MASTER OF FINE ARTS IN CREATIVE WRITING
Martin Lammon, Coordinator
The MFA degree prepares artists—in this case, short story writers, playwrights, novelists, poets, and other writers—to study their craft seriously and create publishable works in their respective genres. Although students in the program will typically focus on one genre, they are required and encouraged to explore at least one other genre. To this end, the program will prepare resourceful and open-minded writers rather than specialists. Because great writers are also great readers, the program will also expect students to study literature and other graduate courses in linguistics, criticism, and pedagogy in the Department of English and Rhetoric. In this way, the program prepares talented writers by taking advantage of complementary, current departmental talents and strengths. Creative Writing courses will emphasize studio work (peer workshops and mentoring from distinguished, publishing writers) that will be complemented by studies in literature, poetics, prose forms, and the teaching of creative writing. The program enhances a student’s curricular experience with superior extracurricular experiences not only in creative writing but also in editing, publishing, arts management, education, and community service. Finally, the MFA Program in Creative Writing is designed to fulfill the University’s institutional mission—to be the state’s designated public liberal arts university—a mission ideally suited to creative writing. The writer more than any other artist is a student of all the liberal arts, ranging among the humanities, the social sciences, the fine arts, and the sciences, a student whose work is both in the classroom and in the world at large.
REGULAR ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS
Admission to the MFA in Creative Writing Program is competitive and based primarily (but not exclusively) on the candidate’s Writing Portfolio. Students regularly admitted to the program will successfully meet the following criteria.
- Writing Portfolio. Submit 10 poems (typed, single-spaced); OR submit two short stories or creative nonfiction essays (about 10-20 pages each, typed and double-spaced) and no more than 50 pages (typed, double-spaced) if submitting chapters from a longer work of fiction or creative nonfiction; OR one act of a full-length play. Note: Plays may be typed in a standard dramatic format.
- Statement of Purpose. Submit a 500-word essay (typed, double-spaced) in which you discuss expectations and goals for your writing, as well as any other relevant points you may wish to make regarding your studies in the MFA program.
- Submit three letters of recommendation from teachers or other references able to comment on your creative writing and your potential for successful graduate study.
- Submit one copy of official transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate studies (including institutions where you only took courses but did not complete a degree). An appropriate four-year degree is required for admission. Transcripts should reflect prior coursework in both intuitive and discursive writing as well as critical reading. Student transcripts should demonstrate a 3.0 GPA (based on a 4.0 scale) in the final 60 hours of undergraduate work and in all prior graduate-level work; however, the 3.0 GPA is not a requirement, but only a measure of what (most of our students have achieved in their academic work (most have had even higher GPA's in prior academic work).
- Submit one copy of official test scores in the general test of the GRE or the MAT. Acceptable scores are usually in the 50th percentile or higher.
NOTE: Please submit your Writing Portfolio and Statement of Purpose directly to the MFA Program Coordinator. ALL other materials need to be sent directly to the Graduate Admissions Office. Please see the MFA Web site for complete application details.
Students who do not meet regular admission criteria may be admitted provisionally. After completing nine hours of coursework (at least one course should be in literature) with at least a “B” in each course, the student may be granted regular admission status. Students enrolled with provisional status are not eligible for graduate assistantships.
Only grades of "B" or higher in graduate courses will count towards the M.F.A. degree. Students who receive more than one grade of "C" or lower in a graduate course, or whose GPA at any time falls below a 3.0, will be dropped from the program.
- All students complete 42 hours (33 hours coursework and 9 thesis hours). See below for specific requirements relating to coursework and thesis work.
- Only grades of “B” or higher in graduate courses will count towards the MFA degree. Students who receive more than one grade of “C” or lower in a graduate course will be dropped from the program.
- No more than six hours of coursework may be transferred from another M.A. in English or MFA program, and no hours may be transferred in a student’s major writing genre. Only courses in which the student earned a “B” or higher will be considered for transfer credit.
- The MFA degree is designed to be completed in three years and must be completed in no more than four years. All degree work (with the exception of accepted transfer credits), including the thesis, must be completed in residence.
PROGRAM OF STUDY
Most students take 33 hours of coursework:
8-12 hours: 5000-level and 6000-level courses in the student's major writing genre (2-3 courses)
4-8 hours: Course(s) in at least one other writing genre (1-2 courses)
4 hours: Teaching Creative Writing Seminar (6024)
4 hours: Poetry & Poetics (6025), or Prose Forms (6026)
9 hours: Non-Creative Writing courses (at least one at the 6000-level)
All students also complete the MFA Thesis (9 hours). See below for more details about the thesis and thesis defense.
Foreign Language. Students are expected to achieve the fourth level of study in a modern foreign language. If students did not meet this requirement in their prior undergraduate or graduate work, they must demonstrate proficiency in a modern foreign language. Students either must achieve this requirement by passing the fourth-level language course GC (2002)or must pass a translation exam usually administered in the student's second year of study.
Thesis and Thesis Defense. Students typically devote two years (four semesters) to their thesis work. With the thesis director, the student will establish a timetable and proposal for completing the thesis in a timely manner. In the second year, the student and thesis director will establish a committee of two other departmental graduate faculty members and one outside reader (optional) proficient in that student’s major genre who will also read the final draft of the thesis. The student and thesis director will then establish a timetable and proposal for the thesis. The student’s thesis will be a full-length creative work of superior literary quality (for example a novel, a collection of short stories, a collection of poems, a full-length play, a collection of essays or book-length work of creative nonfiction). Students may take no more than six thesis hours in any one semester. Students must enroll for at least one thesis hours and defend their thesis in the semester in which they graduate. If a student does not complete the thesis in the Spring semester of the third year, the student must register for at least one thesis hour in subsequent Fall and/or Spring semesters until the thesis is successfully defended (as per other degree requirements, this should be no later than Spring semester of the student's fourth year). The thesis will include a presentation of aesthetic and other issues related to the student’s work, as well as questions and comments from the thesis committee and others in attendance. Students also participate in a short reading from the thesis.
The general advisor of all students working towards the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing degree is the Coordinator of the MFA Program. However, students should work closely with their thesis advisors in preparation for a specific thesis project.
GRADUATE TEACHING FELLOWS
Graduate Teaching Fellowships are awarded selectively to students in the MFA Program in Creative Writing in order to provide such students with an educationally and professionally valuable opportunity to gain experience as college-level classroom instructors in a supervised, evaluated setting. The policies and procedures for the awarding of Graduate Teaching Fellowships, and for supervising and evaluating the success of individual Teaching Fellows, are as follows:
Students enrolled in the MFA Program in Creative Writing are eligible for Graduate Teaching Fellowships through either:
- Holding an M.A. degree from an accredited institution in either English or a closely related area, in which case the student must have passed 18 graduate hours or more of courses in English or courses which are demonstrably similar to those he or she would have taken in English (e.g., a course in composition instruction or pedagogical theory offered by a school of education rather than an English department); OR
- Passing 18 graduate hours in English at GC, or other accredited institutions (or a combination of hours at both GC and other institutions, at least 9 hours of which must be passed at GC) with grades of B or better in all courses. Teaching Fellows are also required to take the graduate seminar “Theories of Composition and Literature” before or during their first semester of teaching).
NOTE: All students eligible for Teaching Fellows appointments must also take Theories of Composition and Literature (ENGL 6112), unless they have had a similar course in their previous degree program (as determined by the MFA Program Coordinator). First year students on assistantship but not eligible for a Teaching Fellowships will serve as consultants in the University Writing Center and in other departmental capacities.
Eligibility does not guarantee that a student will receive a Graduate Teaching Fellowship. However, most students on assistantship will be assigned teaching duties in their second and third years (in composition, literature, and creative writing).
Selection of Graduate Teaching Fellows:
Selection of Graduate Teaching Fellows is competitive on the basis of grades, faculty evaluations from external recommendations and from GC faculty, and other considerations such as evaluation of a students’ suitability for classroom teaching by the Coordinator of the MFA Program, the Department Teaching Fellows Coordinator. In every case, students are selected and assigned courses contingent upon program needs and availability of courses.
Training of Graduate Teaching Fellows:
Graduate Teaching Fellows who do not already hold an appropriate graduate degree, and who have not already taken a similar pedagogy course (as determined by the MFA Program and Composition coordinators), will be required to take ENGL 6112, Theories of Composition and Literature. Also, all Graduate Teaching Fellows will be required to attend various training and orientation sessions, led by the Teaching Fellows Coordinator, in order to receive instruction in practical pedagogical strategies. In addition, all Graduate Teaching Fellows will be required to attend regularly scheduled discussion sessions, led by the Teaching Fellows Coordinator, concerning their progress and the challenges they have faced in the classroom.
Supervision of Graduate Teaching Fellows:
Graduate Teaching Fellows are under the general supervision of the Coordinator of the MFA Program, the Teaching Fellows Coordinator, and the Department Chair. Graduate Teaching Fellows will be assigned courses in consultation with the MFA Program Coordinator and the Department Chair. The Teaching Fellows Coordinator serves as primary faculty mentor, who assists Teaching Fellows with the conduct of these courses and any problems that might arise. Other faculty members in the Department of English and Rhetoric also assist in mentoring Teaching Fellows.
Graduate Teaching Fellows will be expected to consult regularly (several times per semester) with the Teaching Fellows Coordinator and other faculty mentors who will make themselves available to assist Graduate Teaching Fellows in conducting their courses; however, at all times the Graduate Teaching Fellow is fully responsible for the actual conduct and instruction of such courses.
Evaluation of Graduate Teaching Fellows:
All Graduate Teaching Fellows will be evaluated both through normal University and departmental faculty course evaluation procedures, as well as through procedures intended specifically for them:
- All Graduate Teaching Fellows will administer Student Opinion Surveys for every course they teach
- As soon as practicable, the Teaching Fellows Coordinator will meet with each Graduate Teaching Fellow to discuss the student evaluations.
- At least once each semester, the Teaching Fellows Coordinator or other faculty member will meet with the Graduate Teaching Fellow to provide constructive feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of the meeting observed.
None of these procedures is intended to preclude more extensive evaluation and support of Graduate Teaching Fellows where appropriate.
Courses Available for Graduate Teaching Fellows, Teaching Loads, and Summer Teaching:
Graduate Teaching Fellows will usually teach ENGL 1101, English Composition I; ENGL 1102, English Composition II; and ENGL 2208, Introduction to Creative Writing, although other courses may be assigned in exceptional circumstances. Teaching Fellows may also be assigned as “mentors” to undergraduate majors completing Senior Capstone Thesis or studying in the special topics courses connected to The Peacock's Feet or the Early College Writing the Schools projects, as assigned by the MFA Program Coordinator on a case-by-case basis. Generally, Graduate Teaching Fellows usually teach two courses per semester (a total of four per academic year). Exceptions to the 2/2 load occur usually when a Teaching Fellow is assigned other instructional or program duties (for example, working in the offices of the program's professional journals). Graduate Teaching Fellows are eligible for summer teaching when it is available.
The MFA degree program is foremost about preparing writers to publish their works. Here, you will be immersed in writing and reading, preparing your book of short stories or poems, your novel, script, or memoir, getting ready to send your manuscript to agents or publishers. While your writing life comes first, the program also helps to prepare students for work as teachers, editors, arts administrators, and other positions in fields related to writing, reading, and the arts. All students take “Teaching Creative Writing,” and also have opportunities to work with the faculty on editing and arts programming projects, acquiring skills useful to future job searches after graduation.
Please visit the Creative Writing Web site for more details about the program, courses offered, and the creative writing community at GC. Inquiries about the program, graduate assistantships, and other forms of financial assistance should be directed to the MFA Program Coordinator, CBX 44, Georgia College, Milledgeville, GA 31061. Telephone: (478) 445-4581. Fax: (478) 445-5961. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.