Academic Calendar: Writing Seminars

MFA in Writing Program

Important Term Details and Deadlines

Registration

Those students currently enrolled who plan to continue do not need to do anything—we assume you will be here next term, as scheduled.

For those students who are currently on Leave of Absence (LOA) or Withdrawn

  • March 1 is the application/reentry/reapplication deadline for the June residency.
  • September 1 is the application/reentry/reapplication deadline for the January residency.
  • Those of you who are currently on a Leave of Absence (LOA) must notify Associate Director Megan Culhane Galbraith in writing by March 1 (for the June residency) or September 1 (for the January residency) of your intent to return (email is fine).
  • Forfeited matriculation deposits must be repaid and received in the Writing Seminars Office by March 1 (for June) or September 1 (for January).
  • Reapplications must be completed and received in the Writings Seminars Office by March 1 (for June) or September 1 (for January).

Leave of Absence (LOA)

The notification due date for requesting a LOA for the June term is March 1. Students must submit requests to the Associate Director in writing by March 1 (email is fine). The notification due date for requesting a LOA for the January term is September 1. Students must submit requests to the Associate Director in writing by September 1 (email is fine).

  • If you entered the program and decide after March 1 (for June) or after September 1 (for January) to take a Leave of Absence, you will forfeit the $500 matriculation deposit.
  • Additionally, any student who decides after March 1 (for June) or after September 1 (for January) to take a Leave of Absence will be considered withdrawn at the end of the term and will be required to reapply to the Seminars with the same status as other applicants seeking admission for the term to which the student is reapplying.

Third-Term Genre Switch

While we don't typically recommend a third-term switch if students have a project underway, the option is available. Students should think about whether they feel they can fulfill their interests in another genre via the master classes and lectures that genre during residency.  

If a student is currently in their second term, they have the opportunity to request a switch to another genre in advance of the third term.

Requests to make a genre switch must be submitted to the Associate Director in writing by March 1 or sooner (for June) or by September 1 or sooner (for January). Approval of your second-term (current) teacher is required. If you are considering making a switch, please notify the Associate Director as soon as possible, to discuss the process.

Dual-Genre Applications

Current first- and second-term students considering applying for the Dual-Genre Option need to submit three copies of a manuscript in their minor genre by March 1 (for June) or by September 1 (for January). Please contact the Associate Director as soon as possible to discuss the details.

Residential Teaching Fellow

We conduct interviews for the Residential Teaching Fellow during residency and/or via Skype. Currently, applications are open for the fellowship to teach in Fall 2021. 

The Bennington Writing Seminars offers a full-immersion teaching fellowship to MFA students. The fellowship is the first of its kind in the country to offer full-time undergraduate teaching experience in a low-residency MFA format. This fellowship includes full tuition remission for one term, housing and board, enrollment in one class offered on campus, and experience in arts administration or editorial work thanks to unique partnerships with The Robert Frost Stone House MuseumBennington Review, and Poetry@Bennington.

The Residential Teaching Fellow works for a full term in an undergraduate classroom where they assist a Bennington College literature faculty member. The selected Fellow gains experience in arts administration or editorial work while continuing their regular coursework for the term. We select two Fellows per year.

This competitive fellowship application is open to Bennington MFA students who are rising into their second, third or fourth term at the time they'll be actively serving in the fellowship. Students in their graduate term are ineligible. Students will be mentored 1:1 with the on-campus faculty member with whom they are working (and/or by the faculty mentor with whom they have been assigned at BWS.)

Faculty Preferences

Students have a choice of the faculty they work with. Students in their second through fourth terms will receive brief biographical profiles of all faculty who will be teaching in their genre during the term and will be asked to list up to six in order of preference. Students in their first term will be assigned a faculty member.

We spend a great deal of time matching students with the best pairing for their writing and their life. In doing so we aim for students to receive your first choice at least once during their time here. Regardless of who students study with, the experience is a positive one.

Workshop Material

Deadlines to email complete workshop materials to writing@bennington.edu are:

  • January Residency: Beginning of December (students will be notified of the exact date)
  • June Residency: Beginning of May (students will be notified of the exact date)
  • Email a copy of your workshop material (original work) to writing@bennington.edu.
  • Plan ahead which materials you will be sending so that the deadline does not creep up on you. 
  • Send your best work in progress, i.e., strong work you think will benefit from the critique of your workshop teachers and peers.  
  • Our goal is to distribute the workshop material in time for faculty and students to read and fully annotate one another’s work prior to coming to the residency.
    • Fully annotate means fully respond to the work in writing. Students will give their written responses of each MS to its author. We have received many requests from students who want there to be more consistency in the quality of the critique of workshop manuscripts. Thoroughly critiquing manuscripts for workshop will benefit student critics as well as student authors.
  • Send no more than 20 pages of fiction or nonfiction (double spaced, single-sided, in 12pt Times New Roman) and not more than 10 pages of poetry.
  • We will strictly adhere to all deadlines. No extensions.
    • If you miss the deadline, you will be responsible for sending the material to those in your workshop group, including sending a copy to the Writing Seminars Office and one to each of your workshop teachers.
    • A word of caution: If your material is not received on time, teachers have the option to omit your work from the workshop.

Letter-grade Requests

Typically, a student might request a letter grade if their workplace requires it for reimbursement of a portion of tuition or if they plan to pursue a PhD.  

Letter grades may be requested via this Google form and are due by these deadlines:

  • September 1 (for the January–May term)
  • March 1 (for the June–November term)

NOTE: Upon the completion of coursework, assigned letter grades cannot be changed back to a pass/fail rating.

Populi

Populi is Bennington College’s online student information system.  Once you have access to Populi, you will be able to see your schedule and grades/narrative evaluations for a given term. Prior to the beginning of your first term, you will be made a Populi user. Once this happens, you will receive an e-mail at your @bennington.edu email account with instructions on how to officially log into Populi (including your username and password).  

To view your schedule for the January or June term, start by navigating to bennington.populiweb.com and entering your Bennington College username and password (these credentials will be the same as when you log into your Bennington College e-mail). Click "My Profile" near the top of the page, and then click the “Student” tab. 

To view your grades/narrative evaluations for any terms:

  • Login to Populi at https://bennington.populiweb.com

  • Click on My Profile at the top of the page, then click on the Student tab.

    • For courses that have been graded, you'll see your final grade for that course. To view the narrative evaluation your instructor has written, click on the yellow triangle next to the grade.

    • For courses that have not yet been graded, you’ll see the placeholder "IP," which means in progress.

    • If you've Withdrawn from or are Incomplete in a Course, you'll see "W" or "I." 

Feel free to contact the Registrar if you have any questions about Populi. Carly Rudzinski is happy to help. 

Resources for Annotations and Student Papers

We keep a compendium of resources, annotations, and student papers on our Resources site—click on "Online Lectures, Annotations, Tools & Resources"

Each term, faculty recommend some of the best writing to be made available to other students. This page offers a compilation of the best annotations and lectures. You'll need to log in with your bennington.edu address. Any questions about this resource can be directed to Laura Payne in the library.

Graduate Term Information

Thesis and Project Guidelines

A student's faculty advisor needs to receive your manuscript as your last official packet or sooner (deadlines are set by each faculty). Aim to complete it earlier if possible

The printed and bound copy, with approval signatures, needs to be displayed in Crossett Library at residency

A digital copy must be uploaded by last Friday of the residency. Contact Laura Payne in Crossett Library with questions.

Upload your thesis to Crossett Library

Page guidelines:

  • Fiction: A collection of stories or a novel, or a combination of the two, 100 to 120 page
  • Nonfiction: A manuscript of either a collection of essays or a single topic book, 100 to 120 pages
  • Poetry: A manuscript of poems, 48 to 64 pages
  • Dual-Genre: 120 to 150 total pages of prose for nonfiction and fiction; 60 to 80 pages of poetry

Lecture:
(valid up to June 2020 and then superseded by the new format for final critical paper. See full MFA Guidelines)

  • 11-13 pages
  • Target 25-30 minutes for the lecture
  • Allow for 5-10 minutes for mandatory Q&A
  • Total of 35 minutes talk time
  • Topics should be of compelling academic and literary interest and bring fresh insights.


Lectures should be delivered in a professional manner, as though the lecturer were applying for a teaching job and had been asked to give a talk that displays their grasp of literature. Your faculty advisor needs to approve your lecture by the last packet

  • The title and description for your lecture (target 50 words maximum exclusive of title) is due about six weeks prior to the residency.

You must email a copy of your lecture and handouts to Dawn Dayton prior to residency. Be sure to include your name, date and time of your lecture/reading at the top.

Final Critical Paper
(this will replace the lecture and will begin in June 2020. See full MFA Guidelines)

During the student’s third term, they will write a twenty to twenty-five-page critical essay under the guidance of their faculty mentor for that term. At the end of the term, they will submit that essay to a two-member faculty panel who will read the essay and prepare comments for a face-to-face meeting during the student’s fourth (fifth for dual-genre) residency.

Each student will meet with a two-member faculty panel to present an oral summary of their essay and to receive faculty feedback in the meeting.  Faculty will have read the essay, and will provide meaningful but limited written feedback. Faculty offer their notes and suggestions for revision. Notes will be provided to both the student and the program administration for distribution to the student’s fourth-term teacher.

Second Reader

Second readers are assigned within the genre in which the student is studying. Second readers must be teaching in the term in which the thesis is delivered to be considered for a second reader. The second reader’s responsibility is to approve (pass or fail) and write an evaluation of the thesis, which will be made a part of the final record; second readers do not meet and confer with students about their thesis and are chosen by the program administration. Students receive short written feedback from their second reader after their final residency.

If both the students faculty advisor and second reader will be at the residency, you may obtain their signatures at that time, otherwise, send a copy of the signature page for either or both to sign prior to the residency.

January 2020 Residency [January 9-19, 2020]

  • Thursday, January 9: Arrival day
  • Friday, January 10: First day of classes
  • Saturday, January 18: Graduation
  • Sunday, January 19: Last day of classes; departure day

January 9-19, 2020

  • Plan to arrive on campus Thursday, for Student Check-in: noon–5:00 pm and before 6:30 pm, if you plan to have dinner on campus.
  • The academic events of the program get underway Thursday with the Genre Seminars in the afternoon.
  • There will be a faculty reading that evening at 7:00 pm.
  • Friday morning is orientation and the first meeting of your workshop group in the afternoon.
  • Graduation is the last Saturday of residency.
  • Students are required to participate fully in all workshops. The final workshops will be held Sunday from 9:00–11:00 am. We hope this will lessen the stress of timing your travel plans home. Please plan to participate fully in the entire final workshop and make travel plans that leave you enough time to get to the airport or train station without having to be distracted by time constraints. Your peers deserve your full attention every workshop, including that final one.
  • You are welcome to stay over Sunday night.
  • If you have questions, please call or send an email to our Program Coordinator at 802-440-4452 or ddayton@bennington.edu, or the Associate Director at 802-440-4454, or megang@bennington.edu.

June 2020 Residency [June 4-14, 2020]

  • Thursday, June 4: Arrival day
  • Friday, June 5: First day of classes
  • Saturday, June 13: Graduation
  • Sunday, June 14: Last day of classes; departure day

June Residency: June 4-14, 2020

  • Plan to arrive on campus Thursday, for Student Check-in: noon–5:00 pm and before 6:30 pm, if you plan to have dinner on campus.
  • The academic events of the program get underway Thursday with the Genre Seminars in the afternoon.
  • There will be a faculty reading that evening at 7:00 pm.
  • Friday morning is orientation and the first meeting of your workshop group in the afternoon.
  • Graduation is the last Saturday of residency.
  • Students are required to participate fully in all workshops. The final workshops will be held Sunday from 9:00–11:00 am. We hope this will lessen the stress of timing your travel plans home. Please plan to participate fully in the entire final workshop and make travel plans that leave you enough time to get to the airport or train station without having to be distracted by time constraints. Your peers deserve your full attention every workshop, including that final one.
  • You are welcome to stay over Sunday night.
  • If you have questions, please call or send an email to our Program Coordinator at 802-440-4452 or ddayton@bennington.edu, or the Associate Director at 802-440-4454, or megang@bennington.edu.