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Guidelines for Creative writing

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Dr.KiaraSimpson,United States,Researcher
Published Date:05-07-2017
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Program Director’s Handbook Guidelines, Policies, and Information for Creative Writing Programs A Publication of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs 2012 Rev 3.0 A Letter from AWP’s Executive Director Dear Creative Writing Program Director: AWP was established in 1967 by fifteen writers representing thirteen programs in creative writing. Our association has grown since then. Creative writing is now taught at most of the 2,400 departments of literature in North America. More than 300 graduate programs in creative writing have been established in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Europe, and Australia. AWP’s membership includes 500 colleges and universities and 34,000 writers, teachers, and students. Creative writing Academe in North America has excelled in providing access to education for all economic classes and races of programs have peoples. Creative writing programs have been part of an been part of amazing experiment in democratic participation in higher an amazing education and the arts; our programs have helped experiment democratic nations produce literature that more closely represents their peoples. Our literature now includes in democratic multitudes. participation In the United States, AWP has helped to establish the in higher education largest system of literary patronage for living writers that and the arts. the world has ever seen. A conservative estimate of our programs’ support for writers exceeds 250 million in annual expenditures on salaries, honoraria, lectures, readings, library acquisitions, conferences, and publications. If you consider that, in a typical recent year, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) dispensed 7 million to literary projects and fellowships, you can appreciate how successful AWP and its members have been in building a new network of support for contemporary literature. AWP once concentrated its energies upon the establishment of new programs. Most institutions at first provided tough resistance to the building of our programs, as most departments of English preferred their authors long dead and safely entombed in libraries. Now that hundreds of programs have been established and creative writing is one of the most popular academic disciplines in     Association of Writers & Writing Programs 1   AWP Guidelines the arts and humanities, we are free to devote ourselves to building audiences for literature while we improve our programs. AWP’s members have an important role to play in restoring the prominence of literature in the academy and in the public square. As a portion of all BA degrees conferred in all disciplines, BAs in English have fallen from 7 out of every 100 BAs conferred in the 1970s to less than 4 out of every 100 conferred today. Because classes in creative writing are among the most popular and over-subscribed electives among undergraduates, our programs are in a unique position to help develop new audiences for literature. As a result, the AWP Board of Directors has recently given special attention to undergraduate education; there are four sets of recommendations in this handbook for undergraduate teachers and programs. AWP recommends that programs adjust their curricula in keeping with the changing skills and needs of their students as readers, as writers, and as professionals in the workplace. AWP’s most experienced Program Directors and teachers developed these documents to help you build a better program for the study, creation, and appreciation of literature. AWP welcomes your suggestions toward making these documents more useful. Please write to awpawpwriter.org. Thank you for your work in helping the next generation of writers and readers flourish. Sincerely, David Fenza Executive Director       Association of Writers & Writing Programs 2   AWP Guidelines for Creative Writing Programs & Teachers of Creative Writing Introduction The institutional membership of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, a national nonprofit corporation founded in 1967, includes a majority of the graduate programs in creative writing in North America. AWP is the primary source, internationally, of information on creative writing programs in English. The AWP Official Guide to Writing Programs is the only comprehensive listing available. Enrollment in writing workshops continues to grow, and new writing programs are established regularly, but the Master of Fine Arts in creative writing—the degree supported by AWP as the appropriate “terminal degree” for the practicing writer/teacher—is still misunderstood by many administrators whose responsibilities include the evaluation of writing programs and the recruitment, employment, and retention of teachers of writing. Therefore, the Board of Directors of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs has developed this information on writing program curricula and policies regarding the hiring, promotion, and tenure of writers teaching in higher education. This statement was shaped by a two-year study conducted by the AWP Curriculum and Academic Policy Committee, chaired by Ellen Bryant Voigt (Warren Wilson College) and Marvin Bell (University of Iowa) in 1979. Since then, the document has been revised and reaffirmed by the AWP Board of Directors for each successive edition of The AWP Official Guide to Writing Programs. Aside from this document, we know of no other comprehensive set of guidelines regarding the hiring and tenure of writers who teach, their appropriate credentials, or academic policies affecting them. This document reinforces AWP’s commitment to the quality of teaching in this field, and it reflects AWP’s continued support of writers in the academy.     Association of Writers & Writing Programs 3   AWP Guidelines   Guidelines for Teachers of Writing Hiring, Rank, and Tenure It is the position of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs that decisions regarding the hiring, rank, and tenure of teachers of creative writing should be based on the quality of the individual’s writing and teaching. Academic degrees should not be considered a requirement or a major criterion which would overrule the importance of the writer’s achievement in the art. In the hiring and promotion of a professor of the art of writing, significant published work should be viewed as the equivalent of a terminal degree by administrators and personnel committees. If, however, a terminal degree is required, it is recommended that the Master of Fine Arts be considered the appropriate credential for the teacher of creative writing. Holders of this degree may also be prepared to teach literature courses as well as composition and rhetoric. AWP reminds institutions that the degree itself, and programs that award the degree, vary considerably; it is recommended that a prospective teacher’s individual competencies be examined closely. AWP assumes that the Master of Fine Arts in creative writing or its equivalent includes at least two years of serious study; a creative thesis (book- length collection of creative work); completion of course work in form, theory, and literature, including contemporary writers; and a substantial amount of individualized writing study, with criticism and direction of the student’s writing by experienced writers through workshop, tutorial, independent project, or thesis preparation. AWP believes that writing program faculty, who as creative writers are best qualified to make assessments of a candidate’s work, should be given the responsibility of making professional decisions about their peers, and that their evaluations of the candidate, and their recommendations, should be given the utmost weight in the review process.       Association of Writers & Writing Programs 4  AWP Guidelines Parity It is the position of AWP that creative writers be given parity with scholars in terms of salary, including senior positions at the top of the salary range, and that the MFA degree be considered the equivalent of the PhD in literature, linguistics, or composition. While the system of part-time or visiting writing faculty is often used to increase the breadth of a program’s offerings, such a system should not exclude writers from access to full-time, tenure-track positions and the possibility of renewal. Course Load According to AWP surveys, the majority of writing faculty members carry a course load of either two or three courses per semester or quarter in graduate creative writing programs. It should be noted that many institutions define “writing workshop” as equivalent to teaching two courses because of the additional work required in conferences, tutorials, and thesis preparation that writing students need for the development of their work. Other institutions consider a writing workshop equivalent to one literature course. AWP recommends that the course load for both undergraduate and graduate writing teachers be defined in a way that recognizes the importance of individualized attention to the student’s creative work and increased amounts of conference and preparation time required. AWP also reminds institutions that a teaching writer needs large amounts of time to do his or her own creative work. Workshop AWP surveys conducted periodically since 1978 indicate that most teachers of writing find they are most effective in the workshop format, and that the majority of workshops have a class size of 11–20 students. AWP recommends that workshop size not exceed 15, and that 12 be viewed as desirable and most effective.       Association of Writers & Writing Programs 5  AWP Guidelines Additional Recommendations It is the position of AWP that teaching writers must have access to a liberal policy of leave and sabbatical. As with other arts, the writing teacher will be effective as a teacher only insofar as he or she is active and engaged as a writer; large, recurring periods of time devoted to the writer’s own work are crucial to continued effective teaching. AWP believes that writers should have the major voice in decisions concerning the hiring and retention of creative writing faculty, admission of students to the writing program, the awarding of degrees in writing, the writing program’s budget, and the allocation of physical resources. AWP believes that writers in the academy are best qualified to make such judgments in regard to creative writing programs. A Description of Writing Program Curricula Although they share common goals, criteria, and characteristics, writing programs in North America, the United Kingdom, and Australia are now many and diverse. AWP does not advocate one approach to the study of writing over another, but does seek, through The AWP Official Guide to Writing Programs, to help the student writer locate those programs which are most compatible with his or her goals and expectations. Prospective students using the Guide are urged to read each program description carefully, and to pay special attention to the faculty listing, the coursework distribution and other degree requirements, and the statement of the program’s aims. The AWP Official Guide to Writing Programs makes a distinction between, on the one hand, courses in writing offered by an undergraduate or graduate literature program or department, and, on the other, a coherent curriculum in literature and creative writing designed for writing students. The primary aim of writing programs, through work in writing, form, and theory, and through the study of contemporary writers and past authors, is to help students become better writers. An education in the liberal arts and/or vocational training may be secondary aims. Writing programs are also characterized by the presence of active and experienced writers on their faculties, and the student’s own creative work is       Association of Writers & Writing Programs 6  AWP Guidelines seen as the primary evidence for decisions about admission and graduation. It should be noted that “creative writing” has traditionally encompassed poetry, playwriting and screenwriting, translation, fiction, creative nonfiction, and other imaginative prose. Graduate writing programs are listed in The AWP Official Guide in the following descriptive categories: Studio, Studio/Research, and Research/Theory/ Studio. Although the aims and specific curricula of programs within each category differ, the following general distinctions may be fairly made: Studio writing programs place primary emphasis on the student’s writing experience within the program. In this way, they most closely parallel studio programs in music, dance, and the visual arts. Most of the degree work is done in workshops, independent writing projects or tutorials, and thesis preparation. The study of contemporary literature and the forms, craft, themes, and aesthetics of writing may be incorporated into workshops or offered through separate seminars. Faculty members of such programs are selected for their achievement in the creative or artistic genres of literature and not for scholarly work. Students are admitted to such programs almost wholly on the basis of a writing sample, and in turn, the significant degree criterion is the quality of the thesis manuscript. Studio/Research writing programs usually place equal emphasis, in their curricula, on the student’s writing and literary scholarship, with the belief that the study of literature is crucial to one’s development as a writer. Seeking a balance between literary scholarship and literary artistic practice, these programs vary in the structure and amount of literature requirements, but they frequently rely on the regular English department faculty, noted for scholarly achievement, for many of the literature course offerings, while writers on the program faculty offer form, craft, and theory courses, workshops, and thesis direction. Studio/Research programs often require comprehensive examinations, and candidates are expected to be equally well-prepared in literature and in writing. Admission is determined primarily by the quality of the original manuscript.       Association of Writers & Writing Programs 7  AWP Guidelines Research/Theory/Studio writing programs emphasize literary scholarship and the study and practice of literary theory. These programs also offer writing workshops, independent studies, seminars on contemporary literature and the craft of writing, and the opportunity to complete a creative thesis, but these programs require that a majority of the degree- candidate’s course work will be completed in literary scholarship and theory, usually in seminars taught by English department faculty. The course of study typically spans three or more centuries of literature from three or more continents, and proficiency in another language besides English is usually required in earning the degree. Such programs align themselves both with academic traditions of literary research and with anti- traditional modes of cultural criticism that have become prevalent since the 1970s. These programs actively use the same criteria for admission and degree award that are applied to candidates in literary scholarship, including the comprehensive examinations, grade point averages, and previous undergraduate course work in literature. Additional Recommendations It is generally felt among creative writing program faculties that a series of readings and/or brief residencies by established writers is an important dimension of a writing program, offering students an immediate connection to contemporary literature and exposure to a variety of voices and aesthetic approaches. Because such a series is seen as integral to the curriculum, writing faculty should have the largest voice in determining the participants in such a series. —AWP Board of Directors       Association of Writers & Writing Programs 8   AWP Hallmarks of a Successful MFA Program in Creative Writing Graduate programs in creative writing have evolved since the 1930s to offer a range of artistic experiences, approaches, and courses of study. Because there are many paths by which one may become a writer, the curricula vary from program to program. AWP encourages this variety and innovation while it sets general guidelines to help ensure a high quality of artistic literary training within these programs. Although the courses of study vary, AWP has noted the following shared characteristics among successful programs that nurture a culture of creativity, vitality, intellectual rigor, artistic discipline, and collegiality. These definitive hallmarks also form the basis for “The AWP Guidelines for Creative Writing Programs and Teachers of Creative Writing.” A successful MFA program has accomplished writers as faculty members, a rigorous curriculum, talented students, and strong administrative support, all of which are complemented by the assets that distinguish a generally excellent academic institution. The AWP Board of Directors recommends that MFA programs undergo an annual self-evaluation and periodic independent assessment in an effort to offer the best education for writers and to make the best possible contributions to contemporary letters. Independent assessments are especially valuable to programs that have been operating for less than ten years. To facilitate, structure, and focus a program’s self-evaluation or independent assessment, the AWP Board of Directors has established these “Hallmarks of a Successful MFA Program in Creative Writing.” The hallmarks are grouped within five general categories. Rigorous and Diverse Curriculum The curriculum is consistent with the mission of the program as “studio” or “studio/research,” two types of programs established by The AWP Guidelines for Creative Writing Programs and Teachers of Creative Writing. This curriculum requires 48 to 60 semester hours or credits of study over two to three years. At the heart of this curriculum are graduate-level creative writing workshops and     Association of Writers & Writing Programs 9   Hallmarks for Graduate Programs seminars taught by core creative writing faculty on craft, theory, and contemporary literature. The institution also provides challenging elective, graduate-level classes in the literature of many centuries and continents. The program should provide an enabling progression of both practice and study in the literary arts in order to prepare the student for a life of letters and to equip the student with the skills needed for writing a publishable book-length creative work for the thesis. 1. Philosophy. The program has an overarching set of values, beliefs, and pedagogy that reflect: (a) the best practices of creative writing programs; (b) an awareness of the needs of its students; and (c) an understanding of the currents of contemporary literature and culture. The program's philosophy is appropriate to its institution's mission and the goals of its strategic plan. The curriculum requires studies that employ this philosophy effectively. 2. Consistent and Frequent Course Offerings. Required courses are offered regularly in the actual course schedule every semester or quarter. Most of the courses are taught by permanent full-time (tenure-track or tenured) faculty members. 3. A Challenging Workshop. The writers’ workshop is a seminar in which students critique one another’s work under the mentorship of an accomplished writer-teacher. The workshop is writing intensive, offering each student multiple opportunities for submission and revision of creative work. 4. Extensive Literary Study. One must become an expert and wide-ranging reader before one can hope to become an accomplished writer. The curriculum balances the practice of the art of writing with the study of literature, requiring at least 21 semester hours or credits in literature courses, outside of workshops and independent study. Of this total, 6 to 9 semester hours or credits may be in seminars on craft, theory, and technique taught by MFA faculty. Extensive and diverse reading lists for such courses should inform creative and critical writing assignments. Courses might cover topics such as the following: The Evolution of the Short Story; The Architecture of the Novel; Traditional Forms of Verse; The       Association of Writers & Writing Programs 10  Hallmarks for Graduate Programs Craft of Translation; Magical Realism and Its Influence on Contemporary Authors; Post-Modern Theory and Contemporary Literature; The American Long Poem Sequence; etc. 5. Attentiveness to Revision. In addition to frequent reading and writing, the curriculum requires frequent revision of student work, and the teacher provides suggestions for improving the work as well as references to literary models that may be helpful. Thesis advising focuses on specific suggestions for revision of creative work and includes feedback on successive drafts. 6. A Variety of Seminars and Workshops. As study with writers of varied artistic sensibilities serves a student best, students should have the opportunity to study with a different accomplished writer in a workshop each semester. Topics for literature seminars should also be diverse along several axes, offering exposure to many literary periods and cultural traditions, to literature that reflects a multicultural American society, and to varied craft topics. 7. A Variety of Lectures and Readings. The program broadens the student’s knowledge of literary techniques and aesthetics through literary lectures, craft lectures, and readings by the faculty, visiting writers, and scholars. 8. Strong Thesis Advising. Faculty members excel in providing both holistic and line-specific suggestions for revision of each student’s thesis. Students are required to produce a publishable literary work, and they must demonstrate expertise in a primary genre to graduate. Rough guidelines for the page range of a thesis manuscript vary by genre: 50-80 pages for poetry, 150-200 for a short story collection or collection of nonfiction essays, 200-350 for a novel or book-length work of creative nonfiction. Where a mixed-genre thesis is accepted, the form should demonstrate coherence—i.e., the compositional quality that would make it a publishable work—and the page range should correspond to guidelines for prose manuscripts. 9. Residential Course Work and Mentorship. Although AWP recognizes the effectiveness of electronic learning and Web-based classrooms, face-to-face       Association of Writers & Writing Programs 11  Hallmarks for Graduate Programs mentorship is crucial to an artist’s education. Because residential learning and individualized instruction foster the best retention and graduation rates among matriculated students, every MFA program, including a low-residency program, requires at least 14 days of residential study annually. 10. Cross-Genre Study. The program may require the student to take one seminar or workshop in a genre other than the student’s declared specialty. A nonfiction writer, for instance, often benefits from learning the narrative strategies of fiction writers, while fiction writers often benefit from learning the research techniques of nonfiction writers. Although this feature is not a necessary part of a program’s curriculum, it is a feature of many effective programs. 11. Vocational Study Options. Students may have access to elective classes in journalism, publishing, composition, theater, screenwriting, technical writing, teaching writing, or communications taught by distinguished faculty. The program may also provide internships through an affiliation with a journal, press, publishing venue, or other community literary programs that provide editorial experience. Accomplished Faculty These qualities distinguish a program that supports excellent teaching: 1. Accomplished Writers Who Teach Well. The program has a faculty of published writers who have distinguished themselves as teachers and as artists. As teachers, they command the respect of their peers, and they receive generally good to excellent student evaluations. Each faculty member has published significant work in one or more of the following genres: fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, playwriting, writing for children and young adults, or screenwriting. Each faculty member has published at least one book by a respected press, and that book is in the genre which the faculty member teaches. Each faculty member holds an MFA or the appropriate terminal degree in creative writing. An outstanding publications record of literary book publication may serve as an equivalent for the degree.       Association of Writers & Writing Programs 12  Hallmarks for Graduate Programs 2. Stable Faculty. Most of the faculty are tenured or tenure-track so that students may rely on continuity in instruction, mentorship, thesis advising, and recommendations for professional advancement. Faculty members routinely make themselves available to students outside of class. The intensive nature of advising on a creative thesis should be a factor in determining a teacher’s course load. Senior tenured faculty, who have distinguished themselves by their national publications, have a teaching load of 2-2 or lower in order to support their advising of theses, their mentorship of students, and their research, writing, and contributions to contemporary letters. 3. Diverse Faculty. A program’s faculty provides depth and expertise in each genre and variety in aesthetic sensibility. A diverse faculty provides a range of aesthetic viewpoints related to literary, ethnic, cultural, or other influences, and a range of approaches to craft. A visiting writer’s position often helps to enhance this diversity. 4. Community Service. Faculty members are professionally active, not only publishing creative work, but also providing leadership in the profession through national, regional, and local service. The faculty members are dedicated to making sure their program provides a supportive literary community in addition to effective instruction. 5. A Low Faculty-to-Student Ratio. A good program has a faculty-to-student ratio of one to twelve, or better. Because of this low student-to-faculty ratio, students have the opportunity to receive frequent and extensive critiques of their work and their theses. Excellent Students and Support for Students In its efforts to serve its students well, an effective program offers these features: 1. Small Classes. To facilitate extensive critiques of student work, workshops should have no more than 14 students, and class size in other graduate seminars       Association of Writers & Writing Programs 13  Hallmarks for Graduate Programs should range from 11 to 20 students. Online classes are no larger than seven students. A mentor in a low-residency program conducts no more than five tutorials a semester. 2. Regular Evaluation of Faculty and the Program. The program is responsive to the needs of its graduate students, and students evaluate their courses and instructors each semester. At least once every four years, the program also conducts exit surveys of students after they have completed the program. The exit survey seeks an overall evaluation of the program’s effectiveness in curriculum, thesis advising, and other areas that are not evaluated in course evaluations. 3. Selective Admissions. With generally high and selective admissions standards, the program sustains a high ratio of applicants to admissions. 4. Strong Recruitment of the Best Students. Both the institution and the program work in concert to enroll qualified students of different backgrounds, social classes, and races. 5. Financial Aid. Programs offer some financial aid in the form of scholarships, waivers, assistantships, fellowships, internships, subsidized loans, travel support, or other forms of support in order to attract the best students. 6. A Student Handbook. Students are given clear guidelines for the structure of a tutorial or online coursework, which protect their right to consistent, regularly scheduled feedback and provide appropriate means for redressing any grievances. The handbook also clearly defines the etiquette for online classes and discussions, and it explains the requirements for earning the degree, including guidelines for a creative thesis and expectations for any requirements in addition to course work (critical papers, lectures, or oral or written exams). 7. A High Retention Rate. A high percentage of matriculated students graduate from the program, and a small number of students drop out or transfer to other programs.       Association of Writers & Writing Programs 14  Hallmarks for Graduate Programs 8. Publication by Students and Graduates of the Program. The number of publications by students and alumni is the ultimate measure of an MFA program’s effectiveness. A high number of students go on to publish significant literary work and to win honors and awards for their writing. 9. Mentorship for TAs. If teaching assistantships are available, a regular program of TA training and mentoring ensures that TAs develop good pedagogical methods and benefit from the experience of a skilled teacher. Strong Administrative Support An effective program has these features in its administration: 1. Strong Leadership. The MFA program director provides strong leadership in planning, in staffing, in devising curriculum, in training new faculty members, in recruiting the best students, and in advocating program needs to the host institution’s administration. The program director also facilitates alumni relations and fund-raising for the program. 2. Sufficient Autonomy. The institution’s administration gives the program sufficient autonomy with regard to curriculum, admissions, budget, graduate support, physical facilities, and personnel to ensure quality, stability, flexibility, and the capability to take advantage of opportunities quickly. 3. Strong Financial Support. The institution provides financial resources to facilitate excellence in the recruiting and retaining of faculty, in providing services to students, in providing administrative support for the program director, and in maintaining the facilities used by the program. 4. Good Collegial Relations. If the program is part of a department of literature or another larger entity, the program has a supportive relationship with that department. The program has good working relations with the university’s leadership.       Association of Writers & Writing Programs 15  Hallmarks for Graduate Programs 5. Community Outreach. The program director and the institution’s administrators seek, whenever possible, to establish a strong, positive presence in the local community. Typically, several events of the reading series or lecture series are open to the public, and the marketing of these open events is effective. Affiliations with community literary centers is also encouraged. 6. Diligent Quality Control. The program director makes sure that students have the opportunity to evaluate their faculty annually. In a low-residency programs, the students know that they have the right to a productive tutorial with a frequent exchange of packets, or to a rigorous online class that demands participation of the students and timely instruction, guidance, and responses from the teacher. The program director will take immediate action in counseling faculty members and in replacing faculty members if high standards of instruction are not consistently maintained. Although the faculty are entitled to some flexibility in the quantity of assignments, as justified by the varying difficulty of those assignments, the program director monitors the assignments to ensure that the program remains rigorous and challenging. 7. Clear Criteria for Evaluation of Faculty. Faculty members are promoted and tenured based on publication of creative work, demonstrated ability as teachers, and contribution to the university and greater literary community. The program should have clear criteria for designating, hiring, and promoting creative writing faculty, and the criteria should be specific to creative writing faculty, whose respected venues for publication may reside outside the usual circle of university journals and presses that publish scholarship and theory. 8. Participation in Professional Networks. A good program provides membership in AWP and other appropriate local, regional, and national associations to assure that faculty members and students have access to timely information about contemporary letters and the teaching of creative writing. 9. Administrative Support Staff. To facilitate excellence in administration, the program director has the administrative support of one to two full-time workers, depending on the size of the program.       Association of Writers & Writing Programs 16  Hallmarks for Graduate Programs 10. Release Time for the Program Director. Depending on the size of the program, the program director has his or her teaching load reduced by one or two courses a year. Other Assets and Infrastructure An effective program also has the assets and infrastructure that characterize any good college or university: 1. Accreditation. The program, institute, or department is part of an accredited institution of higher education, or it is an accredited institution in and of itself. 2. Good Infrastructure. Classrooms, offices, and other spaces are adequate to conduct workshops, conferences, readings, and informal student and faculty gatherings. Spaces assigned to the program promote an atmosphere conducive to concentration, listening, social exchanges, and focused work. When students are housed on campus, they are housed in close proximity to each other to provide more opportunity for them to develop the kind of lifelong friendships that are often crucial to sustaining the writing life after the completion of the degree. 3. A Computer Lab. The lab is open at least twelve hours a day for students to work on manuscripts and conduct research on the Internet. 4. An Excellent Library. Faculty and students have access to a library with extensive holdings in canonical and contemporary literature. 5. A Unique Educational Feature. A special focus, initiative, resource, archive, project, or other opportunity for students distinguishes the program from other comparable programs. Such a feature might be a literary magazine, an emphasis on translation, a small press, special internships, or the archives of a literary author.       Association of Writers & Writing Programs 17  Hallmarks for Graduate Programs 6. A Campus Bookstore. The program has a campus bookstore that supports the curriculum, special events with visiting writers, and faculty and student authors. 7. An Affiliated Literary Publication. The program is affiliated with a journal, press, or other publishing venue that can provide editorial and publishing experience. —AWP Board of Directors           Association of Writers & Writing Programs 18   AWP Hallmarks of an Effective Low-Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing Since the first low-residency MFA program in creative writing was developed in the 1970s, higher education has established over thirty such programs. With various combinations of residencies, workshops, lectures, online workshops and classes, study abroad, correspondence, and one-on-one mentoring, low-residency programs vary; however, their chief attributes are individualized instruction and structural flexibility for students. Low-residency programs require at least two years of study. Students study literature and craft by writing original fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, translations, screenplays, or plays; by analyzing contemporary and canonical works of literature; and by writing critical papers. Programs also require culminating projects focused on the craft of writing—an extended craft essay, a lecture, or the teaching of a seminar. The centerpiece of the course of study is a creative thesis, an original literary work in the student’s chosen genre(s). With its mentoring relationships involving one teacher and one student, or with small online workshops and seminars, the low-residency program excels in expediting the development of a writer. Students in low-residency programs tend to be older than traditional graduate students. Many students enter these programs intending to continue in their already established careers; these students find that their professional work is often improved by the skills they acquire in their artistic avocations. Low-residency programs have a strong record of preparing graduates for careers in teaching, editing, publishing, public affairs, advertising, and administration. To facilitate, structure, and focus a program’s periodic self-evaluation or independent assessment, the AWP Board of Directors has established these hallmarks, which are also addressed to administrators who seek to establish low- residency programs at their institutions. The hallmarks are meant to be aspirational rather than prescriptive, reflecting current best practices. Specific details associated with some of the following hallmarks are included because of the relative newness of the low-residency model, still unfamiliar to many     Association of Writers & Writing Programs 19