MFAW in Creative Writing
Get Your MFA at Goddard
Learn the craft of creative writing one-on-one with advisors—all of whom are working writers--who specialize in the genre you’re passionate about. Meet twice yearly for intensive residencies in either rural Vermont or on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Return home with a book list designed specifically for you and a comprehensive plan to produce your creative thesis. Stay in close contact with your advisor during the semester with packets that explore your craft in great detail. Return to residencies to reconnect with your advisors and a diverse community of fellow student writers. Conduct a teaching practicum of your own design in your own community. Graduate with a novel, collection of stories or poems, screenplay, collection of plays, memoir, graphic novel script, or practically any creative writing project you can imagine.
Maybe you’ve got an idea for a novel you’re dying to write. Or you’re unsure how to start your memoir. Or maybe you’re hoping to find a way to tame the poems that seem to spring out of you when you least expect it. Whatever you’re writing, you’ll have the opportunity to hone your craft with the individualized guidance of faculty advisors who specialize in your genre. Engage in an ongoing, semester-long dialogue with a novelist about structure, pacing, and plot. Dig into the language of poems you hadn’t read a month ago but now can’t imagine living without. Or map your character arcs with a playwright whose latest work just opened to great acclaim.
Every advisor in Goddard’s MFA program is a published writer actively working in his or her genre. They ask you questions about your craft that haven’t occurred to you, assign books that will feed and provoke your creativity, and guide you through the process of writing a manuscript-length thesis. Learn more about our faculty.
Twice a year you’ll travel to either Plainfield, Vermont or Port Townsend, Washington to attend an eight-day residency. You get to choose which location you’re going to commit to during the application process. The Vermont campus, located just outside Montpelier, is a sprawling former farm with a manor garden, woods, and period architecture. Port Townsend’s campus is located at Fort Worden, a former Victorian-era Army base with beaches, trails, and a seaside town within walking distance.
When you arrive at your first residency, you’re paired with a faculty advisor who helps you craft your individualized study plan. Your study plan consists of your semester’s assignments and book list—all of it tailored to your specific ambitions and interests. During the residencies you attend workshops, readings by faculty and graduating students, and other events designed to inspire your best work.
Goddard students are truly extraordinary. The MFA Creative Writing program attracts a diverse student body from all over the country, and it’s not unusual for students to live and work overseas. In workshops, after-hours salons, during meals, after readings, and in long walks in the woods you’ll engage in lively discussions and forge friendships to last you long after graduation.
As a student in the Goddard MFA Creative Writing program you’ll produce both creative and critical writing. Every three weeks you’ll submit a packet of your work to your advisor. This packet can contain a new chapter of your novel, a revision of a short story, poems you’re working on, an analysis of Herman Melville’s voice in Moby Dick, a reflective personal essay on an important event in your life, a long essay on the works of Elizabeth Bishop, new scenes from your screenplay—basically anything related to what you’re reading and your own writing process. You’ll also include a process letter detailing your artistic concerns, your epiphanies, and your increasingly sophisticated questions.
When your advisor gets your packet, he or she puts on a pot of coffee and gets down to work, suggesting places to cut your story, highlighting a particularly excellent passage where you revealed a character in a whole new light, gently challenging your assumptions about a particular novel, proposing strategies to develop your work in ways you hadn’t imagined.
When you receive your advisor’s response, you get a lengthy, single-spaced letter, notes in your margins, and lots of new questions that you’ll carry around with you while you complete work on your next packet. Your advisor is more than a teacher who dispenses one-size-fits-all writing advice; he or she is invested in helping you realize your individual creative vision.
Teaching and Publishing
One of the most unique and rewarding components of Goddard’s MFA Creative Writing program is the teaching practicum. Whether or not you decide to pursue a career as a teacher after Goddard, the practicum gives you the tools you need to use writing as a way to connect with your community. Goddard students have conducted their practicums in grade schools, retirement communities, and colleges. They’ve designed courses in memoir writing, graphic novels, revising screenplays, and short stories. Since the MFA is a terminal degree (it’s the highest degree you can attain in the field) you’re qualified to teach in any number of universities, colleges, and schools once you’ve graduated.
Publishing is an important part of the writing life, and Goddard provides you an opportunity to experience the joys and challenges of editing with the student-run Pitkin Review literary journal. Publishing workshops are offered at every residency. And be sure to check out our alumni publications page for books published by Goddard MFA graduates.
Want to learn more? Contact our admissions office. They’ll be more than happy to answer your questions and provide more detailed information about the program.
Ready to apply? Apply now.