MFA Program Frequently Asked Questions

          

Courses and Enrollment | Funding and Benefits | Teaching | Thesis Prep and Graduation | Organizations

 

COURSES AND ENROLLMENT

 

What creative writing workshops are 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 MFA program requirements can be found here.  As always, the course of study should be discussed with and approved by your advisor.

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 MFA 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.)

How often are 6765.02 and 6763.02 (known as “Fiction B” and “Poetry B”) offered? How often are the forms courses offered? What about screenwriting? Special topics (6769)?

The “B” 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. 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 if 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. Summer is more complex.  If you are teaching in summer, you are required to be enrolled for a minimum of 4 hours.  If you are not teaching, there is no enrollment requirement; however, if you wish to continue using the RPAC or COTA using your Buck-ID, you have to purchase those accesses separately.  (More on that later.) Also, see below for a note about student loans and full-time status in the summertime.

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 12 hours in the autumn and spring terms and a minimum of 6 hours in the summer term. (University Fellowships are 12-month awards, so the summer enrollment minimum of 6 hours DOES apply.)  Please note that while on fellowship, you must be registered for graduate level hours, that is, at the 5000-level or above.  You are of course, welcome to sign up for undergraduate courses or low-level fitness courses, but these must be in addition to 12 hours of graduate credit.

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. If you were enrolled fall and spring, but not enrolled for summer classes, you can still use the RPAC for an additional summer fee.

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 to take no more than twelve hours per semester, and cannot enroll for more than eighteen hours, including audited courses. We strongly discourage anyone from taking that many hours.

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. **Please note that for students on a University Fellowship, undergraduate courses DO NOT count toward your minimum hours required under the terms of the fellowship.

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

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.” Contact Kathy Fagan Grandinetti 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. Contact Kathy Fagan Grandinetti for permission to enroll. Journal hours, unlike independent study and thesis hours, are not variable.

How many credit hours can one earn for independent study?

Discuss this with your advisor and the faculty member with whom you wish to take an independent study.

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.

 

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FUNDING AND BENEFITS

 

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.  Most summer courses offered are sections of English 1110, or First-Year Writing.  Creative writing courses at the introductory or intermediate level are sometimes offered in the summer, and those courses will be taught by MFA GTAs.  Outside of creative writing, 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.

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. When your appointment is entered into the HR system, and the registrar's office and the fiscal system have synced, your account will reflect the graduate fee authorization (taking your balance down).  Your account may 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. (There have been some technical issues with the fee authorization system in past semesters.  If you have not seen an update in the balance on your account by the second week of the semester, please contact: 614-292-2242 or cwMFA@osu.edu. We'll get it straightened out.)

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, cwMFA@osu.edu.

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

Page nine of theRegistrar’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.

Where can I find information about graduate student benefits and health insurance?

The Office of Human Resources provides a graduate student benefits overview guide [pdf]. For student health insurance, go to the OSU Student Health Insurance website.

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.

Where can I find information about benefits for dependents?

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

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TEACHING

 

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 are also 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.

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

Excellent question.  This is particularly important for courses offered in the summer term. 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. Meet with our amazing undergraduate English advisors Cecilia Johnson and MaryKatherine Ramsey (OSU MFA alumni, all three!) and ask them to promote your course: leave them a stack of flyers. Contacting Arts & Sciences advisors and leave 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!

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.

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

Indeed we do:  English 2267.  MFA students who have done graduate coursework or the equivalent in all three genres are eligible to teach it.

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.

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.

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.

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THESIS PREP AND GRADUATION

 

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 committee--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, based on your request and the availability and workload of faculty in your genre.

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

Nine.  For more information about MFA degree requirements, please visit the course requirements page 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 requests 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.

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 cwMFA@osu.edu, for more information. 

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ORGANIZATIONS

 

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. As a student in our program, 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 or can demonstrate some other “business related” reason for attendance, such as staffing The Journal’s table at the bookfair.  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 event celebrating the work of third year students. 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?

Contact Michelle Herman and/or Kathy Fagan Grandinetti, 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.

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