Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Teaching Background: MFA vs. Ph.D. and other questions

Mad for Teaching in Massachusetts writes in with a question about teaching experience. I don't have the time today to get to an answer, though I'll get to it later in the week. In the meantim, I'd be interested to hear what our blog readers have to say, especially those who've been through MFA (residency or low-residency) or Ph.D. programs.


I'm really interested in teaching writing someday and have three questions for you regarding MFA programs and teaching:

1. Would it be harder for me to find a teaching job after completing my MFA if I do a low-res program?

2. Which programs are the best for preparing people to teach? (ie- who offers classes in teaching, offers a decent amount of TA positions)

3. Should I be considering a PhD instead? Writing is my passion and most English PhDs do not offer a ton of writing courses so that's a big downfall. On the other hand PhDs have a better chance in the job marketplace.

83 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm in a PhD program in English right now, working on my dissertation, and next year will be taking a break from that program to do an MFA. From being at a school that has both a good MFA and PhD program, I can definitely say that it is much, much easier to get a tenure-track job at a college with a PhD. But it still isn't easy, either, and if you're interested in doing creative writing, the PhD could potentially kill that (and most schools probably wouldn't let you teach creative writing with an English PhD). My own plan right now is to get the MFA and finish the PhD so that I'll have a shot at a tenure-track job, but be able to convince the school I end up at to let me teach some creative writing and to honor fiction publications for tenure (whether this will actually work or not, who knows). But at a minimum, this will have taken me seven years when I finish.
A lot of people who came into the PhD program wanting to write have stopped, and for me to keep up my writing has meant that my critical work has suffered (which is personally OK with me as I care more about writing, though it still brings me down).
So, for a much better chance at getting a job, go for the English PhD. But for a much better chance to do what you care about (which seems to be writing) go for the MFA (which can also get you a tenure-track job if you've got publications, though most larger places expect you to have two books out before they'll take you on as anything other than a lecturer).
If you opt for the PhD, the University of Chicago used to offer its incoming students the opportunity to do a creative thesis for the MA, which might help you keep the balance between creative and critical, but I'm not sure if they do this anymore.
Of course, there's also the creative writing PhD, but I have no idea what the job opportunities are like for these.

Anonymous said...

It seems as though Creative Writing positions at universities are starting to require an M.F.A. AND a Ph.d. if you want to be on a tenure track. I remember my shock when seeing that even a smaller out of the way school like the University of Northern Iowa was advertising the above requirements for an assistant professor position in Creative Writing. I've heard the figure tossed about that 30% of C.W. tenure track positions now require a Ph.d. in addition to an M.F.A. And do any of us actually think that this percentage is going to decease in the future? I'm someone with an M.A. in English and am almost done with my M.F.A. at top 10 program. I estimate my job prospects at anything other than a low paying adjunct position at approximately nil. So, I now find myself researching Ph.d. programs which offer a creative dissertation option. (There are about 25 nationally now). As for pedagogy, I think a number of MFA programs do indeed offer courses on the teaching of creative writing. Heck, I took one in my M.A. program. You could also look into jumping departments and see what the education grad courses offer. (Most grad programs let you take a few classes outside your discipline). The bottom line is that getting a tenure track C.W. teaching position is extremely competitive. I've heard most openings get 80 or so applicants. Many of which are very qualified. I suspect the best way to land a teaching position is to win a Pulitzer. =) Baring that I think you need to puff yourself up as much as possible. All things being equal, if a position comes down to two candidates and one has an M.F.A. and one has an M.F.A. + Ph.d. guess who's probably going to get the job. But, in any case, good luck!

Anonymous said...

A PhD in English is for someone who is essentially a reader, and, in practice, PhD students spend a minority of their time reading literary texts and a majority of their time reading other people's critical articles about those literary texts. That's because PhDs have to position themselves within critical debates in order to make names for themselves and get jobs. PhDs obviously do a lot of writing, but they must write about what they've been reading or they're considered to be unserious pretenders. If you say to the head of the PhD program "I'm going to take a year off to write a novel, and then I'll be back to work on my dissertation," she's going to think you're a dilettante and begin rapid calculations about who gets your fellowship money. The same goes for hiring committees -- they would hold that kind of "lack of commitment to scholarship" against you. They're looking for text-explication machines who have published several critical articles in major journals, not fiction-writers or personal essayists. An MFA is for someone who is essentially a writer, and who reads as a writer, not as a scholar. Final thought in this ramble: If you feel the need to get a PhD, get one in Rhetoric and Composition, not English. There are probably ten times as many jobs in Rhet/Comp. (it hasn't even been close for the past few years), there's usually a strong focus on pedagogy in that department, and the subject matter will inform your creative-writing practices. Not to man fact.

Anonymous said...

I too second that the MFA and PhD in Rhet/Comp is the way to go if you're looking for a tenure-track job in the university (unless your creative publications are excellent). I think that Rhet/Comp offers a lot of good opportunities for the creative writer, and its definitely a growth area in regards to the employment marketplace.

redbaron06 said...

what about a PhD in Creative Writing? some universities offer it? anyone had any experience--what does it offer beyond what an mfa does, besides the other letters?

Film Professor said...

Does anyone know if there exists any Rhetoric Comp PhD programs with a low residency requirement (primarily online?)

Much thanks.

Film Professor said...

Does anyone know if there exists any Rhetoric Comp PhD programs with a low residency requirement (primarily onle)?

The closest one I could find was at Texas Tech in Technical Communication and Rhetoric.

Much thanks.

Ronnie said...

Can anyone offer suggestions for where I might locate a Creative Writing Phd online program? I have searched and searched. I have been unable to locate any except some that are in another country.

david said...

there aren't plenty of phd in creative writing programs, but there are a few out there.

here's a nice little tool that might help.

http://www.awpwriter.org/programsearch/index.php

NR said...

Quick question if anyone is reading this thread; What the chances of getting into a Ph.D. program for Creative Writing with a low-residency MFA? Should I just forget it, thinking that these programs are heavy with applicants from top traditional MFA programs. Does age, non traditional experience matter for a Ph.D? I have heard it does, as they are looking to train for long-term careers, as opposed to mid-lifer or late lifers. Thoughts?

enrique azócar said...

HI, I would like to know what sort of teaching work I will be able to get with a Master in Fine Art?

enrique azócar said...

HI, I would like to know what sort of teaching work I will be able to get with a Master in Fine Art?

enrique azócar said...

Hi,
I would like to know what sort of teaching work will I get with a Master in Fine Art?

appreciated.
Enrique.

jackson bliss (水と魂) said...

Sorry, I have to disagree with some of the other posts here. I have a MFA from a good program + I will be starting my PhD in Lit + CW in exactly one day since my orientation is tomorrow. (That said, I know many people with MFA's and quite a few in PhD programs now in creative writing too). Here's my own take:

1. PhD programs in Creative Writing aren't studio degrees because they're very lit-heavy, but most PhD candidates take literature courses in addition to workshops in their genres. That plus their creative dissertation means that this is a hybrid of the MFA + PhD. Even so, that is 2-4 years of being able to write, which is an enormous privilege. It's absolutely better than say, working at bookstore (no matter how noble) where the only time you will write is basically on the weekends. I tried teaching TEFL in south America + I only had time to write on the weekends + I tried. Get a shit job where you can't bullshit around, and suddenly you'll see how great it is to go to one of these programs where you breathe + eat writing.

2. CW PhD students have to pass the exact same field and qualifying exams as the literature Ph.D's, prove the same foreign language proficiency and also write a shorter critical essay, meaning, they will be qualified to teach not only CW, but also literature seminars, which is a double threat (the very opposite of being pigeon-holed). Graduates of PhD programs in CW analyze writing from both perspectives, from the writer + the reader/critic + this gives this a huge edge to being straight lit or straight CW.

3. Almost all PhD candidates will also teach composition for 2-3 years, meaning they will have just as much teaching experience in composition as a student getting his/her PhD in composition + rhetoric. This means they are technically qualified to teach Creative Writing, Literature + Rhetoric. While it's true that CW positions are coveted, the reality is that your chances are still lower with only a MFA. And the three-part advantage of a PhD in CW doesn't work the other way either: a PhD in rhetoric will never be allowed to teach CW, and only sometimes can they teach literature classes outside of the rhetoric curriculum; and literature PhD's will almost never get to teach CW, unless they're famous. Sometimes, they're allowed to teach comp if there's a need (though most profs won't appreciate the pay loss).

--Jackson Bliss

jackson bliss (水と魂) said...

(cont')

4. Because I get to take workshop every semester for the first two years + I'll also have at least one year to write a novel/collection of short stories, I strongly disagree that a PhD in lit will kill your writing. Not anymore than a MFA program does where it's usually one lit class and one workshop per semester. For the doctorate, it's usually three classes a semester except when you teach, so you'll study theory, lit + workshop. Fine by me. . .

5. If anything, a poet or fiction writer that has to teach composition beyond his PhD years will likely kill his/her writing inspiration faster than anything else. Expository writing is regimented, it's based on analytical persuasion (which is a good thing), one of three handbooks of grammar; there are a million rules, some of which are arcane or a pain in the ass, even if useful. Creative writing, on the basic level, is the antithesis of that. And though a profound knowledge of syntax, grammar, orthography will certainly help that writer a lot on the technical level, it will not generally INSPIRE him/her to write on the creative one, which matters more. Readers will happily read novels that move them in some way, even if those novels violate every known grammar rule (just look at books written with colloquial voices), but perfect grammar will do very little for readers unless the creative component is already there; even then, many readers will find it stuffy and not real. So creativity takes a definite precedent here.

6. Sad as it is, the MFA is slowly becoming dépassé as more schools ask for PhD's in CW, unless, of course, you've got amazing publishing credentials, in which case, you don't really need a degree at all. Salman Rushdie doesn't need to go to Iowa, but most of us will need one or more degrees from good schools with a wide array of pubs because no one knows who the hell we are. The worst thing an English department gets out of a PhD candidate is someone who can teach CW AND literature, which they will happily take. If s/he ends up being a literary star, all the better for the school. But if not, they're aren't losing anything. But the comparative value of a MFA is unfortunately, not as multifaceted. They're hired to teach CW, that and nothing else, which limits the school's options.

7. A degree from one of the top 10 PhD programs in CW in the US will only help you get hired, especially since most PhD's already have MFA's from reputable programs. No degree guarantees you anything. EVER. But having a MFA + a PhD makes you more competitive than the MFA applicant--I've had many people tell me this on hiring committees over and over again. The obvious exception is the aforementioned literary star. Also, since you'll have more time to write + submit, on average, you'll have more publications, not to mention several finished manuscripts to find an agent with. It still doesn't guaranteed shit, but your odds just went up quite a bit, above and beyond your MFA experience. Welcome to the new degree inflation for writers--love it or hate it.

--Jackson Bliss

dania said...

Anonymous said: "So, I now find myself researching Ph.d. programs which offer a creative dissertation option. (There are about 25 nationally now)"

Does anyone know what those twenty five schools are.

Thanks the blog rocks!

Les said...

daina,

http://sethabramson.blogspot.com/2009/06/tse-list-of-all-domestic-and.html

Seth Abramson compiled a list of all possibilities involving CW or translation both domestically and internationally.

dissertation said...

Whenever i see the post like your's i feel that there are still helpful people who share information for the help of others, it must be helpful for other's. thanx and good job.

Dissertation Writing Help

james said...

Thanks a lot for a bunch of good tips. I look forward to reading more on the topic in the future. Keep up the good work! This blog is going to be great resource. Love reading it.
................................
write term papers-Essay Writing Help

Simone said...

Thank you for all the info. Am just starting my research and this was very helpful. xo

marry said...

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!
_____________________________

Science Dissertation

in Thun said...

Hi all! I have a related question about the status of the MFA- I'm deciding between an MA in creative writing and an MFA. Does anybody have a sense of how the MA would change the calculations you all just discussed in comparison to an MFA?

The MA is from a better-known school; they offer exactly the same amount of teaching experience. But is the degree MA taken much less seriously than the "terminal degree," or are they perceived similarly [by people with jobs to give out]?

Thanks very much! I'd love any thoughts people have--

JACKSON BLISS at 水と魂 said...

In Thun,

Honestly, I don't know anymore. The general rule is that a MFA in CW is a terminal degree and a M.A. isn't. If you wanted to get hired with a M.A., it might be a bit harder than having a MFA (since most of the good programs are MFA programs or have changed to a MFA--including Hopkins, I think). On the other hand, as I've said a gazillion times, none of this matters if you have a great publication history. If you have 1-2 books out and/or some great journal publications, that's the most important thing. The only problem would be if you're competing with another person with comparable publications, but a MFA. Also, an applicant with with a PhD in CW+ comparable publications is generally considered a better catch by hiring committees. But, again, if you have amazing pub's, these distinctions won't matter as much.

I guess the main question is: what do you want with your Masters degree? Time to write? Then it doesn't matter which program, only how long the program is. Do you care about which faculty you work with? Then obviously go to the program with writers you want to work with. Funding? I say, go where the funding is the best. Do you plan on applying to PhD programs in CW later on? Again, either one will do. Most of the people in my program have their MFA's, but a M.A. in CW would probably be just as competitive. On the other hand, if you want to get your PhD in English (straight up critical), then a M.A. would probably help you more cuz you'll have more grad. level lit classes. Lastly, many M.A. programs have identical curricula to MFA programs, so it may not matter at all. Just one man's take. Good luck.

mew said...

This site is overwhelming. I can get idea within my topic.

to become the Best Dissertations.

Dissertation Writing service said...

This kind of information is very limited on internet. Nice to find the post related to my searching criteria. Your updated and informative post will be appreciated by blog loving people.

Masters Dissertation

Indigold said...

The information on this page has been incredibly helpful! I'm hoping I can get in on some of this good advice with a couple of similar questions of my own.
I am in my senior year of my undergrad degree -- am majoring in English and minoring in secondary education (not because I am in love with the idea of being a high school teacher, but because I know how fierce the competition for professorships is and I--being a divorced 28 yr old with a 10 yr. old child--need to be able to work after I complete my bachelor's).
So, I am now in the process of trying to figure out which graduate schools I want to apply to and, most importantly, what I'm applying for. My passion is writing, but I do enjoy teaching (right now I tutor)--especially adults and I know I will need a higher degree to ever have the chance to teach adults--and getting the chance to improve my writing in a grad school environment is an exiting prospect all by itself--but, again, I must be practical.
Here are my questions:
I read in one place that there is more funding for one in a doctorate program than a master's program--but then I read that it is more likely to find programs where you will receive a TA position that would pay for your education and possibly include a stipend as well if you are entering an MA or MFA program. So, which is true? And where can I find good and accurate info about funding for grad school? I read in one place that I should not pay a dime for grad school--is it really realistic that an unpublished late in life college grad such as myself would be offered a TA position or anything of the kind (although I do have a very high GPA and a few instructors who will write glowing recommendations)?
Next, I am very determined--I am willing to do whatever work is necessary, but I really want to come out in the end with the strongest and most lucrative degree possible while being able to make a living in the mean time. So, should I go for a PhD that will award me an MA 'along the way,' start off going for my MA with the possibility of continuing in mind, go for a low residency MFA so I can really hone my creative writing skills, but work as a teacher or tutor in the meantime and earn at least my masters in the end. . . or what? Any and all opinions are welcome!
Lastly, is a low-residency MFA as respected as a full-residency MFA and can one "move on" to a PhD from an MFA as naturally as one would from an MA?? And please, any explicit details as to the details of funding, financial aid, are more than welcome as a person from my background does not know even the most basic details about grad school--it is not a place we're expected to need to know how to go to. I know this is wordy--thanks!!

jackson bliss said...

Obviously, I can't tell you which choice to make because you have to decide what's right for you. But coming from someone who has finished his MFA, studied for a regular MA in an unrelated field + is now in a PhD program that is 1/2 critical + 1/2 creative, I have a few suggestions:

1. Don't worry. If what you want to do is write, you can do that regardless of whether you're in a PhD program or schlepping lattes at the local Caribou Coffee.

on to the real shit:

2. Funding doesn't necessarily depend on WHICH degree you're going for, but which PROGRAM you're attending, and by that, I really mean, which SCHOOL you're at when you're going for your MA/MFA. Seth Abramson has a list of the best-funded programs on his suburban ecstasies page. And despite a little self-promotion + occasional surliness on his part, his site really is a trove of useful information + Seth is really doing a fantastic service for prospective writers. Anyway, off the top of my head, the last time I checked, these MFA programs had great funding + most accepted students get a full ride, some even with summer funding. . .

University of California Irvine
The Michener Program at U of T
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota
Indiana University
Vanderbilt University
Washington University
Purdue University
Cornell University
Brown University
University of Madison in Wisconsin
University of Alabama

Virginia, Notre Dame, The Iowa Writers Workshop, University of North Carolina Greensboro, Florida State, University of Southern Mississippi, UC-Davis, all have good funding (meaning, most have tuition scholarships for all accepted students with a select # of TAships or fellowships for usually half of each entering class, sometimes more, sometimes less, which means, some students get a full ride, others don't). Anyway, there are way more than that, so you'll have to do your own research, but you can START researching those programs for MFA/MA. . . which leas me to my next point:

jackson bliss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jackson bliss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jackson bliss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jackson bliss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jackson bliss said...

(con't)

3. This is just my opinion, but I'd save the PhD for after your MFA. There are a bunch of reasons for this: one, you may discover that you don't want to be a writer, in which case 3-5 years will be too much. Two, you have a much better chance of getting into a creative writing PhD program after finishing your MFA, not just because it shows that you know what you want + you know how to succeed in a writing program, but more importantly, because you will likely have a great writing sample. Most writers just want time to write, so start with a Masters + then go on to the PhD. Three, the PhD is much more critical than than the MFA/MA which is basically one literature seminar + one craft/workshop class a semester. In virtually all PhD programs in creative writing + lit, you have to take literary theory + a TON of graduate literature seminars, in addition to teaching. In MFA programs, it's usually 2 class, a literature class + a workshop, nada más.

4. The important thing isn't whether it's a low residency program or not, but how good your writing sample is. That's the alpha + the omega of everything else. Having some great rec's from some well-known writers doesn't hurt at all in the case of a tie (very few of whom teach CW in low program residency programs). Further, low residency programs almost never offer full funding packages. But then again, they tend to be more inexpensive too. But, that said, if you want my honest opinion, take a summer conference workshops like at Tin House, Breadloaf, Indiana University, One Story retreat, Napa Valley Writer's Conference, WMU program in Prague, etc., etc., (or do something like the Gotham writers online workshop) + work with an awesome writer, polish your story/poem, then apply to the best-funded MFA/MA programs. They're harder to get into because they're well funded, but if you get in, you won't have to pay for anything usually except maybe a student health center/lab fees. Then you can worry about PhD programs, learning to be a writer, publishing, all that shit along the way. Once you're approaching your MFA thesis, you'll start to have an idea of what you want to do next.

Gambatte!

Affectionately,

Jackson Bliss

Dissertation Writing service said...

This kind of information is very limited on internet. Nice to find the post related to my searching criteria. Your updated and informative post will be appreciated by blog loving people.

Dissertation Writing Services

Katie said...

Thank you SO much for posting this information. I'm currently finishing up my MFA thesis, and and really stressing as to what to do NEXT. I am so thankful to have ONE book published and under the belt, but I'm sooooo nervous about getting a job. I'm looking into PhD programs too, and everything is so overwhelming.

Here are a few of my reflections:

I love my MFA program. It has allowed me time to write, and made me focus on advancing myself as a professional writer. I have an excuse to spend hours at the keyboard, and the assignments really help me to structure my writing. My MFA program (somewhat) helped me publish my first book, and now I'm working on polishing my thesis into (hopefully!) my second book.

I do not regret at all going into the program. During my first two years (how embarressing I've been at this for three years and have one more to go), I worked as a 6th grade english teacher. Bad idea. I had no time to focus on writing, and my work suffered. I was offered a TAship by my MFA program, , but the money was good working full time. This year, I've taken a full time job at the university and I love it. I have time to focus on my writing, I get experience with higher ed kiddos, and I make pretty decent money. Plus, tuition is paid. Anything better? Absolutely not. So if you can work something like this out with your school (I wasn't hired by the dept, but as "STAFF" by the university, but I still teach/advise freshmen english studs), do it! I was only able to get this position because of my public school teaching experience, so in the end... maybe the two year sacrifice was ok. But working outside the university is tough... doable, but tough.

As far as getting a PhD, for me it is a no brainer. But the MFA had to come first - in my case I was 19 years old and don't think I was mentally ready for a 7 year commitment to a program, place, lifestyle, ect. I'm a few years older now, somewhat wiser, and most importantly the MFA program has given me the focus to pump out that ever essential first book. So was it a waste of time? Absolutely not. Even if I don't 'get a job', tenure track right out of grad school, I will consider this time well spent.


Now for my questions -

Jack seems to recommend the PhD with CW emphasis. I was initially thinking this too. I just hope I can find a program that will take me :-X. They all look so darn competetive. And the job market after graduatation? That's so daunting!!! and the stats are downright depressing.

Then - also, Phd in rhet and comp? The disadvantage of this is... that likely I would have to teach lots of freshmen comp classes, right? But the advantage is that I am a more marketable employee? Aye, do I take my chances?!?

And finally... is there ANY chance that I can get a job with JUST an MFA, and only one book published? I'm totally shooting for two, but let's think worst case scenario. It would be nice to just coast at this point, but I know that's not likely. This whole academia thing is... confusing to say the least.

But thanks for all of the great DETAILED advice. It is so helpful and I hope to stumble upon more information like this, for myself, and for my collegues.

Katie said...

Thank you SO much for posting this information. I'm currently finishing up my MFA thesis, and and really stressing as to what to do NEXT. I am so thankful to have ONE book published and under the belt, but I'm sooooo nervous about getting a job. I'm looking into PhD programs too, and everything is so overwhelming.

Here are a few of my reflections:

I love my MFA program. It has allowed me time to write, and made me focus on advancing myself as a professional writer. I have an excuse to spend hours at the keyboard, and the assignments really help me to structure my writing. My MFA program (somewhat) helped me publish my first book, and now I'm working on polishing my thesis into (hopefully!) my second book.

I do not regret at all going into the program. During my first two years (how embarressing I've been at this for three years and have one more to go), I worked as a 6th grade english teacher. Bad idea. I had no time to focus on writing, and my work suffered. I was offered a TAship by my MFA program, , but the money was good working full time. This year, I've taken a full time job at the university and I love it. I have time to focus on my writing, I get experience with higher ed kiddos, and I make pretty decent money. Plus, tuition is paid. Anything better? Absolutely not. So if you can work something like this out with your school (I wasn't hired by the dept, but as "STAFF" by the university, but I still teach/advise freshmen english studs), do it! I was only able to get this position because of my public school teaching experience, so in the end... maybe the two year sacrifice was ok. But working outside the university is tough... doable, but tough.

As far as getting a PhD, for me it is a no brainer. But the MFA had to come first - in my case I was 19 years old and don't think I was mentally ready for a 7 year commitment to a program, place, lifestyle, ect. I'm a few years older now, somewhat wiser, and most importantly the MFA program has given me the focus to pump out that ever essential first book. So was it a waste of time? Absolutely not. Even if I don't 'get a job', tenure track right out of grad school, I will consider this time well spent.


Now for my questions -

Jack seems to recommend the PhD with CW emphasis. I was initially thinking this too. I just hope I can find a program that will take me :-X. They all look so darn competetive. And the job market after graduatation? That's so daunting!!! and the stats are downright depressing.

Then - also, Phd in rhet and comp? The disadvantage of this is... that likely I would have to teach lots of freshmen comp classes, right? But the advantage is that I am a more marketable employee? Aye, do I take my chances?!?

And finally... is there ANY chance that I can get a job with JUST an MFA, and only one book published? I'm totally shooting for two, but let's think worst case scenario. It would be nice to just coast at this point, but I know that's not likely. This whole academia thing is... confusing to say the least.

But thanks for all of the great DETAILED advice. It is so helpful and I hope to stumble upon more information like this, for myself, and for my collegues.

Katie said...

Thank you SO much for posting this information. I'm currently finishing up my MFA thesis, and and really stressing as to what to do NEXT. I am so thankful to have ONE book published and under the belt, but I'm sooooo nervous about getting a job. I'm looking into PhD programs too, and everything is so overwhelming.

Here are a few of my reflections:

I love my MFA program. It has allowed me time to write, and made me focus on advancing myself as a professional writer. I have an excuse to spend hours at the keyboard, and the assignments really help me to structure my writing. My MFA program (somewhat) helped me publish my first book, and now I'm working on polishing my thesis into (hopefully!) my second book.

I do not regret at all going into the program. During my first two years (how embarressing I've been at this for three years and have one more to go), I worked as a 6th grade english teacher. Bad idea. I had no time to focus on writing, and my work suffered. I was offered a TAship by my MFA program, , but the money was good working full time. This year, I've taken a full time job at the university and I love it. I have time to focus on my writing, I get experience with higher ed kiddos, and I make pretty decent money. Plus, tuition is paid. Anything better? Absolutely not. So if you can work something like this out with your school (I wasn't hired by the dept, but as "STAFF" by the university, but I still teach/advise freshmen english studs), do it! I was only able to get this position because of my public school teaching experience, so in the end... maybe the two year sacrifice was ok. But working outside the university is tough... doable, but tough.

As far as getting a PhD, for me it is a no brainer. But the MFA had to come first - in my case I was 19 years old and don't think I was mentally ready for a 7 year commitment to a program, place, lifestyle, ect. I'm a few years older now, somewhat wiser, and most importantly the MFA program has given me the focus to pump out that ever essential first book. So was it a waste of time? Absolutely not. Even if I don't 'get a job', tenure track right out of grad school, I will consider this time well spent.


Now for my questions -

Jack seems to recommend the PhD with CW emphasis. I was initially thinking this too. I just hope I can find a program that will take me :-X. They all look so darn competetive. And the job market after graduatation? That's so daunting!!! and the stats are downright depressing.

Then - also, Phd in rhet and comp? The disadvantage of this is... that likely I would have to teach lots of freshmen comp classes, right? But the advantage is that I am a more marketable employee? Aye, do I take my chances?!?

And finally... is there ANY chance that I can get a job with JUST an MFA, and only one book published? I'm totally shooting for two, but let's think worst case scenario. It would be nice to just coast at this point, but I know that's not likely. This whole academia thing is... confusing to say the least.

But thanks for all of the great DETAILED advice. It is so helpful and I hope to stumble upon more information like this, for myself, and for my collegues.

JESSICA JONES said...

Hi there-- thanks for all the great information everyone. I have a question that I only saw addressed once above:

With a PhD in Creative Nonfiction, will I be qualified to teach both Literature AND Creative Writing?

jiang said...

The first issuie that thomas sabo jewellery online consumers are facing thomas jewellery in India is the narorw range and limited choice of merchandize. Even pandora bracelets the leading sites like ebay.in, indiaplaza.in, indiatimes pandora jewellery or rediff have very liimited range of pandora australia iteems and therefore pandora bracelets are hardly attrractive. I personally searched pandora bracelet many a ties for books and music pandora charms titles amoong other things in the Inddian sites but seldom fouund any thomas sabo australia great product and never thomas sabo excciting prices. In spite of limited rnage still some conssumers want to buy online sabo jewellery just for the sake of convenience but then their expertience is also not good.

Thomas S. Alexander said...

texas liability insurance
liability insurance ny

Dissertation Writing Help said...

well i like your post . .the information in your post is quite good;) . .nice work .. Thanks a lot keep sharing:)

Dissertation Writing Services

Dissertation Doctoral said...

The latest happenings in the world have become very easy to share with others in seconds and blogs are the best at it.

thesis writing help

Osse said...

very nice .. yesterday i was looking for the same topic but i didn't find any thing .. but after reading this i am very happy because finally i got it :) and thanks for the links i would like to bookmark your site can I ?
masters dissertations-dissertation proposal

Osse said...

i really like your post .. i would like to bookmark your site for my future needs :)
dissertations

research99 said...

I used to believe this was the case, however, looking back at it now i can say that doing it I may have sacrificed 3 years worth of employment but during those my ideas of where I wanted to work were galvanised and thought many times over.

[url=http://www.researchproposalwriters.weebly.com]Research Proposal Writers[/url

Joe said...

If you want to write...you need to go for the MFA. I think the brains of these folks are wired differently. To people doing PhD's, they might view the MFA as "not serious". Personally I view the scholarly aspect to be boring and tedious, as well as frankly, easy. I think the creative aspect is much more challenging and a harder "career" path. The thing is I went into an MFA program to better my writing, not to teach. Teaching was only a possible addition but I went into it not necessarily wanting a teaching job, I am perfectly fine freelance writing...not teaching.

Admin said...

Informative post.

Conversion Analysis Report Expert

jackson bliss said...

Joe, I don't think that's true. Virtually every classmate in my PhD program has a MFA and they're not in this program because they didn't think the MFA was serious enough. I'd say you're oversimplifying PhD students in CW. Most of them want: 1. more time to write. 2. to work with amazing writers + scholars 3. to read tons of awesome writing too. for the first 2 1/2 years of my PhD, it was almost exactly like a MFA program except my lit seminars were a little bit more rigorous + we had to take a proseminar, but beyond that, it was almost identical. We took workshops every semester. It's only for qualifying exams + part of the dissertation that the PhD in CW + English feels more like a critical discipline, but even then, it's only a phase of the PhD. Even for my dissertation, I have to write a complete novel. For me, what's great about PhD programs is that the writers in them can do both: They're supercreative + also they can analyze the fuck out of texts. They love writing + they love reading. I agree with you that teaching doesn't have to be the point of a MFA at all. Ideally, most people would prefer to just live off of their writing, but since that is often a luxury, teaching has become a new version of art patronage, + that's where an MFA is really helpful. Beyond that, yes academic work can be totally boring. I don't know about easy, but definitely boring + tedious, but then again, I'd take reading a novel I'm only half in love with any day over working at some job that has nothing to do with writing at all. I think part of what's great about programs with more hybridity is that you don't have to choose between being a writer + a reader, + frankly, why should you? Considering that virtually all PhD students in English + Creative Writing have MFA's only proves that MFA students aren't really that different in any fundamental way than PhD students since so many of them become doctoral students.

miranda said...

Agree, phd programs offers more job security and promises favorable career in the future.

harry lee said...

This post is nice. Its can give nice idea for my topic best dissertation. Thank you for posting.

Syed Faizan said...

This is a really good site post, i am delighted I came across it. Fashion and Style

Felix Smith said...

Your strategy is very good. It will actually help any individual to make a option for the website without any uncertainty. Be grateful you for your posts. Cheap Essay Writing

Felix Smith said...

I’ve been looking for these, thanks! I think all of this info are so helpful. Paper Writing Services

Felix Smith said...

That makes complete sense!It sounds like a great book. Thanks for sharing. Cheap Essay Writing

Felix Smith said...

Thank you for your post, I’ve got started reading that will right after couple min, I uncovered it worth it to read. Only want to say thanks. Hire a DotnetNuke App Developer

Willie Sager said...

Took a lot of time to read but I really found this very interesting and informative, thank you buddy for sharing.

Real Estate Software

Workout Planner

Farmer Software

Port Software

Stable Software

Dairy Software

Supplies Software

Project Software

colaveri d said...

This blog is really awesome and your doing great job here..Thanks fir the info!
pakistani matrimony | pakistani matrimonial | pakistani matrimonial sites | pakistani dating

colaveri d said...

It just sounds better. At that point in the education, you are more of a teacher than a student.
Imported Cars in Pakistan | Used Toyota Invincible in Pakistan | Used Lexus in Pakistan | Used Toyota Pirus in Pakistan

colaveri d said...

This is a greet article. I am really appreciated. You have informed useful plan to visitor. Thanks for sharing with us.
Event Management in Pakistan | Event management companies in Pakistan | Caterers in Lahore | Pakistani Wedding Stage

somnus11258 said...

This is so much more than i needed!!! but will all come in use thanks!!I am a china tour lover,You can learn more: Tailor-made China Tours   | Guilin tours | Lhasa Travel

deven zar said...


Excellent post. I really appreciate you for doing this job... keeps it up so i can do comments on your post. Thanks :) –
Nfl Free Stream Online | Nhl Free Stream Online | football free stream online | Nba Free Stream Online

deven zar said...

Really your blog is very interesting.... it contains great and unique information. I enjoyed to visiting your blog. It's just amazing.... Thanks very much for the share
http://www.chansports.com

Kelsey Marie Olesen said...

Jackson Bliss, what PhD program are you in? It sounds very nice and I would love to look into it.

Arabella Simson said...

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=3290246438370075744&postID=694273168649785304&page=1&token=1396892811408&isPopup=true

Arabella Simson said...


completely awesome! thankz for sharing
Nice one,I appreciate
Airport Taxi

sara jay said...

Intresting article by the blogger! i must say this article is on of the best for me.
SEO Company

sophia martin said...

Such a nice way to discuss the blog! fantastic work.
Cheap Essay

Vetri Vel said...

Thanks a lot for sharing such a useful information.


cheap dissertation writing

Ruben said...

This article helps me a lot. It is useful. Your content is brilliant in my opinion. I think this is engaging and eye-opening material. I hope you will continue writing such a great articles. great-term-paper.com

Leo Nelson said...

Nice to find the post related to my searching criteria. Thank you so much. dissertation writing service

Isabella Ellie said...

Fast problem in case any person is reading this article place; What the chances of getting yourself into a new Ph. Deborah. method with regard to Creative Creating which has a low-residency MFA? Can i only overlook the idea, thinking that most of these programs are generally large using appliers by leading standard MFA programs. Does age, neo standard experience make a difference for a Ph. Deborah? I've read and also, as they are looking to train with regard to long-term employment opportunities, rather than mid-lifer or perhaps past due lifers. Thoughts? cheap dissertation writing service

Dinah Hagar said...

Teaching is very good profession and you must have the enough knowledge in your own field then you can teach and satisfied students. dissertation writing uk

Assign Project said...

Teaching is very outstanding professionals and teachers have known a lot of knowledge owns their subject and very helpful for the pupils they have created the assignment essays writing without any hurdle.

Jasmine Jones said...

I like your way of expressing your thoughts in a very lucid manner. You may also check our masters dissertation help

Jasmine Jones said...

I like your way of expressing your thoughts in a very lucid manner. You may also check our masters dissertation help

Laila Jolia said...

I like your way of expressing your thoughts in a very lucid manner. You may also check our Online Essay Writing Service

Jasmine Jones said...

I like your way of expressing your thoughts in a very lucid manner. You may also check our masters dissertation help

Jasmine Jones said...

I like your way of expressing your thoughts in a very lucid manner. You may also check our masters dissertation help

Ameliaji said...

This is really very useful information that I have come across through searching the keyword Dissertation Services UK

حسام داود said...

levelشركة تسليك مجارى بالرياض
شركة تنظيف بالرياض
شركة تنظيف شقق بالرياض
شركة تنظيف منازل بالرياض
شركة تنظيف خزنات بالرياض
شركة مكافحة حشرات بالرياض
شركة رش مبيدات بالرياض
شركة تخزين اثاث بالرياض
شركة تنظيف مجالس بالرياض
شركة تنظيف فلل بالرياض

Jasmine Jones said...

I like your way of expressing your thoughts in a very lucid manner. You may also check our masters dissertation help

Miriam Steve said...

Maybe i would go for a PhD, but then it would be a very cruel thing to tell you that you have done wrong to follow your path of MFA. I think that every dream is valid and i hope that you make it. Obtain the best results analysis help from experts.

Rose Marry said...

This is really a very nice blog written by the writer. I really like it very much.
Dissertation Writing UK

Neil Jakson said...

This content is written very well. Your use of formatting when making your points makes your observations very clear and easy to understand. Thank you.Cheap dissertation writing services