Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers
The Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers is the oldest low-residency creative writing Master of Fine Arts program in the United States. Prior to the founding of this program, an MFA in creative writing was earned via standard residential graduate programs that required students to be in residence at an academic institution for the majority of the academic year.
Students in the program earn an MFA degree in creative writing over 4-8 semesters. The low-residency model at Warren Wilson requires attendance twice a year (January and July) for ten days of lectures, classes, workshops and readings by both faculty and students. Students are paired with a faculty member who directs the creative and critical work for the student over the following semester. This model of short residencies followed by a semester of one-on-one work with a faculty member has been that adopted by most low-residency MFA programs.
The Warren Wilson MFA program was founded in 1976 by Ellen Bryant Voigt at Goddard College. In 1981, Goddard College became fiscally unstable and the program moved to Warren Wilson College near Asheville, North Carolina.
The program's faculty and alumni have won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, as well as fellowships from the MacArthur Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The alumni of the program have published hundreds of books and won many awards. The program is currently directed by Debra Allbery.
The Warren Wilson MFA program faculty change, thus giving students exposure to many writers. Recent faculty of the program include: Betty Adcock, Andrea Barrett, Charles Baxter, Marianne Boruch, Robert Boswell, Lan Samantha Chang, Michael Collier, Stephen Dobyns, Jennifer Grotz, Brooks Haxton, David Haynes, Tony Hoagland, C.J. Hribal, A. Van Jordan, Victor LaValle, Thomas Mallon, Maurice Manning, Heather McHugh, Martha Rhodes, Danzy Senna, David Shields, Megan Staffel, Daniel Tobin, Kirstin Valdez Quade, Ellen Bryant Voigt, C. Dale Young, Dean Young, and others. The list of the faculty over the entire 30-year history of the program numbers above 150 writers.
Course of Study
All semesters in the Program begin and end with a 10-day residency. Students completing the program without break will attend five residencies and complete four semesters. The residencies include lectures, classes, workshops, and seminars. Some students opt to do one or more extra semesters, and some opt to take a semester off at times.
- Semester 1: Students generate new writing under supervision of their Faculty Adviser, revise work, write 12-15 annotations (examining a work from the perspective of single element of craft), and read 20 books related to their genre.
- Semester 2: Students generate new writing under supervision of their Faculty Adviser, revise work, write 12-15 annotations (examining a work from the perspective of single element of craft), and read 20 books related to their genre, as well as beginning to formulate the topic for their Degree Essay.
- Semester 3: Students write a 30-50 page degree essay examining one or more works with regard to elements of craft, which is required in order to advance toward graduation.
- Semester 4: Students generate a thesis of work of publishable quality be writing new poetry or fiction as well as revising work previously generated in the program, write 12-15 annotations, read 20 or more books toward their bibliography, and prepare a Class to be given at their final residency.