UCA to Offer New Master of Fine Arts Degree in Creative Writing

The Arkansas Department of Higher Education today approved a Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at the University of Central Arkansas.

The Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved the program in a special meeting this morning in Batesville.

Housed in the university’s Department of Writing in the College of Fine Arts and Communication, the Arkansas Writers MFA Program has grown out of a special focus on the literary arts at UCA, a university that not only features undergraduate majors in writing, creative writing, and linguistics but is also home to the international literary journal the Toad Suck Review and the award-winning undergraduate journal the Vortex, as well as the award-winning literary magazine the Oxford American.

The MFA degree in Creative Writing is considered a terminal degree in the discipline. The only other degree of its kind in the state is at the University of Arkansas.

“Years of work on the part of core UCA faculty, including Associate Professor of Creative Writing Mark Spitzer, who wrote the program proposal, have gone into making this a deliberate, innovative program that is serious about preparing the next generation of writers to succeed in the 21st- century literary landscape,” said Dr. Stephanie Vanderslice, associate professor of creative writing and the program’s first director, who has published three books on re-envisioning creative writing in higher education, most recently Rethinking Creative Writing. “And this is only the beginning.”

Faculty from the Department of Writing developed a diverse undergraduate writing curriculum and cultivated editing and publishing opportunities through the campus’ two national literary magazines. Billed as an innovative studio program, The Arkansas Writers MFA at UCA will focus on extensive courses in craft taught by practicing writers, as well courses as in editing and publishing and in the teaching of writing and creative writing.

Students in the graduate program will take classes in teaching composition and creative writing from leading scholars in the field and will gain experience teaching both courses on the undergraduate level. They will also have the opportunity to pursue a number of internships in the local and regional arts culture.

Rollin Potter, Dean of the UCA College of Fine Arts and Communication, noted that “UCA has taken a leadership position in many arts areas that bring the very best in fine arts learning to our state and region. Offering a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing is ‘another jewel’ in the UCA fine arts crown, and an accomplishment that confirms our outstanding faculty and support of arts programs.”

Central Arkansas has become increasingly fertile ground for a burgeoning arts culture that has been profiled in the Chronicle of Higher Education and demonstrated by the growth of the Artists in Residence series at UCA as well as the Conway ArtsFest, UCA’s Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre and the Arkansas Literary Festival. The Arkansas Writers MFA Program at UCA, moreover, is complemented by an MFA Program in Digital Filmmaking that has been growing by leaps and bounds since it was established by the Department of Mass Communication in 2007.

Fall 2012 will launch the first class of the Arkansas Writers MFA Program, a three-year, 60-credit degree program that will also include the production of a thesis containing original literary work. The application deadline for the first year will be March 15, 2012. For more information and an application, check out the program’s website at: www.uca.edu/writing/mfa/.