There has always been a debate about this topic. Does a writer need an MFA degree? The answer is NO. You don’t need one and you don’t need an MFA to get an agent or to get published. But the MFA or MA in Creative Writing brings various things to the table, and can open many doors for promising writers.
For me, I didn’t want the degree just because I wanted to get published. Off course I want to get published but that was not my reason for applying to a program. I wanted to grow as a writer, be a part of a writing community, and make connections in the industry. I didn’t have to move across the country because I was in a low-residency program. Meaning, I only traveled to the campus twice a year for 7-10 days and the rest was done at the comfort of my own home.
I must tell you that I have made some of the best connections and friends. I am glad to be a part of such a community of writers. I got to meet great professors who are also writers and published authors. I also got to meet producers, directors, agents, and editors. It was a great experience. One that I was looking for. That is why I decided to go to grad school to pursue a Creative Writing degree. I attended Wilkes University in PA, which is only two hours from NY, so some great agents and editors always came to be a part of our residency.
The thesis (manuscript) I wrote while in the program is the one that got picked up by an agent. There were many times I wanted to give up on this novel, but many people (cohorts, peers, professors) encouraged me to keep writing and keep striving. Had it not been for my wonderful writing community, I would not be where I am today with my writing career.
Another reason for getting an advanced degree was because of teaching. I knew I wanted to teach English/Writing, and that this degree would be beneficial to my career, which it has been so far.
So if you’re debating whether to pursue an MA or MFA in Creative Writing, ask yourself this question: Why do I want this degree?
It all depends on your reason. If you just want to get signed, then this is not for you. The degree isn’t a promise that you’ll get published, but rather an investment in your craft.