The Master of Fine Arts in Writing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts allows students to earn a 64-credit MFA degree over a period of two years through a combination of ten-day, on-campus residencies followed by six-month semesters of self-created study, supported and guided by a faculty mentor.
Writing students focus on fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction and may opt for a special concentration in translation as well. There are also opportunities for dual-genre and cross-discipline study, including Writing for Children & Young Adults.
The ten-day residency is a vibrant time of workshops, seminars, lectures, discussions, and readings by faculty, graduating students, and visiting writers from all over the country. Students participate in small, intensive, faculty-guided workshops in which each writer’s work is carefully examined. Special workshops are regularly offered in translation, the novel, and other focused topics. Students and faculty eat together in the Dewey Cafeteria, stay together in campus dorms, and find plenty of opportunities for informal exchange over coffee, in the VCFA bookstore, or on our comfortable grassy quad.
Residency allows students to spend time immersed in an idyllic writer’s life in the small town of Montpelier, Vermont, in historic Slovenia for a summer residency, or in the culturally-rich landscape of Puerto Rico for a winter residency.
The diversity of perspectives, attitudes, and voices in the MFA in Writing program is exceptional. Students are challenged, inspired, and affirmed by this tight-knit, nonhierarchical community of writers working toward a common goal, a group whose powerful friendships and artistic support systems endure long past graduation.
Our 5:1 student-faculty ratio guarantees a high level of individual attention and fosters close relationships between students and faculty mentors. Residencies are the time for students to choose their faculty advisor, develop a unique individualized study plan for the coming semester, and gain both direction and inspiration for the work ahead. Students generally choose a different advisor for each semester, ensuring a wide range of input and the benefit of informing their studies with each faculty member’s expertise.
The MFA in Writing Program is housed on the historic Vermont College of Fine Arts campus in Montpelier, Vermont. The campus is a five-minute walk from downtown Montpelier, the picturesque and architecturally beautiful state capital. The smallest state capital in the United States, Montpelier offers a pace of life both informal and sophisticated. Excellent restaurants, movie theaters, bookstores and a variety of shops make it a great place to shop and relax. If students are inclined to enjoy outdoor activities, they can find excellent camping, biking, fishing and touring within minutes of downtown. Students stay in dormitories on campus, or in local B&Bs or downtown hotels if they choose. The campus houses the Gary Library, as well as a computer lab that is available 24 hours a day. Food service for the campus is catered by The New England Culinary Institute.
Following residency, students return home, ready to devote a minimum of 25 hours per week to the semester’s self-created reading and writing curriculum.
Semester study plans are designed around students’ individual goals and passions, and are born out of intensive dialogue with faculty mentors. While the semester’s work is termed “independent study,” students are closely supervised every step of the way and maintain a constant dialogue with faculty and peers.
The main focus of the semester is creative work, supplemented by reading and critical analysis appropriate to individual backgrounds, interests, and needs. Students send “packets” of creative and critical writing to their faculty mentor every month, and our faculty tailor their feedback and critique to meet the student’s individual needs. Each member of our faculty is highly invested in student success and artistic growth, and students feel both challenged and supported by the sustained dialogue with writers of national reputation.
Our mentorship model is meant to provide students with the crucial combination of solitude and community artists need. After the excitement and intensity of residency, the semester provides a welcome change: concentrated periods of reading and reflection; focused, on-going dialogue with a mentor; and hours and hours of writing.
Students are typically accepted into the MFA program to study poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. Exceptional writers may be accepted in two genres. Dual-genre candidates must complete a five-semester course of study and creative theses in both genres. Dual-genre study may include study in the Writing for Children and Young Adults Program.
Students may also apply for a Cross-Discipline Semester that allows them to explore another genre for a term without completing an additional thesis. Cross-Discipline studies can include study in the Writing for Children & Young Adults Program.
866-934-8232, ext. 8840
Assistant Program Director
866-934-8232, ext. 8839
Director of Student Recruitment
866-934-8232, ext. 8589
- Summer-Fall 2016: June 25 – July 6, 2016
- Winter-Spring 2017: December 28, 2016 – January 8, 2017
- Click here for a sample residency schedule, July 2013
Learn more about our philosophy and focus of each genre:
Postgraduate Writing Opportunities
Translation Study Opportunities
“The goal of all creative writing, Rilke tells us, is to change our lives. In the nearly thirty years that I have taught at Vermont College of Fine Arts, I have seen time and again how indelibly the MFA in Writing Program has transformed budding writers' lives--simply (and mysteriously) by helping them to realize their potential as artists. This seems to me a small but crucially good thing in this world, a world very much in need of the virtues good writing can offer it."
– David Wojahn, Faculty Chair, MFA in Writing