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  1. #1
    Jonathan Whatley is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2001

    For MFAs in Creative Writing: "There Are No Academic Jobs"

    Quote Originally Posted by John Warner, at Inside Higher Ed
    I am nowhere near the first to say it, nor will I be the last, but to be clear: there is no sustainable career path in academia for MFA holders in creative writing.

    If you ask me, that should be printed as a disclaimer at the top of every graduate program application.

    I implore you, do not think you’re the exception to these realities. You are not.

    Each year, we graduate thousands of newly minted degree holders and there are very, very few career-type teaching jobs to absorb them.

    As of this writing, according to the listings at the Academic Jobs Wiki, there are 13 jobs for fiction, 6 for poetry, 7 for creative nonfiction and 16 “mixed.” […] Some of these jobs are so rarified that unless you have something akin to “Pulitzer Prize Finalist” in front of your name, you will not be considered, as is likely the case with the University of Michigan’s search for a fiction writer of “open” rank. […]

    I do not say these things to be mean or dismissive, but in the interest of honesty. The message is to myself as much as anyone. With 15 years teaching experience, having published five books and even possessing one or two unicorn traits acquired over the years, were I to go on the market (which I am not), I would rate my own chances of receiving a job offer at something like 5% or less. It would not surprise me for a moment if I could not score a single on-campus interview.

    This does not mean that you shouldn’t go ahead and get an MFA degree. If you are dead passionate about writing, can do it without going into debt, and you come out ready to do something else to make a living, you should go for it.
    To Potential MFA Students: There Are No Academic Jobs (John Warner, Just Visiting blog, Inside Higher Ed, September 14, 2014)

    This, of course, is not a new story. What Becomes of an M.F.A.? (Daniel Grant, The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 26, 1999) From which:

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Grant, in the Chronicle
    A survey of past graduates of Columbia University's creative-writing program found a high percentage of real-estate brokers, social workers, employees of insurance companies and advertising agencies, school guidance counselors, proofreaders and college-level freshman composition teachers whose publication experience was nonexistent or modest at best.

  2. #2
    CalDog is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    The 1999 "What Becomes of an M.F.A.?" story seems out of date in one respect. It includes the following:

    A sizable number of M.F.A. graduates go on to complete other degrees -- the most popular being doctorates in literature ... As one program director said, "The Ph.D. is a way to keep yourself decently poor, whereas the M.F.A. is a means of remaining unemployed and unemployable."
    In 2014, it might be fair to suggest that both the MFA and the PhD in literature are "means of remaining unemployed and unemployable".
    Last edited by CalDog; 09-16-2014 at 11:00 AM.

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