Creative Writing MFAs in North Carolina

If you’re into creative writing, you’ve probably heard of the top five full-residency programs located in Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Rhode Island and New York, but sometimes, oftentimes, you don’t want to, or simply cannot travel across the country to participate in a program.  There are many great programs to choose from, you have only to decide what you want in a program and in what part of the country you want to study.

Where the sky is Carolina blue

Since I am originally from North Carolina, I thought I’d blog about the programs available in the Tarheel state.  There is great diversity in the programs there, low-residency and full, extra-small to large and campuses located at the beach, in the mountains and several places in between.  At the moment, there are programs at UNC-Wilmington, NC State, Queens University, UNC-Greensboro and Warren Wilson College.  Below, I will provide a comparative snapshot of each school and the towns and cities in which they are located.

Full residency programs

Full-residency creative writing MFA programs include traditional graduate programs that require you to be physically present on campus to complete your classes.  There is no online component. Poet and Writer’s Magazine annually compiles a list of the best creative writing low and full res MFA programs.  P &W ranks the top 50 full-residency programs, includes ranks 51-75 as ‘honorable mentions’ and then compiles an additional list of the top 10 low-residency programs, of which we will explore further down this post.

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

About the city

  • Location:  Greensboro is in the northeastern part of NC, an hour from Raleigh
  • Nearby colleges and universities:  A&T, Guilford College and Bennett
  • Interesting fact about Greensboro:  Greensboro is home of the  “sit in”, where four African-American  students protested segregation.
 About the program
  • Ranked:  39th in full- residency programs for 2013
  • Established:  1965
  • Duration of program:  2 years
  • Size of program:  Small
  • Funding:  Full
  • Teaching Load:  Average
  • Application fee:  55$
  • Notable alumni:  Julianna Bagnott, Holly Goddard Jones  
  • Learn about UNCG’s creative writing MFA faculty.

University of North Carolina at Wilmington

University of North Carolina at Wilmington

About the city

  • Location:  Wilmington is in the Southeastern part of NC, two hours from Raleigh
  • Nearby colleges and universities:  Sattelite campuses for Shaw University and Mount Olive are nearby
  • Interesting fact about Wilmington:  It’s a tie.  Wilmington is the home of EUE Screen Gems Studios, the largest domestic television and movie production facility outside of California.  Most recently, television show’s like Homeland, Revolution and Under the Dome have been filmed in the area.  And the campus is  located on the coast, just minutes away from gorgeous beaches and totally rad waves.

North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University

About the city

  • Location:  Raleigh is located in the central part of NC, and is the capital of the state
  • Nearby colleges and universities:   Meredith College, Peace University, Shaw University, St. Augustine’s University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University
  • Interesting fact about Raleigh:  In 2011, Time magazine ranked Raleigh, NC as the third most educated city in the US based on the percentage of residents who held college degrees

About the program

LOW RESIDENCY PROGRAMS

A low-residency creative writing MFA program is one that utilizes distance education and brief on-campus residencies, which typically last anywhere from one weekend to two weeks.  Poets and Writer’s Magazine* has established rankings of such programs, of which North Carolina has two.  These programs are ranked separately from full residency programs.  North Carolina has the honor and prestige of having the number one ranked low-residency program in the U.S, for several years running.
Warren Wilson College
Warren Wilson College

Warren Wilson College

About the city

  • Location:  Swannanoa is in the western region of North Carolina, in the mountains. Fifteen minutes from Asheville, an hour and a half from Charlotte
  • Nearby colleges and universities:  University of North Carolina at Asheville
  • Interesting fact about Swannanoa:  Swannanoa is located 36 miles away from Mount Mitchell, which at an elevation of 6,684 feet is the highest point east of the Mississippi

About the program

  • Ranked:  1st in low residency programs in 2014
  • Established:  1976
  • Duration of program:  2 years
  • Size of program:  Medium
  • Funding:  Some
  • Teaching Load:   N/A in low-residency programs
  • Application fee:   70$
  • Notable alumni:  Aneesha Capur, Cornelius Eady, Susan Kelly, Dennis McFarland and Amy McNamara
  • Learn about Queen University’s creative writing MFA faculty.

Queens University

Queens University

Queens University

About the city

  • Location:  Charlotte is located in the southwestern region of NC
  • Nearby colleges and universities:  Johnson C. Smith University, Johnson & Wales University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Interesting fact about Charlotte:  Charlotte is the 2nd largest financial center in the United States

About the program

  • Ranked:  4th in low-residency programs in 2014
  • Established:  2001
  • Duration of program:  2 years
  • Size of program:  Medium
  • Funding:  Some
  • Teaching Load:   N/A in low-residency programs
  • Application fee:   45$
  • Notable alumni:  Patricia Hickman, Charles Robbins
  • Learn about Queen University’s creative writing MFA faculty.

*Currently, only 2012 results are available online at PW.org.  2013 results are available when you purchase the September/October issue of the magazine.

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