The MFA Residency
For eight days at the Goddard residency, students and faculty come together to form a rousing literary kinship where writing and the word reign supreme. At both of Goddard’s campuses—a converted “gentleman’s farm” with gardens and manor house in rural Vermont, or Fort Worden State Park, in the picturesque Victorian seaport village of Port Townsend, Washington—the residency weeks offer seminars, readings, workshops, panels, a keynote event, presentations by visiting writers, and formal and informal social gatherings.
On the first day of a residency, students receive a schedule listing dozens of classes in all genres throughout the week, open to all Goddard students. Master classes in fiction, non-fiction, poetry, playwriting, and screenwriting zero in on the craft of those creative forms. Small seminar groups discuss individual texts, authors, forms, and theories. Students themselves can offer workshops in virtually any subject related to creative writing.
On day two of the residency, first-semester students are carefully matched with faculty advisors by the program director. The primary advisor is the faculty member with whom students will work all semester in “packets” submitted through the mail. (After the first semester, students can request particular advisors.) Students and their advisers will meet one-on-one twice during the residency week to devise a study plan for the semester—that is, a bibliography of texts to study, a calendar of deadlines, and a clear direction for the student’s creative manuscript. Additionally, each advisor will meet with all his or her advisees at once in four “advising group sessions” where these groups of five to seven students can work together throughout the week.
The residency weeks offer both considerable freedom—an open schedule of classes; a diverse community of writers; an open call for students to read from their work—and an intense focus on the craft of writing. Students in their first semester may find their heads spinning from the quantity of ideas on exchange at a Goddard residency. These single inspiring weeks provide the wellspring for a semester’s worth of creative work.
Those looking for fellowship will find it—in classes, in the common rooms, in the cafeteria where coffee and tea are available 24 hours a day, and even in evening “salons.” Those who want to be alone with their thoughts can do that too; the tranquility of a woodland trail is never more than two minutes’ walk away.
Maybe you’ve got an idea for a novel you’re dying to write. Or you’re unsure how to start your memoir. Perhaps you’re hoping to find a way to tame the poems that seem to spring from your mind when you least expect it. Whatever you’re writing, you’ll have the opportunity to hone your craft with the individualized guidance of published faculty advisors who specialize in your genre. Engage in an ongoing, semester-long dialogue with a novelist about structure, pacing, and plot. Immerse yourself in the language of life-changing poems that you didn’t know existed a month ago. Or map your character arcs with a playwright whose latest work just opened to great acclaim.
Every advisor in Goddard’s MFA Program in Creative Writing is an accomplished writer actively working in their genre. They provide detailed feedback on your work, offer you support and insight into your writing process, and give you reading suggestions to stoke your creativity.
Whether you are an emerging or established writer, working with an advisor allows you to:
- Hone your craft under individualized guidance.
- Engage in an ongoing dialogue about your work.
- Read and analyze life-changing literature.
At Goddard, advisors don’t try to impose a style on you; rather, they support you in the development of your own voice.
Twice a year, at the start of each semester, students attend an intensive eight-day residency at the College’s Plainfield, Vermont campus or the Port Townsend, Washington campus. Residencies are a rich time of exploration, connection, and planning.
- Goddard’s historic Plainfield, Vermont campus is located just outside Montpelier, the state capital of Vermont. It’s a sprawling former farm with a manor garden, surrounding forests, and period architecture.
- Located at Fort Worden, the Port Townsend, Washington campus is a former Victorian-era Army base with beaches, trails, and a vibrant, seaside arts community on the Pacific Coast.
When you apply, you pick one of the two sites for the duration of your studies. Each residency week, the location you choose becomes home — shared with a lively community of fellow writers in a serene and retreat-like setting.
Goddard College programs operating in Washington State are authorized by the Washington Student Achievement Council. For more information, please refer to Accreditation and Approvals.
Twice a year you will travel to either Vermont or Washington (see Locations below) to attend an eight-day residency. When you arrive at your first residency, you are paired with a faculty advisor who helps you craft your individualized study plan. Your study plan consists of your semester’s assignments and book list — all of it tailored to your specific ambitions and interests. During residencies you attend workshops, readings by faculty and graduating students, and other events designed to inspire your best work.
Goddard students are a diverse, passionate, and welcoming community of writers of all ages, from all corners of the world and walks of life. When you join this vibrant community, either in Vermont (January and June/July) or Washington state (February and July), you will:
- work with your advisor to design an individualized study plan to support your creative vision
- be part of an “advising group” — a small class led by your advisor that meets throughout the week
- design your own residency schedule from a rich and varied menu of activities in all genres: workshops, readings, and other events that will inform, illuminate, and inspire
- attend readings offered by: visiting writers, visiting alumni, current faculty, graduating students, and your peers
- meet industry professionals from both the writing and the theater world
There are also a number of extra-curricular residency options that offer more opportunities to create community. You can choose to:
- publish and be published in The Pitkin Review (a literary journal written and edited by students)
- have your play presented in Take Ten (a ten-minute play festival produced entirely by students — VT option only)
- read for your peers and listen to them in after-hours literary salons
In workshops, during meals, in after-hours salons, after readings, and in long walks in the woods or along the beach, you not only will engage in lively discussions, but you’ll forge friendships to last a lifetime.