Where are our students writing from?
From all over the world! From Den Haag in the Netherlands to Santiago in Chile; from Gabriola Island, BC to Halifax, NS; from Brooklyn, NY to Portland, OR, we have students across North America and beyond. They may live miles apart, yet they’re all intimately connected to a community of fellow writers through the Optional-Residency MFA program.
Join our community, wherever you’re writing from.
Take distance education classes online while remaining at home. Optional summer intensives on the Vancouver campus of UBC enable you to meet faculty and other students face-to-face, and provide a complement to the work performed online.
The Optional-Residency MFA Program mirrors our highly-regarded on-campus MFA. You graduate with the same degree, and are evaluated by the same criteria and standards.
The Optional-Residency Advantage
A Focus on Writing
We emphasize the creation and critical discussion of original writing rather than the study of literature or literary criticism. Readings are assigned or suggested by instructors where appropriate, but there is not a significant reading or criticism component to the degree.
Nine Genres of Study
More than any other Low Residency program. Study fiction, non-fiction, poetry, screenwriting, playwriting, writing for children, graphic novel, songwriting and translation. Students are required to work in at least three separate genres during the course of their degree – literary cross-training that makes our graduates more well-rounded writers and opens more doors for teaching and publication.
Study full-time or part-time
You can take up to five years to complete your degree, taking as little as one course per year if that’s all your schedule will allow.
The residencies anchor the online courses, bringing students and faculty together at the beautiful Vancouver campus of UBC each July for ten days of workshops, seminars and community. The residencies are great experiences, but they are entirely optional. Some students complete their entire degree at a distance.
The workshop format is at the core of the study of creative writing; online workshop critique is a powerful way for students to learn critical reading and writing skills and to make connections with other writers that will last beyond your time in school.
At the end of it all, you will emerge with a body of work in at least three different genres as well as your thesis, a book-length manuscript (or full length production) of your original creative work.
Our application deadline is in October each year, for admission the following summer term. Application requires a portfolio submission. See the Grad Application section for complete details on how to apply to the program and our online application form.
We post regular recordings of panels and readings from our summer residency.
Graduate Program Inquiries
john (dot) vigna (at) ubc (dot) ca
Note: Due to the volume of requests John Vigna is unable to meet personally with prospective students. Please thoroughly review our website: contact him via email if you still have questions after that.