One writer's magazine that I often enjoy is Poets and Writers. Though I don't write for the literary marketplace I do read lots of it. And despite what some people in the business would have us believe, writing is writing whether it's for a literary audience or the genre lovers. This past issue P&W had their annual feature on MFA programs.
I'm way beyond the point of wanting to pursue another master's degree but I often wish I had considered it when I started my writing career. In truth, I didn't even know such programs in creative writing existed. When I did learn of these programs, I should have investigated further. I might have found one that fit my financial and time restraints.
In today's world of the MFA offerings around the USA, many colleges are competing for those writers hungry for that degree. What do they hope to get with that degree?
I think firstly they want professional advice, assessment and the sharing of expertise and knowledge their instructors will bring into the classroom. But how expert are their teachers? Are they multi-published authors? Are they experienced teachers? Teaching is about more than knowledge. One has to be able to convey what you know in a manner that students can learn what they need. Have previous graduates of the MFA program found success. If a MFA candidate has already ventured into publishing, will the program raise their writing to a higher level?
One of the other expectations of enrolling might be making contacts and becoming part of a larger writing community. There are other less ambiguous measures when selecting a program? Is it a residency program which would mean leaving a job, a family and certainly increase cost? Is it low residency or non-residency meaning you'll save money and perhaps keep the day job but lose the face to face contact with your instructors? And will any debt you incur be worth the possible advancement to your writing career?
I do have regrets I never took the MFA path but I know I couldn't afford the financial or personal tradeoffs I would have had to make when I started writing. Do you think MFA programs are worth the costs and time? Have you heard good or not so good things? Are all such programs equal? Do you ever read Poets and Writers?