M.F.A. in Creative Writing
Program Description

Overview

Arcadia's low residency MFA Program in Creative Writing utilizes online technology to allow each student an experience that fits into his or her lifestyle. While many low-residency programs are still correspondence courses through the mail, we bring as much of the workshop environment online as possible. Additionally, the programs we use are tablet and smart-phone friendly, so the course goes anywhere you want it to.

We offer programs in fiction and poetry, and each runs for two academic years.

The Residencies

MFA cohort residency in Edinburgh, ScotlandDuring the two-year duration of the MFA Program, the students meet in-person three times: the first at the beginning of the program in August, at our campus; the second during the following summer for the residency abroad, either in Italy or Scotland; and the final time in January of the second year, again on Arcadia's campus.

Each residency is about a week long, and includes workshops, writing exercises, discussions with a visiting writer, and a building of community within the group.

Above, right: cohort members during 2012 residency in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The Workshops

Workshops are conducted during each fall and spring semester, and consist of online discussion boards. These discussions are asynchronous, meaning that while there are weekly deadlines there is no one time that students need to be online, and each student can fit the workshops into his or her specific schedule.

Additionally, the software we use for the discussions themselves and for file sharing are accessible via apps on tablet computers and smartphones, meaning the the classroom truly is portable.

Discussion Board ccreen shot
Screenshot from a workshop online discussion board.

Students each get to submit work for peer review three or four times per semester, and review their peers' work every week.

The Practicums

Students take a practicum each fall and spring semester while they're also taking a workshop, meaning that they take six credits each semester A practicum is a series of one-on-one meetings with an instructor through the semester, and students have at least four meetings, but usually no more than six or seven. Students schedule these meetings at their convenience, often in the evenings, to accommodate their work schedules. Additionally, these meetings can be held via Skype or Face Time, allowing for those outside the Philadelphia area to complete the MFA without any problems.

Each meeting focuses on a piece of writing which the student submits to the instructor a few days before the appointment. This can be a revision of a piece the student has submitted to workshop, or a new piece of writing. Each practicum appointment is about an hour long and consists of an in-depth discussion about the work in question and the specific methods or techniques the student might adopt to improve his or her work.

The Thesis

Each MFA student turns in a thesis at the end of their second year in the program. For fiction students this is a manuscript of roughly 60,000 words, and can be either a novel or a collection of short fiction. For poets this is a manuscript of about 48 pages of verse.

The guidelines can be discussed with the faculty and changed based on the goals of each student. Most importantly, in producing the thesis each student develops the habits necessary to lead the life of a writer, including a plan for publication after the program ends.

Technology

Arcadia's MFA program is one of the few low residency programs with a large online content. We conduct workshops through online forums, and students can connect with their instructors for one-on-one appointments via programs like Face Time and Skype. This means that a student can complete most of the work from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection—the three residencies are the only times when students must meet in-person.

The program is also completely mobile accessible. Discussion boards, document sharing, and appointments can be completed on any iOS or Android device. While no mobile device is required for the program, we do recommend that incoming students consider investing in a tablet or smartphone in order to have access to their courses' content as much as possible.

All students must have consistent internet access once they are enrolled in the program, regardless of the type of computer they use.

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