THE NEW SCHOOL—Writing for children is one of four concentrations
offered by the New School’s M.F.A. program. Unlike many of the programs pro;led
here, the New School’s is a two-year full-time residency program that requires students
to live and study in New York City. Students must complete 36 credits to graduate;
courses are composed of literature seminars, writing workshops, and the Writer’s Life
Colloquium, which requires students to engage with New York City’s vibrant literary
community. The New School’s writing program also runs a ;rst-rate reading series,
orchestrates networking opportunities, and has an extensive web of successful alumni.
Recent publications from alumni of the writing for children M.F.A. include Corey Ann
Haydu’s Life by Committee, and David Levithan’s Two Boys Kissing.
HOLLINS UNIVERSITY—Unlike the Hollins University M.F.A. program for writers of adult literature, the
M.A. and M.F.A. programs in children’s/young adult literature are summer-based. “Our summer structure is particularly designed to accommodate students who have full-time jobs and cannot take a year or two off to complete a degree,” says Amanda
Cockrell, the program director. “It also lets us draw faculty from institutions all over the country to teach for us, as well as
working writers who could not commit to a longer program.” Graduate students complete this unique course of study over
three to ;ve summers, during which they spend a month on the Hollins campus in Roanoke, Va., attending lectures by visiting
writers like Alison Lurie and Nancy Willard. In addition to the M.F.A. in children’s literature, Hollins also offers a certi;cate
in children’s book illustration.
SPALDING UNIVERSITY—Like many M.F.A. programs in writing for children and young adults, Spalding’s is two years and low-residency, featuring the signature 10-day on-campus intensives. But Spalding offers the option of
traveling not just to Louisville, Ky., to study craft with ;rst-rate writers of children’s lit and the program cohort—but to cities
abroad, including Athens, Rome, and Paris. Admission is competitive, and Spalding has consistently been ranked as a top 10
low-residency program by Poets & Writers—to sweeten the deal, students can also enjoy visiting lectures by such luminaries as
Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) and Naomi Shihab Nye.
PINE MANOR COLLEGE—Pine Manor College launched the Solstice Low-Residency M.F.A. in Creative
Writing in 2006; writing for children and young adults was one of the four concentrations originally offered, along with poetry,
;ction, and creative non;ction. Founding director Meg Kearney, who writes poetry as well as literature for children and teens,
says that she couldn’t imagine starting an M.F.A. program that doesn’t offer a focus on young people’s literature. The program
involves ;ve 10-day residencies spread across two years of study, and cross-genre work is encouraged. The children’s and YA
track is the second most popular genre at Pine Manor, after ;ction. Kearney describes
it as “sub-cross-genre,” meaning that students in the children’s lit track can work on
picture books and middle-grade ;ction, for example, and that a workshop might be
composed of students working on projects targeted toward different age groups.
HAMLINE UNIVERSITY—Graduate students enrolled in Hamline’s two-year low-residency M.F.A. in writing for children and young adults visit
the St. Paul, Minn., campus twice a year for 11-day intensives, combining that work
with snail mail and email correspondence with faculty and peers throughout the rest
of the year. The curriculum offers a holistic approach to the writing of children’s
and YA literature, including coursework on the business of publishing, the writing
process, and the writer’s life, as well as elements of craft and form, and the history of
writing for children. Residencies are structured around topics like setting, plot, and
theme/vision, and students are encouraged to pursue their speci;c interests during
their individualized study away from campus. Faculty includes standouts like Gene
Luen Yang and Liza Ketchum; alumni have been published by a mix of small and
large publishing houses.