Suspend Your Disbelief

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Should You Get an MFA in Creative Writing?

Stairway in the Old American Can Factory / photo from

Stairway in the Old American Can Factory / photo from

Are you currently weighing the benefits of an MFA? If you heard Michael Chabon’s take on MFA programs in his amazing AWP keynote, you’re probably hitchhiking to UC Irvine, a typewriter strapped to your heart — but even so, you might be wrestling with important questions like these:

  • Will an advanced degree help you with your particular goals as a writer — and if so, when is the right time to go?
  • How important is full or partial funding? What about opportunities to teach or work on a journal?
  • What are program directors and committees looking for in MFA students, and how can you make your application sing?

This summer from July 25-30, One Story‘s associate editor, Marie-Helene Bertino, will be offering a six-day writing workshop centered around addressing such questions, as well as on honing a workshopped portfolio — one usable as a writing sample for applications. The workshop will be held in Brooklyn’s The Old American Can Factory, the curated arts space in Gowanus where One Story keeps its offices.

Via One Story:

The week will include morning workshops, afternoon craft lectures, and evening panels with writers, editors, agents, and MFA directors. All events are designed to give students the practical advice they need to either apply for an MFA or launch their career outside of academia.

Students will leave with:

  • A workshopped portfolio they can use as their writing sample
  • Advice from MFA directors about what they look for in an applicant
  • A full understanding of the range of MFA and non-MFA options
  • Insight about what an MFA can offer a writer
  • A breakdown of the financial implications of an MFA
  • An introduction to a community of writers at the same stage of their career
  • Access to One Story editors and writers
  • A look at the wider publishing world from established agents, editors, and writers


The application period is open between now and May 31. Learn more on One Story‘s website.

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