Spring is when college seniors begin thinking about the future, and for some, that means applying to M.F.A. programs. In this M.F.A. Update, we help students choose the right program and guide them through the application process itself. We also look at the upcoming AWP conference, which has grown to include over 10,000 writers and publishers (large and small), as well as creative writing program directors, staff members, faculty, and students.

In spring, college juniors and seniors begin preparing for life after college; they start thinking about jobs and wonder whether they’re truly ready to be done with school. For those who dream of becoming published writers, this might be the time to start thinking about whether, and where, they should get an M.F.A., and how to go about applying.

It’s a big decision—one that can involve a significant monetary commitment—and certainly a big commitment of time: two or three years of classes, teaching, and writing, unless a writer goes the low-residency route, in which case the degree will be earned mostly by correspondence. But the choice to earn an M.F.A. can be a long-term lifestyle choice, a particular set of goals: to write enough fiction, nonfiction, or poetry to fill one book and then another—to commit to the grueling years of work and rejection that make up a writer’s life.

In this M.F.A. supplement, we help students choose the right M.F.A. program and we walk them through the application itself. We offer tips on all parts of the process, from choosing schools to getting recommendation letters, and the application essays and writing sample. It’s a lot to do, and we’ve asked experienced writers, some former M.F.A. students, to offer their insights.

We’re also taking a good look at this year’s Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference, one of the yearly hubs of American literary life, a kind of BEA for the small press world. This year it runs from April 8 to 11 in Minneapolis, one of our most literary cities, home to a host of major indie presses, lots of thriving indie bookstores, and plenty of reading and literary culture. In addition to conference highlights—panels and readings of interest to publishing professionals—we also offer a handy guide to places to hang out, meet up, and eat up in Minneapolis.

Writers are, of course, also readers, and writers interested in M.F.A.s are interested in successful writers who’ve recently graduated from M.F.A. programs. So we’ve also got a roundup of new books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from recent graduates of M.F.A. programs, for pleasure reading and hopeful dreaming.

What would a package like this be without a list? We’ve also got a survey of exciting M.F.A. programs and their unique features. For more M.F.A. info, check out our online M.F.A. database.

Spring 2015 M.F.A. Update: Choices and Voices

Spring 2015 M.F.A. Update: Spotlight on New Books by M.F.A. Grads

Spring 2015 M.F.A. Update: PW Talks with Sherwin Bitsui

Spring 2015 M.F.A. Update: M.F.A. Programs to Watch

PW at AWP 2015 In Minneapolis

PW will be all over AWP this year. Find us at the book fair! Booth 1436. Our panel, “The Other Track: M.F.A.s in the Book Business,” is on Saturday, April 11, at 1:30 p.m., in Auditorium Room 2, Level 1.

See you in Minneapolis!

Navigating AWP 2015: A Little Help from Your Friends at PW

Things to Do in Minniapolis