McNeese State University's Master of Fine Arts program has been ranked for the second year in a row as one of the top 50 MFA programs in the United States by Poets & Writers magazine.
The McNeese program is at No. 24 - a jump from No. 40 in the nation last year. McNeese MFA Director Amy Fleury, seated in chair, is surrounded by 15 of the currently enrolled MFA students in this competitive program.
(Sept. 28, 2012) Poets & Writers magazine has again named McNeese State University's Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing as one of the top 50 MFA programs in the United States in its 2012 September/October issue.
The McNeese MFA program is tied at No. 24 with Virginia Tech in the Poets & Writers magazine 2013 MFA index - a jump from No. 40 in the nation last year among top MFA programs. Housed in the Department of English and Foreign Languages in the College of Liberal Arts, the McNeese program ranked better than major programs at Boston University, Columbia University, University of South Carolina, Purdue University, Ohio State University, University of Mississippi and the University of Arkansas.
"I could not be more pleased by the national recognition of our MFA program. It shows that the university does not just have regional impact, but national as well," according to Dr. Jacob Blevins, department head. "Under the directorship of Amy Fleury, we have steadily moved up in the rankings the last four years. The improvement is a testament to her vision and to the commitment of the university to support the program. With this improved ranking we will get even more applications and an even more talented pool of applicants to bring into our program."
Students can choose to major in either fiction or poetry and have the opportunity to work with published faculty and visiting award-winning writers and poets. The program is led by Fleury, an award-winning poet, and new fiction writer, John Griswold, along with fellow author, Chris Lowe.
The magazine ranked the programs on available data in seven categories: popularity, selectivity, funding, student-faculty ratio, fellowship placement, job placement and location. McNeese's program is also ranked No. 22 in funding and No. 38 in job placement of its MFA graduates.
"Our MFA students are fully funded while they are at McNeese," said Fleury. "This includes graduate assistantships in teaching and tuition fee waivers. This makes our program very attractive as it allows our students to obtain a degree and teaching experience without incurring a lot of debt. This continued funding is an investment in the future of our program."
Concerning job placement, Fleury said that "not only are we helping our students to become better writers but we are also successful in preparing them to become good teachers and professionals."
"Our graduates go on to earn their doctorates and teach at colleges and universities, work in publishing companies, become successful writers and poets, and have careers in advertising, marketing and public relations," explained Fleury.
According to Fleury, McNeese's three-year MFA program is unique in that students can earn both the MFA and the Master of Arts degree in English simultaneously. "We are the only program in the country that offers such a broad-based program," she said. "This makes our graduates more marketable-they have both a strong background in the creative writing side and in literature and rhetoric."
Last year, there were over 400 applicants from around the world vying for nine spots available for the 2012-2013 academic year. "Our program is competitive and limited to 22 students. At McNeese, we provide a quality program in an intimate setting with lots of personal attention - this appeals to the students we're trying to recruit. Not only are they challenged but also nurtured here in Lake Charles," she said.
The program augments its faculty with visiting writers and poets each semester who conduct one-on-one conferences with students. "These conferences with professionals in their genres provide the necessary feedback these students need to succeed," said Fleury. While here, these authors present readings of their works hosted by the MFA program that are open to the community.
Last year, the MFA program - established in 1981 - celebrated its 30th anniversary with former faculty and alumni returning to campus for readings throughout the year. "Longevity is substantial for a MFA program. The stability of our program is attractive to applicants," she said.
"Our alumni have gone on to publish widely and well and teach at colleges and universities around the nation, and our graduate students and alumni have received National Endowment for the Arts, Ruth Lilly Poetry and Stegner fellowships. We are very proud of our program," added Fleury.
For more information about the MFA program visit the website at http://mfa.mcneese.edu.