Jan 27, 2023  
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog 
    
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog

Creative Writing, M.F.A.


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About the Program


Program Highlights

  • Personal attention in small workshops.
  • Low-residency, building a dynamic online writing community.
  • Weeklong residency spent abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • Manuscript requirement and publication plan.

Arcadia University’s low-residency M.F.A. program in Creative Writing is distinctive in that it incorporates both a dynamic online environment and a study abroad experience. The course emphasizes online workshops; personal attention from faculty; studying abroad, with a residency in Edinburgh, Scotland; and the preparation of both a book-length manuscript and a plan to publish it.

Arcadia’s experienced and award-winning faculty helps to prepare each student for careers in writing, publishing, and teaching the craft at the college level.

Because this is a low-residency program and students take between six and nine credits each term, participants are able to develop much of their own schedule and maintain a full-time professional life outside school.

Online Workshops

In Arcadia’s program, students participate in weekly workshops conducted online and led by the faculty, as opposed to many low-residency creative writing programs in which students have infrequent contact with their peers and instructors. Arcadia requires only that students have a consistent internet connection.

Personal Attention

In addition to the online workshops, Arcadia’s program allows consistent one-on-one contact between the students and the faculty. Through the use of e-mail, online discussions, and video chat programs such as Skype or Zoom, students are never out of touch with their faculty mentors.

Study Abroad

A global perspective is an important facet of writing. Therefore, each student spends a residency abroad at the start of the second year of the program. That residency is in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Manuscript and Publishing

At the end of the program, students submit a book-length manuscript in their genre and work with their faculty mentor to develop a plan for publication.

Program Description


Arcadia’s low residency MFA Program in Creative Writing utilizes online technology to allow students an experience that fits into their 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

During 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, on our campus; the second during the following summer for the residency abroad, in Scotland; and the final time in January of the second year, again on Arcadia’s campus.

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

The Workshops

Workshops are conducted during each fall and spring semester, and consist of online discussions. 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 their specific schedule.

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

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 a faculty mentor 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, to accommodate their personal schedules. Additionally, these meetings can be held via Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime, 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 their 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 60,000 words or more, 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 a 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 video chat programs. 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.

Sample Course Sequence Scenario


2022

  • Residency One, August: Arcadia University
  • Fall Semester: Workshop 1, Practicum 1

2023

  • Spring Semester: Workshop 2, Practicum 2
  • Summer Semester: Traditional Literature Course, Craft Course
  • Residency Two, July: Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Fall Semester: Workshop 3, Practicum 3

2024

  • Residency Three, January: Arcadia University
  • Spring Semester: Workshop 4, Practicum 4—Thesis Preparation. Thesis turned in at the close of Spring Semester 2024.

Degree Requirements (39 credit minimum)


Students must complete all of the requirements before being awarded a degree. It is important that students make all possible efforts to complete the classes in order, so as to maintain a community within the program. If a student must take a leave of absence, it is best that he or she take a full year of absence so that it is easiest to rejoin the program at a natural point. Extenuating circumstances will be evaluated at the faculty’s discretion.

Residencies (9 credits)


During the on-campus residencies (the first and third residencies), students take part in intensive workshops, meet one-on-one with their faculty advisers, participate in seminars and exercises with visiting writers, and generally build the cohesive community of the program. Residencies are one week, and they are conducted in August of the program’s first year, and January of the program’s second year.

Students spend the second residency, also for one week, abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland. During that time students take part in workshops and meetings with faculty, but they also will explore the area, meet with local writers, and produce work based on those experiences.

Workshops (12 credits)


In each workshop, students are able to submit their work for critiques and discussion by the faculty and their peers. These discussions are conducted online. There are online discussions every week of the term, and a faculty member leads and participates in each one.

Additionally, students complete writing exercises assigned by their instructor throughout the term. These short assignments help students to develop new techniques to use in their writing.

Practicums (12 Credits)


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 to accommodate their work and family schedules. For students outsider the Philadelphia area meetings can be held via Skype or Face Time.

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 their writing.

Literature Courses (6 Credits)


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