FAQs about the MFA program

What is Low-Residency?

A combination of community-wide, face-to-face meetings, called “residencies,” and online distance learning. Our program meets twice each year, June and December, for 10-day residencies full of workshops, lectures, seminars, and orientations. During each residency, you’ll create a customized learning plan you’ll follow during the five months of the project period.

Would a traditional or a low-residency MFA program be better for me?

All MFA programs help writers hone their craft through active reading and writing. Traditional programs generally require students to live on or near campus and attend regular, in-person classes on writing. Students in traditional programs read and share insights about the books covered in class. Creative work is critiqued predominantly through workshops. Some traditional programs also offer teaching assistantships. Low-residency programs offer many of the same benefits with a great deal more flexibility. Students and faculty do not need to live near the program, and, in the case of the AULA MFA program, they often live in other states or countries. The participants come to campus twice a year during 10-day residencies. When working from home, you may participate in a few online classes, but the majority of your work will be done one-on-one with a mentor, and your assigned reading list will be customized to compliment your creative writing project. While some of your creative work will be critiqued during the in-person workshops at each residency (10 hours total), you will work primarily with your project period mentor to explore and critique every draft and revision. Your mentor’s correspondence will include global comments and detailed page-by-page line edits. Some low-residency programs such as AULA's also offer options for the student who wants to study the teaching of creative writing, including the opportunity to participate in teaching assistantships. Since you will be working in a self-structured manner over 10 months of each year, you will quickly develop the needed habits of reading and writing independently – skills designed to sustain and support your writer’s drive long after graduation.

Will I get to pick my own mentor?

At each residency, you will submit a list of four mentors with whom you’d like to work. Whenever possible, students are matched to one of the mentors on their ordered list. As you continue on in the program, you are increasingly likely to get your first or second choice.

Do I have a new mentor every term?

Most students generally work with four mentors in total—a new mentor each project period. But if you wish to continue with a specific mentor beyond the current project period you may request to repeat that mentor one time. You will also work with additional faculty at the residencies. Workshop leaders are assigned by the program office in order to give students the opportunity to interact with as many of our program faculty as possible.

What if I’m interested in more than one genre?

Great! We encourage students to explore genres and genre blends. To this end, our “mixed genre” option allows you to jump into a new genre without extending your time in the program. If you’d like to more seriously consider a second genre and are willing to extend your time by an extra term, you can do a “dual concentration,” studying for three terms in your primary genre, and two terms in a second genre. In addition, we believe in the value of learning about all genres. Thus, you may attend lectures and seminars in every genre offered and are in no way limited to the genre in which you entered. Many of our faculty read and write in multiple genres, and may be competent to critique your work in two or more genres. Simply ask mentors about their qualifications and willingness to read across genre.

How much writing/reading per week is required to keep up with the program?

To get the most out of the program, plan on spending 20-25 hours per week on your reading and writing. Many of our students work full time and/or have families while completing their MFA. The flexibility of the program makes this possible. It’s possible to complete the program devoting fewer than 20 hours some weeks, as long as you’re willing to put in extra hours during other weeks to make up the difference. The more hours you devote to your craft, the more you’ll get out of the program.

Does this MFA program encourage particular writing styles or subjects?

There is no one "Antiochian" way to write. Our students and mentors read and write experimentally, traditionally, liberally, conservatively, and in every style and persuasion. Our goal is to help you learn the craft you need to write the kind of work that appeals to you.

How much does this degree cost?

Please check the Tuition page for updated information. One could say the cost of the program is similar to the cost of a new car.

How do I pay for this degree?

Many students are able to continue working full time while in the program. Some scholarships are available to incoming and continuing students. Please visit the financial aid page to learn about the options that may be available to you.

Is the low-residency MFA program officially considered a “full-time” program?

Yes. Students are able to borrow money or apply for foreign student visas at the rates and under the laws available for full-time academic programs. Although our program hours are flexible, this is a graduate-level academic program with a significant workload.

What kind of MFA community is available during the off-site project periods?

AULA hosts events and readings year-round. Our popular Literary Uprisings pair AULAfaculty members, MFA students, and undergrads for a once per quarter reading. Film festivals, performances, community meetings, and alumni activities also take place throughout the year. The writing center is open year-round on campus. More significantly, AULA’s online community continues 24/7. Our students, faculty, and alumni meet to discuss local literary events with the broader community; students may explore books with their mentors via our Sakai learning management system. Our community-wide discussion forums are active daily, with access to local students and alumni, regardless of what part of the country you reside in. Occasional academic discussion boards have focused on literary topics, such as The Points of Point of View, Metaphor, and more. Popular online topics on our broader discussion boards have included Parents Who Write, Queer Dears, the People of Color Round Table, Genre Conferences, submission opportunities, and Sakai mini-courses, facilitated by faculty, following the themes of the residencies.

How is AULA’s social justice mission reflected in the MFA program?

AULA integrates a commitment to experiential learning into our curriculum through three requirements: the field study, the Translation Seminar, and the Arts, Culture, and Society class. These three requirements ask students to consider the role of literature in society, within a broader geographic or personal context. These experiences may become part of your writing, or they may not. There is no ”Antiochian” way to live or write. Antioch University’s history of experiential learning and social justice may attract a segment of students and faculty more committed to the role of the artist in society. However, many of our writers and faculty consider themselves to be non-political, and in fact, “just writers.” We admit the strongest students we can and pair them with the most talented mentors we can attract from around the nation. Then we let them write. We do not ever dictate subject matter.

Does AULA offer advanced standing in the MFA program?

Students who may have begun to pursue their MFA through another program may transfer up to one semester of credit to AULA with the sign-off of the department chair. Students with advanced standing generally complete all the requirements of the MFA program during an accelerated period.

What if a student is unable to finish a semester, or needs to take some time off?

Many of our students are busy adults with complex lives. Students who fail to complete their project period can arrange to go on Enrollment Maintenance Status—paying a small fee to continue working with one's mentor to complete the assigned work during the subsequent project period. Students who need to take a Leave of Absence can do so between any completed term and the next term.

When are your residencies held?

Each year in June and December.