The MFA Debate: Do you Need Another Degree to be a Great Writer?

Every year, thousands of students return to universities across the country to pursue creative writing MFAs. As a former journalist, I confess that getting an MFA even crossed my mind once or twice in my professional writing career. Although the degree never really suited me, I understand why some people would think about going back to school to obtain an MFA. If you're debating whether or not you need an MFA, here are three key questions you should ask yourself in order to help you decide whether or not an MFA is the right choice for you and your career.

What will you do with an MFA degree?
Most professional writing jobs don't require an MFA degree, but there are a few that strongly encourage an MFA. If you have an idea of what profession you want to work in, do some research and find out if that job requires or encourages an MFA degree. If your career doesn't require you to get an MFA, that doesn't mean you still shouldn't consider obtaining one, however. Many people feel the intensive writing, editing, and revising that is encompassed in an MFA program is extremely worthwhile. If you feel that a few more years of school would be of benefit to you and your writing, then I'd definitely give an MFA a consideration.

Have you talked to MFA graduates?
You don't really know what you're getting yourself into until you've talked to other MFA graduates. Many of these former students will be able to tell you the true value of an MFA degree. Reach out to teachers, colleagues, students, and mentors who have obtained an MFA and ask them if it was worthwhile to them. Listen to their thoughts and opinions and take them into consideration. Don't, however, let their views sway you too much in any one direction. The decision to go for an MFA is ultimately up to you, and you probably have a good idea whether or not you need to go back to school. Listen to their feedback, of course, but make sure you aren't letting anybody make the decision on your behalf.

How will you utilize your time in an MFA program?
An MFA isn't just a degree program; it's also a time for you to focus on writing, editing, revising, and working. During the years you're studying for an MFA, you should be utilizing any and every resource available to you in the program. Talk to visiting authors, go to your professors' office hours, meet with fellow MFA students, go to outside writing classes, and focus on developing yourself as an author. You should never go back to school just for the sake of hanging another diploma on your wall. An MFA is an opportunity for you to immerse yourself in a world of creative inspiration and writing exploration. If you feel as though you will utilize all of the countless resources in the MFA degree program, then I'd say it's definitely worth giving an MFA degree a serious consideration.

Should you find yourself wondering 'to MFA, or not MFA,' keep these three previous questions in mind. Good luck!

Guest post by Nancy Wood, a freelance blogger who regularly contributes her work to various education resource websites, such as Her articles usually cover topics related to college student life, trends in education and career planning. Feel free to leave Nancy any comments or questions below!


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