So I hear tell that BYU is starting an MFA in Creative Writing. My only real wonderment is why it took so long. It’s a trendy program to have and BYU, one would think, should have a vested interest in flooding the earth with good writers. This is self-evident.
Furthermore, I am hopeful that this will result in writers being treated with the same slavish love and devotion that lawyers and MBAs receive. I’m wondering if the economic crisis and Tim Flanigan might be making them rethink their institutional preference for those professions and start giving writers a shot. Surely this is the underlying message behind the new MFA program: Perhaps artists aren’t that dangerous after all. (Comparatively.)
Given this likelihood, I expect that we will see BYU’s famous networking flip into overdrive in order to give studying and graduating writers the same sort of advantages that studying and graduating lawyers and MBAs have long recieved.
For instance, adapting slightly from the Marriott School’s internship rules, we should look forward to these kinds of policies for MFA interns:
The [Card] School Internship Office provides academic credit for [writing] internships that meet the following requirements:
- The internship must be a good [writing-]related work experience;
- The intern must be given [writing] projects that require higher level [creative] skills;
- Interns must have an [editor] supervisor to train, mentor, and evaluate them;
- Interns must [write] at least 45 hours for every credit hour they are taking, i.e., 90 work hours for two credit hours, 135 work hours for three credit hours.
I’m getting pretty excited now, actually. Just as the Marriott School is getting highly ranked and having great luck selling their gazillions of MBA candidates, the MFA program should be able to place its much fewer students quite easily in novel-writing positions. And upon graduation, I imagine they can match Marriott’s numbers as well (note that I couldn’t find these numbers for MBAs, so I’m substituting MAccs):
|Percent placed at Graduation||97%|
|Percent placed within 3 months of Graduation||99%|
So 97% of BYU MFAs with novel contracts at graduation and 99% within three months. With an average advance on royalties of–let’s be realistic–$50,000 even. Not bad at all. Must be all those internships paying off.
But let’s stop travelling down this road now, pleasant as the view may be, and admit that the real reason to get an MFA is to teach in an MFA program. As far as internships go, no problem, have them teach 218R, but will BYU be able to match those MAcc numbers with the teaching goal in mind?
Now, BYU is my alma mater and I love it dearly. But when I get my BYU Magazine in the mail, there is always part of me that remembers poor little Thundergraduate visiting the English department’s advisory office to figure out the appropriate courses to take in order that he might be prepared for grad school and being told instead to take woodshop or that basic auto care class that’s so very useful. So when I peruse the articles about all the wonderful stuff BYU’s undergrads are doing these days, I can never quite believe that the Great Byucky Dream is for people like me and not just for budding lawyers and salarymen and chemists and broadcasters and German majors (Sophie is awesome).
But all the same. I would love for BYU’s MFA program to do what MFA programs are supposed to do, and to do it well.
Just . . . what is that again?
(Note: One thing I am NOT worried about is whether or not BYU MFAs will be able to follow their muses without getting shot down by the suits. I suppose there will be the occasional candidate who really really wants that to happen but come on. They wouldn’t be starting the program with the goal to excommunicate budding Evensons before they get dangerous. Be serious.)