A new course designed to help aspiring writers develop as literary artists begins this fall at the University of Central Arkansas. The course, "The MFA Experience: A Professional Development Seminar," is a part of the new the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program. The MFA degree in Creative Writing is considered a terminal degree in the discipline. The professional development course is the only one of its kind in country, said Dr. Stephanie Vanderslice, a professor of creative writing and the program’s first director.

The course will cover approaches to building a career as a literary artist and will include discussions of ethics, invention techniques and creativity theory. The professional development elements of the course will include networking, exploring arts opportunities and grants, submitting for publication and exploring other dynamics in the job search.

"It’s designed to help students develop an artistic ‘game plan’ for their time in our program that will help sustain themselves as writers when they graduate and long after," Vanderslice said.

Students will have the opportunity to contribute their creative writing skills to several publications including the Toad Suck Review, the Vortex and the Oxford American.

"The UCA undergraduate degree in writing in general and creative writing in particular is the strongest and most diverse in the state and quite possibly the region," she said. "We have more undergraduate writing courses than U of A Fayetteville does and a strong faculty with diverse expertise and experience in different kinds of writing. The moment seemed right to capitalize on these resources and develop them into a unique graduate writing program as well."

The MFA program is a three year, 60-credit degree program that includes the writing of a thesis containing original literary work. People interested in the new course must be enrolled in the MFA program. The deadline to apply is Feb. 1.

For more information, visit the program’s website at: www.uca.edu/writing/mfa.