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Breiseth Hall • 570-408-4235(T) • 570-408-7846 (F) • Email

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. The M.F.A. generally takes three or four years to complete. The M.A. can be finished in as short as eighteen months and enables students to advance professionally through attainment of an advanced degree such as the PhD.   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.

What is a low-residency program?
A low-residency program requires only limited (but intense) periods on campus. The bulk of the work for the Wilkes program  is submitted from the comfort of home via the Internet, as mailing is time-consuming, expensive, and cumbersome. The M.A./M.F.A. in Creative Writing was specifically created as an online program so students could interact easily with their instructors and among themselves from anywhere in the world where the Internet can be accessed.

What kind of technology is needed to complete the program?
A relatively new PC, or a Mac, is required, one that you can access 24/7. It should have a fairly new WORD program on it. You also need your own Internet connection. Please visit the technical services area of our site for technical specifications.

What kinds of creative writing does the program offer?
Students can select : creative nonfiction, fiction, playwrighting, poetry, and screenwriting. Students take foundation courses in areas of study.

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.

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).

Will participation in the Program interfere with my job?
During the online project semesters, full-time students can expect to spend 20-25 hours a week on Program 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.

Who teaches in the Program?
All faculty members are working writers whose work has been produced or published. Some of the writers are also college teachers. Others are working professionals in film, theater or publishing. Only two of the approximately thirty faculty members also have permanent appointments at Wilkes.

Several faculty members have published several books or had as many plays or screenplays produced, or published long and/or short works of creative nonfiction. The same is true for the program’s Advisory Board, which includes Pulitzer Prize-winning nonfiction writers and novelists; National Book Award-nominated poets; Academy Award-nominated screenplay and stage play writers; agents and editors. 

The Advisory Board have given readings at Wilkes; all are available for consultation with the Program Director. Once every eighteen months, they are all 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.

Will I have access to my instructors’ personal e-mail addresses?
No. Students will interact with their instructors and other students in the WebCT environment. They will go to the Wilkes website and from there will log into WebCT using individual passwords. Once in WebCT, students can engage in chat sessions, post some assignments on a bulletin board, and e-mail others directly to their 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.

Who will see the creative work that I produce?
The course instructors will see all of 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 your past instructors, your fellow students, the Program Director and a professional agent, director, editor, or producer from the literary world.

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. Two students in the first class will publish books this year -- a collection of poetry and a novel. About one-third of those enrolled have not published any creative work and submit papers written as undergrad assignments, unpublished narratives, poems, and/or plays. However, those accepted have all demonstrated high motivation and talent in their creative sample and admissions essay, respectively.

What is a mentor writer?
Mentor writers are published writers, affiliated with the Program, who work closely with students on their MA 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.

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 have scholarship money available for writing students.

How can I apply for a graduate assistantship?
A limited number of GA (graduate assistant) positions are available, but are contigent upon enrollment numbers.  For detailed information, see our financial aid page and contact the Program Director.

Can I transfer credits earned another graduate program to the Wilkes M.A./M.F.A.?
In a word, no. The Program is still too new to transfer graduate credits, especially if they aren’t writing-based. However, previous graduate experience can help current 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.

Residency-based questions
How many residencies are there and are they required?
Eight-day residencies are offered every January and June. All students must complete four of them and cannot enroll in any other course 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 are taking 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 addtional year.

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 nine in the morning and continues until nine or ten at night.

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 twenty miles are not required to stay on campus.

updated 08.29.05

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