Postgraduate & Non-degree Programs
We offer conferences, retreats, postgraduate semesters, and more. Continue your creative and critical growth within our vibrant artistic community.
Postgraduate Writers' Conference
24th Annual Postgraduate Writers’ Conference: August 12-18, 2019
The annual Postgraduate Writers’ Conference at VCFA is a haven for serious, emerging practitioners seeking to connect, recharge, and lift their process and craft to new levels.
The heart of the conference’s unique model is intimate workshop groups limited to five or six writers, led by a member of our acclaimed faculty. This format allows for in-depth, far-reaching discussion of participants’ work. Beyond the daily group sessions, each member has an individual consultation with the workshop instructor. The schedule also features readings by faculty and participants, craft talks, generative writing sessions, and social events.
The Postgraduate Writer
The majority of PWC participants have MFAs, including returning VCFA graduates and alumni of other programs. Others have PhDs, MAs, or graduate study in related disciplines. PWC also welcomes writers without graduate degrees who have relevant experience. While we applaud an applicant’s publishing credits, they’re not a prerequisite. For us, it’s about the work and a writer’s desire to take it to the next level.
Workshop meets every morning, for a total of five daily sessions. Manuscripts are due in early July and distributed about four weeks before our starting date to allow thoughtful preparation for group discussions. Depending on the group and instructor, workshop sessions may include other activities beyond critiques, such as in-class exercises and consideration of additional texts and broader craft topics. Some groups take on “homework” during the week, including targeted revision assignments or generating new material.
Most days after breakfast we start with a guided generative-writing session, followed by workshop group meetings. After lunch, faculty present craft talks or classes, then participant readings take place in the late afternoon. After dinner there are readings by faculty, capped off by a social gathering or special event. Nighttime highlights include an open-mic session with the Vermont-based improvisatory ensemble, Po-Jazz. The conference also takes a night off from readings for a party and campfire at the director’s nearby home.
Location & Accommodations
Most attendees stay on campus in simple dormitory accommodations, with a choice of single or shared rooms. Dining service in VCFA’s cafeteria is available on a full meal plan or flexible, pay-per-meal basis, or you can enjoy beverages and light fare in our own Café Anna. The conference schedule features a few specially catered dinners outdoors.
If you have an MFA or PhD in creative writing, you are automatically eligible to enroll in the conference. Registration opens January 15, 2019.
If you do not have a graduate degree in creative writing but would like to attend the conference based on your equivalent experience, please send a detailed letter of interest describing your writing and related background along with a five-page sample of your work (by file attachment) to Conference Director Ellen Lesser at [email protected]. Please note that as a non-degree-holding candidate, you must complete this admissions process before you register.
Thanks to our small workshop size, conference groups fill quickly. Please be sure to check with the conference director about availability before registering. Once specific groups or genres are full, we continue to place interested writers on an active waiting list. Some spaces typically reopen due to cancellations, so it’s always worth checking in and taking a spot on the waiting list.
Tuition and Fees
- Poetry Manuscript tuition: $1,175
- Conference tuition for all other workshops: $995
- On-campus room (six nights): $370 (single room), $200 (shared room)
- On-campus dining: $230*
- Non-refundable deposit due at time of registration: $200
*Participants not on a full meal plan may purchase meals as they go.
We have funding available for partial scholarships, especially to support and encourage diversity and inclusion within our conference community. Email Conference Director Ellen Lesser at [email protected] to request a scholarship and state your level of need. Please also attach a description of your writing and related background and your aims for attending the conference, along with a brief (five-page) sample manuscript, if you’re not already submitting these as a candidate for conference admission.
Scholarships are awarded on a rolling basis, so early requests are encouraged.
PWC is part of the Writers’ Centers & Conferences branch of AWP (The Association of Writers and Writing Programs), which sponsors an annual competition for three $500 scholarships to support attendance at member conferences in creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry.
Each year, we assemble a luminous roster of conference instructors, including some of VCFA’s own award-winning MFA in Writing faculty. Writers are selected not only for the brilliance of their own work but for their devotion to teaching and support of the PWC philosophy. We are pleased to announce the lineup for August 2019:
“Best week of my writing life.” —Ann Carson DeWitt
“What a wonderful experience. It really felt like a conference of peers.” —Nathan Long
“There is something magical going on up there. I think you have perfected the writers’ conference as we know it.” —Lisa Hartz
“I love that there is no border between students and teachers. A true creative community.” —John Hudson
“One of the most positive experiences I’ve ever had, and definitely the most valuable conference I have attended.” —Rebecca Caum
Postgraduate Semester for Screenwriters & Filmmakers
In addition to the two-year MFA in Film program, VCFA offers a 12-credit semester of postgraduate study for screenwriters and filmmakers.
Screenwriters – Offering writers the opportunity to polish their script, explore writing for visual media, or transform written work into a screenplay, this program offers full immersion into the evolving genres of feature, short, documentary, and episodic work.
Filmmakers – For filmmakers who want to explore new forms, gain creative insights, and refine their storytelling voices, this option offers an opportunity to take their current practice in new directions.
Applicants must have earned a graduate degree in film or a related field and present a body of work to the Admissions Committee. Learning is project based and focused on refining creative choices and exploring innovative story and form.
Tuition & Scholarships
- Please see Tuition & Fees 2018-2019 (postgrad tuition and postgrad residency fees). Initial residency participation is required at the start of the semester; students may attend a second residency at the end of the semester should they choose.
- Tuition fees are subject to change; contact Admissions for current information.
Associate Director, MFA in Film
866-934-8232, ext. 8575
Postgraduate Study in Music Composition
The MFA in Music Composition program offers a postgraduate semester for composers who have completed a graduate degree in music composition at any accredited college or university. Occasionally, a composer without a degree in composition but who has an extensive relevant experience might also be considered.
This semester is ideal for composers who want support and feedback in launching or refining a specific project; want to explore new genres; feel stalled or stuck and want an opportunity to jumpstart their process; want the opportunity to write for an upcoming ensemble-in-residence; or who would like to spend a semester of intense study with a particular member of the VCFA faculty.
Postgraduate students may use this opportunity to work closely with a particular faculty member on a specific composition project or projects. Because a postgraduate student is not enrolled in the degree program and, therefore, not required to meet the usual degree requirements, the semester works entirely around each student’s own interests and goals.
VCFA graduates (having already completed five residencies) may choose to do the semester only and not attend the initial residency. At least partial attendance at the final residency would be required if the postgraduate wrote for an ensemble-in-residence. A composer who is not a graduate of our programs would be required to attend the initial residency period, an intensive time of workshops, lectures, concerts, showcases, and many other stimulating offerings. Prior to (in consultation with the Program Director) or during the residency, the postgraduate chooses an advisor–a postgraduate student generally receives his or her first choice of faculty mentor and completes a preliminary study plan outlining the semester’s work. This course of study will develop more fully as the semester unfolds and advisor and student get to know one another and the student’s work better. Flexibility is key to making the most of this period of intensive work.
The semester work schedule and means of communication (typically email, Skype or similar sessions, etc.) are determined by the student and the advisor. Both student and advisor complete evaluations at the midpoint and the end of the semester.
A student receives 12 credits upon successful completion of the term.
Tuition and Fees
$7,519 + residency fees
Questions? Want to discuss?
Contact Carol Beatty, Program Director, at [email protected] or 802-828-8610.
Postgraduate Semester in Graphic Design
For designers who want to explore new forms, gain creative insights, and expand their design practice, the Postgraduate Semester in Graphic Design is an opportunity to take their current practice in a new direction. Participants in this individualized program will develop a substantial research project and/or body of design work. The 12-credit semester begins with an on-campus residency and culminates in a public presentation and critical discussion of the work at a second residency.
Postgraduate residencies coincide with MFA in Graphic Design residencies, so participants can join the exciting dialogues with faculty, visiting lecturers, guests, and MFA candidates.
Applicants must hold a master’s degree in Graphic Design or a related field and should submit the following:
- Project Description – Because the postgraduate semester is project oriented, applicants must provide a basic description of their proposed project (maximum 500 words). Be as specific as possible, identifying a basic thesis, some conceptual ideas, influences, objectives, and materials you envision for the project. Briefly describe how this project relates to and/or differs from the work you produced during graduate studies.
- Personal Bio – In 500 words or less, describe your current work in design since earning your graduate degree. Discuss the development of your studio practice, your intellectual development, and the social, historical, and/or cultural context of your practice. Explain how the postgraduate semester will enhance, encourage, and support your development as a designer/scholar working in expanded practice. Be sure to address why you are applying for a postgraduate semester now, explaining why this time is appropriate for you personally as well as for the development of your practice.
- Official degree transcripts and two letters of recommendation (waived for alumni of VCFA MFA in Graphic Design program)
- If proposing a visual project, please provide documentation of 10 recent images that you feel support your project proposal. Please also provide the following information: an image list, headed with your name, and including in chronological order each image with its dimensions, medium, title, and date of creation. For time-based media work, include total running time and length of excerpt (not to exceed 10 minutes).
- If proposing a research-based project, please provide a writing sample (maximum 1000 words).
Please direct all application materials to Associate Director Brittany Powell at [email protected]
Tuition & Fees
$7,803 + residency fees
866-934-8232, ext. 8772
Postgraduate Semester in Visual Art
The Postgraduate Semester in Visual Art (PGSVA) is an individualized, project-based program of study for MFA graduates. Participants in this program will develop a substantial research project and/or body of artwork, and the 15-credit semester will culminate in a public presentation and critical discussion of the work. Postgraduate residencies coincide with MFA in Visual Art residencies, so PGSVA students will be active participants in the exciting dialogues with faculty, visiting lecturers, guests, and MFA candidates.
On-campus residencies bookend the 27-week semester. During the first residency, students meet with faculty to confront and refine the conceptual, aesthetic, and practical issues involved in their proposed projects and develop a detailed plan for the rest of the semester. Students who have chosen to focus primarily on studio work will also consult with the faculty to identify the best artist-mentor match for their project. The first residency provides the opportunity to take part in group discussions and critiques with other students and participate in all the public lectures, workshops, and activities offered through the regular MFA in Visual Art residency program.
Postgraduate Students whose sole focus is research/writing will have an expanded engagement with their faculty advisor during both the residency and non-residency periods. Communication during the non-residency period–approximately 6-8 scheduled contacts–occurs via email, Skype, and other means. Students remain in charge of their projects while also taking advantage of the faculty advisor’s extensive knowledge and critical insights.
Studio Production Focus
If a student’s postgraduate semester is geared primarily toward studio production, a selected faculty member will oversee the project. The student will have at least five studio visits with their artist-mentor, who will be selected in consultation with the assigned faculty supervisor. Students remain in charge of their projects while also taking advantage of the artist-mentor’s expertise and the faculty supervisor’s role as an engaged outside observer.
The two different postgraduate semester tracks (research and studio) have been developed to identify and emphasize a particular focus, but projects focused on research may also involve studio work, and vice versa. The primary differences between these two tracks are whether the student wants to work with an artist-mentor or exclusively with a faculty advisor and what form the culminating project will take (see below).
During the second residency on the Montpelier campus, postgraduate students whose projects are research based will conclude their time in the program by presenting their research projects in a public lecture/presentation. Postgraduate students with a studio concentration will install an exhibition of their work at the second residency. Students are encouraged to consider lecture/exhibition venues on campus as well as in the town of Montpelier. VCFA will help facilitate access to possible sites off-campus pending availability. The second residency will also be organized around extensive feedback and critical responses to the completed project from the faculty, visiting artists, other PGSVA students, and the MFA students in residence.
Application Questions & Guidance
- Because the postgraduate semester is project oriented, applicants must provide a basic description of the proposed project (maximum 500 words). Be as specific as possible, identifying a basic thesis, the conceptual ideas, influences, objectives, and materials you envision for the project. Briefly describe how this project relates to and/or differs from the work you produced when you were enrolled in your previous MFA program.
- In the second residency of the postgraduate semester, you will be expected to make a public presentation of your project. Describe the kind of public presentation you envision for your project. If you are planning an exhibition or site-specific work, discuss the type of site and how you envision the audience encountering the work (maximum 500 words).
- Describe what you will need from the semester to help you realize your project (maximum 300 words). Consider the role that the residency, faculty guidance, artist-mentor relationship, and VCFA community at large might play in that process.
- Describe your current work as an artist since earning your MFA (maximum 500 words). Discuss the development of your studio practice, your intellectual development, and the social, historical, and/or cultural context of your practice. Explain how the postgraduate semester will enhance, encourage, and support your development as an artist/scholar. Be sure to address why you are applying for a postgraduate semester now, explaining why this moment is appropriate for you personally as well as for the development of your practice.
- Include an artist resumé.
- If proposing a studio-based project, please provide documentation of no more than 20 artworks that you have made since graduating. Please also provide the following information: an image list, headed with your name, including in chronological order each image with its dimensions, medium, title, and date of creation. For time-based media work, include total running time and length of excerpt (not to exceed 13 minutes).
- If proposing a research-based project, please provide a writing sample (maximum 1000 words).
- Applicants can specify up to three VCFA faculty members with whom they would like to work, explaining why these particular faculty members will help them actualize their project. When appropriate, VCFA will facilitate the requested match; however, it cannot guarantee that the desired faculty members will be available. You will be informed of the faculty advisor prior to the start of the residency.
Tuition and Fees
- Semester tuition (6 months): $7,147.00
- Optional residency: $933.00
- Room and board (per residency): $877.00
- Click here to view the admissions deadline dates for the Visual Art program
- Application for Funding: Candidates applying for a scholarship should submit a statement about their level of need with their application materials (maximum 300 words).
Program Director, Visual Art
866-934-8232, ext. 8703
Associate Director, Visual Art
866-934-8232, ext. 8636
Postgraduate Semester in Writing or WCYA
The MFA in Writing and MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults programs offer a postgraduate semester for writers who have completed an MFA or a PhD at any accredited college or university. Occasionally, a writer without an MFA who has an extensive writing background or an MA in English or Literature might also be considered. Writers may work in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, writing for children and young adults, and translation.
This semester is ideal for writers who want assistance in launching a new writing project or feel stalled in their current one; have a degree in one genre and want to pursue another in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, writing for children and young adults, or translation; are close to completing a prose or poetry project and need help completing it; or would like to spend a semester of intense study with a particular member of the VCFA faculty.
Postgraduate students may use this opportunity to work closely with a particular faculty member or to focus on a specific writing project, a manuscript, or particular elements of the craft. Because a postgraduate student is not enrolled in the degree program and therefore not required to meet the usual degree requirements, the semester works entirely around each student’s own interests and goals.
VCFA graduates may choose to do the semester only and not attend the residency. Writers who are not graduates of our programs are required to attend the residency period, an intensive time of workshops, lectures, readings, panel discussions, and many other stimulating offerings. During the residency a writer chooses an advisor–a postgraduate student generally receives his or her first choice for an advisor–and completes a preliminary study plan outlining the semester’s work.
The student and advisor design the semester work schedule, and work typically takes place via mail and email with a mid-semester phone conference. Both student and advisor complete evaluations at the midpoint and end of the semester. Flexibility is key to making the most of this period of intensive work.
A student receives 12 credits upon successful completion of the term.
Tuition and Fees
- Semester tuition (6 months): $6,813.00
- Optional residency: $933.00
- Room and board (per residency): $877.00
Tuition and fees are subject to change. Please contact the Admissions Office to confirm information.
- Priority Application Deadline: February 15, 2019
- Application Deadline: March 15, 2019
“The postgraduate semester I did at VCFA was a godsend. When you’re in the program, your writing is the subject of constant passionate attention by very esteemed minds but then after graduation you’re cast free and it’s just you and the work alone in a room. This creative solitude can be revelatory and challenging both… Being immersed again in the intimate inspiring mentor/mentee relationship was invaluable for my work and a total joy for me personally.”
Jandy Nelson | 2008 MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults
Director of Admissions & Financial Aid
Certificate in Publishing
Jumpstart Your Publishing Career!
Whether you want to start a career in publishing, switch careers into literary arts, or merely demystify the publishing industry, VCFA’s Certificate in Publishing program will give you the tools you need.
- One-semester, 15-credit program for writers and professionals
- Work with publishing experts, including editors, agents, freelancers, ghostwriters, publishers, and heads of literary arts organizations
- Perfect for those with an MFA, those considering an MFA, and those who want the certificate only
- Get the practical knowledge, professional skills, and networking opportunities you need to navigate a career in publishing
This certificate will help prepare you to enter the world of Big-Five publishing, independent presses, digital publishing, journal publishing, literary agencies, nonprofit literary arts organizations, and publishing law. Wherever you want to be, VCFA is the place to start.
Our Faculty List
- Ibrahim Ahmad (editorial director of Akashic Books)
- Caitlin Leffel (writer and editor at Rizzoli International Publications)
- Elissa Schappell (writer and Tin House co-founder)
- Rob Spillman (editor and Tin House co-founder)
The program will run each year from September to December, beginning in Fall 2019. Also, students in the Certificate program are eligible for free housing on campus!
Tuition & Fees
While we use the term “credit” to explain course requirements, students have the option of two payment tiers, one that earns credit toward their MFA in Writing & Publishing (should they choose to apply for our two-year program at a later date), and one that does not. Those tiers are as follows:
Credit-Earning Tuition (Certificate in Publishing + 15 credits to be counted toward an MFA in Writing & Publishing): $15,918
No-Credit Tuition (Certificate in Publishing Only): $13,000
Discounted Alumni Pricing
Alumni who hold a graduate degree from VCFA are eligible for the following pricing tiers:
Alumni Credit-Earning Tuition: $11,250
Alumni No-Credit Tuition: $8,250
See Scholarships and Financial Aid for housing information.
May 13-19, 2019
The VCFA Novel Retreat provides private studio space, abundant time, and a supportive atmosphere for established and emerging writers. Whether you seek the reflective solitude of a retreat or writing time combined with consultations, group discussions, and more, the VCFA Novel Retreat enables you to craft an experience best suited to your individual needs. No matter what stage you’re at with your project—beginning, drafting, middle, or final edit—the retreat is designed to accommodate all aspects of the writing process.
Located amid the beauty of Vermont’s Green Mountains on the VCFA campus, retreat participants gain the added benefit of working with our renowned faculty. Our 2019 faculty includes Connie May Fowler, Miciah Bay Gault, Robin MacArthur, Ellen Lesser, Crystal Wilkinson, and special guest literary agent Jeff Kleinman, founding partner at Folio Literary Management in New York City.
While participants and faculty write each morning, afternoons and evenings offer a variety of optional sessions, including craft and process discussions, generative writing classes, manuscript clinics, and agent advice.
Throughout the retreat, impromptu gatherings spontaneously bloom, inspiring insights and discoveries. This is perhaps one of the retreat’s greatest gifts: the invaluable friendships forged when living among a collective of writers.
- Focused solely on prose-based literary long forms such as novels, memoirs, and collections of short stories or essays
- 24-hour access to private writing studios
- Distinguished VCFA Novel Retreat faculty in residence
- The option to avail oneself to discussions, clinics, readings, and more
The day starts with breakfast, during which a faculty member gives a short reading from a favored text and speaks briefly about what they most admire in the piece, followed by lively discussion. Participants then disperse across the campus to write in their private studios.
Craft presentations, panel discussions, generative sessions, conversations with faculty mentors, manuscript clinics, and more writing take place after lunch. The afternoon sessions are optional, allowing participants to remain focused on their work or take advantage of the retreat offerings. After dinner, participants gather for faculty and participant readings and casual conversation.
For an additional fee, participants are invited to apply for Novel Retreat Mentorships. Each participant in the mentorship program will submit a book-length project (not to exceed 350 pages, double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, default margins). A faculty member will read the manuscript, provide written critique, and conduct two private conferences during the course of the retreat. Participants with manuscripts over 350 pages will be accommodated at the discretion of the director and faculty. An additional fee will apply based on the number of pages submitted.
Most attendees opt for on-campus housing, both for the convenience and the camaraderie. These are simple dormitory accommodations, with a choice of single or shared rooms, and shared baths except in special-needs situations (and subject to availability).
Full meal service through the meal plan is provided by the on-campus eatery, Café Anna. As part of Vermont’s artisanal food movement, they specialize in locally sourced ingredients, offering fresh, seasonal food prepared with care. There also are special outdoor dinners catered during the week and for opening and closing receptions.
Tuition & Fees
The fee includes accommodations (single or double occupancy) in VCFA dorms for six nights.
- Retreat tuition: $950.00
- On-campus room & board: $370.00 (single room), $200.00 (shared room)
- Meal plan (May 13 dinner through May 19 breakfast): $310.00
- Mentorship: $900.00 for manuscripts under 250 pages; $1100.00 for manuscripts over 250 pages and a maximum of 350.
- Non-refundable deposit, due at time of registration: $200.00
Balance of payment due March 13.
Special Note: Retreat participants may extend their writing retreat by coming early or staying longer for a nominal additional daily fee.
Writers may enroll for the retreat as of October 1, 2018; first priority will be given to VCFA MFA in Writing alumni and Novel Retreat alumni.
After October 10, novelists who are not graduates of VCFA or who have not attended previous VCFA Novel Retreats may apply as follows:
Submit for review an approximately 10-page, double-spaced excerpt from a work-in-progress and a statement of intent, not to exceed one page, regarding the project. Email the materials to [email protected]. Upon review, applicants will be notified of the status of their application.
Once the retreat is full, interested writers will be placed on an active waiting list. We welcome and encourage late inquiries, as spaces occasionally reopen due to emergency cancellations.
If you need to withdraw from the retreat, inform the director no later than March 13. The retreat will refund any payments to date, minus the non-refundable $200 deposit. If you cancel your participation after March 13, the program will refund all fees for room and board as applicable; the program will refund your tuition (minus $200) only if a new participant fills the space. Late cancellations create a hardship for the retreat organizers; while we understand that emergencies arise, please inform the program at your earliest opportunity.
Thanks to the generosity of a small group of private donors, we have limited funding available for partial Novel Retreat scholarships, which we work to spread among many deserving applicants.
If you require tuition support to make your participation possible, please email Novel Retreat Director Connie May Fowler at [email protected] to request a scholarship. Please state your level of need, related background, and retreat goals, along with a five-page sample manuscript, if you’re not already submitting these materials due to your status as a VCFA MFA in Writing or Novel Retreat alum.
Scholarships are awarded on a rolling basis, so early requests are encouraged.
Registration for May 2019 is now open. Early registration is recommended because spaces fill rapidly. Likewise, if you are new to VCFA, please submit your application as early as possible.
The VCFA Novel Retreat is proud to announce its 2019 faculty. The College brings in acclaimed novelists and industry professionals who are also dedicated educators from VCFA and beyond. Our 2019 faculty are award-winning novelists, short story writers, memoirists, and poets, along with one of publishing’s top literary agents.
“Without exaggeration, this retreat has changed my life as a writer.”
“Having big blocks of uninterrupted time to write was a godsend. Because of that, I had a couple of major breakthroughs, not only with my work, but with some deep soul searching about who I am as writer.”
“It was a powerful and transformative week for me as a writer.”
“The retreat provided a beautiful opportunity to get re-immersed in my novel and my writing life. The conversations about craft and process nourished my apparently starving artist. There was no stress—except the mild anxiety of facing the page every day. Which I did: three hours every morning and two every afternoon, I sat down in my beautiful writing studio and thought and wrote and did the work. I also loved the feeling of all being in it together, participants and faculty all working. This retreat model is exactly what post-graduate writers need to continue to grow and form community.”
“The peace and quiet and beauty of the campus was a balm to my tired body and spirit so that I could connect my creative voice again.”
“The seeds of the craft sessions that were sown at VCFA have helped me create new passages and improve ones that had already been written. The sessions, prompts, conversations (formal or informal), and social events during the retreat have informed my work since then. In other words, I brought the retreat home with me.”
Connie May Fowler
Writing Novels for Young People Retreat
March 22-24, 2019 (optional early arrival March 21)
Join us March 22-24, 2019, on the beautiful VCFA campus for a craft-focused weekend with renowned faculty!
The VCFA Writing Novels for Young People Retreat is a working weekend for serious writers of middle-grade and young adult books. If you want to take your writing to a new level in a condensed, dynamic weekend, please join our community!
No matter where you are in your writing project, the retreat offers lectures and discussions interspersed with blocks of unstructured time to work, ensuring a productive and inspirational weekend for all.
Participants can choose between solitude and quiet time to work on their current projects or writing time with added feedback and workshop options. All participants may attend lectures and panels with our esteemed guests, and for an additional cost participants can opt for a writing consult or put their first chapters under the editorial microscope for a critique with our guest authors or editor. Participants and faculty share meals, and evenings are filled with readings, a lecture from our VCFA alumni guest, and an open mic session.
The Writing Track offers writers time and space to work on new pages or revision. Lectures and discussions are open to all.
The Critique Track includes small, informal critique groups with your peers and an opportunity for feedback on 10 pages of creative work in a one-on-one meeting with A.S. King or a 30-minute manuscript consult with Malinda Lo.
The Novel Openings Workshop will be led by Linda Camacho and Tirzah Price. It includes feedback from both workshop leaders, and the workshop sessions offers constructive critiques, writing exercises, and prompts. To join this workshop, please prepare a 10-page submission, plus a one-page synopsis for your whole novel. Limited to 12 participants.
For an additional cost, participants from either track can put their first chapters (up to 10 pages) under the editorial microscope with a critique from Scholastic editor Erin Black. Critique slots are filled in the order of applications received. Limited to 12 participants.
The fee includes accommodations (double or single occupancy) in VCFA dorms for Friday and Saturday nights. Meals are included from Friday dinner through Sunday lunch, with an optional Thursday night group dinner for an additional cost.
- Writing Track expenses, room & board: $500 shared room, $555 single room
- Critique Track expenses, room & board: $550 shared room, $605 single room
- Workshop Track expenses, room & board: $600 shared room, $655 single room
- Optional Critique with an Editor: $100.00
- Extra fee for single room: $50.00
- Extra fee for early arrival on Thursday: $50.00
- Optional Thursday night group dinner: $25.00
- Non-refundable deposit due upon registration: $200.00
Balance due by January 25, 2019
Applications will be accepted starting November 1, 2018; please note the retreat fills quickly. There will be a waiting list in case of last-minute cancellations.
Manuscripts for critique and workshop are due by January 25, 2019. Please include a one-page synopsis with all novel submissions.
New this year! We are pleased to offer a limited number of partial, need-based scholarships to offset the cost of the retreat. To apply, please compose a letter no longer than one page detailing the following:
- Your writing background
- What you’re currently working on
- What you hope to achieve during the retreat
BIPOC and LGBTQ+ writers are especially encouraged to apply. All application information is confidential. Please send your application in the body of an email with the subject heading NOVEL RETREAT SCHOLARSHIP to Retreat Director Tirzah Price at [email protected] by Friday, November 9, 2018. Scholarship award winners will be notified by Friday, November 16, 2018.
*This event was founded by VCFA MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults alumnae Sarah Aronson and Cindy Faughnan.
- Starting registration: November 1, 2018
- Erin Black, Editor, Scholastic Press
- Linda Camacho, Agent, Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency
- A.S. King, VCFA Faculty
- Malinda Lo, Author
Tirzah Price, ’15 WCYA
Email: [email protected]
If you require any additional accommodations or need special arrangements, contact [email protected].
Picture Book Intensive Semester
- A 16-credit semester of independent study beginning with a 10-day residency on campus.
- Residency participation including a workshop focused solely on the picture book with a faculty member workshop leader who is an expert in the picture book genre.
- This faculty member is also the semester advisor for the term’s Picture Book Intensive students.
- Participation with an illustrator or an author/illustrator in the picture book workshop as well as full engagement in other residency events.
- During the semester, students will work both on critical and creative work, exchange four packets of writing with their advisor, and participate in an online discussion board with the faculty advisor and one another.
- Panel discussion participation at the residency following the term. Those not enrolling in a new semester may provide a pre-recorded presentation or participate via Skype or other digital means. Discussion will focus on the discoveries made during the semester through both critical and creative work on the picture book.
Who Is Eligible?
- VCFA alumni of the MFA in Writing and MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults programs
- Current MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults students
- Writers with a relevant advanced degree
- Writers with a BA but not an advanced degree will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Tuition & Fees
Tuition and fees are subject to change. For current information, contact Ann Cardinal, Director of Student Recruitment, via email at [email protected] or by phone at (866) 934-8232 x8589.
Contact [email protected] to apply and complete your application no later than September 1.
- (2-3) picture book manuscripts (please do not include illustrations)
- Application essay explaining why you want to participate in the PB semester, your goals for the semester, and what experience you have in this genre
- Critical essay
- (2) letters of recommendation
- $75 application fee
Faculty & Student Feedback
“I think more people—even people writing YA—should take the Picture Book Semester. I have learned so much about different kinds of stories and reading experiences, compactness, sense of audience, voice, writing (or not writing) in verse. Every word counts and, because picture books are mostly read aloud, the sound of the language is important and the experience needs to keep both the listener and the reader engaged. The work is on a relatively small scale, but everything I’ve learned could also apply in some way to a longer piece. And the continuation of workshop through the online forum is invaluable. The class is like a mini-MFA program. In addition to learning about picture books, I’m going to learn how to give a VCFA talk—very helpful practice for my fourth semester lecture.” – Barbara Bishop, ’10 WCYA
“This is a semester for organized play! Stretch yourself by trying poetry, non-fiction, rhyme, concept books, biography, cumulative stories, and more. I had so much fun stepping out of my comfort zone and attempting to write a little something of everything. Exclusively reading, writing, and studying picture books forced me to say what I want to say in the most succinct and best way I could—a skill I’m happily applying to the novel I’m working on now.” – Skila Brown, winner of the Candlewick Award and author of the picture book Slickety Quick
“The picture book semester allows students to examine story on a micro-level which is beneficial for all authors. We had the most wonderful conversations about rhyme, beats, rhythm, story structure, audience and much more. Writing my paper and presenting for the picture book panel was an extremely valuable experience. The two tasks prepared me for my critical thesis and for the lecture I will have to give my graduate residency.” – Anna Jordan, ’11 WCYA
“The picture book genre requires a completely different mindset than writing just about everything else, since it’s based in a tradition of oral storytelling. As a novelist, I benefited in a number of ways: I learned how to think in pictures and how to consider the sounds of words and the sounds of the stories I wrote. I also learned some techniques in oral storytelling that I hope will be useful in school visits in the future. I recommend the Picture Book Semester for writers of all kinds—even people who, like me, don’t naturally gravitate towards the genre.” – Jessica Powers, author of three YA novels and the picture book Colors of the Wind
“In this intensive semester, the picture book is taken seriously for the particular art form that it truly is. Students and faculty alike are immersed in the twin elements that make a picture book work — the marriage of art and text and how the two combined make something even more powerful than their
separate entities. The combination of the online workshop and one-on-one tutorials, students get the full range of group and individual interaction to make an experience that can only be described as powerful.” – Kathi Appelt, faculty advisor
“The Picture Book Semester has an energy all its own. The intense interactions on the class forum serve to inform and enrich the creative and critical work, so that the semester is remarkably more than the sum of its parts. Students not only produce far more work than they would otherwise, but they leapfrog ahead in terms of their own learning. I’d like to bottle the magic of this semester and sprinkle a little over all my instruction. I also think that all writers, regardless of whether they intend to write a picture book or not, can learn from the study of this compact (and often elusive) story container.” – Uma Krishnaswami, faculty advisor
WCYA Alumni Mini-Residency
The Alumni Mini-Residency, a three-day conference for WCYA alumni focusing on craft and publication, connection and community, will take place from November 15-17, 2019.
The AMR offers an opportunity for alums to participate in workshops led by VCFA faculty members, enjoy lectures and panel discussions, and participate in alumni readings. In addition, alums can engage with editors, agents, and/or publicists—influential individuals who ultimately define a writer’s career.
Guest Editors & Literary Agents
- Sarah Barley, Editorial Director Young Adult, Flatiron Books
- Sara Crowe, Agent, Pippin Properties
- Eric Smith, Agent, P.S. Literary Agency
- Jacqui Lipton, Agent, Storm Literary Agency
- Hilary Van Dusen, Executive Director, Candlewick Press
Master Class Instructor
Coming soon! – The AMR 2019 Master Class Instructor will be announced in May 2019.
For those interested, the AMR offers an opportunity to participate in workshop with one of three VCFA faculty members. Workshop sessions will offer constructive critiques, writing exercises, and prompts. To join a workshop, please prepare a 10-page submission, plus a 1-page synopsis for your whole novel. Each workshop is limited to 8 participants for a total of 24 available seats.
Editor & Agent Critiques
Additionally, interested participants may opt for a critique from one of our invited editors and agents. Critique slots are filled on a first come first served basis. Critiques are limit to 8 writers per editor/agent for a total of 40 available slots.
Registration, Travel, and Housing
Registration opens April 17, 2019.
The Mini-Residency will be comprised of two-and-a-half days full of events, running from Friday morning until noon on Sunday. Alumni may plan to arrive on Thursday, November 14, and depart on the afternoon of Sunday, November 17.
Please note: Children and pets are not permitted to stay in the dorms. Thanks for your understanding.
Manuscripts for critique and workshop are due by September 15, 2019. Please include a one-page synopsis with all submissions.
The below fees offer a few options for registration.
- Basic Registration: $350
- Includes all lectures/panels, readings, professional practice workshops, and open pitch sessions.
- Room & Board: $215
- Includes three nights on campus: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. (A single room fee of $55 applies). Meals are included from Friday breakfast through Sunday lunch, with an optional Thursday night group dinner for an additional cost.
- Additional Registration Fees (optional)
- Workshop participation: $100
- Critique with an editor or agent: $85
- Thursday night group dinner: $25
A non-refundable deposit of $200 is due upon registration. Remaining balances are due by September 15, 2019.
Jim Hill, ’14 WCYA
Jericho Parms, ’12 W
Director of Alumni Affairs & Diversity Initiatives
Writer2Writer Alumni Exchange
Writer2Writer pairs alumni looking for support on postgraduate writing endeavors through a coordinated packet exchange with fellow graduates.
Many of us know what it is to write alone for years, to have your friends and family feign interest and literary magazines send itty-bitty rejection letters. Sometimes knowing there is someone out in the world willing to take your work seriously makes all the difference. Writing is a hard road, and we hope sharing your work with fellow alumni will improve your work.
Frankly, if all you get out of this peer exchange is writing more, then it is a success. We also hope you will learn more about how to respond to another writer’s work—which is essential training for a writer.
Writer2Writer is not meant to be a casual thing. Participants should be motivated and committed to writing and responding to others over an entire semester.
If that all sounds good to you, please sign up!
$50 per semester for four peer-to-peer packets over the course of a semester
There will be four packets on a semester system.
|Spring||Registration is open from December 15 – January 5|
|Packet Schedule: Feb. 1, March 1, April 1, May 1|
|Fall||Registration is open from July 15 – August 10|
|Packet Schedule: Sept. 1, Oct. 1, Nov. 1, Dec. 1|
Andrew Marshall, ’12 W
Below are basic questions and answers for Writer2Writer, the post graduation way to keep your writing going.
What exactly is Writer2Writer?
This is a post-graduation one-on-one peer review. The concept is simple. For people who are interested, we have set up a peer-to-peer packet system, much like we did with our VCFA advisors, by Fiction, Poetry, and CNF for Writing grads or by Picture Book, Middle Grade, and Young Adult for WCYA grads.
We pair writers into a chained work swap (i.e., a writer will not have his or her work reviewed by the writer he or she is reading).
We will exchange four packets on a semester basis.
- Fall: September 1, October 1, November 1, and December 1
- Spring: February 1, March 1, April 1, May 1
And what is the commitment?
- Ultimately, you are committing to writing four packets.
- However, you are also committing to being an engaged reader. If you only want to sign up for Writer2Writer to be read, you are not enlisting in the spirit of the exchange.
- You must be willing to read and respond thoroughly to four packets a semester. If you choose to write three or even two, that’s your choice. The point is, if you choose to send less work, you’re still committed to another writer who may send up to four.
- Each peer advisor must be willing to read and write a thorough letter in response to the work sent. Also, they should be willing to track changes on the packet documents so small notations can be made. Peer Response Guidelines will be provided.
Unlike VCFA’s MFA programs, we will not have reading lists or critical writing expectations.
What is the guideline for how much work can be sent per packet?
The general page count guideline for Fiction and CNF is 20-25 pages maximum. For Poetry, 6-8 poems, no more than 10-12 pages. The maximum page count guideline for Picture Book is 10 pages per packet. For Middle Grade and Young Adult, the maximum is 25 pages per packet. Naturally, each alumni pair can modify the above, but both must agree. Please feel free to say no if your writer wants you to read more than the guideline.
What if I am not sure I can be a good peer advisor? Or what if my peer advisor isn’t helpful enough?
While you may not possess all the critical abilities of your VCFA advisors, if you are willing to read closely and respond honestly and thoroughly then you will do well. As a peer advisor, you should be thorough, committed, and timely with your response, so your writer knows they are sending to someone who cares, someone who is eager to be a recipient of his or her work.
That said, please understand Writer2Writer cannot guarantee the level of critique you may receive on a monthly basis. Please do not expect your peer reviewer to take you to the next level of your writing; that is your job. However, in previous semesters, many people had that experience, but the bottom line is your expectation should be an honest and thorough response.
How is work sent, and how or why does everyone have the same due date?
Everyone has the same due date (the first of each month), so you are reading and responding to your writer’s packet just after you sent your packet off. We ask everyone to aim to respond to their writer’s packet within one week (10 days at the latest). Ideally, soon after you respond to your writer’s work, you will receive the response from your peer advisor so you can get back to work.
Everything is handled through email.
How are people paired?
We have VCFA Writing alumni (Liz Blood – CNF, Ian Bodkin – poetry, and Andrew Marshall – fiction) and VCFA WCYA alumni who will use surveys to pair people based on the kind of work they are writing and who inspires them.
While this process will not always be perfect, in real life we cannot ever count on finding the perfect reader either. In most cases, it is not about who reads you but how much the person who reads you is willing to give.
What is the fee? Where does the fee go?
The semester fee is $50 for four packets.
This is largely an administrative fee. The balance will go into the MFA in Writing and MFA in WCYA scholarship funds.
What if I am working on a book and need a longer commitment?
One of the survey questions asks if participants are willing to read a novel or book and therefore willing to commit two or three semesters to a project. If we can pair someone willing to do this with a writer working on a longer project, then we certainly will. However, we cannot guarantee this person will continue to sign up for the next semesters.
A frequent request is that a writer wants to hand over a full-length novel or book and just have their peer reviewer read it. If that’s what you want, Writer2Writer is not right for you. Please remember that each participant is another writer focused on their own projects. So, while you and your reader can negotiate to each of your specific needs, please try to be understanding of this.
What if I am having difficulty with the person who is my peer advisor?
If you sign up for Writer2Writer, please understand that not everyone is a professional writer and that we are all still learning. As we said above, we cannot guarantee the level of critique you may receive on a monthly basis. You may be paired up with someone who has less experience writing than you do. You may find yourself reading someone who has much more. You may be paired up with someone who has trouble complimenting…or being critical. So, if you’re having these kinds of difficulties, please try to work with that person. Try to communicate your needs. Ask specific questions about your work.
And remember, the most important benefit out this process is that you keep writing, every month.
However, if this doesn’t work, please contact the Writer2Writer Coordinator Andrew Marshall at [email protected]. Often, a simple email mediation can make all well.
What if I can’t continue mid-semester?
There all kinds of problems, and we understand that they come up. If something happens and you cannot continue, then contact Writer2Writer Coordinator Andrew Marshall ([email protected]) ASAP.
Can I cross genres?
Basically, for right now, if you write poetry, you read poetry. And so forth. If you’ve never written a short story (or, conversely, a poem) before, then keep in mind this is a post-MFA group. If you want to take up a new genre, this might not be the best place to be a beginner.
That said, this is something we’re going to trust individuals to determine. If your MFA is in Fiction but you’re becoming proficient in poetry or CNF, then feel free to sign up.
Can I invite non-VCFA friends to do this?
This service is provided exclusively to alumni of Vermont College of Fine Arts. Current VCFA students need to wait until they have graduated.