Answers to Your Questions About Emerson’s Writing and Publishing Graduate Programs

Muzhgan Mia Bekdas, recruiter for Emerson's writing and publishing programs, smiling at the camera and wearing a white sweater.
Muzhgan Mia Bekdas, Graduate Admissions Counselor

If you’ve been looking for the perfect graduate program in writing or publishing, Emerson could be the place for you. Today we’re interviewing Muzhgan Mia Bekdas, an admissions counselor for our three writing and publishing graduate programs. We’ll hear about what makes each of these programs unique and answers to commonly asked questions about each program.  

Q: What graduate programs do you recruit for?

A: I recruit for the Creative Writing (MFA), Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing (MFA), and Publishing and Writing (MA) graduate programs. I also recruit for Emerson’s Digital Content Management graduate certificate program.

Q: What makes these programs unique?

A: There are not many MFA programs that focus on genre writing such as mystery, fantasy, young adult, and science fiction. This focus on genre writing makes our Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing MFA unique. We have faculty who specialize in specific genres. The coursework is also completely online and asynchronous, making the program very flexible. Lastly, the program has an engaged online community of writers who keep in touch through Cafe PopFic, Slack. Students can also work together through a student-run publication called Page Turner Magazine.

The Publishing and Writing MA offers  an overview of the entire publishing industry. You can take classes in editing, writing for magazines, design, promotion, production, and distribution. Within wach class, you build a portfolio of work. The program is designed for Publishing and Writing MA students to collaborate with Creative Writing MFA students to simulate real-world professional interactions, which is a unique perk. 

Students in our Creative Writing MFA can take classes across writing genres. Many other writing programs require students to stick to one track, such as fiction, poetry, or nonfiction. Emerson students have the opportunity to take workshops in genres that aren’t their selected genre. They also have the option to take classes in screenwriting as an elective or roll over some credits from another graduate program with permission from the Graduate Program Director. 

Q: What is the typical cohort size for these programs? 

A: Each incoming class generally has somewhere between 30 and 40 students. 

Q: What can I do with an MFA?

A: An MFA is a terminal degree, which opens up opportunities. Students may go on to be professors, published authors, content marketers, business writers, technical writers, and more.

Four Emerson students sitting at a long table, listening to a professor.
All of our writing and publishing programs have small class sizes

The websites for the Creative Writing, Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing, and Publishing and Writing programs also list specific careers students often pursue after graduation.

Q: What are classes like?

A:  In the Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing program, courses run through a learning management system known as Canvas and are divided into modules, one per week. So, for example, for the first week, you would enter module 1, read your professor’s topic notes on the subject for that week; watch a videotaped lecture if there was one; read whatever reading/literature is assigned; and participate in a class discussion or workshop. The class discussions and workshops are all asynchronous, meaning students are not required to “be” in front of their computer at any certain time. Students simply need to make their contribution to the discussion within a set time frame, usually within one week. The format is similar to a group chat, where students write comments and respond to the comments of their peers. The professor also posts comments and monitors the discussion. 

All of  our writing programs have small class sizes, usually no more than 12 students per workshop. In the Creative Writing and Publishing and Writing programs classes are held in the evening from 6:00 to 9:45 PM. Offering classes in the evening allows students to work full-time while in school. Plus, students only need to take two classes per semester to be considered full-time, making the program doable for working professionals.

Letters and numbers in typesetting rows

Q: How long does each program take?

A: The Popular Fiction program takes 5 semesters, and the Publishing and Writing program takes two years to complete. The Creative Writing program typically takes 3 years to complete because of all the experience students gain in the program, including teaching experience on campus. 

Students often ask me if they can fast-track the Creative Writing program, and that depends on their time management skills and other commitments they have. Some students take courses over the summer and enroll in three classes per semester, which allows them to graduate in two years. However, most students take the full 3 years to graduate, which gives them time to gain valuable experience.

Q: Can students complete the Publishing and Writing program online?

A: Currently, students can start and finish the program online, but we don’t have a fully online option at this point. When students are on campus, they get more hands-on experience, which helps them build a portfolio of work. 

Q: Who is a good fit for Emerson?

A: Our programs are diverse in terms of ages and past educational and career experiences. We take a holistic approach to admissions and don’t have any cutoff GPA scores. We consider the entire application for admission and scholarships. Students don’t need to have published work or a degree in writing, but they do need to have MFA-quality writing, which means that their writing sample needs to be well polished. Students in writing programs should demonstrate some instruction in writing and understating of craft and genre, storytelling abilities, and commitment to reading. I encourage students to submit their best possible writing samples when they apply. Students should show passion, perseverance, and commitment in their essays. For our writing programs, students can ask for a letter of recommendation from other writers who are professional and publish their work, so they can be mentors or workshop teachers. 

Q: Why should students choose Emerson?

A: At Emerson, passion is at the center of everything. It’s a very tight-knit, supportive community. We encourage everyone to support one another and do not encourage competition. That collaborative, encouraging, and supportive environment is part of what makes Emerson unique.

There are also great connections at Emerson and our faculty have strong connections to the Boston publishing community. Even after graduation, students can access the global Emerson community and professional network called the “Emerson mafia” on social media platforms where students can find support. 

We hope this Q&A with Muzhgan has helped you see why Emerson is the place for you. Between the collaborative environment, flexible class schedules, and networking opportunities, Emerson’s publishing and writing graduate programs help students find success as they hone their own unique voices. For more information about graduate school at Emerson, be sure to schedule a call with an admissions counselor. You can also find interviews with current Popular Fiction, Creative Writing, and Publishing and Writing students on our blog.

Follow Olivia Wachtel:

Writing Assistant

Olivia is a second-year student in Emerson's Communication Disorders MS program. Originally from Ohio, she is loving Emerson and city life. When she's not writing for the Grad Life blog, she loves to read, bake, and crochet.

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