The Fall semester has begun here at Converse, and everyone is back to work. The summer-empty parking lot is now at capacity, phones are ringing, keyboards are clicking, and everyone has that shell-shocked What-happened-to-my-summer look.
EXCEPT in the MFA office.
Inquires, applications, and phone calls are rolling in, and we get excited about each and every one. We can’t wait to meet our next batch of poets and prose writers, memoirists and YA authors. So if you want to join us in January 2019, be sure to get your application materials sent in by October 1, 2018. I mean, where else can you have a New Year’s Eve reading that includes party hats and noisemakers?
Up until now, if you were pursuing an MFA through our program, you had to choose one genre for your entire course of study. While you certainly got to dip your toes into other genres during the craft lectures and readings, a poet who likes to write short stories as well, didn’t have an option to workshop those stories. So, applicants to our program had to pick a direction and stick with it.
We are now offering a second option. For those students wishing to pursue a minor in a second genre (fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction), they can now choose to study an additional semester in a second genre. Here is how it will work:
The second genre option (minor) reflects the MFA program’s continued mission to develop strong writers and highly prepared higher education faculty. Many college-level creative writing programs and departments today are seeking writing faculty with backgrounds in writing and teaching in multiple genres. The newly approved second genre option provides enrolled Converse MFA students the opportunity to study a second genre in addition to the major genre of study. Students applying for approval to study in a second genre will enroll in an additional semester in the MFA program and complete an additional 12 semester hours. For students enrolling in the second genre option, the total number of graduate hours would increase from 48 hours to 60 credit hours. This new option gives our students who are interested and equipped for graduate level work in a genre outside of their primary genre of study an opportunity to develop as a more well-rounded author, and will help our graduates excel in an ever more competitive publishing marketplace and in the academic job market.
Second genre students who are admitted will complete a full residency and mentoring semester in one of the three second genre options (fiction, poetry, or nonfiction). During the second-genre residency/semester which will take place in the student’s 3rd semester, students participate in the residency workshop in their second genre of interest (fiction, poetry, or nonfiction); and during the mentoring semester immediately following that residency, students complete creative and critical craft work in that second genre under the guidance of a mentor with a specialty in that genre. Again, this option adds one residency and one semester (a total of 12 credit hours) to a student’s total program of study and earns the student recognition in a second genre in poetry, fiction, or nonfiction which is documented on the final transcript. The second genre emphasis will lengthen the program for those second genre option students from four full semesters to five full semesters (including residency sessions at the beginning of each semester). The five-day, Graduating Residency requirements will not change, but will continue as usual and will follow the student’s final creative thesis semester.
Since it is highly important for students to first establish themselves and make positive progress in the MFA program and in the study of their primary genre before broadening out, enrolled MFA students are eligible for the second genre study option only during their third residency/mentoring semester (in other words, before the Critical Essay semester; both the Critical Essay and the Creative Thesis must be completed in the student’s primary genre in the final two semesters of the program).
Second Semester Converse MFA students intending to enroll in a second genre may apply for admission in a secondary genre residency/semester by one of the following dates: February 15 for students enrolling in their third semester during the summer residency/fall mentoring semester, or October 1 for students enrolling in their third semester during the January residency/spring mentoring semester. To apply for the second genre option, students submit a writing sample in the genre of interest (10 pages of poetry or 15 pages of nonfiction or fiction) along with a brief cover letter indicating the student’s desire to study a specific second genre. This is sent to the MFA director who then consults with relevant faculty. Director and faculty approval is required for this option. Students are expected to write at an appropriate level for graduate study in that second genre.
The MFA faculty are very excited to offer this new opportunity to our students. While not all of our students will be interested or prepared for second genre studies, and many students will recognize that focusing on a single genre will be their best path, we are pleased that this is now an opportunity for our students who have the ability and desire to pursue graduate studies in two genres.
Like I said, it’s an exciting time to apply to the Converse College Low-Residency Program. So send us your best writing because we can’t wait to read it.