MFA in Writing

The goal of all creative writing, Rilke tells us, is to change our lives. Over and over, our students tell us that the MFA in Writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts has changed their lives, that they have never encountered such dedicated faculty, that they learn more in two years with us than they have in their lifetime, that they don’t want to leave this “magical” place…and we understand what they mean.

Our 32+ years of experience in low-residency education in writing have allowed us to create what The Atlantic, Poets & Writers rankings and, most importantly, our graduates, have consistently called “the best of the best.”


We believe that art takes the form of a series of conversations over time. We ask, what makes you a great writer? We step back and let the rethinking of the world, the re-constituting of self, and the resulting deep sense of connection to humanity take place.

The creation and appreciation of art is universal across continents, cultures and classes, and at the same time is intensely personal. The arts are a medium for intellectual and moral inquiry, a way of exploring the meaning of memory and tradition, and of charting the inner, subjective surfaces of human experience. Just as the medical sciences are devoted to extending and improving the quality of life, the arts help us to understand the essential reasons for that life, the deeper values, visions and commitments that sustain our will to survive. 

But does that make it worth studying, worth funding, worth doing? Does art matter? At Vermont College of Fine Arts, for our students and faculty, the answer is always "yes."

Our students tell us that the low-residency MFA in Writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts has transformed them, that in two years they’ve evolved, redefined themselves, continually committing to asking and answering the quintessential questions: does art matter? What makes a great writer? What makes me a great writer? Our students tell us that the MFA in Writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts has prepared them for a new future, has given them confidence in their individual vision of the world and courage to give voice to that vision. 

New students tell us they’re glad they’ve discovered VCFA; our graduates say they’re trying to find their way to Vermont College of Fine Arts all over again. 

Our students tell us that they’ve discovered the tools they need to face—head-on—the human experience and transform it into art, and that they now know how to carry on as a writers and teachers and humans, awake in the world.

John Abernathy, Nicole Chu, Monica Lee Copeland and Rigoberto Gonzalez discuss what they love about the MFA in Writing program at VCFA:

Program Faculty

Cynthia Huntington

Cynthia Huntington

Faculty, CNF/Poetry

Martha Southgate, Visting Faculty, MFA in Writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts

Martha Southgate

Faculty, Fiction

Patrick Madden, VCFA Writing Program

Patrick Madden

Faculty, CNF

Visiting Writers

Alison Bechdel, photo copyright Elena Seibert

Alison Bechdel

Visiting Creative Nonfiction Writer, Summer 2016

Joy Castro

Joy Castro

Visiting Fiction/Creative Nonfiction Writer, Winter 2016

Major Jackson

Major Jackson

Distinguished Visiting Poet, Winter 2016


MFA in Writing Residency

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.

MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults Residency

The ten-day residency is a vibrant whirlwind of workshops, lectures, panels, discussions, and readings by faculty, graduating students, and visiting writers and illustrators.

Graduate Studies in Art & Design Education Summer Residency

Our Art Education programs offer month-long summer residencies on VCFA’s beautiful Montpelier campus, along with ongoing coursework and mentorship throughout the year. The low-residency model allows students to earn advanced degrees without leaving the communities where they live and work.

Master of Arts in Art & Design Education (MAADE) Summer Residency

Students converge on our Vermont campus for a 4-week summer residency. This offers each cohort a chance to meet, collaborate, and create the kind of community that’s so important for educators. Summer residencies include coursework, workshops, symposia, and research opportunities.


VCFA, Bear Pond Books Host M.T. Anderson Reading, Musical Performance

Anderson will read from his latest book. A string quartet performance will follow.