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Frequently Asked Questions

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Why pursue a low-residency program with the Bluegrass Writers Studio™? 

Ours is far more affordable than most other low-residency programs in the nation. We provide our participants access to many more writers than a traditional resident program.  Participants don’t need to move to campus to take classes. We offer opportunities to study in multiple creative genres—poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. We offer exciting opportunities to study abroad. Unlike most low-residency programs, we provide workshop experiences comparable to traditional residency programs. See the Greeting from the Director for more detailed information regarding the benefits of studying with the Bluegrass Writers Studio™.   

What does “low-residency” mean?

Low-residency means participants do not attend traditional classes on campus during the regular semester and are not expected to be in local residence. Low-residency programs allow participants to take online classes from wherever they may live. That said, our workshops are very similar to traditional workshops, though they are conducted online during weekly assigned class meeting times, using a live communication platform.

The “low” in low-residency refers to the intensive domestic and international Summer Residencies. During these annual events, participants are expected to be present at the program site and to attend regular in-person workshops and lectures and readings from visiting writers, editors, and agents.

How many credit hours are required to earn the Bluegrass Writers Studio™ MFA?

48 credit hours are required to earn the MFA.  Participants take four sections of ENW 800 (residency, 3 credits each), four sections of ENW 810 (reading in contemporary literature, 3 credits each) and four sections of ENW 820 (workshop, 6 credits each). The final, fourth section of ENW 820 is a special Thesis section in which the student works with a thesis director to complete a substantial thesis.

How long will it take me to complete the program?

A full-time course load per semester is considered to be 9 credit hours. During a typical Fall or Spring semester, a full-time student will take two courses: one ENW 810 course (3 hours) and one ENW 820 course (6 hours). The Summer Residency includes either 3 or 6 credit hours of ENW 800, depending on whether the participant stays for one or both sections. Based on a typical full-time schedule earning 9 credit hours in both Fall and Spring semesters, and 3 credit hours for the Summer Residency, a participant could meet the 48-hour credit requirement for graduation within two academic years. 

In general, how is the Bluegrass Writers Studio™ structured?

Each semester, we have online workshops in fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry (ENW 820). Occasionally we teach mixed-genre and other specialty workshops, such as novel-writing courses. Unlike many other low-residency programs, we engage in real-time workshops via a versatile online communications platform. Workshops meet once a week in the evenings on the same designated night throughout the semester (Mon., Tue., Wed., or Thurs.).

Our contemporary readings courses (ENW 810) are designed to help you examine the work of professional writers and explore issues of craft. In these courses participants work on their own schedules, according to weekly deadlines, and there are no live class meetings. Each section of ENW 810 has a unique theme and varies from course to course, semester to semester.

Each year, participants will also attend in on-site writing residencies. Our residency courses involve traditional round-table workshopping, craft lectures, readings from published authors, and social events with authors, editors and agents. Our domestic Summer Residency is on EKU’s campus in Richmond, KY and our Summer Residency takes place in Lisbon, Portugal.

Participants may choose to attend the annual domestic Summer Residency (an 8-to-16-day event held each year in July in Richmond, KY), the annual international Summer Residency, or a combination of both residencies. Students choosing to attend the Summer Residency may study for two weeks (earning 3 credit hours) or for a full month (earning 6 credit hours).

Are participants required to attend the Summer Residencies?

Twelve credits of residency attendance are required, without exception. The Summer Residencies awards 3-6 credits, depending on whether the participant stays for two weeks or the full month.

The most efficient way to earn residency credit is to take both sections of the summer residency. See the suggested schedule under Degree Requirements.

How is the Summer Residency organized?

Our international Summer Residency is a partnership with Disquiet International in Lisbon, Portugal. Visit here for more information.

Our domestic Summer Residency is held on EKUs campus. For more information, visit here.

Must I complete a thesis to graduate?

Yes. During the participant’s final semester, he or she takes a special Thesis section of ENW 820, working in consultation with a thesis director. The thesis consists of a substantial work of creative writing of publishable quality (at least 75 pages of poetry or at least 100 pages of prose, though mixed-genre theses are also possible) and a scholarly introduction that places the thesis in a context with other texts on the MFA Reading List. Full details are available in the Bluegrass Writers Studio™ Student Handbook.

Do I need to complete the degree program in two consecutive years?

No. The two-year time frame is the minimum required to complete the degree. The maximum allowable time period for completion is seven years from the start date. 

What is the maximum amount of time I can take to complete the program? 

Participants may take up to seven years to complete the program.

Do I have to take the GRE in order to apply for the Bluegrass Writers Studio™?

If your undergraduate GPA was 3.0 or higher, the Graduate School will not require GRE scores from you. However, if your undergraduate GPA was lower than 3.0, the Graduate School will require GRE scores.

Generally, we want to see GRE scores (if they are required) of 146 or higher on the Verbal (new scoring) and 4.0 or higher on Analytical. We do not take the Math score into consideration. However, we weigh your writing sample and statement of purpose above all other considerations, so please do not let your GRE scores prevent you from applying.

What are your admission standards?

We are a competitive program looking for writers with great potential. The single most important aspect of your application is your writing sample, followed by your statement of purpose. Ensure that you send us your very best work in your selected genre. See more details about applying to the program here.

Do you accept writers of genre fiction?

We welcome high-quality writing samples in any genre (but, conversely, are not interested in formulaic fiction in any genre). Our fiction workshops routinely accept student pieces that may fall under the genre/popular category, and our literature courses may include readings from such books. Some of our permanent and visiting writers also publish genre/popular fiction. In short, we are open-minded.

Do you accept writers of young adult fiction?

We do not currently teach courses that include young adult fiction and are not currently equipped to critique young adult pieces in workshop. That said, the definition of “young adult” is sometimes hard to pinpoint, so if you think your work in on the borderline between YA and fiction for adults, give us a try.

Will I work with the same faculty mentor throughout my time as a student?

No. Our curriculum is designed to expose students to multiple points-of-view and creative philosophies. Thus, participants will have the opportunity to work with a wide variety of authors. 

Do you accept unpublished writers?

Yes, of course. Most participants in the program are unpublished writers who aspire to publication. The program is designed to prepare unpublished writers to produce work of publishable quality. 

Do you prepare your participants to become college-level instructors in the field of creative writing?

We do not.  Although a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing qualifies one for teaching at the college level, our singular goal at the Bluegrass Writers Studio™ is to help our students become better writers, period. 

A number of our graduates have found adjunct teaching positions and lectureships at colleges and universities near their homes, but any quality creative writing program must be honest regarding the slim prospects of graduates securing a tenure-track (permanent, full-time) teaching position in creative writing. It’s not impossible, but it’s rare, and depends upon many factors beyond securing the MFA, especially teaching experience, prestigious publications, and dogged persistence.

What type of financial aid is available to Bluegrass Writers Studio™ MFA students?

Aside from traditional financial aid through loans and grants, the Bluegrass Writers Studio™ does not supply direct financial aid to MFA students. This is quite often true of low-residency programs, as graduate teaching assistantships are generally not available at a distance. 

Bluegrass Writers Studio

521 Lancaster Ave
Beckham 100
Richmond, KY, 40475-3102
Phone: 859-622-6263
Fax: 859-622-3156


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