MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults
The first MFA in the country to focus exclusively on writing for young readers, the Writing for Children & Young Adults program is a diverse and dynamic community of writers.
About the Program
Who is it for?
The program is ideal for those who want to take an active role in shaping their own education in a model that balances rigorous academic critique with nurturing aesthetic support. At VCFA, you’ll develop a strong network of personal and professional connections with fellow students, alumnx, faculty, publishers, agents, and more.
How will your practice develop?
Residencies are a vibrant whirlwind of workshops, lectures, panels, discussions, and readings. Students and faculty share meals, stay together in campus dorms, and find plenty of opportunities to connect and collaborate.
During residencies, students also choose their faculty advisor and develop a unique study plan for the coming semester.
Students seeking an international experience may attend the program’s summer residency in England. Highlights include shared lectures and readings with Bath Spa University’s MA in Writing for Young People program, dining at Exeter College’s High Table (featured in the Harry Potter films), and a historical tour of children’s literature at Oxford University.
Post-residency, students return home to embark on the semester’s faculty-guided independent study project, putting in at least 25 hours a week. Students stay in close contact with their advisors, who review their work monthly and provide individualized feedback.
Our mentorship model provides more individualized feedback on student writing than most traditional classroom programs. Our faculty, students, and alumnx are at the center of a support network providing connections across every aspect of the field, from publishers and agents, to workshop leaders, teachers, and translators.
We teach every form written for young audiences, from picture books to mature young adult novels, and the diversity of faculty expertise reflects this breadth and depth of instruction. A 5:1 student-to-faculty ratio ensures close personal attention to nurture individual skills, talents, and artistic vision.
When VCFA realized in March that we would not be able to gather for residencies on campus, staff and faculty came together to create remote residencies, making sure students would not miss either the intense learning and sharing that happen during residencies or the meaningful opportunities to connect. Visit our Remote Residencies page to learn more!
Individualized Semester Study
A VCFA student’s home workspace can take many forms. Students tailor their offices and writing spaces to their own creative needs and availability, and the results are engaging and diverse
Lakita Wilson | 2020 MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults
“When I write, I nestle into the corner nook of my couch wearing my favorite onesie because I have to be as comfortable as possible to let the words flow. Right now, I’m working on a middle-grade story about friendships and misunderstandings.”
Elisa Zied | 2020 MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults
“I’m working on two contemporary YA novels — one that I drafted during NaNoWriMo in 2018, and one that has been a (much) longer labor of love. My home office is spacious and bright, and I have everything from my laptop and fresh flowers to mugs filled with my favorite pens and books at my fingertips. And it’s great for writing dates too, since there’s a chair on the other side of the desk.”
Debra Rook | 2019 MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults
“For me, low residency is my only option to earn my MFA, and I am grateful for the compassion and flexibility of VCFA. I don’t have a creative work space. I make space to work however I can so I can be creative. . . . VCFA gave me the gift of low residency. They said ‘you can because you will,’ so I did even when I couldn’t. That’s what the program is to me—an artist’s lifeline.”
In Conversation: Kathi Appelt & Marion Dane Bauer
Katherine Paterson Chair
In 2018, VCFA established the Katherine Paterson Endowed Chair & Faculty Development Fund to support the WCYA program’s greatest asset: its award-winning faculty.
By the Numbers
Check out Wild Things, the WCYA program’s blog, to hear directly from students , discover our award-winning faculty, and learn why you belong at VCFA.
Can I do this program online?
No, this is not an online program. VCFA’s MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults is a low-residency program. You come to campus for 10 days, twice a year. The rest of the work is done from where you work and live, and work is shared with your advisor through an online platform.
Learn more about our low-residency model.
I have a family/full-time job or both. Can I do this program?
Actually, this program was created for those of us who can’t pull up our lives, move to a campus across the country, and live there for two years. Most of our students are juggling varying responsibilities and are hoping to deepen their craft while meeting their obligations. The low-residency model makes that possible, and the faculty and other students totally understand the struggles. You’ll learn tricks and habits that will help you build the writers’ life you want.
Learn more about our low-residency model.
Will this program help me get published?
Again, yes and no. The two years of the program are all about craft. The faculty will want you to stay focused on your writing, not the business. They believe that the best way to get published is to be the strongest writer you can be. But in the last semester of your program you can begin exploring next steps with your faculty. In addition, since students come in at all different points in their career, you will learn much from your fellow students and visiting writers along the way. A degree from VCFA opens doors in the publishing industry because the gatekeepers know the quality of the work that comes from our alumnx.
How does VCFA’s program differ from similar ones out there?
Founded in 1997, ours was the first academic program dedicated exclusively to writing for children and young adults. We are experts in the model, the style of education, and the field. So many of the finest writers have passed through our doors as students, faculty, and visiting writers that our program is a veritable who’s who of children’s literature. Our location on a hill in beautiful Montpelier, Vermont, is a bonus, as is our fabulous optional summer residency in Oxford and Bath, England. Our faculty comprises award-winning authors who are experts in helping writers deepen their craft while respecting their individual voice.
Learn more about our residencies abroad.