA, and I use my skills and knowledge everyday in my livelihood.

But it is by no means necessary to the career of a writer. I had a great experience with brilliant teachers and classmates - all of which provided a nurturing environment and lots of camaraderie. It gave me a heap of confidence and a very large knowledge base in regards to the craft. It also left me with a huge pool in which to network.

However, there are ways to achieve all that without the time or expense.

With the exception of teaching jobs, no profession will show much interest in an MFA. (An MFA is considered a terminal degree and enables the recipient to teach at the university level without needing a higher degree. Actually, more and more universities are showing interest in professional experience and professional affiliations - rather than artists who simply talk about the arts.)

Overall, I would recommend pursuing an MFA for anyone who was doing it for the right reasons.

But thinking it will make you a great writer or push you to the head of a job line are not, IMO, realistic motives.

Good luck!


:)

kaitie
02-23-2010, 04:53 AM
I'd also suggest perhaps taking just a creative writing course or two and seeing what you think. I took a couple in college (the second one by force...after the first I had no desire anymore to take another). Both were workshop courses and the biggest problem was that they were completely opposite of what I was writing. The first was taught by a literary writer. I write commercial suspense/horror typically and my style isn't literary at all. This teacher hated my work, despite the fact that, if I remember correctly, I was also one of the few of the group to have any success with anything written for class. The second focused mostly on poetry, which I really, really dislike. I don't mind reading it sometimes, but I'm not good with symbolism and I have a very hard time "getting" it (I was actually teased for it during our senior roast ;)), much less writing it. It's like some big mysterious world that I'm looking at through a foggy window.

The second problem that I had is that I'm not a "rules" writer. I tend to do whatever the hell I want, whether it breaks the rules or not. I figure as long as it works it's fine, and if it doesn't I can try to improve it until it does, or it was at least good practice. I have always, from the time I first started writing, been someone who has learned more from reading than any class in writing, and someone who was encouraged to try new things and experiment in my early classes. This was completely lost in my college courses.

For some people, particularly newer writers, those rules might be important, but it drove me crazy having to follow all of them. I found it very constricting, difficult, frustrating...I could go on. I hated it, basically. It got to a point where I would sit down and just throw something together in an hour to have something to turn in because if I tried to write something for real I would just be frustrated by not being allowed to do it the way I wanted to.

For some people, writing courses are great and helpful. For people like me (unless you're focusing on creativity), it doesn't really work. If you've never taken a class, definitely do it and see whether or not it works for you. Also, be certain that the program your entering focuses on the type of writing you do. If you can't take a class, I'd suggest trying to meet with some of the professors and asking about how the classes are structured, what sort of styles they prefer/teach, and maybe even sit in on one or two to get a feel for it.

Gretad08
02-23-2010, 06:40 AM
Holy Spicoli thanks for all the input.

I know I want to earn my Master's in the next year but now I think (based on this thread :) ) I've decided to lean more towards communications or something of that sort. I don't know.

I want to enjoy what I'm doing and make myself more marketable...it's like finding the fountain of youth I think.

xXFireSpiritXx
02-23-2010, 07:00 AM
I know that many agents and it is mentioned in many books that a MFA from University of Iowa does definitely mean something. I am awaiting to hear about my admission decision. Crossing my fingers.

djf881
02-23-2010, 07:47 AM
I know that many agents and it is mentioned in many books that a MFA from University of Iowa does definitely mean something. I am awaiting to hear about my admission decision. Crossing my fingers.

The Iowa Writers' Workshop is one of the most prestigious and selective MFA programs in the country. It is a residential program, and most or all students get fellowships that cover full tuition plus a stipend.

To get in there, your submitted manuscript needs to be literary, and it needs to be awesome. It is probably harder to get into Iowa than it is to get representation for a completed manuscript from an agent. Good luck.

Phaeal
02-23-2010, 07:40 PM
I'd say an MFA is a good cred if you're looking to write literary fiction.

Genre, you'd be better off studying (or doing) something that makes you knowledgable about some aspect of the genre. You know, SF writers who have studied physics or biology; mystery writers who've worked in criminal justice or law; military thriller/adventure writers who've served in the military; romance writers who fall in and out of love as readily as Emma's Harriet Smith. ;)

CaroGirl
02-23-2010, 08:03 PM
Just want to jump in and say an M.F.A. would not prepare anyone in any way for a career as a technical writer. Increasingly nowadays, you need a degree or diploma in technical writing, or sometimes only in English, to begin such a career. I was lucky that, in the good old days, what you needed was a B.A. in English, and that was what I had.

aruna
02-23-2010, 08:14 PM
I'll chime in for the benefit of GB residents.
Here the MFA is known as MA in Creative Writing. It's offered by several universities and it's usually hard to get in; I was accepted by dint of my published works by the UNiversity of Sussex, Brighton.

It's quite expensive, though there are bursaries and grants to help with the costs. I was too late applying to get any of these grants.

The first term I was in a bigger group of around 20 people, and we studied Victorian literature with Barbara Hardy, who is quite a well known academic on the subject. She was fabulous, and the group worked well together. We had to read several novels and poems and I found the pressure of "having" to finish a novel in order to take part in the discussions quite taxing; I was working part time at the same time and also had to look after my disabled husband. However, it was only one day every fortnight that you had to be in school.

The second term was a Masterclass taught by Irving Weinman, an American author, and again, he was fabulous. he gave excellent feedback on my work and really helped with my writing and encouraged me, and everyone. The feedback from the other students was also great.

By this time, the group had split into fulltimers and parttimers. The fulltimers were attending other classes, once a week. My part time class was wonderful. We welded into a really close unit.

The third term we did not have to come in to school at all. We had to start work on our dissertation, and only met occasionally.

The second year I had to defer the course for personal as well as financial reasons. I was sorry to miss the company but I had no choice, really. It also looks like I'll have to drop out completely. I was hoping to return coming September but I won't be able to. As the course is shutting down this is my last chance so it loos like I've lost the £2500 I spent last year on the course.

Nevertheless, I don't regret it in the least. It was a wonderful experience, well worth every penny.



So the other reason for pursuing an MFA, which ideally should be your main reason, is for personal benefit. An MFA allows you to devote yourself to improving your craft, putting together a substantial piece, and joining a community of like-minded, academically-oriented writers.
.

This was exactly my experience.



Another big positive is the people you'll meet. I have so many writing friends now it's kind of ridiculous, and everyone is supportive of each other because we're all going through the same thing. Plus the teachers are a big help, very friendly, and very accessible. They teach at my school because they love working with other writers and teaching the craft.


Yes. I live a rather hermetic, isolated life and it was great to be part of this writing group. Though I don't doubt I could have found other, cheaper groups, on account of the selection process this group was on the whole very talented. I am sure I'll see at least two of my classmates in print one day. Everyone was so supportive and just plain nice! We still meet for "socials", and I miss them all.


I don't mind reading it sometimes, but I'm not good with symbolism and I have a very hard time "getting" it (I was actually teased for it during our senior roast ;)), much less writing it. It's like some big mysterious world that I'm looking at through a foggy window.
.

Me too!

One of the reasons I don't mind not finishing the course is that I finally faced the truth that I am not an academic. I found the literary assessment of novels and poetry very difficult and not at all my thing, and Barbara, brilliant herself, had very high standards as to the diseection of the literature we studied. This was all right during the group sessions but we also had to write a critical essay and I didn't do too well on that. I did much better on the Masterclass, which was practical and just up my alley.

ColoradoGuy
02-23-2010, 09:02 PM
My daughter is an MFA student in poetry at Columbia and likes it very much. She has worked in the publishing industry as an editor in the past and expects to do so again. Mainly she's doing the MFA to educate her in things she loves learning about and doing. It's not really a career path thing, especially these days.

Mags
02-24-2010, 02:07 AM
I applied to an MFA program just after I finished my undergraduate degree, which I did part-time at night while working. The day before I started my final class for my undergraduate degree, I was laid off from a job I loved, and I was sort of lost and looking for something, and going back to school full-time, and being able to spend so much time concentrating on my writing, seemed like a great idea.

By the time I heard back from them, I had another fantastic job and wasn't really interesting in going anymore, which was fortunate as I wasn't accepted! :)

I know why I wasn't accepted--my writing sample wasn't really that accomplished, and I hadn't yet been published. My work has improved tremendously since then, and I think I could get in now if I wanted to apply. But since I've managed to improve on my own, I don't know what it would accomplish for me.

That being said, if you can get in, and you want to commit to the program, I can't imagine anything more fun than having that opportunity to really concentrate on your writing and getting that great help and feedback.

KTC
02-24-2010, 02:23 AM
I have nothing. Well, high school English. Guess I can't get myself published.

Sevvy
02-24-2010, 02:55 AM
Genre, you'd be better off studying (or doing) something that makes you knowledgable about some aspect of the genre. You know, SF writers who have studied physics or biology; mystery writers who've worked in criminal justice or law; military thriller/adventure writers who've served in the military; romance writers who fall in and out of love as readily as Emma's Harriet Smith. ;)

I write SF and I have a degree in biology, but that was more of an accident than a conscious choice. A great accident though, in retrospect.

But since we're talking about genre and MFA, I guess Seton Hill University's MFA program is specifically geared to genre writers. I have no idea how it is because I don't go there though.

amergina
02-24-2010, 04:38 AM
But since we're talking about genre and MFA, I guess Seton Hill University's MFA program is specifically geared to genre writers. I have no idea how it is because I don't go there though.

I'm a student there. Love it. My writing improved in all the right ways, I gained great friends and awesome critique partners. The instructors and mentors are very generous of their time, often going beyond the job description.

My thesis is a fantasy novel. Now *that* was fun to write. Also grueling, hair-pulling, etc. Just as you'd expect.

Part of the reason I chose the Seton Hill program was because I could not take the time off work for something like Odyssey (a 6-week block), but I could do one week every six months.

I will say that it's very hard to be an MFA student and work full time. But not impossible.

I also don't think that getting an MFA for everyone. You can get some of the same experience through attending workshops and finding a good critique group.

Heck, if you're a speculative fiction writer, many of the Seton Hill instructors also give workshops at Context, a literary speculative fiction conference in Columbus OH.

If you're not a speculative fiction writer, another group of instructors often gives workshops at the Pennwriters Conference.

But if you are interested in an MFA and want to write genre fiction, I'd recommend Seton Hill, wholeheartedly.

The Lonely One
02-24-2010, 09:58 AM
This is all interesting, as an MFA is an ultimate goal of mine. After undergrad I'll likely apply to my college's Library Sciences program, then when my wife and I have jobs and/or money, I'd like to apply to get an MFA from University of Michigan.

kangolNcurlz
02-28-2010, 01:15 AM
I'll say this from my own experience. I woke up one day and realized I wasn't happy. After mulling over the cause of my unhappiness for a few days I realized that it's because I wasn't doing what I want to do. I started college on the same notion the OP currently has; to do something that will lead to a stable career or job. I went down this road and I wish I hadn't. I'm currently taking a master's degree that I have no interest in simply because the career field can be deemed "stable," and although it's interesting, it's not what I really want to do. What I really want to do is write.

After I woke up that day realizing how unhappy I was, I started researching some MFA in Creative Writing programs and found two universities in my city that offer them. So, I'm going to apply to one of them and hope I get accepted. I like what I've read so far about the program: they hook you up with a mentor who works in that field - a published author, screenwriter, etc. From reading the profiles of past mentors, the mentors are established in their own right. It's a low residency program that offers students the opportunity to study abroad in the summer, of which I'll take advantage. The faculty also work in the field and are published authors and some hold PhD's in writing. I'd be quite proud to have a degree from that university on my resume. After you finish the core courses you'll have the opportunity to take some classes if you also want to teach creative writing, but it's not part of the core curriculum. At the end of the two-year program, you have to produce a polished manuscript for fiction, non-fiction, or childrens, or a full screenplay, or several poems. There is no guarantee that anything you write will be published, but it would be a red flag anyway if it were promised. I need to enhance my writing skill. I mean, I can write, but I don't know how to write fiction, nor do I know the technicalities of writing fiction, but this is something I want to learn. Even if I were to get published before I started the program then I'd still want to complete it, because I want that degree.

One thing that I've learned about myself on my road to self-actualization is that I hate taking risks, hence the safe road through college and the degrees that I'm really not interested in. Right now, I'm taking a year off from college because I'm burned out; I've been going since high school and I'm proud of my education. I see it this way for me and my life; I'm going to get a master's degree anyway, so it might as well be in something I enjoy and makes me happy. It doesn't matter if I never decide to teach writing or become a published author. It's a chance and risk (and money) I'm willing to take after years of playing it safe. I don't want to be 80 and wishing I had done what I really wanted to do; those aren't feelings I want to deal with now and I certainly don't want to deal with them when I'm a senior citizen.

There are many things in life that you don't need a degree for, but people still get degrees and hone their skills in their chosen area. I don't see a Creative Writing degree as the exception. You have to take risks in order to get big rewards in life. But, whatever you do, OP, just remember that at any time you can always decide to do what will make you happy. I'm just sayin! - been there, done that.

kangolNcurlz
02-28-2010, 01:29 AM
Evening classes at most universities are rarely considered prestigious and are rarely selective in admissions.

I'd like to know your source for such a broad statement. I don't know if you're talking about night classes in general, or if you're talking about night classes as it pertains only to creative writing programs. My current university offers day, evening, and weekend classes. The reason being is because not every student is fresh out of high school and has the whole day to spend at school. Many students are older and have day jobs, so they need to attend either night or weekend classes. Many of the professors that teach day school at my university also teach weekend or evening classes. Many are professors who teach part-time and work a full-time job in the same field they teach.

I'm not following the logic of how evening classes would be selectively different than day school; my university has the same entry requirements for day, evening, or weekend and students can easily switch between the three whenever their real life dictates. This is coming from my own personal experience, of course. Even if you're only talking about programs that offer MFAs, I'd still like to know your sources for this "factual" statement.

JayG
02-28-2010, 08:09 AM
ē I'm thinking about an M.F.A. in writing.

For what purpose? To become a paid writer or work toward seeking a teaching position? Iíd not recommend it for a writing career because at best you may come out all ready to write but with nothing to write about. On the other hand a doctor who learns fiction writing techniques in order to tell the stories that the work suggestsÖ

Iím admittedly biased, but every MFA Iíve known has worked very hard learning to write like someone born a century or more ago, because of the idea that itís only fine art if itís terribly terribly literary in tone, and at least reads like something published by someone long dead.

In fact, most of those Iíve known who went through such a program still write using the non-fiction, author-centric techniques we learn in the primary school systems (as do those who go through undergrad creative writing courses). I suppose itís possible that Iíve just had bad luck, but those in the MFA program donít seem to spend a lot of time talking about how to write and sell popular fiction. And all looked blank when I brought up the subject of scene goals and motivation/response units.

If your writing preferences and style is for the literary genre, of course, it may be a great idea.

Now, that being said, there is another path, that of the professional writing course, where the focus is in writing and selling mainstream and genre work. Have you looked into that?

timewaster
02-28-2010, 08:48 PM
[QUOTE=thothguard51;4667991]Once this is finished, 2 faculty members help to research publishing opportunities for your manuscript.

This is usually done through a scholastic or university press.

I have several friends with MFA's and they advised me not to go this route unless I wanted to work in publishing or the entertainment industry, starting on the bottom rung as an assistant to an assistant. They also told me it almost ruined them...they were becoming literary snobs... lol.

I do some teaching at a local uni - mainly MA but some MFAs have been in my worshops. I'm sure the programs vary but I work with people interested in children's and fantasy writing so I don't see many of these students as lit snobs : ) They benefit by working with a range of published faculty members and with the other students. An MFA certainly offers a rare opportunity to focus on your own practise and get high quality critiques. Most people seem to learn a lot and probably do it more quickly than they would at home on their own.

shaldna
03-15-2010, 03:57 PM
This might be a stupid question, but what is an MFA? Is that like a Masters/Postgraduate degree similar to the ones we have in the Uk and Ireland?

eqb
03-15-2010, 04:15 PM
This might be a stupid question, but what is an MFA? Is that like a Masters/Postgraduate degree similar to the ones we have in the Uk and Ireland?

MFA = Master of Fine Arts

Terie
03-15-2010, 04:22 PM
This might be a stupid question, but what is an MFA? Is that like a Masters/Postgraduate degree similar to the ones we have in the Uk and Ireland?

As eqb said above. And MFAs are offered at UK institutions, too. It's a terminal degree, so that with an MFA, you can teach the same as if you had a PhD.

profen4
03-15-2010, 04:27 PM
This might be a stupid question, but what is an MFA? Is that like a Masters/Postgraduate degree similar to the ones we have in the Uk and Ireland?

A MFA - Masters in Fine Arts is not quite the same as other masters programs. Same goes for a BFA - Bachelors of Fine Arts. It would be the equivalent to perhaps an honors program. A BFA and MFA are harder than regular BA and MA programs because, a) they require more credits to graduate and b) there are typically only one or two elective courses and none of them are considered easy.

MFA and BFA offer programs in music, art, creative writing, journalism and performing arts (there are prob. others as well).

ETA: Also, most BFA and MFA programs have high minimum grade requirements while you are in the program.

Sheila Muirenn
03-15-2010, 05:42 PM
What's great about this thread is I agree with everything written! And that says something.

I keep going back and forth between Masters in Environmental Science and MFA. (I've a bachelors in English and in Biology). I'm going to end up doing environmental. My job is environmental, and the time spent will help me move up. The better I do in environmental, the more time I'll have later to write full time because I'll be earning more now. Now I write and work. Later I'll collect a pension and write.

I devote a lot of time to improving my writing. But I do it on my own schedule.

Perhaps when I write full-time I'll get a Masters and PHD in writing.

Perhaps.

shaldna
03-16-2010, 12:22 AM
So an MFA would be roughtly equivelant to the MA I have then?

Terie
03-16-2010, 01:19 AM
So an MFA would be roughtly equivelant to the MA I have then?

Sort of, but moreso. My understanding is that with an MA, you could teach lower level undergrad classes/modules. Someone with an MFA can teach upper level undergrad classes/modules and possibly even post-grad classes/modules. It's pretty much equivalent to a PhD rather than an MA, although my understanding might be off here.

Outside of academia, not too many folks would know about the difference between an MA and an MFA. Most people in the corporate world would probably assume an MFA is equivalent to an MA rather than a PhD.

And if you're writing good stuff, no readers are likely to give a hoot about whether you have any degrees at all...all they care about is your story! :D

timewaster
03-16-2010, 06:41 PM
Sort of, but moreso. My understanding is that with an MA, you could teach lower level undergrad classes/modules. Someone with an MFA can teach upper level undergrad classes/modules and possibly even post-grad classes/modules. It's pretty much equivalent to a PhD rather than an MA, although my understanding might be off here.

Outside of academia, not too many folks would know about the difference between an MA and an MFA. Most people in the corporate world would probably assume an MFA is equivalent to an MA rather than a PhD.

And if you're writing good stuff, no readers are likely to give a hoot about whether you have any degrees at all...all they care about is your story! :D

I don't think it is the equivalent of a Phd - it is only two years for starters and has a large taught component.

ajkjd01
03-16-2010, 07:03 PM
You know what? I'd love to get my MFA. It would be just for me, and not for career advancement, since it wouldn't do much for my law practice, but I'd love to do it.

What I cannot justify, however, is the money to do so. I'm still paying off law school and will be for years. There is no way I can afford for that payment to go up with other student loans. I don't have an extra $40-50K running around for tuition and expenses to pay out of pocket. I've run the numbers four or five different ways, for several different schools, and I just can't find it in myself to spend the money.

Continuing to go to conferences is about as good as it's going to get for right now.

JayG
03-16-2010, 11:14 PM
Here's something to think about: It doesn't matter what your degree is. You're judged by what you submit, on how well it will sell.

Medievalist
03-16-2010, 11:46 PM
Sort of, but moreso. My understanding is that with an MA, you could teach lower level undergrad classes/modules. Someone with an MFA can teach upper level undergrad classes/modules and possibly even post-grad classes/modules. It's pretty much equivalent to a PhD rather than an MA, although my understanding might be off here.

This is not accurate in the U.K., Canada, or the U.S. It's completely inaccurate, in fact.

1. Someone with an M.A. in English or Rhetoric is far more likely to teach lit and comp classes, of any sort, than someone with an M.F.A.. M.F.A. students rarely have teaching experience by the time they finish an M.F. A. Their publications will have far more to do with whether or not they teach writing other than freshman comp.

2. An English or Comp Litor Rhetoric Ph.D. will eat an M.F.A. or an M.A. alive, all else being equal. Don't take my word for it, go look at ads for openings in colleges and universities in the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Higher Education.

3. Tenure track jobs almost always want a Ph.D, in any academic field whatsoever. Non-tenure track adjucts/instructors/lecturers can be expected to teach as many as five courses/semester, without benefits, for 40K or less a year, without security of employment. This is exploitation.

Seriously, don't get an M.F.A. with the expectation of a career or even a temporary career in teaching.

Medievalist
03-16-2010, 11:48 PM
As eqb said above. And MFAs are offered at UK institutions, too. It's a terminal degree, so that with an MFA, you can teach the same as if you had a PhD.

That is not what terminal degree means; terminal degree means that that's as far as it goes.

Medievalist
03-16-2010, 11:50 PM
A MFA - Masters in Fine Arts is not quite the same as other masters programs. Same goes for a BFA - Bachelors of Fine Arts. It would be the equivalent to perhaps an honors program. A BFA and MFA are harder than regular BA and MA programs because, a) they require more credits to graduate and b) there are typically only one or two elective courses and none of them are considered easy.

This is also woefully inaccurate.

You need to actually look at the degree programs you are discussing. This is absolutely not the way the degrees are viewed in academe--speaking as someone who has served on tenure committee, hiring committees and accreditation committees.

profen4
03-16-2010, 11:53 PM
Here's something to think about: It doesn't matter what your degree is. You're judged by what you submit, on how well it will sell.

There's no question that heaps of wonderfully successful authors made it big without an MFA - But I've read loads of agent blogs, and all of them say, if you have an MFA, say so in the query. So I think it has value.

I look at it like this: Writing is an art. And all the education in the world isn't going to make it a sure bet that you'll be the next J.K. Rowling (Who has a degree in french and classical lit. btw). But education can help you hone your skills.

I think you can be taught to write well, but you can't be taught how to create. But if you know how to create, an education can be exactly what you need to bring your creations to the next level. ---of course you can learn it on your own too, but formal education is likely faster. IMO

Medievalist
03-16-2010, 11:53 PM
So an MFA would be roughtly equivelant to the MA I have then?

The difference between an M.F.A and an M.A. is that the M.F.A. produces a literary work as a thesis, and takes far fewer classes in literature, does not have a second language requirement, and has to take writing intensive courses, particularly work shop courses.

profen4
03-16-2010, 11:56 PM
This is also woefully inaccurate.

You need to actually look at the degree programs you are discussing. This is absolutely not the way the degrees are viewed in academe--speaking as someone who has served on tenure committee, hiring committees and accreditation committees.

Really? that's interesting since I've applied to two MFA programs and have spoken at length to the professors and academic advisors. perhaps you could elaborate.

Of course, since we are not all from the same country, things might be different where you're from.

Medievalist
03-17-2010, 12:07 AM
Really? that's interesting since I've applied to two MFA programs and have spoken at length to the professors and academic advisors. perhaps you could elaborate.

Of course, since we are not all from the same country, things might be different where you're from.

I've taught (and studied) in the U.K and in North America.

It's comparing apples and pears. Moreover, what's "harder" is a matter of the student's abilities. The courses have to be certified by the same certifying boards as appropriate, so to assert that one degree is across the board harder than another is specious to say the least. Particularly when you look at the two courses at a single university and compare the extent of overlap.

profen4
03-17-2010, 12:52 AM
I've taught (and studied) in the U.K and in North America.

It's comparing apples and pears. Moreover, what's "harder" is a matter of the student's abilities. The courses have to be certified by the same certifying boards as appropriate, so to assert that one degree is across the board harder than another is specious to say the least. Particularly when you look at the two courses at a single university and compare the extent of overlap.



"Harder" wasn't the right word. my apologies. I certainly wasn't trying to belittle the accomplishment of anyone completing any degree.

I was just trying to say that in a BFA for example, there is a minimum gpa that must be obtained in order to stay in the program. That is also true of "honors" BA programs as well.

Most students do their best regardless of the program and there are many students who obtain a BA with a 4.0 who obviously worked just as hard as the student who obtained the BFA with a 4.0. Same goes for MA or MFA.

I had some friends who filled up their degree requirements with language courses (several of them speak second languages fluently), or classes that had a reputation for being easier- usually b/c of the prof. (okay, by "friends", I mean I did that :)). In some programs you don't get to choose the electives, so that's what I meant by "harder". But you're right, it's entirely subjective.

Medievalist
03-17-2010, 01:19 AM
I was just trying to say that in a BFA for example, there is a minimum gpa that must be obtained in order to stay in the program. That is also true of "honors" BA programs as well. .

That's true of any degree program in the U.K, or North America. There are minimum standards, as well as regulations regarding time to degree/matriculation.

MumblingSage
03-17-2010, 02:03 AM
Whenever my (genre-writing) friends in high school tell me they want to major in Creative Writing, I react with the same horror I would if they said they wanted to sign a contract with Publish America.

This is largely because, after looking over the course catalog for my university, I saw that the CAPSTONE of the creative writing program is writing a story and trying to publish it. Which means people are spending four years at school (at a private university that costs $20,000 a year) before they do what my sister and I each did in high school. Again, this is speaking mainly for short genre fiction, but I can't name many science fiction novelists with M.F.A.s in writing, either.

Also, John Scalzi specifically advises against it. (http://whatever.scalzi.com/2006/04/27/10-things-teenage-writers-should-know-about-writing/)

gothicangel
03-17-2010, 02:03 AM
I was researching Master degrees at Glasgow University yesterday and came across the MFA. From what it read that it was more geared towards Creative Writing teachers [NOT English Literature.]

I've decided to apply for the Scottish Folklore MA and one at Edinburgh on Highland Studies. At least I can get the training to go back home to Newcastle to do a PhD on North East Folklore.

I don't really see the point of Creative Writing degrees, you're not going to learn anything that you couldn't by reducing your work hours to write. At least you won't accrue debt that way. They aren't going to teach you a magic formula to become a bestselling author.

In the UK you can't get a teaching assistant post in HE unless you are a PhD student.

gothicangel
03-17-2010, 02:06 AM
Whenever my (genre-writing) friends in high school tell me they want to major in Creative Writing, I react with the same horror I would if they said they wanted to sign a contract with Publish America.

This is largely because, after looking over the course catalog for my university, I saw that the CAPSTONE of the creative writing program is writing a story and trying to publish it. Which means people are spending four years at school (at a private university that costs $20,000 a year) before they do what my sister and I each did in high school. Again, this is speaking mainly for short genre fiction, but I can't name many science fiction novelists with M.F.A.s in writing, either.

Also, John Scalzi specifically advises against it. (http://whatever.scalzi.com/2006/04/27/10-things-teenage-writers-should-know-about-writing/)

It's like 'popular music courses.' One massive cash cow for the Universities.

Medievalist
03-17-2010, 02:43 AM
I was researching Master degrees at Glasgow University yesterday and came across the MFA. From what it read that it was more geared towards Creative Writing teachers [NOT English Literature.]

In general, the M.F.A. in lit/writing is geared towards writing lit fic, poetry, and arty essays. There are a few (an handful) of M.F.A. programs that have an interest or emphasis on genre fiction.


I've decided to apply for the Scottish Folklore MA and one at Edinburgh on Highland Studies. At least I can get the training to go back home to Newcastle to do a PhD on North East Folklore.

Those are top notch programs, all three. Seriously, those are currently the best folklore programs out there. Good luck to you!

gothicangel
03-17-2010, 10:04 AM
Those are top notch programs, all three. Seriously, those are currently the best folklore programs out there. Good luck to you!

Thanks.

I'm studying modules on Robert Louis Stevenson and African Literature and they've inspired me to start reading up on the folklore on my home county. I'm excited about all three of them!

Medievalist
03-17-2010, 10:33 AM
Thanks.

I'm studying modules on Robert Louis Stevenson and African Literature and they've inspired me to start reading up on the folklore on my home county. I'm excited about all three of them!

Learn Gaelic. Almost no one is working on Gaelic material from Scotland.

shaldna
03-17-2010, 01:27 PM
Learn Gaelic. Almost no one is working on Gaelic material from Scotland.


And that because almost no one is publishing in Gaelic anymore. Besides, there are five variations of Gaelic, and all the early texts have been translated, so there's not alot to do there.

That said, I think more people should learn. My one regret was that I never really made the effort to learn Irish properly when I had the chance.

We have a couple of Iirish speakin television channels here, which is awesome.

shaldna
03-17-2010, 01:35 PM
In the UK you can't get a teaching assistant post in HE unless you are a PhD student.


Actually that's not true.

I have taught courses at Degree level and at the time only had one bachelors degree myself. I have a friend who is currently head of a science programme at the college she teaches in and she only has a degree (she was in my year at uni) and she's teaching degree students. She was hired as a civil servant.

You have to note that an awful lot of HE lecturers and staff are not infact teachers, but are civil servants, hired by the DE or similar.

Even in other universitys and colleges, so long as you have the degree in the subject you wish to teach, they are open channels for you.

You can['t teach at a higher level than you have studied, but you can teach yo to and including the level you are at.

gothicangel
03-17-2010, 04:13 PM
Learn Gaelic. Almost no one is working on Gaelic material from Scotland.

Gaellic is part of the Highland Studies MA. I think over the summer I have a look to see if there are any classes. :D

The BBC have a Scottish Gaellic channel, and one of the newspapers have a column written in Gaellic. I remember a book that was published last year in Gaellic.

Can't speak for other Universities, but all my tutors have a Doctorate or are PhD students.

shaldna
03-17-2010, 05:36 PM
Gaellic is part of the Highland Studies MA. I think over the summer I have a look to see if there are any classes. :D

The BBC have a Scottish Gaellic channel, and one of the newspapers have a column written in Gaellic. I remember a book that was published last year in Gaellic.

Can't speak for other Universities, but all my tutors have a Doctorate or are PhD students.


It seems to depend alot on the subject. Arts, especially literature related, and science subjects will have a high proportion of lectures with phds etc.

Medievalist
03-17-2010, 09:37 PM
Gaellic is part of the Highland Studies MA. I think over the summer I have a look to see if there are any classes. :D

Sabhal Mor Ostaig is absolutely the place to go to learn.

gothicangel
03-18-2010, 01:29 AM
Sabhal Mor Ostaig is absolutely the place to go to learn.

Thanks again!