If you consider yourself a writer and aim to have several published works to your name, you might often wonder how you can improve your skill. Do you have to attend writing workshops and online courses, or can you actually study the craft of writing and get a degree in it, too? Is there a structured curriculum and syllabus that can help you?
Here’s a look at what you will sign up for.
What is the MFA in Writing programme?
The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Writing that several US universities offer is a degree to hone your writing skills and interact with many leading professionals in the field. A postgraduate degree, the MFA allows you to keep writing, try out writing exercises, and even teach in some cases. Most MFA programmes have small classes, and a large part of the programme involves doing your own writing and giving feedback to others in the class.
The MFA in Writing is divided into three categories: Fiction, non-fiction and poetry. The Iowa Writers’ Workshop designed the first MFA programme in the 1930s, and most other departments follow the basic structure set by it. However, the popularity of the programme has grown exponentially since the 1930s.
Who should do an MFA in Writing?
This degree is perfect for anyone so long as you are interested in creative writing and want to write professionally in the future. Most universities offer a full-time, two-year programme. There’s no requirement of particular subjects at an undergraduate level, but you need to be a graduate to be eligible for admission. The application also asks you to submit a writing portfolio (along with the usual Statements of Purpose and Letters of Recommendation). The writing portfolio doesn’t need to contain only published works, but a lot of emphasis is given to this, so it should definitely be your best work and give a good sense of your writing style.
After your MFA, teaching jobs are available in various creative writing and English Literature departments worldwide. Brands also look to hire MFA-holders for their internal communications and public relations departments and to devise communication strategies. Jobs in magazines and newspapers as writers, columnists and editors are common.
The MFA programme encourages students to build their own writing portfolio, and many students work towards publishing their writing in this time, eventually becoming published authors and poets.
Where should you do an MFA?
Several US universities offer the MFA programme. You need to figure out if you want to apply for fiction or poetry.
Some of the best universities for your MFA programme include:
- University of Iowa (Iowa City)
- Brown University (Providence)
- Columbia University (New York City)
- University of Minnesota (Minneapolis)
- University of Michigan (Ann Arbor)
- Indiana University (Bloomington)
- Northwestern University (Chicago)
- Cornell University (New York)
Fee waivers and scholarships
Most universities offer waivers and scholarships; some have a fully-funded MFA programme for the entire class. Some other universities allow you to take up Teaching Assistantship (TA) positions that cover some of the cost and give you teaching experience that you can make use of later.
Online and part-time courses
If a two-year full-time programme seems difficult to invest in, don’t worry! There are several part-time, one-year, and even online writing programmes available. They might not give you an MFA degree (some offer MAs, some are certification courses) but will surely help you become a better writer.