Located in West Lafayette, Indiana, the creative writing MFA program at Purdue University brings you a small school experience in a large school setting. If that sounds like something you might be interested in, read on and make the choice yourself.
- There are currently 24 students across all three years of the creative writing program.
- The school has strong poetry and fiction programs.
- During the 2012 school year, all students were fully funded and did not have to pay tuition. Accepted students get positions as teaching assistants, have their tuition and fees waived, and receive a stipend.
- In 2009, the median annual wage for salaried writers and authors in America was $53,900, while the top ten percent earned more than $105,710.
- Upon graduation, most students enter PhD programs, pursue other degrees, or go back to their old employment.
- Once employed, most graduates of the MFA program enter literary professions, academic or otherwise.
- The average GPA and GRE scores for applicants are 3.4 and between 300 and 320, respectively; however, applicants are judged almost solely on their submitted writing sample and statement of purpose.
A Writing Community
There are so few writing students in the program that you almost have no choice but to band together. There are regular workshops where all students read and critique the works of their fellow classmates, and then the majority go out afterwards to relax. There is only competition when it comes to earning fellowships, such as the Ross Fellowship or the Andrews Fellowship.
Putting the Pen Down
Purdue University is one of the largest schools in the country and one of the fabled Big Ten schools. This means that you’ll have access to all student organizations and events, such as The Exponent, an award-winning, student-run newspaper, or the biannual Human Vs. Zombies hunt, which takes place across the entire campus over several days. Purdue University is also host to the annual Grand-Prix race, held during the final months of the school year.
You’ll also have access to several bars that are lined along State Street. Harry’s Chocolate Shop is one of the oldest establishments on campus and was a speakeasy during the prohibition. Across the street you’ll find Brothers, complete with pool tables, huge flat screen TVs, and three separate floors. If you’re a little low on cash on the weekend and are feeling some hunger pangs, head over to Jake’s Roadhouse and grab as many free hot dogs as you want—and a pitcher to wash it all down.
The Climate of the Times
Purdue University is an hour north of Indianapolis in West Lafayette, and that means hot summers and cold winters. The school is prone to sporadic heat waves, which are perfect for runs through the Liberal Arts and Engineering fountains, and inconsistent winters, with the school seeing two snow days three years ago and then having minimal snowfall the next. Of course, the cold doesn’t keep students from Boilering Up and attending games at the famous Ross Ade Stadium on campus or catching a play at the Stewart Center, and there are several bars, like The Black Sparrow or Nine Irish Brothers, that can warm you up in the surrounding towns. Still, you should plan for weather that can be as unpredictable as the plot twists in your future novel.
Services for Writers
While the program doesn’t offer much in the way of career services, it will act as a placement service if you plan on graduating from the program. You can create a dossier at the office that will hold your confidential letters of recommendation and mail them to whatever addresses you need them sent to. You are eligible for this service for three years, at which point you’ll have to transfer to a different service. Many former students recommend using Interfolio once these three years are up.
If you’re looking for a tight-knit creative writing MFA program run by several published faculty members, then the one over at Purdue University might be right for you. Then again, if you’re looking for a large school that always has something going on then this could be the right place for you, too.
The Jersey Shore may have gotten a rowdy reputation in recent years, but it’s not all abs and alcohol in one of the most beautiful areas of the country. Case in point: Monmouth University in West Long Branch, NJ, which offers graduate programs in education, science, humanities and social services, social work, and nursing.
- There are 632 full-time graduate students across six graduate schools.
- The school specializes in humanities, social sciences and education.
- Graduate students pay $922 per credit; total required credits range from 30 to 48 by program.
- Salary and employment vary by industry.
- There is no specific GRE target score, although some Monmouth schools favor a combined score above 300 with a 4 or above in analytical writing.
A Helpful Approach
Graduate study at Monmouth University features a balanced approach that combines classroom learning with research participation and professional meetings. The graduate courses are predominantly held in the evening, so most graduate students are balancing work and school. Both the program requirements and the culture of the school reflect this reality.
Life by the Shore
While the graduate courses may be designed around a working life, don’t think that this will translate into an easy degree. The faculty are all active teacher-scholars, respected in their fields, and there to ensure that students have a mastery of their chosen field upon graduation. The collaboration with professors is often cited as a benefit by graduates, but it also requires that the students continue to strive throughout their time at the school. The small class sizes and focus on achievement through research fosters a collaborative environment, so students generally get along well with each other.
As expected with a school on the Jersey Shore, it’s just a quick hop down Cedar Ave. to get to the beach and the boutique shops that line the ocean roads. Alternatively, it’s an equally quick trip west to get to Rte. 35 and all the comforts of suburban civilization, such as a host of restaurants, big box stores, and the Monmouth Mall.
There’s also fun to be had on campus, as the Office of Student Activities offers year-round events to keep you involved, including Homecoming, The Big Event, the International Festival, and the Family Weekend Casino Night. If you’re looking for something a little more hands-on, the school offers a number of intramural sporting opportunities, run out of the Boylan Gymnasium.
Historic, Beautiful, and Awesome
The Monmouth campus is located in northeastern New Jersey, so the climate is fairly typical for the northeast with warm, wet summers and cold winters. All-season apparel is required, and be prepared for some wet days, as even the “dry” months still average over three inches of rain. Although the campus itself is in a suburban environment, it’s just a short car ride to New York, Philadelphia, or Atlantic City, so urban entertainment and culture is always a quick trip away.
There’s even some history to be had on the grounds, as Woodrow Wilson Hall, also called the Shadow Lawn Mansion, served as the summer White House during the 1916 presidential campaign. For those not interested in the comings and goings of early twentieth century presidents, the building also served as Daddy Warbucks’s mansion in the 1982 film, Annie. Yeah, it’s that sweet.
The Rest of Your Life
Monmouth University offers students access to its Center for Student Services, which offers counseling, workshops, outreach, and publications to help students land their dream job. This isn’t just your average career center, either, as it was awarded one of seven nationwide Outstanding Institutional Advising Program Awards in a competition sponsored by the National Academic Advising Association. It’s consistently praised by graduates in helping them get what they want out of their advanced education.
If you’re just looking for an excuse to relax on the Jersey Shore, there are better ways to spend your time and money; but if you’re looking to get an advanced, rigorous education while still enjoying all the attractions that the Shore can offer in your downtime, a graduate program at Monmouth University may be the perfect fit.
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