Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About the M.A. Program in Creative Writing

What is your application deadline?

All admitted students begin our program by attending the June residency. We accept applications on a rolling basis through May 1 each year.

What does “low-residency” mean?

Simply, Saint Leo’s low-residency degree is a family- and career-friendly option for graduate study. Instead of relocating to attend a full-time graduate program, you attend classes on campus for just one eight-day period annually in June. The remainder of your course work is completed from home.

Low-residency degrees are particularly attractive to students who have career, community or family commitments that make quitting a job and relocating across the country impractical or even impossible. Many low-residency programs require two residencies per year, the Saint Leo M.A. requires just one, making it that much more accessible.

When is the residency?

We hold a single eight-day residency each summer. Dates will be posted on the website. The inaugural residency is July 14-21, 2018.

What does a typical residency day look like?

Each day is divided into several different sessions. Students attend a workshop where they create and refine their own fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction. We eat lunch together as a community on campus. Our faculty and visiting writers lead lectures, craft talks, and discussions on topics ranging from canonical literature to more practical matters, all with a focus on teaching the student how to enter the world of writing professionally. After a dinner break, students return for readings by distinguished visiting writers and Saint Leo graduate creative writing faculty.

How selective is your program?

Our goal is to create and maintain a sense of community and shared endeavor between all of the working artists in our program. The most important part of the application is your own creative work; the admissions committee, comprised of faculty who teach in the program, looks at the writing sample and the student’s personal statement to assess whether the student has the ability to complete the thesis, the book-length creative project that is the cumulative result of the student’s workshop experience.

How many students do you admit?  How many are enrolled in your program?

We are a new program. Our goal is to admit an initial cohort of around 15 students.

What can I expect from a low-residency program?

Students who choose a low-residency program for graduate study do not come from any specific demographic, ranging from recent college graduates, to working professionals seeking to explore new career options, through retirees pursuing the long-deferred dream of writing.

How long is the program?

Our program is designed to be completed in just two calendar years. It requires 36 graduate credit hours of study. Students attend four semesters of study, plus three summer residencies.

What will I write for my workshops?

We offer tracks of study in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Within each of those genres, the possibilities are endless. We do not favor any particular school of writing. Our main focus is helping each student improve through a program tailored to their own unique goals.

Why does Saint Leo award a Master of Arts (M.A.) instead of a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)?

The ability to produce concise and thoughtful written work is a fundamental skill not just for fiction writers, essayists, and poets, but also for successful professionals in almost any field. This is in keeping with the mission of Saint Leo University, which fosters a student-centered environment in which the love of learning is of prime importance.

The reasons someone pursues a graduate degree in the arts are as varied as the students who seek those degrees. Our degree is aimed primarily at students who are approaching writing as a type of personal development, or those who are just beginning their exploration of the writing life. That means our community is one that offers mentorship and supportive critique, and provides models of the professional writing life in all its various forms, helping students build a base of skills in the study of both writing and literature.

The M.A. at Saint Leo offers a broad approach to preparation for a possible writing career, requiring not only creative work but also the study of literature. These literature courses, called foundations courses, give an M.A. student a sense of both the historical and contemporary trends in their chosen genre of study. While the M.F.A. has been considered a terminal degree in the past, many writers—especially those who wish to teach at the university level—elect to continue their studies through the doctoral degree.

I’ve been out of college for a long time. Is the Saint Leo M.A. right for me?

Saint Leo is a national leader in providing educational options for students of all types. All our programs are designed to assist professionals in meeting challenging career goals, and to prepare them for the rapidly changing world in which they live and work. But there is no “typical” low-residency student; the community is necessarily diverse in age and background, but it is very much a community, bound together by a shared love of writing and a desire to pursue personal development.

How can I pay for my Master’s degree?

As you explore your continuing education, costs need not be an obstacle. The Saint Leo M.A. is an affordable advanced degree, costing as much as 50 percent less than degrees at other institutions.

Financial aid programs are available and there are ways to help you finance your educational investments. It may be helpful to know that there are federal student loan programs for graduate and professional students. Graduate students may be eligible for up to $20,500 in Unsubsidized Direct Loans.

Applying for financial aid is easy! The only application you need is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which can be completed online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.

Alternate ways to finance your education

  • Employer assistance
  • Military tuition assistance
  • Veteran benefits (352) 588-7534 or (352) 588-8980

Saint Leo University students can use SALT, the free program that helps students manage their loans and finances, budget efficiently, and find scholarships and internships. www.saintleo.edu/SALT.