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About the Program

Key Information

Residency Dates & Locations

  • Summer: July 13-21, 2024
    Colorado Springs, CO (Colorado College campus)
  • Winter 2025
    Valencia, CA (CalArts campus)

Admissions Info »

Angela Franklin
Associate Director of Admissions
[email protected]
Schedule a call

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?

Faculty and alumnx from the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults program are New York Times bestselling authors, National Book Award winners, and Caldecott, Newbery, and Coretta Scott King honorees. Our faculty are invested in strengthening your writing practice for the next two years and the rest of your life.

Virtual Information Session

Join us to learn more about the low residency MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults program and the application process. In these sessions we will discuss:

  •         MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults Overview
  •         What is Low Residency?
  •         Curriculum & Faculty Mentorship
  •         Preparing Your Application
  •         Q&A
Questions? Please email [email protected].

Click the link below to learn more and RSVP.

We get close with each other. We learn from each other. We support each other.
Alex Abraham | 2023


Experience VCFA’s low-residency model

VCFA’s academic calendar is divided into two semesters per year: a summer and winter semester respectively. Each semester begins with a 9-day residency that provides a vibrant whirlwind of workshops, lectures, panels, discussions, and readings. Students, faculty, and visiting writers come together to connect and collaborate.

During residencies, students also choose their faculty advisor and develop a unique, personalized study plan for the coming semester.

In addition to their kidlit community, students are on campus with our five other MFA programs during residency: Film, Graphic Design, Music Composition, Writing, and Visual Art. Each writer will have the opportunity during residency for interdisciplinary study, work, and networking. 

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, and a historical tour of children’s literature at Oxford University.

Upon completion of the two-year program, students will have attended five unique and invigorating residencies that guide their creative work while offering minimal disruption to their professional life and personal schedule.

WCYA offers dual-track residency options for all students. Students may elect to participate entirely in-person, or entirely in the cloud (remotely). Workshops are offered in each mode; all students and faculty in an in-person workshop will be in person, and all students and faculty in a cloud workshop will be in the cloud. Some residency events, such as lectures and readings, are hybrid, meaning that both in-person and cloud participants may attend. The program focuses on intentional community-building within these modes.

WCYA students are required to select a residency option three months prior to the residency. The number of cloud faculty will be determined by the number of students who select that mode. The entire staff and faculty of VCFA remain jointly committed to supporting these dual-track residencies and the needs of the students and faculty. It is important to note that all participating students and faculty are required to participate fully in all events at each residency, regardless of whether they are in person or in the cloud.


Mentorship & Individualized Study

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.

The MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults program teaches every form written for young audiences, from picture books to middle grade and young adult, 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.

Thoughtful and engaging exchanges with my advisors and my peers were everything. Finding your community of writers who will support and inspire you is the most valuable gift.

Bonnie Pipkin | 2014

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.


Nora Shalaway Carpenter & Rocky Callen, 2012 & 2019 MFA in WCYA

VCFA interviewed MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults alumnx Nora Shalaway Carpenter (WCYA ’12) and Rocky Callen (WCYA ’19) on their co-edited YA...

Lyn Miller-Lachmann, 2012 MFA in WCYA

VCFA alumnx Lyn Miller-Lachmann (WCYA ‘12) was awarded the distinguished Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature in the spring of 2023 for...

Program Blog

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.

By the Numbers

graduation rate
books published by the VCFA WCYA community in 2019
total published alumnx

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I do this program online?

Yes! VCFA’s MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults is a low-residency program, a hybrid between fully online programs and residential. During the program, you’ll attend five nine-day residencies—one at the start of each semester and one graduating residency. Each time, you’ll have the choice to attend on-campus or participate remotely. Some students travel to campus for every residency, while others choose to attend some or all of their residencies from home. Whichever option you choose, the rest of the semester work is done from where you live and 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?

Yes and no. The majority of your time spent in the program will be about craft. The faculty will want you to stay focused on your writing during the two-year program. They believe that the best way to get published is to be the strongest writer that you can be. A degree from VCFA opens doors in the publishing industry because agents and editors know the quality of the work that comes from our writers.

In the last semester of the program, you can begin exploring next steps and insights 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. VCFA regularly offers industry workshops for alumnx as well.

Read more about our alumnx.

How does VCFA’s program differ from similar ones out there?

Founded in 1997, VCFA established 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. We offer uniquely flexible residency options, and special opportunities including the Picture Book Intensive program and 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 and the Picture Book Intensive.