|Scott's on the left (Iowa), mine on the right (Notre Dame + DePaul)|
Back in the spring of 2010, I started exploring grad school programs, partially because I love school and learning, partially because I wanted to explore something outside of my 9-5 job. I missed writing and was fascinated with the publishing industry, so when I came across DePaul's program, I was excited—it incorporated workshops on the craft of writing, as well as more career-oriented classes on publishing, teaching, etc. I attended an information session at DePaul in April 2010 and knew it was the program for me. I had also looked into Northwestern's MFA program and went to an info session there too, but I felt that program was more geared towards creative writing exclusively, rather than also offering the broader topics in publishing that I was interested in.
I put together my application for the DePaul MAWP program soon after the information session, as they have rolling admission. It's great because you can start any quarter, but they did suggest submitting your application ahead of the suggested quarterly deadlines so you have more options open when enrolling and registering for classes.
There's no need to take a GRE for this program, unless you want to apply for a graduate assistantship. I don't think there is a specific GPA cut-off, but they like to see that you have a strong academic background and some experience with creative writing. You do have to submit a personal statement and a portfolio of about 25 pages of writing (I included a mix of academic papers from college and a couple short fiction pieces, but it looks like they now require 25 pages of creative writing specifically). They also request a resume and encourage you to send letters of recommendation.
When Scott and I returned from our honeymoon in June 2010, I received my acceptance. I started classes that fall and took two classes a quarter. At that pace, I completed the program in two years (Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters).
To get a sense of the classes offered, here are the ones I took. (FYI, the literature classes were electives... because I enjoy 18th & 19th-century literature and love Jane Austen.)
Magazine Editing: Packaging the Story
American Publishing Industry
Language and Style for Writers
Structure of Modern English
19th Century Literature: Jane Austen
18th Century Literature: Invention of the Novel
Alternative Fiction Identities
Typically, homework consisted of reading (for some classes, up to a novel a week), response papers (maybe two-three pages), exercises (writing a page or two of fiction or grammar practice), as well as ongoing larger projects (like a short story for workshopping, longer research papers, etc). I would estimate about eight hours a week, though certain weeks required more or less time. And of course, it all depends on how quickly you read and write! As I said, I took two classes per quarter, but you could choose to take one class at a time if it worked better.
The professors I had were fantastic. Most are published writers or very involved in publishing, so it was amazing to learn from them. For example, my class in magazine packaging/editing was taught by an editor at Chicago Magazine, and the professor for two of my fiction workshops was coming out with her debut novel at the same time while our class was going on. Very cool. The classes typically have about 15 students for workshops and about 20 for other classes. It's great because you get to know other people in the program and have an opportunity to read their work too.
Financially, I had enough saved up to pay out-of-pocket as I went through the program. I received some tuition reimbursement through my job, which covered about one quarter's tuition. DePaul does offer partial tuition scholarships and graduate assistantships as well (I applied for and received partial tuition scholarships each quarter of my second year).
Overall, I loved the classes, the professors, the program—and the commitment to reading and writing. I knew that if I wanted to get serious with my writing, I needed to make a commitment of time and money. And since I'm one of those people who loves school, it was fun to be back in the classroom.
The toughest part was balancing everything. When work would get busy or I had a lot of events and trips, things got a little crazy. Plus I wanted to make time to hang out with my friends and my husband too. But it's definitely doable. Since it is a part-time program, the professors understand that most people have full-time jobs—plus writing doesn't really require group projects or meetings, so you can work on your own time.
I would highly recommend the MAWP program for someone who is interested in developing his/her writing and looking for a program that can help further a career in writing, publishing, or teaching.
Check out DePaul's website for all the most up-to-date information, and if you're interested, I'd be happy to answer any questions.