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To MFA or Not to MFA? So You’re Deciding Whether or Not to Pursue an MFA in Creative Writing

By Vincent Scarpa

I’ve actively avoided participating in the ongoing debate regarding the utility, or lack thereof, in getting an MFA in creative writing. There seems to be, on both sides of the argument, a lot of sanctimoniousness and not very much in the way of useful information for one who is actually caught in the chaotic decision-making process. I don’t aim here to take a side in an argument I find futile and unproductive. Rather, I wish to speak from the stuck-in-the-middle place, from the versus, as one who has been there, and provide what I hope are helpful thoughts and questions to consider. I did choose to get my MFA, and it was an extremely rewarding, extremely challenging three years; an experience for which I would trade nothing. That being said, upon graduating with my MFA, I have never been more certain that it was simply one of a number of choices I could have made in my pursuit to become a working writer. It wasn’t the only or right one—just the one I made.

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The full article INCLUDES:

Should you pursue an MFA in creative writing?

Life experience and the myth of the “MFA story.”

Do you want an MFA for the right reasons?

If your primary or exclusive interest in entering an MFA program is to leave that program with an agent and a book deal, you’re absolutely doing it for the wrong reasons.

Reading is just as important as writing

The tried-and-true best way to become a better writer is rather simple: read more. Especially the stories, novels, poems, and essays of the professors.

How to choose the right MFA program

What size do you want your cohort to be? Is a two-year or a three-year program better for you? What have the alumni of any given program gone on to do? Size, location, length, alumni, and teaching opportunities are worth considering.


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