The University of Oregon
For our newest program profile, we were lucky enough to interview The University of Oregon. Oregon’s full-residency MFA program is one of the best in the country, providing concentrations in fiction and poetry. A highly funded program, Oregon is also known for its teaching fellowships and small size (Poets and Writers ranks them #8 in both fellowship placement and selectivity). We’ve included a few highlights about their program below, but for more information on pursuing in MFA at Oregon, check out their webpage.
Oregon’s MFA Program is consistently ranked among the best in the country. What do you think makes Oregon’s program so special?
All of our faculty members are committed to teaching—in workshops, craft seminars, and individual tutorials. We give our students a great deal of attention, much of it individual. In addition, because every student accepted to our MFA Program receives a teaching fellowship and tuition waiver, there is a strong sense of community (rather than competition) among our students. The students in the program also get together frequently for social and program events of their own making—for example, the yearly student-run Live Lit West Reading Series at Tsunami Books in town. Finally, we are located in a city conducive to student life, including great public transportation, numerous movie theaters and venues for live music, affordable cafés and restaurants catering to students, and numerous bookstores, with the coast and mountains close at hand. The economic and geographic stresses which might be obstacles to student life in larger cities are not present in Eugene, and this in turn allows our students to focus on the development of their art.
Many MFA programs now provide students the option of pursuing an MFA in genre writing. Would you describe Oregon’s program as highly literary or broader in focus?
What aspect of Oregon’s program are you most proud of?
The high level of rigor, instruction, and expectation in all the graduate classes.
This can be difficult to articulate, but to the best of your ability, can you describe what Oregon looks for in applicants?
High intelligence and talent, a commitment to work hard, and an informed interest in working with our specific faculty.
Most MFA applicants know they’ll be focusing on their own writing. How much of their time focuses on other areas related to craft? For example: applied criticism, reading other work, examining literary tradition, or teaching?
Writing = 2/5
Reading and craft study = 2/5
Teaching = 1/5
Writing = 3/5
Reading/Craft study = 1/5
Teaching = 1/5