Sunday, February 12, 2006

What does the MFA really offer?

I recently read an article that inferred the cycle of MFA programs begetting MFA holders that begat more MFA holders, was in fact an art movement. The author didn’t consider it a very good movement but a movement just the same, because it led to a standard that treated non-MFA holders with less than credible academic standing and importance.

I have a lot of respect for those that hold the MFA degree. But I believe I have just as much respect for those that don't have one and still succeed at their craft.

Recently, a large number of MFA programs have increased from 2 to 3 years, while retaining their 60-credit policy. Let me also say that this extension now pushes the AVERAGE completed program to over $60k. Besides the pleasure and reward of learning for learning's sake; what does the graduate get? A starting professor salary of $35k/year (if they are able to land a non-adjunct position) and the joy of paying back $60k in student loans?

This reminds me of one of my favorite lines from the film "Good Will Hunting":

See, the sad thing about a guy like you is in 50 years you're gonna staht doin some thinkin on your own and you're gonna come up with the fact that there are two certaintees in life. One, don't do that. And Two, you dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a fuckin education you coulda got for a dollah fifty in late chahges at the public library.

I'm not too sure this isn't just as true to artists. Earlier today, my good friend Gaelon mentioned that an MFA allows one to explore new ideas and techniques, while instilling a strong work ethic. But at the same time, an MFA is a really expensive way to go about achieving those goals.

- DN

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