Why the National University MFA in Creative Writing is ideal for PCVs or RPCVs

About the University

National University (NU) is a fully-accredited, not-for-profit university that offers undergraduate and graduate online classes in an accelerated format where courses last either four- or eight-weeks long, and students take only one course at a time. This format offers flexibility to students to take time off from the program for employment, travel, or other obligations. This asynchronous online format allows students to study from anywhere in the world that has an Internet connection. Graduate students at National have completed their Masters Degrees from places as distant as Japan, Guam, Alaska, and Afghanistan.

About the Creative Writing MFA

Established in 2005, the National University’s Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing (MFA/CW) offered by the  School of Arts and Sciences offers four genres of study: fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, or screenwriting.

Like Masters Degrees in all fine and applied arts,  the MFA in Creative Writing is considered a terminal degree. It thus qualifies a graduate to teach creative writing classes at the college level. At many universities this degree will also qualify graduates to teach basic writing classes such as composition to those studying in all fields. This type of experience can make then make it easier  for one to teach in a creative writing program.

The Peace Corps Cohort

National University will begin to offer a program specifically designed for PCVs and RPCVs that will enable them to earn an MFA in Creative Writing as they rethink the experiences they have had as Volunteers, and mold them into a literary exploration of that life-changing time.

The plan for the Peace Corps Cohort is to start their first class in October, 2016. An email will be sent out to interested students in August with instructions on how to enroll once it is confirmed that there are enough PCVs and RPCVs interested in the MFA.

As they start out in the program members in the Peace Corps cohort will take three classes in a row dedicated to exploring their Peace Corps experience, each of which will be taught by John Coyne. These classes will be

  • MCW 610: Textual Strategies — A four-week introductory course that will focus on reading as a writer. It will introduce students to how other RPCV writers have turned their Peace Corps experience into poetry, fiction, nonfiction, or screenplay.
  • MCW 650: Seminar in Nonfiction — An eight–week preliminary workshop in nonfiction where students will write nonfiction essays or chapters of memoir about their experiences. The activities will be tailored to Peace Corps writers.
  • MCW 650A: Advanced Workshop in Creative Nonfiction — An eight-week advanced workshop in creative nonfiction where students will begin to move into mastery of the craft. Students will build on their writing in MCW 650 and begin to consider how their writing might become a book.

The rest of the courses requited for the MFA/CWthe members of the Peace Corps will take with other graduate students and the graduate faculty of the University. The content of these courses will not be specifically tailored to the Peace Corps experience, though members of the cohort are still welcome to write about their overseas experiences.

The program culminates in a final thesis. The thesis will be a book-length collection of publishable quality. It is assumed that most of the Peace Corps students will likely be writing creative nonfiction, but if members of the group want to write their thesis in another genre, this is possible. For further information, look at the FAQ on the program. You will find it at http://faculty.nu.edu/mcw/ or
email: jcoyneone@gmail.com

The cost

The current graduate tuition per class is $1872 and there are 13 classes in the program. That would equal $24,336. With the 15% discount for the cohort scholarship, it would be $20,685. This estimate is based on current tuition rates.

A summary of the program for the Peace Corps Cohort

To receive the MFA in Creative Writing, students must complete at least 58.5 quarter units. (Note: MCW 600 and MCW 610 are four week courses; all other MCW courses are eight weeks in duration.)

Core Requirements (5 courses; 22.5 quarter units)
Students are required to take MCW 600 and MCW 610, one seminar in their chosen specialty, and two additional courses of their choice in different areas.

Students begin the program with:

MCW 610 Textual Strategies — taught by John Coyne
MCW 650 Seminar in Creative Nonfiction — taught by John Coyne
MCW 600 Pedagogy of Creative Writing

and choose two of the following courses:

MCW 630 Seminar in Fiction
MCW 645 Seminar in Poetry
MCW 685 Basics of Screenwriting

Core Specialized Study (2 courses; 9 quarter units)
Classes are conducted as workshops, with student work comprising much of the text for the course.

MCW 650A Adv Workshop in Lit Nonfiction — taught by John Coyne
MCW 650B Adv Workshop in Lit Nonfiction

Elective Requirements (4 courses; 18 quarter units)
A minimum of two electives should be chosen from the list below.

Writing for Young Adults, Seminar in Literary Theory, Multicultural Literature, Literary Period or Movement, Seminar in Poetry, Composition Pedagogy, History of Rhetoric, Modern Rhetoric, Seminar in Literary Hypermedia, Film Theory, Film History: The Silents, Film History: American Film, Film Genre Studies, World Film, Comparative Literary Studies, Pictures that Speak, Seminar in a Theme, Great Directors: American, Great Directors: International, Research and Methodology, Major Author Seminar.

The remaining two electives may be from the above list or if the students wants to take more workshop courses, additional advanced MCW writing workshops that the student has not already taken as part of her/his specialized study may be taken as electives. These include advanced workshops in fiction, poetry, literary non-fiction and screenwriting

Thesis Courses (2 courses; 9 quarter units)
The thesis must be a mature, substantial body of work e.g. a collection of stories, essays, or poems, a novel, or a full-length screenplay. The thesis will include an aesthetic statement (minimum 2000 words) in which the writer discusses her/his evolution as an artist and the evolution of the work. The student will choose a mentor for the thesis, and will work with the mentor in an individualized manner, decided upon through conference with the mentor.

MCW 660 Thesis I (Practicum)
MCW 670 Thesis II (Revision)

For more details about the the program and individual courses Click.




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