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FAQ

A low-residency MFA program is based on the artist/apprentice tradition. It is formulated to be accessible to adult students with work commitments and family, as well as students at any stage of life who prefer an individualized and intensive approach to writing that this type of distance learning program offers. During the intensive and challenging residency sessions in South Carolina, shared workshops, lectures, seminars, readings, and social activities help form a strong writing community, and provide opportunities to develop lifelong literary friendships.

A semester for the Converse MFA is considered to be the combination of the nine-day residency (held twice a year) and the mentoring period that follows the residency.

The MFA program works with local venders to provide affordable housing options near the college during the January residency. For the most part, the academic portion of the residency is held on the Converse College campus in Spartanburg, SC. Spartanburg is conveniently located within easy driving distance of Atlanta, GA and Charlotte, NC. The Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, located 20 minutes west of the city, is served by 6 major airlines.

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.

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

During the first week of the semester, each student is responsible for sending the MFA office a copy of an individualized study plan for the semester which has been developed in consultation with the faculty mentor. This plan details when the packets will be due and what will be included, as well as a preliminary reading list for the semester. Before the first packet is due, the student is responsible for sending the MFA office a final version of the reading list incorporating the mentor’s suggestions and signed by both student and mentor. While the semester plans will vary from student to student depending on the genre and on the work the student has done prior to that semester, there are basic requirements for the semester project which every student must fulfill. Specific guidelines can be found under Course Descriptions and in the Converse Graduate Catalog.

Feel free to contact Rick Mulkey, the director of the MFA program, at 864.596.9111 or by e-mail at rick.mulkey@converse.edu or Paula Cash, the administrative assistant at paula.cash@converse.eduor 864.596.9678. You can also contact the director through the MFA program’s mail address: Director of the MFA in Creative Writing, Converse College, 580 East Main St., Spartanburg, SC 29302.

The administrative staff and the MFA director are available by mail, email, and phone to answer students’ questions about the program or residency, but they may refer students to other offices (Graduate School, Financial Aid, Campus Technology, Residential Life, Business Office, Registrar) for specific information in those areas.

No. Writing samples, transcripts from previous degree programs, and a few required forms are all you will need to apply. See our “Application Procedures” page for specific details and guidelines.

No. All applicants must have completed at least a Bachelor’s degree, but we recognize that writers come from extremely diverse backgrounds and interests. The most important part of your application is the creative writing sample.

No. Though we are interested in individuals who have demonstrated a drive to produce creative writing over a number of years, we do not use publication as a criterion in the evaluation of applications. We focus our attention on the quality of your creative writing sample.

The Converse College Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing requires 48 graduate credits. The credits are earned over a two-year period, including a total of five nine-day residencies. For each of the first four residencies and mentoring semesters, students take 12 hours of graduate credit. Each residency, except for the final “graduation” residency, is followed by a semester-long writing and reading project. Students work closely with a faculty mentor on this project, by means of mail, email, and sometimes telephone responses. Students must choose a focus in one genre (fiction, nonfiction, or poetry). During the third semester, each student researches and writes under the direction of the faculty mentor and completes a substantive critical project (25-30 pages, including bibliography) in one of the areas of emphasis: craft of writing, literary theory/criticism in the genre, or creative writing pedagogy.

During the summer residency our apartment-style housing feature a kitchen, living room and single bedrooms with a shared bathroom/vanity space. Coin operated washers and dryers will be available for your use. Sub Connection has snacks, juice, and soft drinks for purchase. Students may also purchase personal items, paper, and pens in the campus bookstore. Please keep in mind that you will be sharing bathroom and shower facilities with other same-sex MFA students. Students will have access to all campus facilities such as computer labs, Copy Center, the library, Starbucks Coffee at the Sub Connection, art gallery, gymnasium, pool, laundry, and study areas.

The following list includes items you might wish to bring with you:

  • Alarm clock
  • Pillow
  • Extra blanket and Twin XL sheets
  • Oscillating fan (Though the residence hall has air conditioning during the summer residency, it is a good idea to have a fan.)
  • Towels
  • Bathrobe
  • Laptop (If applicable)
  • Printer
  • Small desk lamp
  • MP3 player
  • Ear plugs or a sound machine
  • Toiletries (Soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc.)
  • Aspirin/ Non-aspirin/ Allergy medicine
  • Notebooks, folders, pens
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Coins for laundry

Located in one of the academic centers of South Carolina, Spartanburg is a college town boasting six institutions of higher learning, an award-winning independent press, a new cultural arts center, and an active arts scene. Recently rated as the “best city to live in South Carolina,” it is also the first and only city in the state of South Carolina to receive the designation as a Bicycle-Friendly Community by the Washington-based League of American Bicyclists.

Downtown Spartanburg is within easy walking distance of the college and features coffee shops, pubs, a cigar bar, and a variety of restaurants, including Indian, Thai, Chinese, Italian, upscale continental, burger joints, barbecue, and traditional diners. Several art museums, art organizations and venues are also nearby. Pharmacies and grocery stores are within walking distance.

Spartanburg’s proximity to the North Carolina mountains, the South Carolina coast, and major cities, such as Atlanta and Charlotte, make it an attractive destination.