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Degree Criteria

Degree Criteria for the MFAW

The core of your MFAW study will be creative work. You will graduate from Goddard with a complete, thoroughly revised draft of a creative manuscript, as well as a deep connection with a group of writing peers. Studies in literature and a teaching practicum bolster your creative course of study.

Creative Work

Creative writing is, naturally, the backbone of the MFA in Creative Writing program. You may arrive at Goddard with only the beginnings of an idea for a creative project, but you will leave with a full-length manuscript in the genre of your choice. The bulk of your work at Goddard will be your creative manuscript: a novel, a book of poems, a play, a screenplay, a graphic novel, a collection of short stories, or a hybrid text.

During the first three semesters, your writing will consist of new work and revision based on feedback from faculty advisors and peers. You may experiment with different genres and methods, but by your final semester, semester four, you will submit two drafts of a completed manuscript--one for your advisor and one for a second faculty reader charged to review your thesis. 

You will be encouraged and supported to share your work at informal and formal readings throughout the residencies, and you will read from your final manuscript at the Graduating Student Readings during the Commencement Residency .

Literature Component

You will read and annotate between forty-five and sixty texts from a reading list you design yourself, primarily from your own genre, with attention to issues of period, gender, genre, and multiculturalism. In brief annotations, you will look at literature from either a scholar’s or a crafter’s perspective. Two years at Goddard will leave you well-read and well-versed in the form you have chosen.

Critical Work

Critical writing forms an essential component of the MFAW program and is incorporated into your studies organically. By honing your ability to critique and analyze published work, you leave Goddard better prepared to look critically at your own.

You are required to complete between forty-five and sixty annotations prior to graduation. Annotations are brief (approximately two pages), focused, critical responses to selected texts on your reading list.  

In addition to annotations, you must complete two short (5-page) and one long (20-page) critical papers on texts or literary ideas that pique your interest. In the long critical paper, you are expected to use at least two secondary sources, to closely examine one or more literary texts, and to develop your topic over the course of several drafts shared with your advisor.

Teaching Practicum

Many students seek an MFA in Creative Writing in part for its usefulness in acquiring teaching jobs. To better prepare our graduates to teach, Goddard includes a Teaching Practicum as a degree requirement. Like any skill, teaching requires practice. Learning to teach while still in the tutelage of skilled faculty advisors helps to create new teachers who are confident and well-trained. The practicum also gives experienced teachers a chance to experiment with new teaching techniques or new curriculum ideas in an environment where they can consult with a mentor.

The practicum includes a minimum of 15 hours of teaching of creative writing, a teaching essay, and the compilation of a teaching packet. The teaching practicum, held in your own community, can take place in a broad range of settings from community colleges and four-year institutions to libraries, senior centers, youth groups, retreat centers, community organizations, or prisons, for example.

Students electing to pursue Vermont teacher licensure are also required to participate in supervised student teaching under the auspices of Goddard‘s Education and Licensure program.

Graduating Student Reading and Panel

As part of the degree requirements, you must present your work to the Goddard community in a public reading of your creative manuscript. Each graduating student will read for the same amount of time, to be determined by the program director as part of residency planning. You will also be encouraged to offer a workshop or to be a member of the Graduating Student Panel. Participation in the panel is optional.