MFA sample timeline

First year

Fall

  • Read degree requirements, general and MFA-specific, on English website and Graduate School website
  • Read the Graduate School Survival Handbook on the Graduate School website
  • Meet twice with faculty mentor
  • Meet and talk with faculty who share your interests, even if you’re not taking classes with them
  • Submit transfer credit evaluation form (if applicable) to Director of Graduate Studies
  • In consultation with faculty mentor, plan approach to fulfill MFA requirements

Spring

  • If you do not have a teaching assistantship but wish to, apply (or reapply) for the teaching assistantship by the deadline
  • Meet with faculty mentor to strategize the creation of a committee and reading list
  • Attend AWP conference in April; seek out other venues for networking and professionalization
  • Begin submitting work for publication, if you have not already and continue to do so throughout your time in the program

Summer

  • Consider doing a summer internship or volunteer work
  • Begin to think about the shape of your thesis and whom you might want to chair and sit on your committee

Second year

Fall

  • Choose a committee chair
  • In consultation with chair, establish the rest of your committee
  • In consultation with chair, establish reading list for comprehensive examination and plan for summer work to develop and focus plans for the thesis

Spring

  • Take an interdepartmental elective in a field related to your literary interests or the subject of your thesis
  • In consultation with committee chair and Director of Graduate Studies, prepare program of study form and file it with Graduate School
  • In consultation with committee chair, prepare thesis prospectus and submit it to full committee for approval

Summer

  • Read, or reread, the texts on your list
  • Begin work on annotated bibliography
  • Consider and begin to research longer-term goals (more graduate school versus immediate job search, publishing goals, etc.)
  • Begin writing/compiling/revising thesis

Third year

Fall

  • Meet with chair early to discuss progress toward degree
  • Continue work on thesis
  • Prepare for and take comprehensive exam
  • Apply to graduate schools with early deadlines (if applicable)
  • Finish course work

Spring

  • Complete and submit thesis
  • Apply to graduate schools and/or jobs
  • Submit application for graduation early
  • Defend thesis
  • File notice of completion by Graduate School deadline

Note: A teaching assistantship in the MFA program may be held for a maximum of three years. The MFA degree must be completed within six years from the time you first earn graduate credits that you apply toward the degree. This timeline represents a very general model for your progress toward the degree. The key is to be aware of what you’re doing, keep medium and long-range goals in mind and consult frequently with your mentor/chair.