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Virginia Tech creative writing program climbs national rankings


BLACKSBURG, Va., Jan. 18, 2011 – The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program in creative writing in the Department of English at Virginia Tech is relatively young, admitting its first full class in the fall of 2005. The fledgling program is flexing its poetic muscles, however, swiftly and steadily climbing the national rankings.

Poets & Writers Magazine recently recognized Virginia Tech as 35th among 527 MFA programs nationally, positioning it in the top 7 percent. In addition, the Virginia Tech program is ranked No. 10 in poetry, and its trend in ranking is “up.”

“All of the programs that rated higher in either case have been established for a longer time,” noted Carolyn Rude, professor and chair of the Department of English.

The rankings are based on 16 categories, including poetry, fiction, and nonfiction ranks as well as annual and total funding, selectivity, teaching loads, cost of living, and postgraduate placement. All Virginia Tech MFA students in creative writing are fully funded through graduate teaching assistantships with annual stipends averaging $15,000. The three-year program includes full tuition remission and subsidized health insurance.

The list of faculty members in the Virginia Tech program reads like a who’s who of the literary world. 

  • Ed Falco, a novelist and short story writer who has won a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Fellowship, directs the MFA program.  
  • Bob Hicok, who has published several poems in The New Yorker in the last year, is the 2007 winner of the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt Prize from the Library of Congress, and has also been recognized with Guggenheim and NEA Fellowships. 
  • Fred D’Aguiar, the Gloria D. Smith Professor of African Studies, is a contemporary Caribbean writer of international renown. 

The list also includes University Distinguished Professor Nikki Giovanni; Alumni Distinguished Professor Lucinda Roy; Erika Meitner, whose second book of poetry, Ideal Cities, a National Poetry Series winner, was just published by HarperCollins; and Jeff Mann, who has won awards in multiple genres, including fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction.

MFA students at Virginia Tech also have opportunities for editorial work. Janell Watson, associate professor of French, was recently named the new editor of The Minnesota Review, a 50-year old literary journal that is now owned by Virginia Tech and headquartered in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. The students and faculty of the MFA program in creative writing select poetry and fiction submissions for this journal. Students also work with The New River, a journal of digital writing and art founded by Falco.

The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech includes programs in the arts, humanities, social and human sciences, and education. The college seeks to illuminate human experience and expression by creating works of lasting scholarly, cultural, and aesthetic value; empower individuals to engage critically with the complexities of a diverse, global society; and foster the inquiry, innovation, and growth that produce individual and social transformation.