I've only mentioned my status as a grad student at Seton Hill's Writing Popular Fiction program a hundred times on this blog. So this week, when an exciting and major change was announced to the students, I decided I should bring a discussion on this subject - the change and what it means - to the Five Scribes.
First, I applied to Seton Hill two years ago and began work on my Master of Arts in January 2008. For the past year and a half, I've had a blast in the academic setting even as my craft improved drastically. But since January, I've felt the impending bummer of graduation approaching. Don't get me wrong - I have a hankering to graduate and move along, but at the same time, I truly love the program, the learning opportunities, and the camaraderie. I began three months ago to look into PhD and MFA programs. Why?
The Master of Arts degree is a stepping stone as much as it's a final destination. Many are content with an MA in their field and rightly so. But the Master of Fine Arts is a terminal degree. That means you can't go any further in your education in that field. There are a couple PhD programs in creative writing out there, but those programs focus on literary fiction rather than popular fiction, which is where my heart is. Most of the PhD programs I'd be willing to jump into are for literature and English. While the PhD is very much *the* terminal degree, an MFA is also considered one.
Being the complete whore for academics that I am, naturally, I want this terminal degree. I want the opportunity to study popular fiction as much as I want to write it. Also, if I need a day job while I'm waiting to hit the top of the bestseller lists, I can teach. The MA qualifies me to teach at community colleges and possibly find adjunct positions at four-year colleges. The MFA, however, opens the field. I could teach at a four-year university or at a community college or in my back yard. I'd have options.
So when Seton Hill announced that they have received approval from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to convert the MA to an MFA, I immediately signed on.
If you check out the SHU WPF website, you'll see the changes already publicized. There's an additional courseload of online classes during the term, an additional term, and an additional residency, and it seems as if the structure of residency might change, as well.
Not all of the details are available yet. In the meantime, take note. There is officially one more MFA program dedicated solely to genre fiction.