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Flexible Low-Residency Programs

Flexibility in Scheduling

At Spalding’s School of Creative and Professional Writing, we understand the lives of writers because we’re writers too. That’s why we offer the most flexible low-residency writing programs you’ll find.

We hold residencies in months when travel is easier for many writers. And we offer two semester lengths, so you can customize your weekly workload during independent study. Here’s how it works:

Six-month schedule

The six-month semester schedule includes two semesters a year. Each semester begins with a residency in Louisville. On this track, MFA students graduate in two years. Students in the MAW program graduate in one year. Certificate students finish in about 6 months.

Six-month schedule
Semester Residency Independent Study Weekly I.S. Workload
Spring May/June, in Louisville June – October 25 hours
Fall November, in Louisville November – April 25 hours

Nine-month schedule

The nine-month semester schedule includes one semester a year, allowing for a more leisurely pace. Semesters begin with residency in Louisville or abroad, as shown below. On this track, MFA students graduate in four years, MAW students in two years. Certificate students finish in about 9 months. And students enjoy a break during the springtime months.

Nine-month schedule
Semester Residency Independent Study Weekly I.S. Workload
Stretch May/June, in Louisville June – February About 12 hours
Summer July, abroad July – March About 12 hours

Flexibility in Studies

The coursework and tuition are the same regardless of the semester length. You can mix and match semester lengths, or take a leave of absence and extend your study even longer.

Flexibility is also our pledge for the content of your studies. Independent study courses are tailored to fit your individual writing goals. Special offerings include a teaching seminar, a book-length manuscript workshop, a full semester of study in translation, and more. Creative writing students investigate topics in the profession of writing; professional writing students benefit from sessions on principles of creative writing. MFA students have the option to study in two genres while still graduating on time in four semesters.

The low-residency model is inherently more flexible than traditional, campus-based study. Only low-residency can offer both the lively camaraderie of a peer group and intense one-on-one mentoring with expert faculty in which you’ll receive feedback on far more pages than you would in a traditional program. At Spalding, we offer more faculty feedback than most other low-res programs as well. For instance, in the MFA program, prose and script writers receive detailed expert commentary on up to 225 pages of new and revised creative writing each semester; poets and picture book writers receive mentored critique on up to 35 new and revised poems or picture books each semester. MAW and graduate certificate students complete the same amount of work as MFA students each semester. Few other programs can match that volume of in-depth critique.

Low-residency programs typically offer a larger, more diverse faculty than traditional programs, as well as a more diverse student body. Take a look at our faculty page to learn about our outstanding teachers from a wide range of backgrounds. Their varied viewpoints will help you develop into a more rounded writer.

Perhaps most important, low-residency programs teach you how to integrate writing into your daily life, in the thick of your other commitments. You won’t get that opportunity in campus-based programs, where you step away from “real life” for two or three years to do nothing but write—and then are left to figure out how to keep writing once you’ve gone back to your job and family responsibilities.

Once you’ve graduated, we’ll continue to be there for you. Check out our alumni page to see the many ways we support our alums.