Anyone looking for an excellent resource on low-residency programs should read The Low-Residency MFA Handbook by Lori A. May. May presents an incredibly thorough overview of low-residency programs. Using in-depth research and interviews with faculty, students, and alumni, she examines various issues, including the application process, funding, residency experiences and "life after the MFA."
For example, Jason Jack Miller, an alumnus from Seton Hill University, says this regarding artistic preparedness for low-residency programs: "A low-residency program isn't a place to decide whether or not you want to write. This type of program is for people fully committed to making the leap into writing as a lifestyle."
Specific program details are given in the core of the book, in chapter six. May lists each institution and their focus areas of study (Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, screenplay, young adult, etc). She also includes each person interviewed for that institution and their role, such as program director, faculty, student, and alumnus. By including interviews along with the program facts, she breaks down information for teaching philosophy, residencies, and format/study. These criteria will help you decide which program might be the best fit.
Perhaps the richest part of the book are the extended interviews, listed in Appendix A. May includes in-depth questions and answers, such as "What was your experience with non-residency semesters?" and "What can you tell us about working with your faculty mentors?"
As low-residency MFA programs proliferate, Lori A. May's Low-Residency MFA Handbook is a rare and valuable resource.
The Low-Residency MFA Handbook was published by Continuum Books.
Read more about Lori through her blog and her website.