SUNY Potsdam Unveils First BFA in Creative Writing in SUNY System

05.12.11

SUNY Potsdam has launched a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program in creative writing, the first undergraduate degree of its kind in the entire State University of New York system. SUNY Potsdam will join only a handful of colleges in the Northeast to offer the rigorous creative writing BFA program.

“Building on the strength of our existing creative writing program, this degree offers another option for students pursuing a professional career in writing and complements the other strong arts programs at SUNY Potsdam,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Margaret E. Madden.

Offered through the College’s Department of English & Communication, the bachelor’s of fine arts program will offer students a concentrated experience in all aspects of creative writing, from intermediate and advanced courses in poetry, fiction, screenwriting, creative non-fiction and playwriting, to courses in professional writing. Students will be required to read extensively in literature and register for a pre-professional internship, as well as completing a senior thesis.

Admission to the creative writing BFA program will be by application only, with students submitting writing portfolios for consideration. The College already offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a concentration in creative writing that requires 37 to 38 credit hours in writing and literature to complete. In contrast, the rigorous creative writing BFA will require 59 to 60 credit hours in upper-division writing and literature courses.

Students who are admitted to SUNY Potsdam’s creative writing BFA program will be required to offer a capstone show, giving a solo reading of their work, as well as completing an internship. SUNY Potsdam English & Communication majors have interned for publishing groups such as John Wiley & Sons and SUNY Press, as well as literary agencies like Seymore Agency, and news and entertainment outfits like NBC’s Today Show and MTV/VH1 Productions.

“As a literary organization we are very enthusiastic at the prospect of SUNY Potsdam developing a BFA in creative writing. As it stands, there are few people in the Adirondack region who have the kind of skill sets this program would provide,” said Nathalie Thill, executive director of the Adirondack Center for Writing. “We wholeheartedly support SUNY Potsdam’s intention to offer a creative writing program and hope to be able to work with the department to find meaningful and diverse opportunities for internships for their students throughout the region.”

Creative writing BFA students will have a number of publications and projects to choose from at Potsdam, in order to add to their portfolios. Students can work for the Peace Poetry Project, an outreach contest program aimed at the region’s elementary students; North Country Magazine, the undergraduate literary magazine; Blueline, SUNY Potsdam’s national literary journal, or Potsdam College Press.

The SUNY Potsdam creative writing BFA program will prepare students for careers as professional writers in a variety of areas, including publishing and writing for arts organizations and historical societies, and makes the most of the well-established interdisciplinary connections between the department and the other creative and performing arts on Potsdam’s campus. Completion of a creative writing BFA will also prepare students to seek a Master’s of Fine Arts (MFA) program in the discipline, which is considered the terminal degree for the field.

As one of three designated arts campuses in SUNY, Potsdam is committed to the fine and performing arts. In addition to The Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is home to strong programs in studio art (which has its own BFA program) and theater and dance, and is dedicated to excellence in education, offering teacher-training programs in each of these areas as well.

SUNY Potsdam’s Department of English & Communication challenges students to complete a core of courses that explore the varied ways that people speak, write and read, with concentrations available in literature, writing, professional writing and communication. To learn more, visit http://www.potsdam.edu/academics/AAS/Engl/index.cfm.

Founded in 1816, and located on the outskirts of the beautiful Adirondack Park, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges. SUNY Potsdam currently enrolls approximately 4,350 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its handcrafted education, challenging liberal arts and sciences core, excellence in teacher training and leadership in the performing and visual arts.