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DeSales Launches Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing

Students in the first MFA class
A group of students from the first MFA class.

DeSales University has launched a new graduate program for working adults and undergraduates who love to write.

The Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Publishing, which will be offered beginning in January 2019, is geared toward writers who are already working, as well as undergraduates who would like to work in publishing.

“The low-residency MFA teaches you how to write and edit novels and poetry,” says Juilene Osborne-McKnight, associate professor of English. “It has a publishing arm that teaches you everything you need to know about publishing. But you do not have to quit your job and you can continue to earn your salary. That’s the advantage.”

The program is the brainchild of Osborne-McKnight and Stephen Myers, professor of English, who will be teaching the poetry track.

“We’re committed to serving not just traditional-age students who complete an undergraduate degree, but we really want to have outreach to what we think is a significant body of people who may be doing any number of non-poetry things with their lives,” says Myers. “They may be small business people, lawyers, accountants, or physicians. But they may also feel this calling.”

The program is only one of three low-residency MFAs in eastern Pennsylvania, and the only one in the Lehigh Valley to offer residencies both on campus and in Europe. Students will complete two residencies on the DeSales campus and two in Ireland.

“We will be going into the pan-Celtic world. So rather than going to the city of Dublin, we’re going into the west where it is as if you are in the year 500 B.C. It’s not the modern world and that is because we want contemplative immersion.”

 Juilene Osborne-McKnight, associate professor of English

In addition to the five semester post-baccalaureate option, DeSales is also offering a five-year BA/BS to MFA, which will allow a select number of undergraduates to jump right into the program.

Students will only be in residence twice a year, for 10 days each January and 10 days each summer. In between residencies, they will be reading and writing extensively. Students can choose from a track in poetry or fiction, but all are required to also take a publishing track.

The DeSales MFA program is also just the second in the country to put an emphasis on spiritual writing with a “Writing in the Spirit” day during each winter residency.

“It’s entirely in keeping with the mission of DeSales University,” says Myers. “The humanities, to me, have always been the beating heart of the University, the core of the University, the real pulse of the place.”

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