If you love creative writing and want to study the craft at an advanced level, but lack the resources to pursue your dreams, you can consider applying for MFA in creative writing scholarships.
Many schools offer MFA in creative writing scholarships to selected students that meet their requirements. Unfortunately, many aspiring writers have little or no knowledge of how creative writing scholarships work.
What is MFA in Creative Writing?
A Master’s degree in Fine Arts (MFA) in a creative writing program helps writers learn the theoretical framework and practical skills required to build a successful career in writing.
Writers can learn a lot from creative writing programs. Apart from meeting and learning from other talented writers, the program exposes you to the knowledge you need to sharpen your writing skills.
Getting a scholarship for an MFA in creative writing is no mean feat. However, with determination and careful planning, it is possible to put together an application that will get you accepted into a creative writing program.
This article will consider some of the most important things you need to know about an MFA in a creative writing program.
Types of MFA in Creative Writing Scholarships
There are many types of MFA in Creative Writing Scholarships,
Creative Writing—There are different genres of MFA in creative writing, like fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Some schools, however, combine different genres of creative writing.
Acting—An MFA in acting teaches students various acting theories and the various methods of successful acting.
Dance—An MFA in dance is for those interested in studying choreography and other kinds of dance performance. Some MFA dance programs focus on specific dances, while others do all types.
Filmmaking—This program is for those interested in the study of the skills needed to build a successful career in film and television.
Fashion Design—An MFA in fashion design helps students build skills to become fashion design professionals. The program exposes students to the various designs in the fashion industry.
Photography—MFA students studying photography learn the different theories and processes of photography.
Visual Arts—An MFA in visual arts exposes students to the theories and techniques of fields like sculpture, painting, drawing ceramics, and printmaking. Each MFA in the visual arts program has a specific area of focus.
Theater—A theater MFA program focuses on most of the work carried out behind the scenes in live productions.
Fully Funded MFA in Creative Writing Scholarships
Fully funded MFA in creative writing scholarships are those where students get a full tuition waiver, health care insurance and a stipend for the duration of the program.
The stipend offered to students is usually in exchange for a graduate teaching position or a research assistant.
Fully funded MFA programs are very competitive. Each school receives thousands of applications from all over the world.
Partially Funded MFA in Creative writing Scholarships
We describe MFA in creative writing scholarships as partially funded when the students pay some tuition or school fees.
Partially funded programs are different for various schools. In some schools, students pay tuition but receive some form of scholarship. In other schools, some students get scholarships while others are required to pay.
How Long Does MFA Programs Last?
MFA programs last between one to four years. The duration of an MFA program differs for schools. The shortest MFA programs last for only one year, while the longest can stretch for four years.
Short MFA programs of one or two years are for those in a hurry to finish grad school. The three and four years longer MFA programs are ideal for writers who want to have enough time to write.
Requirements for Applying to MFA Programs
The requirements for applying to MFA programs are slightly different for each university. But the following are the basic requirements for most MFA programs.
While a few schools do not ask for application fees for their MFA programs, the vast majority require varying amounts of application fees.
Some schools can waive the required application fees for some applicants in certain circumstances.
Another crucial requirement of some MFA programs is the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). The GRE is a multiple-choice, computer-based, standardized test for students applying for graduate studies. The GRE tests show a candidate’s ability in critical thinking, problem-solving, and written evaluation.
Every MFA program requires each candidate to submit written samples of their works. The writing sample is an opportunity for the program to assess your strength and whether you are a good fit for their program.
Letter of Recommendation
A letter of recommendation is a vital part of the requirements for students in graduate school. Someone who knows your writing qualities and ability to succeed in the program should write a letter of recommendation.
Statement of Purpose (SOP)
Your statement of purpose can make or mar your MFA application. Apart from your writing samples, the selection committee also assesses your personality. Most schools want writers who will fit in and contribute to the success of their MFA program. You should articulate how that particular MFA program can help you grow in your writing career. You can research and check out some successful statement of purpose examples.
An MFA in creative writing is a post-graduate program. The program will want an official transcript from the school where you completed your undergraduate studies.
Factors to Consider when Choosing an MFA Program
There are several factors to consider while choosing and applying to an MFA program.
Location of the School
Because an MFA can last as long as four years, it is essential to consider the location of the school that will be your new home. Many MFA students have had their program cut short because they could not cope with their new environment. The location of a school can affect your success as a student. If you are not happy with your school environment, your chances of success are slim.
The Length of the Program
Another thing to consider when choosing a school is the length of the MFA program. The shortest MFA programs are just for one year, while the more extensive programs can stretch up to four years.
The short programs focus on courses and workshops that will teach you the essential skills you require in building a successful writing career. The extensive programs will teach you writing skills and expose you to teaching and editorial works.
The Size of program
MFA programs differ in their sizes. Small MFA programs can be as small as 4, while the big ones can be as large as 40. The small-sized programs are more likely to be fully funded than others.
The smaller MFA programs are preferable if you want a more intimate relationship with the faculty members and the other writers.
The Funding Package
Another essential factor to consider is the funding package offered by an MFA program. If you lack the funds to support yourself in the program, you should consider the funding package of the school you wish to apply to. While some schools fund and provide stipends for their students all year round, others offer only partial funding.
The MFA Program Faculty
There are different genres of creative writing. It is vital to choose a program with lecturers who will help you develop your craft. For example, if you love speculative fiction, choose a program with lecturers experienced in that genre. So do your research and find out which program has professors and writers whose works are compatible with yours.
Another thing that can shape your choice of an MFA program is the career opportunities in the program. If you want to be a professional writer, you will want to look out for programs with a history of helping their students find agents that will work with them.
If you would like to pursue an academic career, you might do well to apply to programs that offer teaching-assistantship positions to their students.
The Cost of Living
Except funding is not your problem, you should consider the cost of living in the city where the school is located. The cost of living includes things like rent, utilities, food, and transportation.
A program with relatively high funding may not sustain you in a location where the cost of living is pretty high. Conversely, a program that offers a smaller funding package might be where the cost of living is low. Remember to do your math by cross-checking your earnings against what you will spend.
Diversity of the MFA program
Many experts believe that diverse MFA programs are better than homogeneous ones. Although it helps to have lecturers and students who understand you, it is also good to have a little diversity.
Being exposed to a program where the faculty and students are diverse will help you learn new things about your craft. You are likely to learn little or nothing when you choose a program where everyone shares a similar experience with you.
How to Survive an MFA Program
Getting admitted into an MFA program in creative writing is only the beginning of your journey in acquiring an advanced degree in writing.
Admission into an MFA program does not guarantee you will finish the program. There are several reasons many MFA in creative writing students drop out of the program.
To avoid dropping out of an MFA creative writing program, you must prepare to do the following:
Many things will make you question your decision to pursue a career as a creative writer. The pressure can be so much that you may consider leaving the program. Things will get tough. It is your perseverance that will keep you going.
Devote time to write
Remember that the primary purpose of an MFA program is to help you improve your writing. Like everything in life, there are distractions in MFA programs. If you do not prioritize and devote time to your writing, you may become overwhelmed by the workload.
Form a Support Group
There is a tendency for writers in your program to form cliques. Look for one or more writers to form a support group to encourage each other during the program. Members of your support group can help strengthen each other’s work before the writing workshop.
Go to writing events
There will be a lot of writing events. Some writing events will happen in your school, while others will hold outside your school and city.
Find time to attend as many of these writing events as possible. These writing events are an excellent opportunity for aspiring writers to meet principal actors in the industry. You never know when or where you will meet someone who will help catapult you to the top.
Benefits of an MFA Program
If you are wondering if you need an MFA in creative writing to be successful in your writing career, below are some benefits of an MFA program.
Valuable Feedback—One benefit of an MFA workshop is the opportunity of having your work critiqued by your colleagues and professors in a workshop. In an MFA workshop, the writer doesn’t talk but only listens to what others think about it until the end. Although listening to others critique your work can be difficult, it offers a great insight you can use to revise the work. Getting feedback from people from different cultural and historical backgrounds can be a great eye-opener on how to strike a balance in your work.
Creative Platform—An MFA creative writing program offers students an advanced education and a platform to hone their skills. The program not on provides writers with a structured program to write but exposes them to the expertise to succeed in the writing profession.
A Support Group—There is no better place to meet people who share the same passion for creative writing as you. The connections you will develop will be useful during the MFA program and also after you have finished school.
Final thoughts on MFA in Creative Writing Scholarships
Getting a scholarship for an MFA in a creative writing program can be a life-changing opportunity to kick-start your writing career.
But first, you must prepare yourself to learn all you need to know about MFA in creating writing and what to expect during the program.
The tips in this article will help those who want to pursue an advanced degree in creative writing but lack the required resources to apply for scholarships. This article also has tips on successfully navigating the murky waters of an MFA program.