Flummoxed in Frisco gives us an update...
I managed to get in touch with some former and current Emerson students and wanted to share what they had to say. The students I contacted agreed that faculty was overworked and turnover was high, however they also raved about the location of the program and the quality of the faculty.
1) "Here's the truth: I did hear once or twice from profs that the MFA students/program were not at the same level overall as the BFA students...However: I met plenty of very talented grad students there, and you have the whole writing community of Boston, too, which is nothing to scoff at. It's not a cozy, nurturing place, like some programs are, But there are totally pros and cons to each style of program, and Emerson is very much a program of the city... If you seek, you shall find. "
2) " Until I sell the movie rights to my thesis, I want to have a career in publishing, and Emerson, because of both its location and its MA program, provides opportunities in the publishing arena (classes, practical experience, internships, etc.) that aren't available at most other schools... in retrospect, I probably wouldn't have done well at a program out in the boondocks, spending four semesters with the same two dozen or so colleagues, reading and writing and workshopping in a vacuum. Some people would say that the size of Emerson's program puts students at a disadvantage, but I disagree. I have never felt any lack of individual attention from professors, and in this incestuous literary world, the more people you can make connections with, the better. Also, having a larger pool of colleagues tips the scales toward a collaborative climate rather than a competitive one -- thins out the backstabbing and pettiness that seem to be endemic at smaller programs. Day jobs and lives apart from graduate school are the status quo at Emerson, which I think helps us all to keep things in the proper perspective.