Prospects for M.F.A.s

If you’re getting an M.F.A. so you can teach fiction writing one day, the Denver Post‘s David Milofsky calculates the odds for you:

more students now apply to creative-writing programs than any other kind in English and often provide the requisite number of students to make the teaching of literature possible in an era of shrinking doctoral programs. The big question might be why, because the MFA is a teaching degree, and in its annual survey of academic positions AWP notes a steady decline in jobs for creative writers.

The total number of academic positions this year, for example, was 393, about half of what was available in 2003. And most of these are temporary assignments with no prospect of renewal. Moreover, while there are fewer jobs available for creative writers, there are more graduates than ever — 8,000 job-seekers according to [the executive director of the AWP], competing for a mere 65 tenure-track teaching positions. Even Herman Melville, were he alive, wouldn’t like those odds. A friend used to joke that by the time he qualified for a tenure-track job, you’d need a Nobel Prize in literature to get an interview.


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