Questions Most Often Asked by OSU MFAs in Creative Writing

What are the workshops in creative writing offered for MFA students at Ohio State?

  • English 6763.01 Graduate Workshop in Poetry (3 credits)
  • English 6763.02 Graduate Workshop in Poetry for MFA Students in Fiction or Creative Nonfiction (3 credits)
  • English 6765.01 Graduate Workshop in Fiction (3 credits)
  • English 6765.02 Graduate Workshop in Fiction for MFA Students in Poetry or Creative Nonfiction (3 credits)
  • English 6768 Graduate Workshop in Creative Nonfiction (3 credits)
  • English 6769 Graduate Workshop in Creative Writing - Special Topics (3 credits)
  • English 6764 Graduate Workshop in Screenwriting (3 credits)

(Complete list of all courses available for MFA students. Courses at the 5000 level and above "count" for graduate credit, and thus fulfill the requirements toward your degree. For courses outside the English department, consult the full course schedule. You may take courses at any level of the curriculum to maintain your financial aid—but such courses will not fulfill requirements toward your degree or any GIS you might undertake.)

Do I need to provide a writing sample to take workshops outside of my genre?

No.  If you have "MFA in Creative Writing" standing in the university, you may register for any workshop. But in the unlikely event that more than fifteen people in the program register for a workshop, those in the genre will get priority and registration will be adjusted accordingly.  (And of course we do offer workshops specifically geared for writers admitted in another genre.)

What are the other courses I am required to take to complete my degree?

Please see this page: http://english.osu.edu/grad/mfa/prospective/requirements.

How often are 6765.02 and 6763.02 (colloquially known as “baby fiction” and “baby poetry”) offered? How often are the forms courses offered? What about screenwriting? Special topics (6769)?

The “baby” courses will be offered at least once every two years—and, when staffing is available, once a year. A forms course in prose and one in poetry are offered yearly (prose forms alternate: fiction one year, nonfiction the next). Screenwriting is offered every spring, and in alternate years will cover television writing and writing for film. Special topics courses are offered whenever we can staff them and someone has an interesting idea for one. (And while I’m listing things: Literary Publishing is offered every autumn and we encourage all first-year students to enroll in it along with the workshop in their genre.)

What kinds of special topics courses have been offered in the past?

Humor writing, writing the long poem, gender and poetry, characterization—to name a few.

May I take “forms” twice? Or even three times?

Absolutely, if the subject interests you—it varies each time it is offered in each genre—and there is still room in the class after those who have not yet taken their required forms seminar have enrolled.

What is the minimum number of hours for which a graduate student who is teaching (known as a graduate teaching associate, or GTA) needs to be registered? 

GTAs need to be registered for a minimum of eight hours in the autumn and spring terms. The jury is still out for summer. (Typically, a minimum of four hours in the summer term were required for MFA students who were teaching; last summer, there was no obligation to take courses. Check with Tammy before forging ahead!)  But see below for a note about student loans and full-time status in the summertime.

I understand that there is a minimum number of hours I must take--but is there a maximum I can take?

Students in our program are generally advised not to take more than twelve hours per semester, and cannot enroll for more than eighteen hours, including audited courses. (And we strongly discourage anyone from taking that many hours, in any case.)

What is the minimum number of hours for which a student on fellowship needs to be registered?

Students on fellowship need to be registered for a minimum of twelve hours in the autumn and spring terms and a minimum of six hours in the summer term.

How many hours should I be registered for in the summer if I intend to take out a student loan?

If you are applying for a student loan in the summertime, whether you are teaching or not, you must be registered for eight credit hours.

How many hours should I be registered for in the summer if I want to have use of the RPAC?

All students taking four or more credit hours on the Columbus campus are assessed the recreation fee, which provides support for all campus recreational sports facilities, programs and services. Students who are assessed the fee are automatic members of the recreational sports facilities and eligible for all member benefits.

Can I enroll in undergraduate classes?

Yes.  These courses count toward your total credit hours for any given semester, but they do not fulfill requirements of the program, the department, or any GIS or graduate minor you may be pursuing.  Note that the specifics of what "counts" will vary (for example, in the English department, only courses at the 5000-level or above are considered graduate-level coursework; if you take coursework outside English, courses at the 4000-level or above "count"). But there may be good reasons for you to register for courses at lower levels. Talk to your advisor, the Director of Creative Writing, and/or faculty teaching the courses you're interested in.

How do I put together a cohesive program of courses in the arts outside creative writing?

If this is of interest to you, see the graduate interdisciplinary specialization in fine arts.

How often are summer appointments available for MFA students who are graduate teaching associates?

There are sometimes opportunities for MFA students to teach in the summertime.  Creative writing courses at the introductory or intermediate level are sometimes offered in the summer, and those courses will be taught by GTAs.  Outside of creative writing, however, GTAs are hired to fill summer positions on the basis of their seniority in the department’s graduate programs and their ability to teach the courses available, which means that opportunities for MFA students outside of creative writing are extremely rare.

What kinds of courses are available for MFA students to take in the summertime?

Not many in our department. Normally, no MFA faculty teach in the summer, and summer offerings are currently very limited.  If you are on Fellowship, see your faculty advisor and/or the Director of Creative Writing for help in planning your summer coursework. (Note that if you are teaching a creative writing workshop for the first time during the summer, you will be observed by the member of the faculty who has been assigned to be your course director for that semester.) If you are working for The Journal and you have already taken English 6662 (literary publishing), you may register for “Journal hours.” See Michelle Herman to discuss this possibility. (You will be expected to do the equivalent of three credit hours of coursework—i.e., more than the usual hours of volunteer slush-reading.)

How many credit hours can one earn for working on The Journal?  And how does one enroll for such credit hours?

Three credit hours. See Michelle Herman for permission to enroll. Journal hours, unlike independent study and thesis hours, are not variable.

How can one get involved with the The Journal as a reader? What is the application process for editorial positions?

See Michelle Herman and/or Kathy Fagan, The Journal's faculty advisors and the magazine's longtime former editors. And make sure you take English 6662! No one will be considered for a position who has not taken the course in literary publishing.

 

 

 

Where can I find more information about my fellowship award?

The Graduate School provides details regarding first year fellowship awards.

I'm a brand-new first year student (or a student in my second year, when my fellowship reverts to a GTA), and Buckeyelink says that I owe some random amount of money. Am I going to have to pay that money, or will it be automatically deducted at some point?

You need to sign and turn in your GTA appointment document by the deadline provided by the Department of English Fiscal Manager, for the fees to be deducted. Your account will reflect the graduate fee authorization (taking your balance down) the moment that your appointment is entered into the HR system. Within 24 hours after that, your account will reflect a small balance for other charges/fees; at the same time, it will reflect the words “pending payroll deduction” with the total amount that offsets the small balance for other charges/fees. (If you have not seen an update in the balance on your account by the second week of August, please contact Tammy Carl: 614-292-2242 or carl.34@osu.edu.)

 Where can I find information about graduate student benefits—for example, health insurance, including coverage for massage therapy and acupuncture?

The Office of Human Resources provides a graduate student benefits overview guide [pdf].

Where can I find information specifically about OSU student health insurance?

The OSU Student Health Insurance website.

Helpful tip about benefits that may be especially useful to those who spend all day sitting hunched over a computer keyboard, laptop, legal pad, notebook, workshop manuscripts, and massive piles of student work that need correcting & grading:

Your insurance covers all but a $7 copay for therapeutic massage (for which you will need a referral from a physician--but that's easy enough to obtain: go to student health and request it) and/or acupuncture (for which you do NOT need a referral--you can simply make an appointment). Excellent, tried-and-true recommendations for practitioners who are "on the plan": Cheryl Boschert, massage therapist, and Hailing Zhang, acupuncture. They both practice at both OSU Integrative Medicine (2000 Kenny Road, south of Lane Avenue; call 293-9777) and at the Acupuncture Healing Clinic, 3800 N. High Street, directly across the street from the Whetstone branch library; call 267-3800). (The latter is a nicer atmosphere and it will probably be easier to get a massage appointment there.)

Another "benefit" of being at OSU that has nothing to do with your health insurance, but that may be equally helpful, is that you can register for a class in Alexander Technique, which addresses posture and specifically focuses on body awareness for artists in all disciplines. To find an AT class, study the course listings each semester in Dance and Music (the course number is 5177 in both departments, and the offering rotates each semester between them). This is a two-credit undergraduate-level course (see note below regarding UG courses) and is repeatable up to six credits. (OSU also offers yoga as Dance 2175 (3 credits.)

Where can I find information about benefits for dependents?

The Office of Human Resources provides a graduate student benefits overview guide with dependent information.

Where can I find a payment schedule for graduate teaching associates?

Graduate students are paid on the monthly payment schedule on the last business day of each month: .

Where can I find more information about stipends by term?

Please contact the MFA program coordinator, Tammy Carl.

Where can I find more information about tuition and fees by credit hour?

Page nine of the Registrar’s tuition and fees table [pdf] lists tuition and fees by credit hour for graduate students.

Where can I find out about other funding opportunities?

Funding opportunities for MFA students are available at the university, college, and departmental levels, and external funding is available as well. View our list.

When will I have my first opportunity to teach a creative writing workshop?

Once you have taught freshman composition/basic writing (English 1110) twice, you are eligible to teach a workshop in your genre.  You will be assigned one as soon as it is feasible--ideally, in your second year, fall or spring semester. When that is not possible, you will be assigned during your third year.

How will I prepare to teach an undergraduate creative writing workshop?

When you are assigned a section of an introductory creative writing workshop, you will also be assigned a faculty course director. That person will serve as your mentor, and will help you as needed as you design your syllabus and plan your course (and in any case, he or she will need to see a copy of your syllabus before the semester begins).  Sample syllabi will be made available, and your faculty mentor will be available for consultation at any point during the semester.  There will also be opportunities to take a teaching apprenticeship course with a faculty member.  MFA students should contact a member of the MFA faculty who is teaching an undergraduate class at any level for permission to enroll in English 8903 (the teaching apprenticeship).

How is my teaching of creative writing evaluated?

You will be observed by your course director (or, if he or she has a teaching conflict, by another member of the creative writing faculty), on a date agreed upon mutually, and a letter describing that observation will be placed in your file.  Your discursive evaluations—which you are free to create yourself (ask your course director, the Director of CW, or another faculty member for assistance if you need it)—will be reviewed by the Director of Creative Writing before they are returned to you.

How do I check on my creative writing course enrollment (for a course I am teaching)?

Deb Lowry has access to all course enrollment information.

What is the enrollment cap for the undergraduate creative writing courses I may be teaching?

For 2000-level classes, 20; for 3000-level classes, 15.

How many enrolled students are needed for the class to make?

Twelve enrolled students are required for a 2000-level or 3000-level class to make.

What is the deadline for the class to make?

Decisions to cancel under-enrolled courses are made three weeks after the date on which the last enrollment appointments open.  The date varies by term, consequently, but generally coincides with the last day of classes for the preceding term.  Please review the academic calendar and the Registrar’s important dates for more details.

What are some strategies to promote the undergraduate workshop I will be teaching?

Excellent question.  This is particularly important for poetry instructors and anyone teaching in the summertime. Here are a few suggestions: in-person announcements in undergrad CW workshops of all genres and English 1110 and other undergrad courses. Attractive, attention-grabbing flyers posted in Denney Hall and Thompson Library. Sending emails to Engrad with an attached flyer that instructors can forward to their students or post on Carmen. Meeting with Pablo Tanguay (English major advisor and creative writing minor advisor, and an MFA alum himself) and Cecilia Johnson (also and English major advisor and MFA alum!) and asking them to promote your course: leaving them with a stack of flyers. Contacting Arts & Sciences advisors such as MaryKatherine Ramsey (yes, another MFA alum) and leaving them with stacks of flyers (check with the Director of Creative Writing for names of particularly creative writing-friendly advisors) but don't stop there! Visit 1110 classes to talk up your course! Talk to other TAs teaching 1110 about what you'll be teaching next semester! Hang flyers!

Does OSU offer an introductory multi-genre course in creative writing, taught by MFA students?

Indeed we now do.  As of spring 2014 we have a new course, English 2267.  MFA students who have done graduate coursework or the equivalent in all three genres are eligible to teach it.

Once the creative writing workshop in my genre has been taught by everyone who is eligible to teach it, how are additional sections assigned?

On the basis of the evaluations and observations described above, as well as by other means, including recommendations of faculty based on your performance in graduate workshops and the quality of your own writing. All such decisions are made by the Director of Creative Writing.

Are there teaching opportunities for MFA students other than basic writing/freshman composition (English 1110) and the introductory creative writing courses (English 2265, 2266, and 2268)?

Yes. Once you have taught the introductory course in your genre (the 2000-level course), you may have the opportunity to teach the intermediate course in creative writing in your genre (English 3465, 3466, or 3468). There are also opportunities to teach English 2367, the university's second-level required writing course (be on the lookout for announcements of 2367 training or contact the 2367 Course/Program Director, Kay Halasek), and English 3304, technical writing or business writing. More information regarding 2367 appointments. For more information about 3304, see Professor Jonathan Buehl.

Where can I find more information about teaching opportunities in English?

The English Graduate Studies Office lists information regarding teaching opportunities for graduate students.

Can I swap a teaching time slot if I find someone who is willing to swap?

This depends both on the course and the timeline.  For courses other than creative writing, check with Deb Lowry.  For creative writing, check with the Director of Creative Writing.

Where can I find more enrollment information about Program 60 students in my course?

The Office of Extended Education oversees Program 60.  For more information about Program 60 enrollment in creative writing courses, please contact the Director of the Creative Writing Program.

How often are summer appointments available for MFA students who are graduate teaching associates?

There are rare opportunities for MFA students to teach in the summertime.  Creative writing courses at the introductory level are usually offered in the summer, and those courses will be taught by GTAs.  Outside of creative writing, however, GTAs are hired to fill summer positions on the basis of their seniority in the department’s graduate programs and their ability to teach the courses available, which means that opportunities for MFA students outside of creative writing are extremely rare.

How many hours should I be registered for in order to teach in the summer?

The minimum number of hours to be full time for the purposes of teaching is four credit hours for graduate teaching associates.  If you are applying for a student loan to cover some extra expenses, full time for teaching and full time for financial aid are different in the summer.  You have to be registered for eight credits in the summer to take out student loans.

What kinds of courses are available for MFA students to take in the summertime?

Not many in our department. Normally, no MFA faculty teach in the summer, and summer offerings are currently very limited.  If you are on Fellowship, or you are teaching--both of which require you to be registered for a minimum number hours--see your faculty advisor and/or the Director of Creative Writing for help in planning your summer coursework. (Note that if you are teaching a creative writing workshop for the first time during the summer, you will be observed by the member of the faculty who has been assigned to be your course director for that semester.)

If I am not teaching during the summer, do I have to pay to take classes?

Summer semester tuition is waived for all students who have held associateships during the preceding two semesters.  Students taking advantage of this summer session fee authorization are still responsible for the COTA bus fee, RPAC fee, and student activity fee.  Students using the summer fee authorization must be registered for at least four hours of credit.

How do I obtain health insurance during the summer?

Students holding insurance in the spring term will have insurance extended through the summer.  Students should be automatically enrolled for health insurance if they register for the minimum number of hours (4).  See your faculty advisor and/or the Director of Creative Writing to discuss summer course registration options, including those in other departments.  There may be opportunities to earn course credit for editorial work on The Journal, and rising third-year students may of course register for thesis hours.

Are we going to offer creative writing classes for undergraduates during Maymester, to be taught by MFA students?

Well, we did in 2013 and 2014.  In the future? The jury is still out.

Can I enroll in undergraduate classes?

Yes.  These courses count toward your total credit hours for any given semester, but they do not fulfill requirements of the program, the department, or any GIS or graduate minor you may be pursuing.  Note that the specifics of what "counts" will vary (for example, in the English department, only courses at the 5000-level or above are considered graduate-level coursework; if you take coursework outside English, courses at the 4000-level or above "count"). But there may be good reasons for you to register for courses at lower levels. Talk to your advisor, the Director of Creative Writing, and/or faculty teaching the courses you're interested in.

How do I put together a cohesive program of courses in the arts outside creative writing?

If this is of interest to you, see the graduate interdisciplinary specialization in fine arts.

 Can I "switch" genres (if, for example, I was accepted into the program in nonfiction and then find myself more interested in writing fiction--and taking more fiction workshops than nonfiction workshops--can I write a fiction thesis?)

If all members of the faculty teaching in your "new" genre agree, yes. But you must speak with the faculty before planning such a switch.

Can I write a multi-genre thesis?

With the approval of your thesis director--and by agreement with your thesis commitee--yes. Talk to the faculty about this before you turn in your thesis committee request form.

How and when is my thesis committee formed?

Early in spring semester of your second year, you will be asked to submit your requests, and the Director of Creative Writing will make a "match" for you with a thesis director and second reader.

How many thesis hours are needed to meet MFA degree requirements?

Nine.  For more information about MFA degree requirements, please visit the prospective MFA student section of this website.

Where can I find information about thesis preparation and graduation?

Is there an alternative submission policy for MFA student theses to prevent distribution to OhioLink (the Ohio Library and Information Network)?

Yes.  The Graduate Faculty Council in the Graduate School was asked by the OSU Creative Writing Program to review the thesis submission policy for MFA Creative Writing students.  After the completion of the review, it was decided that the nature of a creative thesis, along with the policies of publishers in the creative writing field, warranted a second option for the submission of Creative Writing theses.  Therefore, MFA Creative Writing students will have the option to submit their final approved thesis through OhioLink, or by submitting a CD to the Graduate School.  If a CD is submitted, the embargo from wide-spread electronic dissemination of the document will be considered indefinite unless the author request a release of the document at a later time.  The Graduate School will provide the OSU Library with the CD of the document as the official record of the thesis submitted for degree requirements.  The thesis will be cataloged and made available for use by library patrons and for interlibrary loan, much as the paper copies of theses submissions has been done for years.

If you opt to submit your theses by CD, bring the disc to the Graduation Services area in the Graduate School, 247 University Hall, along with your Thesis Approval form and the library processing fee.  A staff member in Graduation Services will sit down with you and review your document for formatting compliance.  Bring in a paper copy of your thesis to the Graduate School sometime before your final submission so that they can do an initial format review.  This will hopefully alleviate the discovery of any major formatting problems at the time of your final submission.  Documents are reviewed on a walk-in basis from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.  For more information, please contact Tim Watson, Director of Graduation Services, at 614-292-6031.

What is AWP? And how do I join? And must I/should I go to the annual conference?

AWP (the Association of Writers & Writing Programs) is the organization to which all academic creative writing programs and their faculty and students belong. You are automatically a member (the program pays membership dues).  Attendance at the annual conference is certainly not mandatory, but it's usually fun. Registration is relatively inexpensive for student members, but note that your travel and lodging expenses will not be paid by the department unless you are on a panel.  Keep an eye out for announcements of deadlines for panel proposals. Current students do sometimes propose panels, or are asked by others to be participants on panels, and sometimes these panels are approved. Ask your colleagues for advice (a note posted to Creatwrite will be most efficient, reaching not only all current students but many alumni of our program).

What is the Writers' Guild and why must I pay dues to it?

This is the MFA student organization. It represents you within the department and the university and sponsors numerous activities which will be of interest to you--including Epilog, our annual graduation event. Dues are nominal, and they are required.

How can one get involved with the The Journal as a reader? What is the application process for editorial positions?

See Michelle Herman or Kathy Fagan, The Journal's faculty advisors and the magazine's longtime former editors.

How many credit hours can one earn for working on The Journal?  And how does one enroll for such credit hours?

See Michelle Herman.

How many credit hours can one earn for independent study?

See the faculty member with whom you wish to take an independent study (the maximum number of hours for any single independent study is three).

If I take a leave during my third year (and give up my GTA appointment), with the permission of my thesis director, the Director of Creative Writing, and the department Chair, and work on my thesis remotely, how many thesis hours must I register for during my final semester, and what will this cost?

In order to graduate with either a master’s degree or doctoral degree, you must be registered for at least three graduate credit hours. Audit hours do not count. In general, GAAs, GRAs, and GTAs are required to register for eight graduate credit hours per semester (except summer when it is four), but post-candidacy exam GAAs, GRAs, and GTAs are required to register for three graduate hours. International students on a visa should consult with the Office of International Education about enrollment criteria.  The cost varies by academic year, please view the Registrar’s tuition and fees table [pdf] for an estimated cost by hour for resident and non-resident fee totals.

Please see the Director of Creative Writing to discuss this before you proceed very far in pursuing this plan.  It is not one we encourage.

Where can I find career guidance for non-teaching jobs?

The Graduate School provides several career development resources, including a calendar of job fairs.

Is there a dossier service available for graduating MFA students?

Yes. A dossier is a file that includes your letters of recommendation, so that when you asked to submit them, they can be sent on your behalf without your having to contact your recommenders individually.  Please contact Tammy Carl, Creative Writing Program Coordinator, for more information. 

What is there to do for fun outdoors (or something resembling outdoors, like an ice rink) in Columbus (or nearby)?

  • OSU Outdoor Adventure Center (this in on campus--they arrange weekend/spring break trips all over the country (ice-climbing, kayaking, etc) and they also rent kayaks and canoes you can take on the Scioto river. Also have a climbing wall at the ARC, on West campus).
  • OSU Adventure Recreation Center (part of the RPAC): most notable for (1) climbing wall; (2) Outdoor Adventure Center, which sponsors guided trips and also trip planning/resources for rock climbing, backpacking, spelunking, etc. At one point they rented equipment to students at free or steeply discounted rates; not clear if they still do.
  • For ice skating: in addition to several commercial ventures, OSU's Ice Rink is open for skating throughout the week; equipment rental is possible and admission + rental is $7 (or less if you get a quarterly pass).  And there's a figure-skating club. Ice rink hours/info.  OSU Skating Club and Precision Team.  Columbus Figure Skating Club (freestyle, Ice Dance, Precision Group and Private lesson sessions).
  • Columbus Metroparks: good for general being-in-the-out-of-doors, but not for high-adventure sorts of things; most trails are well-maintained and fairly easy. For more information:
  • Metro Parks Winter Hikes 2013 (it has been noted that the Metropark's winter hike program offers soup and hot chocolate at the end of them; you get a patch if you go on 7 of them).
  • Ohio State Parks: variable in what they offer, like all state park systems. Many within a quick drive of Columbus. Cross-country skiing available throughout the state, but highest concentration in the northeast region.
  • Central Ohio Greenways: multi-use paths that criss-cross the region and are being actively developed. The Olentangy Trail follows, natch, the Olentangy River and was my main path to and from campus when I lived west of High. Likely more exciting for biking than hiking.
  • Miami Valley Bike Trails (Dayton area): 330 miles of bike trails, and the Miami Valley is beautiful.
  • Buckeye Trail: a 1600-mile loop that goes in a big loop around Ohio; comparable in organization to the Appalachian Trail, in that it has defined sections that can be strung together for a longer hike.
  • Little Miami Scenic Trail  (Yellow Springs is an hour away and has a very long bike path--something on the order of 75 miles).
  • Hocking Hills (also an hour away).
  • Alum Creek (close and has good boating and swimming options).
  • River rafting in West Virginia (the Gauley River and the New River are both a shortish drive, and have runs suitable for multiple skill levels)
  • Young Men's Christian Association hiking group
  • The Ohio State University Mountaineers Club
  • The Ohio State University Ski Club

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