Creative Writing M.F.A.

Martin Lammon, Coordinator

E-mail: mfa@gcsu.edu

Mission

The MFA degree prepares artists—in this case, short story writers, 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, the pedagogy and practice of teaching writing, and other special topics related to the aesthetics 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 programming, 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.  Although MFA graduates will pursue positions in teaching, editing, publishing, marketing, arts-programming, and related fields, the program's primary goal is focused on helping talented writers improve, refine, and develop their careers as writers.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Submit three letters of recommendation from teachers or other references able to comment on your creative writing and your potential for successful graduate study. In addition to letters of recommendation, referees will also complete an evaluation form that addresses the applicant's potential for teaching, graduate study, and other related skills/qualities.
  4. 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).

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.

Provisional Admission

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.

Academic Dismissal

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.

Degree Requirements

Basic Requirements:

  1. All students complete 42 hours (33 hours coursework and 9 thesis hours). See below for specific requirements relating to coursework and thesis work.
  2. 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, or whose GPA at any time falls below a 3.0, will be dropped from the program.
  3. 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.
  4. The MFA program of study 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

All students take at least 33 hours of coursework:  ENGL-MFA 4-semester credit hour courses (24 hours); ENGL 3-semester credit hour courses (9 hours)

8-12 hours: 5000-level and 6000-level courses in the student's major writing genre (2-3 courses): ENGL 5021 / ENGL 6021 (poetry genre); ENGL 5012 / ENGL 6012 (creative nonfiction genre); ENGL 5022 / ENGL 6022 (fiction genre).  ENGL 6012, 6021, and 6022 may be repeated for credit.  An approved ENGL 5950 Special Topics course can also be applied here.

4-8 hours: Course(s) in at least one other writing genre (1-2 courses); note that 5000-level workshops in a genre are the prerequisite for 6000-level seminars in a genre. An approved ENGL 5950 Special Topics course can also be applied here.

4 hours: Teaching Creative Writing Seminar (ENGL 6024)

4 hours: Poetry & Poetics (ENGL 6025), or Prose Forms (ENGL 6026)

9 hours: Other ENGL 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.

For a list of all ENGL graduate courses, visit to the ENGL courses page in the graduate catalog.

Other Requirements

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’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 must enroll for at least one thesis hour 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 in the semester in which the student defends the thesis and graduates. The thesis defense 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. Students also participate in a short reading from the thesis.

Advisement

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:

Eligibility:

Students enrolled in the MFA Program in Creative Writing are eligible for Graduate Teaching Fellowships through either:

  1. 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
  2. Passing 18 graduate hours in English during the student's MFA program of study at Georgia College with grades of B or better in all courses. Teaching Fellows are also required to take the graduate seminar, "Theories of Composition and Literature" and participate in regular teaching fellows meetings as well as other mentoring programs as determined by the Department of English and Rhetoric.

NOTE: Eligibility does not guarantee that a student will receive a Graduate Teaching Fellowship.

Selection of Graduate Teaching Fellows:

Selection of Graduate Teaching Fellows is competitive on the basis of grades, faculty evaluations and observations from external recommendations and from GC faculty and other considerations that inform a departmental evaluation of a student's suitability for classroom teaching.  Students will also complete an on-line application process through the university's Human Resources office that verifies applicants meet eligibility requirements for Teaching Fellows (including required official transcripts, a background check, and other mandatory documents).  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. (usually during the student's first semester in the MFA program.) 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 Teaching Fellows Coordinator, the Chair of the Department of English and Rhetoric, and the Coordinator of the MFA program. 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 issues that might arise. Other faculty members in the Department of English and Rhetoric also assist in mentoring Teaching Fellows.

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:

  1. All Graduate Teaching Fellows courses will be included for student evaluations
  2. As necessary, the Teaching Fellows Coordinator will meet with each Graduate Teaching Fellow to discuss the student evaluations (if unsatisfactory).
  3. 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 teaching strengths and weaknesses after a class observation.

None of these procedures is intended to preclude more extensive evaluation and support of Graduate Teaching Fellows where appropriate.

Career Information

The MFA degree program is foremost about preparing writers to publish their creative works. Here, students will be immersed in writing and reading, preparing a book of short stories or poems, a novel, or memoir, getting ready to send a manuscript to agents or publishers. While 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. Students have various opportunities to develop skills related to careers that value creative writers. However, completion of the MFA degree, as with any degree program, does not guarantee a future job.

Further Information

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, Georgia College Department of English and Rhetoric, CBX 44,  Milledgeville, GA 31061. Telephone: 478-445-4581. Fax: 478-445-5961. E-mail: mfa@gcsu.edu.