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Friday Find: AWP’s Hallmarks of an Effective Low-Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing

I receive LOTS of requests for advice on low-res programs. Sometimes, people ask me to tell them whether program A or B is “better.” Which I absolutely, positively, cannot do. A big part of this inability, of course, comes from the truth that what might be “better” to one person would be “worse” to another. (This is why I’m not such a fan of rankings.)

What can be helpful, however, is the capacity to assess what a program offers and try to determine how it matches up not only with your own needs as a writer, but also with this new set of “Hallmarks of an Effective Low-Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing,” which has been developed by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP).

AWP does a pretty good job describing key elements of “Low-Residency Programs Based on Mentoring” and “Low-Residency Programs with Electronic Classrooms.” My only real disappointment with this document is that AWP has given relatively short shrift to what it calls “Hybrid Low-Residency MFA Programs.” This is the material on such programs, in its entirety:

Hybrid low-residency programs include features from both mentor-based and electronic classroom-based programs, and add variations and innovations of their own. Strong hybrid low-residency programs are rigorous and demand extensive reading assignments, practice in critical analysis, productivity in frequent writing and revision, and a residency component. Their particulars vary in ways too numerous to list here.

Perhaps too numerous to list in their entirety, but wouldn’t it have been helpful to provide at least a few specifics to sharpen that very general three-sentence statement?

In any case, AWP has certainly done a service for everyone with an investment in understanding, attending, administering, and/or teaching in a low-residency program, and for that, I’m grateful!

Now, have a great weekend, everyone. See you back here on Monday.

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