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How is the low-residency MFA program at Queens set up?

The low-residency MFA program at Queens involves four semesters of coursework, each of which includes a seven-day on-campus residency and - in the periods between residencies - an online workshop where you share your writing with three or four other students and your faculty mentor for that semester.  Over these four semesters of course work, you'll be developing material for your thesis.

The focus of each semester is the writing workshop itself, which begins during the residency and continues online for the remainder of the semester.  Under the direction of an accomplished faculty leader, each student must produce six submissions during the semester (two during the residency and four in the distance learning component of the semester) and must comment as well on the work that he or she receives from the two or three other students in the workshop.

During residencies, students also attend daily seminars.  Craft Seminars focus on technical and aesthetic issues relevant to the student's genre, while Gateway Seminars cross genre lines to explore key issues of the writer's vocation.  Each residency also features panel presentations on professional issues, readings by faculty and graduating students, and many opportunities to interact informally with faculty and fellow students.

At the end of two years, you'll finish the program by returning to campus for a fifth residency, a graduating residency, in which you'll present your thesis, offer a public reading from your work, and lead your fellow students in a craft seminar that you've developed with a faculty advisor.

What courses of study are available at Queens?

Students can concentrate in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, or writing for stage and screen.  Students who are accepted in more than one genre can focus on different genres in different semesters.  Any student admitted to the program may apply at any time to study in another genre.

Why offer a low-residency program at Queens?

With four faculty members selected (1994, 1996, 1999, 2000) as North Carolina Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and with strong foundations in both the traditional liberal arts and pre-professional programs, Queens has a long history of teaching excellence.

Moreover, the low-residency MFA program at Queens is located in the heart of one of the fastest growing and most dynamic cities in the southeast. As the only low-residency MFA program located in a major city in an eastern state, the Queens MFA program offers easy transportation to and from the campus and an exciting, vibrant city to explore outside of class.

What are the distinctive features of the Queens low-residency program?

--The Queens MFA program was the first and is still one of the only low-residency programs to use a workshop format both during residencies and in the distance learning component of each semester.

--With workshops that never exceed a four-to-one student-teacher ratio, the Queens MFA program offers the lowest student-teacher ratio of any MFA program.

--The Queens MFA program is a studio arts program.  All four semesters of course work are devoted to creative writing.

How do the workshop and distance learning systems function at Queens?

All MFA students participate in small workshops that begin during the residencies and continue online through the remainder of the semester, during the distance learning portion of the program. Twice during the residency, and at intervals of four weeks during the distance learning segment, MFA students submit new work to their instructors and to the other two or three students in their workshop.  After receiving work from the other students in her or his workshop, each MFA students will submit a written critique (via email in the distance learning segments), which must be between 300-500 words in length, on each of their colleagues' work.  These critiques are submitted to the instructor and to all participants in the workshop.  After receiving critiques from all students, the instructor responds both to the work and to the discussion of the work.

Why use a workshop system?

One principal objective of any MFA program-and perhaps especially a low-residency program-is to foster a community of writers to help surmount the necessary isolation that writing also requires.  The workshop system at Queens strengthens our community of writers by insuring that all students must regularly share their own work and respond to other students' writing.  In this way, the bonds developed during residencies deepen over the course of each semester.

A workshop system also provides important training for both writing and teaching.

All writers, of course, must have acute critical instincts.  Critiquing the work of other writers sharpens the critical skills that any writer must bring to her or his own work. 

Moreover, MFA graduates who pursue teaching careers will almost certainly be teaching writing classes in which they will be required to critique their students' work.  The ability to craft responses that are reasoned, insightful, and tactful is, like any skill, strengthened through continual application and practice.

Does Queens require a semester-long critical project?

No.  For any writer-and perhaps especially students in low-residency programs-the time to write is precious and often secured at great cost.  Four semesters, two years, is not a long time.  We want you to spend as much of that time as possible on your own work.

What are the critical requirements in the Queens MFA programs?

All students must read between 12 to 15 books each semester in preparation for seminars at residencies and must write regular response papers for seminars.

All graduating students must design and present a craft seminar to their fellow students at the graduating residency.  In preparation for this seminar, all graduating students must compose a critical essay that explores in depth the topic to be discussed at the seminar.

Within our workshop system, all students will write between 12 and 18 formal critiques of their colleagues' work each semester.

What are some achievements of Queens students and alumni?

Our students and alumni have had books accepted by Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Scribners; Random House; Simon & Schuster; Carol & Graf; and both university and small presses. 

Their work has appeared in many publications, including Tin House, TriQuarterly, The Missouri Review, The Mississippi Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Southern Review, Tar River Poetry, Crab Orchard Review, West Branch, The Kenyon Review, The Potomac Review, The Southern Poetry Review, Puerto del Sol, The New York Times, More magazine, and O, The Oprah Magazine.

Among the honors our students and alumni have achieved are Pushcart Prize nominations, scholarships to Bread Loaf, a fellowship at The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, a fellowship at The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, fellowships at The Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, and a nomination for a National Magazine Award. 

When are the residencies?

We have two semesters a year, a summer/fall term that begins with a residency in the last full week of May and a winter/spring term that begins with the residency in either the first or second full week of January (contingent upon the undergraduate calendar).  Students can enter the program in either term.

How much time does the program require? 

Generally, students spend between 20 to 25 hours per week completing work for the MFA program in the distance learning component of each semester-although, of course, different individuals will naturally work at different rates.  As a graduate program, the Queens MFA program is intended to be rigorous and challenging; however, it's also designed to offer the flexibility to allow our students to continue to live their other lives as well.  Most of our students have full-time careers in many different fields, and the MFA program is designed to give them the flexibility to pursue their writing and their education while not disrupting the other aspects of their lives.

What kind of students participate in the MFA program?

As a low-residency program, we have a broad and diverse demographic with students who range in age from their 20s to their 60s.  The Queens MFA program draws students from over 30 different states and several other countries.  We are a diverse community of individuals drawn together by a common passion for writing.

How much does it cost?

The cost of the program for the 2013 calendar year is $6,484 a semester, with a $1,200 charge for the fifth graduating residency that is paid in four installments of $300 with each semester's tuition. Tuition is subject to change each year. If you'd like to stay on campus during the May residency, lodging is generally available at very low cost: around $30 a night for a private room. Meal plans in the campus dining hall are also available. In our January residency, the program is housed at an area hotel with a special rate for the program.

Is financial aid available?

Yes. All full-time students may qualify for Title IV financial assistance in the form of a Federal Stafford Loan. You do not have to demonstrate "financial need" to secure a Federal Stafford Loan, but you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Federal Stafford Loan Program is governed by rules and regulations established by the US Department of Education and Congress. We suggest you complete the FAFSA at least two months prior to your enrollment to allow adequate processing time.

For (FAFSA) forms and additional information on how to apply for financial aid please contact the Office of Student Financial Services at Queens University at 704-337-2225

How do I apply?

You can simply download an application from this website or contact us to be sent an application packet. If you have questions or would like to be sent an application, contact Michael Kobre, On-Campus Director, at or by phone at 704-337-2335 or Melissa Bashor, MFA Program Coordinator, at or call 704-337-2499. 

The main requirement for applications--and, in reality, the most important criterion for admission--is a portfolio of original work: approximately 25 pages of fiction, writing for stage and screen, creative non-fiction, or 10 pages of poetry.  You will need to submit two copies of this portfolio with your application.

Along with this, we require a one-page, typed, single-spaced personal essay on the prospective student's reasons for applying the MFA program and expectations for the program, one letter of recommendation (academic or professional), a $45 application fee, and an official transcript from the institution where you received your highest degree.

We do not require GRE scores.  Standardized tests have nothing to do with creative writing.
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