Monday, April 18, 2011

The Top 25 Underrated Creative Writing MFA Programs (2011-2012)

I'm hoping that MFA applicants for the 2011-2012 application cycle will find this article helpful as they research programs. If you find the list useful, I hope you'll pass the link on to others!

59 comments:

Sarah Allen said...

Great article! Thank you for sharing :)

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

CJ said...

Really appreciate this article! It's given me a few additional schools to think about.

Benjamin said...

I'm curious as to where the rumors about NCSU and their admission comes from. I'm currently a Creative Writing undergrad at NCSU and I'm very familiar with the MFA directors here. From talks I've had with Dr. John Kessel (who, in my mind at least, is far more the star of the faculty) it didn't seem like they were moving towards this kind of funding with admissions, but maybe there's critical info I'm missing. In either case I'm glad to see NCSU included. The MFA faculty is an amazing bunch of writers, and Raleigh is a great place to live for any number of reasons.

Seth Abramson said...

Apparently this is what faculty have been telling applicants and admits. If they're lying...well, I try to give folks the benefit of the doubt.
S.

Brandon said...

Regarding UC Riverside funding, it's my understanding as an incoming MFA (I got my BA there as well, so know many of the professors very well) that all first-years receive a full tuition waiver and at least some sort of stipend with no teaching expected the first year, and second-year TAships are available for almost all. Hopefully that's some modicum of information that hadn't been out there previously, as I hadn't been informed of it until I was accepted and subsequently spoke to the staff.

Justin Blue said...

Hey, Seth,

Despite four Florida programs already on the Top 25 list, I was surprised to not find Florida International Univ in the mix.

My MFA experience at FIU has been great. A sizable percentage of us first-years (sorry, don't have data) are fully-funded with TA-ships; there are opportunities to teach creative writing in addition to comp; it is a three-genre school and cross-genre work is encouraged; the literary magazine is well regarded; FIU emphasizes teaching as much as writing (for those who want both options); the faculty gets along with each other and is committed to students; the school is in Miami, three miles from the beach.

While it doesn't get the accolades or funding of a private school like Univ of Miami, the FIU MFA program is worth checking out. I was accepted to several schools last year, and I am glad I made the choice I did.

cam2209 said...

Thanks for the great info.

I checked out the website for UNO, but all of the information seems to be for the Low Res program only. All of the links to the resident program don't work. Any suggestions?

Sheebuz said...

@Justin, What's the author going to do -- go back and change the article?

Glad to hear you're passionate about your program, though; maybe promote in the newest mailbag.

Dry Leaves said...

@ Sheebuz. Justin here. No, I don't expect the author to change the article. I hope the author will consider FIU while compiling the list next year. The program tends to get short-shrift; thought a shout-out was in order. Shout-out complete.

Blaire Perel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tory said...

Glad to see Ohio State rightfully on this list. We have got it (as the kids say) going on :-P

Paper said...

The home page for Florida International University's Creative Writing MFA program claims that it is a "top 10" MFA program. They have claimed this on their website for years. What ranking ever put FIU in the top 10? I don't know much about their program, but I think they are blatantly misrepresenting themselves.

Seth Abramson said...

Paper,

Yes, it's a lie. And I have no idea where they get off thinking it's acceptable.

S.

Mal Goss said...

What about the UNC MFA programs (Greensboro or Wilmington)? Does anyone see these as perhaps up and coming in the next year or so? Why don't they show up on many top MFA lists?

-Mal

Seth Abramson said...

Mal,

I'm confused...? Those are both Top 50 programs.

S.

Mal Goss said...

Maybe I'm confused. I remember there being a discussion about one of them not being very good about allowing prospective students enough time to accept/decline acceptances and (maybe the same one?) one not having particularly good funding?

Perhaps I am just overloaded with MFA research. Apologies if I've confused anyone.

Seth Abramson said...

Mal,

Those things are both true. But you asked, "Why don't they show up on many top MFA lists?" And I guess I'd say, either they do -- in which case I'd point you to the national Top 50 -- or else (if you're looking at or for different lists), you've kind of answered your own question, right?

S.

Dry Leaves said...

Here is the source of FIU's top-ten claim, "As early as 1995, FIU’s Creative Writing Program was recognized as one of the top 10 programs in the nation by the Dictionary of Literary Biography." This is misleading, and I think they should remove the claim from their website. I doubt they're the only school tooting their own horn by relying on outdated or arbitrary rankings.

Seth Abramson said...

DL,

I think what you've found is the claim about the claim, not the claim itself. The Complete Dictionary of Literary Biography is available online as a searchable database, and looking up "creative writing" and "FIU," or "creative writing" and "Florida International," returns zero hits in the now-decades-long history of the archive (you can search back to the 80s at the very least). Frankly, even if any such comment was ever made it was not in a comprehensive assessment (or an assessment of any kind) done by the Dictionary of Literary Biography, as there's no such thing, it would instead -- at best -- have been contained in an article that's no longer available (if it ever existed), written by someone we don't know, in a context and using a methodology which is (if it ever existed) lost to time. The claim being made by FIU is a lie -- we should call it that. It's simply a lie, and it's an embarrassment to their entire program.

S.

jaquira díaz said...

I'm surprised you haven't mentioned the University of South Florida, in Tampa. Although we're a relatively new program, we've come a long way in just a few years. The faculty is fantastic, and the students are actively publishing. MFA students get the opportunity to teach creative writing in their second year. Students here write more than just literary fiction--poetry, creative nonfiction, young adult, and almost every genre you can think of. Among some of the student/graduate accomplishments are the AWP Grace Paley Award for Short Fiction, PEN/O.Henry Awards, publications in the Best American Short Stories, Best American Mystery Stories, the AWP Intro Journal Award in Fiction (two years in a row), runner ups in The Atlantic Student Writing Contest and Playboy's College Fiction Contest, etc...

I'm a second year student, and my experience here has been fantastic. We even get funding to attend conferences, and all MFA students are encouraged to present/chair conference panels. Because there are so many conferences in Florida, we always have a strong presence at the Other Words Conference in St. Augustine, the FLCEA in Winter Park, the GCACWT in Fairhope Alabama, and we're at AWP every year.

We have an up-and-coming print journal, Saw Palm, and our English Dept. chair is a poet!

Michael said...
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Michael said...
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daniel said...

Hey Seth,

Would you mind emailing me off-blog? I'm getting started on some research on trends in MFA program course offerings and would love to talk with you a bit. I'm pursuing an MFA in fiction and I know I saw you post your email on here back when I was an applicant the first time around, but that was two years ago and I thought it might have changed between now and then.

My email is danielmollet[at]gmail[dot]com

Thanks,
Daniel

Kacie said...

Also sending kudos to OSU's program. I went through several workshops as an undergrad and really valued the faculty's dedication and wisdom as well as the grad students.

Just wish they were better about taking in grad students who also went to OSU as an undergrad ;)

callastem said...

Dear Seth,

Do you by any chance have data compiled with programs that do not require GRE scores? And, insight into if it's a red flag to go ahead and not submit them? I realize this comment is a little off subject, but your lists are essentially my guiding light through this process.

When I applied last year, I was waitlisted at Cornell, though ultimately rejected, and rejected from everywhere else. But I continue to have positive results when I submit work to publications. (I'm a poet.) So I can't help feeling like this less than impressive aspect of my application (my abysmal GRE scores) is indeed affecting my admission decisions more than I'd like.

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