UW's MFA Program in Creative Writing Ranked in the Top 30
August 24, 2011 — Ryan Ikeda had been searching for a quality MFA creating writing program when he came across Seth Abramson's blog, which monitors and ranks MFA programs. His curiosity was perked by the University of Wyoming program's top 50 national ranking.
"Wyoming's MFA program stood head and shoulders above the other schools I was considering. The decision wasn't between this program and another program, rather it was between my established life and career in California or following my dream to write," the Bay Area native says. "My only choice was Wyoming. So, yes, I did consider other programs, however, very briefly."
And he couldn't have selected a better time to enroll in UW's nationally-recognized MFA Program in Creative Writing.
According to the latest national rankings, UW's program has moved into the 30th position, up from No. 43 a year ago, according to Abramson, who compiles the data for Poets and Writers Magazine's yearly list. UW also was the top-rated program for student/teacher-ratio. The nearest Mountain West Conference school with a similar program was the University of Nevada-Las Vegas at No. 36.
The 2012 rankings feature ratings of full-residency, low-residency and doctoral programs in creative writing on the basis of their popularity, funding, selectivity, fellowship-placement statistics, job-placement statistics and student-to-faculty ratios. Currently, UW has 24 students in the program.
UW's creative writing program centers on poetry, fiction and nonfiction. Special features include a flexible curriculum, cross-genre opportunities, opportunities for interdisciplinary study and the Eminent Writers in Residence program, which brings distinguished authors to campus to work closely with UW students.
"MFA rankings are a strange creature, of course, but a good ranking means two valuable things: It helps us to continue to attract terrific students to the program; and a boost to our reputation is also a boost to the arts in Laramie and Wyoming," says MFA Program Director Beth Loffreda. "It reminds people elsewhere that Wyoming is a real home for important new American literature. For those reasons especially, I'm delighted by the news."
The favorable student-to-teacher ratio also attracted Ikeda to UW. He says from his first interaction with the MFA program -- even as a candidate who had not yet received word of admission -- he would be welcomed into the writing community here. He has B.A. degree in business administration, with minors in philosophy and ancient near eastern history from Azusa Pacific University, and an M.A. in teaching from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He's interested in poetry, mixed-media projects, cross-genre writing and the occasional art installation.
The professors, administration and Loffreda are approachable, down-to-earth people who care about students as individuals and writers; they also care about their own writing practice, he adds.
"The UW program provides a space to explore the art of writing and it is not limited to one genre or type, whereas certain programs may admit students based on a particular writing pedigree or academic background. Not that the UW program doesn't value that, rather, it is most apparent that the program selects students who love to write and write well," Ikeda says. "As a teacher, I wanted to find a program whose faculty had a strong teaching record. UW's status quickly becomes apparent once you examine the numbers of awards held by the UW MFA program instructors."
Abramson, an attorney, poet, editor and freelance journalist, conducts the surveys for the overall rankings for Poets and Writers Magazine. For five years, he has researched and collected data about graduate creative writing programs from applicants, faculty and program directors.
He was a contributing author to the second edition of The Creative Writing MFA Handbook and is coauthor of the forthcoming third edition. His essays on creative writing graduate programs have been cited in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, the New Yorker, the Economist, the Los Angeles Times, the Huffington Post and the Poetry Foundation's website. He founded the Suburban Ecstasies, a website offering the largest online archive of MFA statistics.