National University’s online MFA program has yet to launch a PCV & RPCV MFA cohort, though several Peace Corps Volunteers are already enrolled and taking classes. (The farthest away from sunny California and the main campus of Natural University is PCV Sally La Rue in Mongolia. Sally finishes up in-country this summer, will tour on her way home with her husband, and be back in an online class this fall wherever they decide to settle down.)
I am now teaching a class (No Peace Corps Volunteers in it) on non-fiction for National University. While I have only ‘met’ my students online, they range in age from 23 to 65. All are getting their MFAs in Creative Writing.
While National University has one of the few ‘totally online” programs, online classes are increasing across the US. Just last week Purdue University announced it was buying for-profit Kaplan University to boost enrollment by attracting students online.
Despite lingering concerns that online courses lack some of the benefits of face-to-face instruction, the potential to appeal to a broader base of students–without the overhead of dorms and classrooms–has set off a dash among universities as a way to increase enrollment.
Colorado State University-Global Campus started about nine years ago with 200 students. Now it has about 18,000 students, nearly half in Colorado. Maryland University online courses started in 1994 and now has something like 85,000 students. Southern New Hampshire University has about 3,000 students on campus in Manchester, N.H. and about 80,000 online.
What makes National University’s MFA program in Creative Writing ‘work’ for PCVs and RPCVs is that anyone can earn the degree from anywhere. It is as close and convenient as your computer. While you are a Volunteer you can finish in two years your degree for about 20k. Students take one class at a time, and the class is only one or two months. If you are a PCV you can finish your Peace Corps tour and pick up your readjustment allowance check, your ticket home from wherever you are in the world, and also, obtain your MFA diploma and come back to the United States and finish writing your memoir of your tour or start your new career with a masters degree tucked in your back pocket.