Wilkes University

FAQs

Program-based questions

Residency-based questions

Program-based questions

What is the difference between the M.A. (Master of Arts) in Creative Writing and the M.F.A. (Master of Fine Arts)?
Wilkes offers both the M.A. and the M.F.A. in Creative Writing. The main difference between the two is that the M.F.A. is a terminal degree and the M.A. isn't.

Our M.A. is a 30-credit program and can be finished in as little as 18 months. It also enables students to pursue an advanced degree such as an M.F.A. or Ph.D.  In order to qualify for the M.F.A. in Creative Writing at Wilkes, you first need to complete the M.A. course work in our program.

At Wilkes, the M.F.A. in Creative Writing is an optional continuation of the M.A. and is an additional 18 credits above the 30 required credits of the M.A. It is also a low-residency program. Students interested in the Master of Fine Arts MUST first complete the Wilkes M.A. in Creative Writing and may apply for admission into the M.F.A. no earlier than the last term of the M.A.

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What is a low-residency program?
A low-residency program requires only limited (but intense) periods on campus. In our program, two eight-day residencies are held each year: one in June and one in January. The bulk of the work for the program is completed during online project terms that fall in between the residencies. The M.A./M.F.A. in Creative Writing was specifically created as an online program so students could interact easily with instructors and peers from anywhere in the world.

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What kind of technology is needed to complete the program?
A reliable computer and Microsoft Word is required.  You will also need an Internet connection.

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What kinds of creative writing does the program offer?
Students can select creative nonfiction, fiction, playwriting, poetry, and screenwriting. Since 2014, students may also choose to pursue a M.A. in Publishing or in Making Documentary Film. All students who are accepted to the Wilkes M.A,/M.F.A. programs take the first nine credits, which are a three-credit residency and  two foundation courses (creative nonfiction, fiction, playwriting, poetry or screenwriting), which are each three credits. It is at the second residency that students choose one of the creative writing genres or publishing or making documentary film.

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Is a final project required for the M.A.?
Yes, each student must produce a final manuscript under the direction of an advisor who, with the program director, must approve it. A professional agent, director, editor or producer, depending on the area, will also evaluate the thesis.

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How many credits are required?
The M.A. requires 30 credits for completion. Students earn three credits for each of the four residencies, for a total of 12, and six for each of the three online project semesters, for a total of 18.

The M.F.A. requires an additional 18 credits for completion (15 online project semester credits and three residency credits).

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Will participation in the Program interfere with my job?
During the online project semesters, full-time students can expect to spend 20 to 25 hours a week on assignments. The residencies require a full-time commitment of eight days twice each year.

Part-time students will spend about half as much time during the online project semesters, although the residency commitments are the same.

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Who teaches in the program?

Faculty members have published many books or had plays or screenplays produced. Some of the writers are also college teachers. Others are working professionals in film, theater or publishing. Only two of the approximately 30 faculty members also have permanent appointments at Wilkes.

The same is true for the program's advisory board, which was founded by Norman Mailer, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist. Board members include 2009 National Book Award winner Colum McCann (Let the Great World Spin); Academy Award-winning producer Robert May (The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara); Los Angeles producer Susan Cartsonis (What Women Want, The Truth About Cats and Dogs, Beastly); and many accomplished play writers, agents and editors.

Advisory board members have given readings at Wilkes; all are available for consultation with the program director. Once every 18 months, they are invited to campus for briefings and consultation. All are aware of the program's mission and act as ambassadors for the program to the larger literary community.

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Will I have access to my instructors’ personal e-mail addresses?
No. Students will interact with their instructors and other students in the Desire to Learn LIVE environment. They will log into LIVE using individual passwords. Once in LIVE, students can engage in chat sessions, post assignments on a bulletin board, and e-mail instructors. All students will also have the personal e-mail and telephone number of Dr. Culver, program director, in case they have problems or need counsel.

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Who will see the creative work that I produce?
Course instructors will see your work, as will the program director. Some of your work will be shared with other students, as your instructor determines. Your thesis will be read by past instructors, fellow students, the program director and a professional agent, director, editor or producer from the literary world.

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Do students currently enrolled in the program have publishing credits?
Many students have already published creative work in literary journals, student magazines and other periodicals before matriculating. Other have made short films or had plays produced. About one-third of those enrolled have not published any creative work; they submit papers written as undergraduate assignments or unpublished narratives, poems and/or plays. However, those accepted have all demonstrated high motivation and talent in their creative sample and admissions essay.

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What is a mentor writer?
Mentors are published writers who work closely with students on their M.A. theses. These writers may or may not teach one of the foundation courses. Some members of the advisory board have also indicated that they will work with individual students.

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How can I receive financial aid?
Federal, private, and state loans are available to any Wilkes M.A./M.F.A. student; please see our financial aid page for more information. We also have scholarship money available for writing students.

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How can I apply for a graduate assistantship?
A limited number of graduate assistant positions are available, but are contingent upon enrollment numbers.  For detailed information, see our financial aid page and contact the program director.

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Can I transfer credits earned another graduate program to the Wilkes M.A./M.F.A.?
No. However, previous graduate experience can help students reach their goals confidently. Also, the Wilkes M.A. /M.F.A. can be completed in less time than those offered by many other creative writing programs. For more information on this subject, please contact the program director.

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Residency-based questions

How many residencies are there and are they required?
Eight-day residencies take place every January and June. All students must complete four residencies and cannot enroll in other courses until the first residency is completed. Students may take the four residencies in succession or skip one or more, as long as they complete four within a six-year period for the M.A. Because they are usually required to be in the classroom in mid-January, some schoolteachers take four successive June residencies. Many students plan to complete a residency every six months, which will permit them to finish the degree in less than two years.  The M.F.A. add-on to the M.A. means one additional residency and full-time completion of the program in at least an additional year.

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How intense are the residencies?
Very, but they are also stimulating and enjoyable. There are several communal lunches and dinners and a lot of informal interaction with other writers, as well as a series of craft and skill exercises, panel discussions, and nightly faculty readings. Each day begins at 9 a.m. and continues until 9 or 10 p.m.

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Are there on campus dining and living arrangements?
Yes, students eat most of their meals in the Henry Student Center and stay overnight in campus residence halls or nearby hotels. Students who live within 20 miles are not required to stay on campus.

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