Low-Residency Program

StudentsHow the Low-Residency Program Works

Upcoming Residency Dates

Summer Residency: May 29, 2014 - June 7, 2014

January Residency: January 1, 2015 - January 10, 2015

The Residency

The residency is an integral part of each semester, and each nine-day residency, held on campus in early summer and again in January, begins the new semester with a demanding program of creative writing workshops in which student work is discussed and evaluated. Students also attend craft lectures on the history, theory and critical approaches to the genres, faculty/student presentations and one-on-one consultations, in addition to presentations by visiting writers, editors and agents. With a low student-faculty ratio that never exceeds 4:1 and typically is 3:1, students have important access to instruction from mentors. In addition, workshops are kept small, never more than 6-8 student writers. This allows students to receive direct contact with experienced writers and their peers, providing a stimulating and supportive community of writers.

Overnight housing is available to students and faculty at the Converse campus during the summer residency. There is an additional fee for housing and food service if a student selects those options. The room and board package covers all meals for the summer residency. Campus housing is unavailable during the January residency, but affordable housing options are abundant near the college. Dining hall plans are available in January, or students may choose from a variety of dining options in the Spartanburg community.

We strongly encourage students to select the residential option arranged for the program, as it helps to involve the student more directly in the Converse College community; however, students may certainly elect to commute or to make their own housing and board arrangements.

To read about the residency experience from a student and faculty perspective, check out Sarah and Leslie's blogs.

The Mentoring Semesters

During the months between these residencies, students work individually with faculty mentors—award-winning writers, with whom students construct reading lists and to whom they send their creative and critical work for written feedback on a schedule determined at the time of their residency. Each student exchanges 5 packets of creative writing and craft topic response papers with a mentor per term. The faculty/mentor responds within one to two weeks via mail or e-mail and offers instructive critiques for revision, additional reading suggestions and relevant observations on craft and theory.

Students must complete four mentoring semesters to graduate. The Summer/Fall mentoring semester begins with the Summer residency, and the Winter/Spring mentoring semester begins with the January residency.

The Fifth, Graduating Residency

At the end of the two years, students finish the program by returning to campus for a fifth, graduating residency. In this final residency, graduating students complete the following:

  • give a presentation and oral defense of their creative thesis project
  • give a public reading from their creative work
  • lead their fellow students in a craft seminar developed under the guidance of a faculty mentor.
Required activities for graduation

In addition to the requirements of the Graduate School, the following must be met:

  • Completion of 4 on-campus residencies (16 credit hours)
  • Completion of 4 courses in chosen genre (16 credit hours)
  • Completion of 4 courses in craft topics (16 credit hours)
  • Completion of original, book-length manuscript of high quality in the selected genre (Creative Thesis)
  • Completion of substantive research paper, 25-30 pages, written during third semester of enrollment
  • Evidence of broad reading and an annotated bibliography of required reading list. By the time of graduation, participants will be expected to have read a substantial number of books concerning such topics as aesthetics, craft, genre, and the works of individual writers of achievement in the participant's chosen genre.
  • Completion of fifth, graduating residency.
  • Students are expected to devote a minimum of 16 hours per week to their graduate work.
Time Limit

Candidates have five calendar years from the time of enrollment to complete the MFA degree.