Monday, July 21, 2008

Latest Questions from the Mailbag...

Hey there,

Your MFA blog site is immensely helpful. Question that I'm hoping you can post on your blog for other experienced MFA folks to answer:

Due to time constraints, I'm considering submitting only one short story with my MFA application. Do schools frown on that?
Also, how strict are they about about the page limit? I've noticed that most are in the range of 20-30 pages, but some do give a definite maximum or minimum limit. Would a a story that went a few pages over or under that range be automatically thrown out?


TK -- "Generally, two is much better than one. It just improves your odds... Programs won't make a fuss over 5 extra pages or so...

Hi Tom,

My name is CB, and I am a regular reader of the MFA blog. I was hoping you could post a thread asking if anyone knows of any creative writing programs (MA, MFA, or PhD), beginning this Fall, whose deadlines haven't passed yet?



Any thoughts??


Mike Valente said...

CB -

This probably isn't useful, but there are schools that offer online or evening writing workshops for units, through a Continuing Studies-type program.

Regarding programs offering a degree, I'm really not sure.


Seth Abramson said...

Northwestern's MFA has its Fall 2008 deadline in 72 hours, FWIW. If you can overnight the basic application materials, portfolio, and application fee, they might (but you should call and ask) be willing to get the recs and so on a few days or a week or two late. Be well,

Fund me said...

I scored in the 98th percentile for the verbal and in the 17th percentile for the math on a GRE practice test.

Are my math scores going to hurt me? How hard should I work to lift them (considering I'd prefer to use the time to write)?

Also, I'm betting my writing scores are going to be average--in my practices I have had a hard time getting an orginized, substantial essay down with a clock ticking (which is strange because I write good exams).

And in the same line, can I expect my verbal scores to stay in the 98 percentile?

Seth Abramson said...

Fund Me,

Re: your math scores. No, I don't think they care. They don't really even care about the verbal and writing scores (at least as compared to the strength of your portfolio). If you're applying to an M.A. program, maybe; an MFA program wants (at most) simply to see average scores or above. More likely, though, they don't actually give any thought to your GRE scores at all. The portfolio is more than 90% of the admissions decision--look at it that way.

Be well, and good luck,

Lincoln Michel said...

fund me:

I don't think most writing programs will care at all about your scores. They will go by your writing and nothing else.

That said, I do think that some universities-as in the administration above the writing program-may care about scores. They may have a certain threshold that all students in any discipline must meet to be admitted.

I believe Tom posted about that a few years ago on this blog.

Does anyone else know about that?

Warren said...


Is there a drastic difference in an individual's chances of acceptance if they are among the first wave of applicants and if so when do the earliest students apply?



michelle said...
I noticed Adelphi is still taking applications for fall

No idea what kind of program they are. They just happened to be first on the list I was browsing.

Lizzy said...

Fund me,

I don't think anyone cares about math scores, while the "writing" score is really designed to be a measure of your analytical prowess. Assuming you're applying as a creative writer, to an MFA program (not a PhD or an MA program) an average analytical writing score should not make too much of a difference one way or the other.

What will help is to send in as strong a writing sample as you can put together.

Also, programs sometimes may use Verbal GRE scores in determining who gets a TA assignment. A score in the 98th percentile seems healthy enough to me. Though, of course, that's only my opinion.

Good luck.

Johanna Droubay said...


Johns Hopkins has a part-time MA program (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and science/medical writing) with rolling admission. Officially, they tell you it takes 6 weeks to review your materials and accept/reject. But then I've also heard it really only takes 2 to 4 weeks, so there might still be time to apply for fall. You can take classes in Baltimore or DC. It's certainly not the most selective or prestigious program, but it's just right for some people.


Just_Another_Poet said...

Can anybody offer some solid MFA programs in the New England and Great Lakes regions. I have already looked at UMich, UMass Amherst, Brown, and UNH, but I feel there should be more.

I am only interested in full-residency programs, so I will take anything you have in that.

Thanks in advance.

Seth Abramson said...


Others in New England include BU and Emerson. There really aren't as many programs in New England as you'd expect, and at this point in time it's hard to recommend Emerson due to funding and other reasons. As to the Great Lakes region, you've got many more options right on or around the Lakes:

[strongly recommended]

Cornell (upstate NY)
Indiana University (lower IN)
Purdue University
Syracuse (upstate NY)
Minnesota (eastern MN)
Penn State (central PA)
Ohio State University (central OH)
University of Notre Dame (upper IN)
Wisconsin (lower WI)

[worth a look]

Minnesota State at Mankato
Northwestern University (IL)
School of the Art Institute (IL)*
Western Michigan University

* In Chicago; no funding, however.

Best of luck,


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