MFA in Creative Writing Program Overview

The core of MFA study is a student’s creative work. Strengthening and supporting the creative work are three additional degree requirements—the Literature Component, the Teaching Practicum, and the Critical Work—that students need to fulfill to earn an MFA in Creative Writing.

The program consists of four components:

Creative Work

Students are expected to engage actively in creative writing during each semester, including those semesters when you are also working on critical papers and teaching. During the first three semesters, student writing consists of a combination of revision and new work. It is important that students revise their work from the beginning, making revision an intrinsic part of the process. Students are encouraged to experiment with different genres and methods at each residency and during their first semester. By the end of their first semester, students should have a clear idea of the form of their thesis. By the end of the second semester, students must select a genre for their graduating thesis. By semester four, students are asked to produce a unified creative thesis.

Students share their work at a public reading during the Commencement Residency.

Literature Component

We also expect that you will be reading and thinking about your reading, and applying that thinking to your writing throughout your four semesters. Sometimes this process will be reported in the form of annotations, sometimes in the form of critical papers.

When constructing your semester bibliography, consider carefully the themes, technical/craft issues, and literary communities or traditions you want to explore in depth; doing so will help make the resultant critical writing more focused and productive. Take your own previous personal and educational background and reading into account, paying attention to issues such as period, gender, genre, and multiculturalism, among others.

Critical Work

Close reading is the foundation of your critical writing. Close reading means avidly exploring the construction of the text, moving beyond general impressions to note specific choices the author made and to consider the implications (for meaning, emotional impact, etc.).

The critical writing degree requirements include 45-60 annotations, two short and one long critical paper. All sources in your critical papers should be properly cited and a bibliography included as appropriate. Your critical writing throughout your four semesters should be an organic part of your work rather than a tacked-on assignment.

Teaching Practicum

Because the MFA in Creative Writing is usually sought as a teaching credential for faculty positions in higher education, students are also required to complete a teaching practicum that includes supervised teaching of writing, a teaching essay, and the compilation of a teaching packet (refer to the Teaching Practicum section in the program handbook for a more detailed explanation of the required components).

Students electing to pursue Vermont teacher licensure are also required to participate in supervised student teaching under the auspices of the Goddard’s Education Program (for more information, refer to the section on Teacher Licensure).