Graduate writing: MFA program ranks nationally

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The Atlantic magazine’s article “The Best of the Best” ranked Pacific University’s Master of Fine Arts in Writing program one of the top five low-residency programs in the nation.

Since the start of the program in 2004, it has received acknowledgment from The Atlantic, along with several poets and writers, for its outstanding faculty and students that come from all over the country.

Starting with only 17 students, the graduate program has grown to 97 from California, Alaska, Hawaii, North Carolina and Florida.

“Each semester begins with a 10-day residency packed with workshops, lectures, panel discussions, readings and more. Students return home to a correspondence semester of individualized study with award-winning writers who support and inspire their emerging craft and voice,” said Director of the MFA in Writing Shelley Washburn.

Washburn is responsible for selecting and recruiting accomplished writers who aren’t only good at putting pen to paper, but also can teach and interact with students. By the end of the program, students finish with an entire portfolio of nonfiction, fiction or poetry, which reflect their personal expression and unique style.

“A lot of aspiring students join the program not because of Pacific University, but because of the writers that come to teach the program,” said Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences John Hayes.

Bringing the program home, some of the graduates of the MFA in Writing can be seen around campus. John Walker and Laura Vesta both partook in the program and now teach on campus.

“I am most proud of the community we have created here,” said Washburn. “It is a safe place to take a chance, to jump over the line. We are saying yes to art. No one aesthetic rules. You’ve got this group of writers from all over the country who share a love of writing, but span a wide spectrum of styles, topics and themes. Students have repeatedly told me that they are inspired and enriched by the diverse ideologies and teaching styles.”


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