Creative Writing graduate Meghan Andes ’15 working on South Beach
Creative writing students at Eckerd College have always taken part in intensive workshops, close mentoring and capstone senior seminars. Now, they’ll be able to graduate with a degree that offers a little more distinction for all their hard work.
On Oct. 1, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges, one of the six regional accrediting organizations recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, granted Eckerd permission to begin awarding to qualified graduates a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.
“It took about a year to develop the program and proposal,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Suzan Harrison. “It took a lot of research into what distinguished BFA programs from the standard B.A. What we actually found out was we were already delivering a program that was comparable. That was exciting to us! It wasn’t going to require a tremendous amount of changes.”
The benefit for students will be twofold, explained K.C. Wolfe, assistant professor of creative writing and discipline coordinator. First, students wishing to apply to graduate Master of Fine Arts programs will be offered a level of distinction and a more competitive edge. Second, the emphasis on professionalization will give Eckerd students even more writing and revision experience to prepare them for careers in the creative economy.
“We’re really happy to have the option, and it’s done in a way that it doesn’t put undue burden on the faculty,” Wolfe said.
Current creative writing majors would need three additional courses to achieve a BFA. Those courses include Craft of Writing; Publishing and the Writing Career; and a for-credit practicum completed via approved off-campus internship or joining the staff of the student newspaper, The Current, or campus literary journal, Eckerd Review.
Of the colleges already offering the BFA in Creative Writing, there are only two in Florida, and Eckerd’s program stands apart. In addition to the workshops and internships required, students also must take five literature courses, Wolfe explained.
Fifty students major in creative writing at Eckerd College and 16 to 20 of them graduate every year, Wolfe said. One student will be eligible to receive a BFA in May 2019. The hope is for many more to follow.
“I think it’s very exciting. It gives us another signature program to attract students and serve our current students,” Dean Harrison added. “We’ve seen real growth in the creative writing major in the last 10 years. This will give them better opportunities.”