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MFA in Creative Writing...go unfunded to CCNY or do a third round of applications?


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Ultimately, my admittedly unrealistic goal is to be a literature or writing professor. I realize that my chances are slim, so part of my thought process with grad school is that even if I end up continuing to work administrative jobs like I do now, at least a master's will allow me to apply for better jobs.

Two years ago, I applied to PhD programs, but failed at getting admitted to any. This time around, I lowered my sights and applied to MFA programs, resigning myself to do my master's first. The results are that every funded and well regarded program rejected me. The only school I was accepted to is the City College of New York, but I would have to loan out 50k to 60k over two years to finish the degree. I was declined from Columbia, NYU, New School, Hunter, and Rutgers Newark. Blargh. It's disappointing because I did a research fellowship as an undergrad, I've got nearly a dozen publications in literary journals - small ones, but it's still something - and a few years of work experience. 

Has anyone here gone to CCNY's MFA or is in it currently? Would it be worth it? 

They do have a few success stories that they boast about on their program page, but I’m just afraid that CCNY wouldn’t be a big step up. I started out at community college, worked full time while I while toiling away at a small state school, and wasn’t as active as I could have been, and I feel like a lot of these schools frown upon that background. Especially when I was applying to PhD programs. I’m honestly not too sure what I should do – I could just barely afford the cost of tuition and travel to City College of New York, and while I was mentally prepared with the possibility of taking large loans, I really hoped that it’d be at a school I could be certain is worth the money.

I’m also afraid that I’ll just throw away another thousand dollars on grad school applications next year and end up with the same results. After failing at getting into PhD programs last year and mostly failing at MFAs this year, I’m kind of wondering if I’m just not good enough for anything better.

Right now, I'm working down in Baltimore and but I'm really eager to leave. The other option I'm considering is pursuing the MA in Teaching Writing at Johns Hopkins University. It’s a brand new program, just started up last year, and their admissions are so lax that they only ask students apply 30-60 days before the term they wish to start. Additionally, while I would have a snowball’s chance in hell at being a professor with a MFA, I feel like I might have even less opportunity with a MA. The entire degree would be about 27k, which isn't terrible compared to other schools and degrees but still definitely an investment.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read that big wall of text. 

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Going into any unfunded humanities degree is generally not worth it. 

$60,000 borrowed at a 6% interest rate would result in a monthly loan payment of $666.12 over 10 years. This would result in $19,934.90 being paid in interest during that time. This number will likely be higher if the cost doesn't include the cost of living in NYC.

You mention that you'd like to be a literature or writing professor. Generally speaking, that is not what MFA graduates do. Those jobs generally go to people with either an English Literature PHD or a Rhetoric/Composition PHD. (It's also worth noting that these jobs are rare even then as less than 1/3rd of teaching jobs at universities are tenure-track)  Sometimes, MFA graduates become Creative Writing Professors; but the current trend is that you'll need either an MFA + PHD in Creative Writing or an MFA + PHD in Literature or Rhetoric/Composition in order to do that. More schools are looking to do hires where one person can take on multiple teaching responsibilities.

With an MA degree and substantial teaching experience,  community colleges might be a good place to get a tenure-track job if you were interested in teaching writing. The candidate pool has the possibility of being larger though because you'd be competing with applicants that have earned an MA and a PHD.

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