A low student–faculty ratio ensures that you’ll receive close attention and that your individual skills, talents, and artistic vision will be nurtured. Each faculty member supervises five writers through written correspondence, online communication, oral tapes, and/or telephone conferences during the semester. Compared to traditional classroom programs, our low-residency model actually provides considerably more individualized feedback on your writing.
As a student in the MFA in Writing Program, you will convene with other writers twice each year for intensive 10-day residencies. You will participate in small, intensive, faculty-guided workshops in which each writer’s work is carefully examined. Special workshops are offered in translation, the novel, and other focused topics. In addition to workshops, daily seminars, lectures, and discussions, as well as readings by faculty, graduating students, and visiting writers from all over the country, students engage in formal and informal exchanges in a supportive writing community. Here, everyone is participating in a nonhierarchical learning environment, exploring issues of craft and preparing individual study projects for the ensuing semester. This experience allows you to spend time immersed solely in the writer’s life as you attend these events in the idyllic small town of Montpelier, Vermont, or the beautiful, historic country of Slovenia for a summer residency or a winter residency in the culturally-rich landscape of Puerto Rico. On the Vermont College campus, you may stay in dormitories or elect to stay in a local B&B or downtown hotel. The campus houses the Gary Library, as well as a computer lab that is available 24 hours a day. Food service for the campus is catered by The New England Culinary Institute.
While the semester’s work is termed “independent study,” you are closely supervised every step of the way and maintain a constant dialogue with faculty and quite often with your peers, thereby making the study truly collaborative. Reading and critical analysis appropriate to individual backgrounds, interests, and needs expand your writing skills and critical judgment. Throughout the four semester projects, you will take an active role in shaping your own curriculum, while participating in sustained dialogue with writers of national reputation. Faculty tailor their work with each student individually, based on each person’s needs and development, as well as their own teaching styles. You are expected to devote a minimum of 25 hours per week to your program studies.
The first and second semesters concentrate primarily on writing, reading, and critical thinking. The third semester requires, in addition to the ongoing focus on writing and reading, a 5,000-word critical thesis. With counsel from your faculty advisor, you will determine a subject and outline an in-depth study on an aspect of writing or literature of particular interest to you. In the fourth semester, you will compile a book-length manuscript of writing completed while in the program, as well as prepare a lecture on a subject of your choice and a reading of your own creative work, both to be presented at the final residency.
Successful graduates of VCFA's MFA in Writing Program achieve three learning goals:
· Creative ability in the field, both technical and aesthetic
· Knowledge of the literature or “culture” of the field
· Critical ability in the field
Because all VCFA students are artists, there are substantial differences in the ways they pursue these goals. Written semester “Study Plans” keep each student working toward published goals and requirements while interpreting these through personal aspirations and learning needs.
Learn more about our philosophy and focus of each genre:
Each successfully completed semester is granted 16 hours of graduate credit. To fulfill the requirements of the Master of Fine Arts in Writing, writers must complete four six-month semesters and five residencies, for a total of 64 credits. Dual-genre and translation students will complete five semesters and six residencies for a total of 80 credits.