Writing - Master of Fine Arts:Overview
The MFA Program in Writing at the University of New Hampshire has a clear and abiding focus: to help you shape your gifts and passion for the art, and to prepare you for the opportunities and demands that all writers will experience in a long career. What happens to you after you leave this program, how you will sustain yourself and your work, is one of our strongest concerns. The supportive community of students and faculty gathered here shares a belief in the idea that writing matters, and that the best books of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction are made out of both the creative imagination and rigorous work.
This is a small program, one that emphasizes one-on-one contact between a nationally recognized faculty and highly qualified students. UNH has long been known for its unique system of individual, intensive conferencing in writing classes, and we have purposefully limited the number of students we yearly enroll in each genre to five. Students typically complete the program in two to three years.
Our superb faculty is made up of winners of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, Guggenheim, NEA and MacArthur Fellowships. It includes writers whose work has been chosen recently for Best American Poetry, the Pushcart Prize anthology, and Best American Travel Writing, and whose books have been a BookSense Pick of the Year, a winner of the James Laughlin Prize, and a recommended choice by Oprah as one of the year’s top ten “Addictive True Stories.”
Six out of ten of our MFA students receive direct financial aid in the form of teaching assistantships, tuition scholarships, and awards. Other paid opportunities include internships in local cultural institutions and tutorial positions in the university’s Writing Center, as well as editing jobs with Barnstorm, the program’s on-line literary magazine. We are increasingly involved in supporting our students in their post-MFA careers by offering venues for networking like AlumFEST, a chance for current and former students to hear each other’s work, celebrate their successes, and exchange information about possibilities for employment, publication, and study after the MFA.
If you come to UNH, you’ll enjoy an active Writers Series, which brings to campus well-known authors for readings and residencies. Recent guests include Ha Jin, Susan Orlean, Tony Hoagland, ZZ Packer, Edward P. Jones, Mark Doty, Ted Conover, and Tom Perrotta. Numerous top-flight readings and literary events also take place in nearby Portsmouth and Boston. And students in the MFA program run their own monthly reading series, Read Free or Die, an exciting opportunity for select students and alumni to present their current work and socialize at the Press Room tavern in Portsmouth, one of the best music clubs in the Seacoast area.
As a student at UNH, you will find yourself in one of the most beautiful spots on the East Coast. Durham is a classic New England college town in the southeast corner of New Hampshire, 15 minutes from the restaurants, music and art films in historic Portsmouth. If you crave a deeper infusion of urban life, a short train ride will take you directly from campus to Boston on the south and Portland, Maine on the north. Like to surf? The New Hampshire seacoast is 15 minutes away. You’re less than two hours from transcendent hiking and skiing in the White Mountains, and within easy distance of a myriad of rivers that provide some of the best kayaking in the East.
Over the years, the graduate writing program has launched the careers of hundreds of poets, novelists, storywriters, essayists and memoirists (check out some of these on our Alumni page). Writers like Alice McDermott, Ursula Hegi, Thylias Moss, Bruce Weigl, and Marilyn Johnson began their careers here in Durham. More recently, Julia Story, Jason Tandon, Tim Horvath, and Karina Borowicz published their first books shortly after getting their degrees. Recent graduates have won Fulbright Fellowships and scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, had their poems featured on Verse Daily and the Writer’s Almanac, and created one of the first literary magazine apps for the iPhone. We’re proud of the accomplishments of these writers. We believe that if you come here to study and work with us you’ll be able to add your own distinctive achievements and successes to theirs.