Manufacturing in the U.S. might well be dead, but New York City’s M.F.A. programs are keeping the publishing industry in gear, boasting many of the nation’s most well-respected writers as faculty, and nurturing the literary stars of tomorrow.

Although the debate will surely continue over whether or not creative writing can or should be taught—or if the explosion of M.F.A. programs is contributing to or depleting the originality of contemporary American literature—it’s safe to say that in New York City’s world of letters, business is booming. In the run-up to this year’s BEA, we offer this glimpse at five of our city’s top creative writing programs.

New York University

Despite the once-controversial move by N.Y.U.’s Law School to disassemble and move Edgar Allan Poe’s former residence halfway down the block, its M.F.A. programs in fiction and poetry have made fruitful teaching homes for senior faculty Zadie Smith, E.L. Doctorow, Yusef Komunyakaa, Sharon Olds (who just won the Pulitzer), and Jonathan Safran Foer. The current fiction-writer-in-residence is Lorrie Moore and, since 2009, John Ashbery has been offering noncredit masters classes. Other poets-in-residence are Anne Carson and Charles Simic. According to program director Deborah Landau, fellowships are guaranteed for all incoming M.F.A. students, offering either half- or full-tuition reimbursement. Additionally, all students in the second year have the opportunity to teach undergraduate creative writing courses for $5,000 per class. So funding and teaching can greatly offset this program’s approximately $45,000 price tag.

Recent and Upcoming Noteworthy Books:

N.Y.U. Faculty:

Andrew’s Brain (Random House, 2014) by E. L. Doctorow
Holding Company: Poems (Norton, 2012) by Major Jackson

N.Y.U. Alumni:

The First Rule of Swimming (Little, Brown, 2013) by Courtney Angela Brkic (M.F.A., 2001)
Love is a Canoe (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013) by Ben Schrank (M.F.A., 1995)

Columbia University

Prior to the advent of the M.F.A., J.D. Salinger, Carson McCullers, Langston Hughes, and Federico Garcia Lorca were among the literary luminaries who honed their craft within Columbia’s walls. Current students decide on a concentration in poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. Ryan Bartelmay (M.F.A., 2004), whose debut novel, Onward Toward What We’re Going Toward (Ig Publishing) comes out in August, believes the program made him a better critic. “The inner voice—that inner critic that sits on every writer’s shoulder—suddenly got a lot louder,” he says. “Even though it’s hard to write with this critic shouting in my ear, I think it helped me create a better book.” Faculty include Richard Ford, Deborah Eisenberg, Margo Jefferson (Pulitzer Prize winner for criticism, while writing for the New York Times), Julie Otsuka, and poet Lucie Brock-Broido. Notable alumni include Kiran Desai, Rivka Galchen, Phillip Gourevitch, Dinaw Mengestu, and Wells Tower. Annual tuition for 2012–13 is listed at $49,448, making the program, at almost $100,000 total, New York’s most expensive by a wide margin. Some fellowships, including a limited number of teaching positions in the School of the Arts, are available. The latter provide full tuition reimbursement in exchange for instruction of undergraduate expository writing.

Recent and Upcoming Noteworthy Books:

Columbia Faculty:

The Cloud Corporation (Wave Books, 2010) by Timothy Donnelly (faculty, and M.F.A., 1998), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award.
The Fun Parts (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013) by Sam Lipsyte

Columbia Alumni:

Life on Mars (Graywolf, 2011) by Tracy K. Smith (M.F.A., 1997), winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
Vampires in the Lemon Grove (Knopf, 2013) by Karen Russell (M.F.A., 2006)

The New School

The New School offers M.F.A.’s in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, as well as in arts writing and writing for children, revealing a lot of foresight on its part into what has become a huge enterprise. Many faculty members both teach and write across genres, including Honor Moore, Tiphanie Yanique, Hettie Jones, Luis Jaramillo, and program director Robert Polito. Since founding the Best American Poetry series in 1988, poet and critic David Lehman has continued to serves as its editor, along with his teaching. The flat rate for the New School runs at nearly $12,825 per term (making the program, without aid, cost just over $50,000), with some fellowships and assistantships available.

Recent and Upcoming Noteworthy Books:

New School Faculty:

Louisa May Alcott: A Personal Biography (Simon & Schuster, 2011) by Susan Cheever
The Obituary Writer (Norton, 2013) by Ann Hood

New School Alumni:

Girls in White Dresses (Vintage, 2012) by Jennifer Close (M.F.A., 2005)
Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag (Atlas, 2012) by Sigrid Nunez

Hunter College

With only three instructors teaching in each of the disciplines (fiction, poetry, and memoir), all students can expect to study under the likes of, say, Nathan Englander, Colum McCann, and Peter Carey. Claire Messud teaches a literature course for students from across different genres once a year, and Kathryn Harrison teaches every term. This up-and-coming C.U.N.Y. graduate program offers significantly less-expensive tuition than other programs, with an annual in-state tuition, for a typical three-class term, of $3,285—making the program, for New York residents, cost less than $15,000, a total bargain. For students coming from outside New York state, the first of study nearly doubles, to $12,305.

Recent and Upcoming Noteworthy Books:

Hunter Faculty:

What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank (Random House, 2012) by Nathan Englander
The Woman Upstairs (Knopf, 2013) by Claire Messud

Hunter Alumni:

From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant (Penguin Press, 2012) by Alex Gilvarry (M.F.A., 2009)
Super Sad True Love Story (Random House, 2011) by Gary Shteyngart (M.F.A., 2002)

Brooklyn College

Everyone knows Brooklyn is where writers really live. Brooklyn College offers M.F.A. degrees in fiction, poetry, and playwriting with a combination of on-going and visiting faculty. Like Hunter, Brooklyn is part of C.U.N.Y. and is priced the same; the program also offers students adjunct teaching opportunities in the English Department (which pays $3,800 per class, more than offsetting tuition), and training for students who have never taught before. Affordability is in part what drove Elliott Holt, whose debut novel You Are One of Them comes out June 3, to choose Brooklyn College. “The classes met in the evenings, so I continued to work full time while I was in school—I didn’t want to go into debt to get an M.F.A.,” she says. “And I went into graduate school with very little confidence in my own writing, so I was reluctant to let go of my salaried job in advertising.”

Recent and Upcoming Noteworthy Books:

Brooklyn Faculty:

The World Without You (Pantheon, 2012) by Joshua Henkin
Woke Up Lonely (Graywolf, 2013) by Fiona Maazel

Brooklyn Alumni:

Safe as Houses: Stories (Univ. of Iowa, 2012) by Marie-Helene Bertino (M.F.A., 2007)
You Are One of Them (Penguin Press, 2013) by Elliott Holt (M.F.A., 2007)