M.F.A. Creative Writing Program
1000 E. University Avenue
Appointment to a graduate teaching assistantship is based on the candidate's record as a student, personal qualifications, and writing ability. Renewal of the assistantship is dependent on satisfactory performance of all assistantship responsibilities, and on good standing in the MFA program and normal progress toward the degree, averaging 10 registered hours per semester throughout the four consecutive semesters of assistantship support. All GAs must enroll in a minimum of 9 hours (maximum of 12 hours) each semester in order to keep the assistantship.
Our assistantships come with an excellent teaching load (only one course per semester) and provide significant financial support. The assistantship stipend is currently $12,078 per academic year. The stipend amount is taxable income to you, and taxes will be withheld. Assistantships also carry a full-time tuition waiver, a fee reduction, and insurance benefits. If the cost of tuition and fees for courses in which you enroll exceeds this award, you must pay the additional amount from your own funds. The tuition and fee reduction will be divided equally between fall and spring semesters. The award cannot be used for courses offered during summer session or for courses offered through the School of Extended Studies. The tuition award amount is not taxed. IRS Code Sec. 117 provides degree candidates with a tax exclusion for tuition awards. Payday is the last working day of the month. The first payday falls each year at the end of September (if the student has completed an I-9 form before the start of the fall semester).
Graduate assistants are expected to maintain full-time enrollment status and devote, on the average, 18 hours a week to their assigned duties. In the first fall semester, with rare exceptions, MFA GAs will teach one section of English 1010, College Composition and Rhetoric, which is our first year writing course. After that, GAs typically teach one section of English 1010 each semester of their assistantships. Some creative-writing teaching opportunities will be available to MFA GAs in their fourth semester. Students with qualifications or dual-degree pursuits in other fields can sometimes hold teaching assignments in other departments (examples include ENR and Theater); the creation of such opportunities will depend upon needs in both the English department and the relevant department.
GAs are given excellent support as they enter the classroom as teachers. GAs teaching 1010 will enroll in ENGL 5010 in their first fall semester (the course counts as an MFA elective). For each semester of assistantship devoted to ENGL 1010 teaching, GAs will also enroll in a 1 credit teaching practicum course, ENGL 5900. Via 5900, all GAs will be assigned a mentor, who will oversee and provide support for day-to-day teaching during weekly meetings and informal conferences as needed. If the GA is teaching a course other than 1010, they will register for a one-credit teaching apprenticeship (ENGL 5080) with a teaching mentor selected in consultation with the MFA director.
Prior to the first semester, new 1010 GAs are also required to attend a multi-day teaching colloquium run by the English department's composition program director. Textbooks, syllabi, and other teaching materials will be mailed to each new 1010 GA over the course of the summer before their first semester. In addition to the English department's GA colloquium, each August the Graduate School holds a required orientation session for all GAs prior to the beginning of the semester.
Evaluation of assistantship duties is ongoing and will include classroom visits by your mentor and the composition director (if you are assigned 1010), teaching evaluations by your students each semester, review by the MFA director, and other methods as appropriate. GAs who do not adequately fulfill the full range of responsibilities associated with the assistantship, including satisfactory performance in 5900 or 5080, risk losing the assistantship.
As a condition of the assistantship, international students whose first language is not English must complete an oral proficiency screening before attending the teaching assistant orientation. Failure to rank at an English Oral Proficiency level required for teaching may result in the cancellation of your assistantship.