Thursday, December 31, 2009

How many credits is your program?

After reading your posts wrapping up the first semester (YAY!), I realized that some of you don't seem to have the same course load as me! I thought that most MFA students would be required to take between 12-18 credits a semester. In any case, my first semester, I was required to take 18 credits. GTAs in other departments are required to take 12. But first-semester English GTAs are required to take 18 in order to teach second semester.

In any case, my program is 48 credits and 3 years long. How many credits is your program? How long is your program? How many credits do you take a semester? Or see yourself taking a semester? Do you feel the course load is too heavy? Too light? Or in the words of Goldilocks, "just right?"

I know it may be a little early to tell, but I'm interested in your first impressions. :)

Ciao! And Happy New Year!


  1. Wow! You have a lot of credits! I did a two year low-res MFA at Queens. I think it was roughly 36 hours so 9 a semester with maybe a few more hours at the end added on for thesis.

    U are working hard!

  2. My program is also three years and 48 credit hours. I will take about 9 hours per semester, and that is what I took this last semester. I struggled a bit with that--it meant over three novels a week plus writing assignments--but in retrospect I think it was about right. I'm taking three classes again next semester, but I did consider dropping down to two.

  3. My program is 2 years and 48 credits. We take one 3 credit class, one 3 credit workshop, and 6 dummy credit/research hours each semester to equal 12 credits. Oddly, I do feel this load is kind of light. I wish there were more poetry craft classes available each semester. They're working on that though. There is an option to do a third year with all research hours and teaching comp.

  4. Well, my program is three years and 70 credit hours. The 70 total sounds like a lot, but we are on the quarter system, so we have three terms each year rather than two. We take 30 workshop credits (6 workshops) and 20 lit credits (4 lit classes) plus 5 credits of a craft/forms class, 5 credits outside the department, and 10 credits of thesis writing work.

    GTA's are required to take a minimum of 9 credit hours a term in order to be considered full time students. That works out to being about two classes a quarter in addition to the one we teach.

    I'd say for me it's just right.

  5. hi everyone - i am applying to mfa programs for this year and jaytee's comment raised a question for me - i also applied to virginia and i had no idea about the third year option. does this apply to fiction students as well? i can't find anything about it on the website. does this mean other schools offer this third year as well? is there funding in the third year? a bevy of questions, sorry! thanks so much for this site, it's so helpful.

  6. hey seemoreglass- yeah the third year thing was a surprise to me about UVA as well. basically you are funded as a teaching assistant who teaches comp. you no longer take classes. a lot of people seem to take advantage of it, i'm considering it. it's an option for both fiction and poetry students. it's not on the website because it's not really an official thing lol.

    i think i've heard other schools mention something like this. like Alabama, I think is a 3 year school with an optional 4th year. Maybe some other posters know of others.

  7. @ JayTee- Alabama does have an optional fourth year. Same deal. Teach. Maybe thesis work, but no official courses. A few more schools have that option, but it's not exactly publized as

    @Seemoreglass -I think it's a delightful surprise, but not something you should be driving yourself crazy over when you're applying. (Not that you're doing that, just saying...)

  8. JayTee and Raina - thanks for your replies!
    it won't be my #1 deciding factor, of course, but it helps to know when considering two year vs three year programs that certain programs could technically be extended (3 year programs, to my mind, had the advantage, and this evens the playing field a wee bit).

  9. Another thing to keep in mind, SeeMoreGlass, is that some 3-year schools treat the third year the same way: as research hours/thesis prep, with no real course-load.

  10. At Penn State, the program is 2 years and 42 credits. The first two semesters, we take 3 3-credit classes and a 1-credit teaching seminar. The second year is more flexible with people taking varying amounts of thesis/project credits along with their workshops and seminars.

  11. wow. i'm trying to figure out how and why your credit load is so high. i teach in an m.f.a. program and i studied in an m.f.a program. my program was 48 hrs/ 3 years ... a full course load was 9 credit hours, 12 was an overload, and i don't even think they'd approve 16. the program in which i teach is 45 hrs/ 3 years, with a language qualification.

    are your 'credit hours' somehow different in construct so a class equals more than 3 credit hours? taking 6 courses as a graduate student, who teaches no less, doesn't make sense to me ... but oh, well .. you learn something new every day.

  12. Well...I took 6 courses this semester. One was a 6-credit "how to teach composition course" and there were 3 1-credit courses: (2 GTA courses required by the graduate school and the other was a research course required by the graduate school/department/school).

    There is no language requirement at VT for the MFA program, so none the courseload does not include that...

    This semester I am taking 5 courses (15 credits) and teaching composition. The department aproves up to 18 credits per semester.

    Mind you, VT is a pretty new program, so some of the kinks are still being worked out. The graduate school and department have different requirements for what equals a "full courseload." I go by the department. I don't want any issues. lol

  13. Hey Raina,

    Do you know what the course load is in years 2 and 3?

    It looks like you'll have 33 hours in the first year alone?!


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