How to Get Paid to Get Your MFA

Earning an MFA with funding can be a rewarding learning experience.

Earning an MFA with funding can be a rewarding learning experience.

Getting paid to get a Master of Fine Arts can be a rewarding process. Not only do you study with experts in your genre of art, writing or performance art, but you also receive payment for a type of assistantship or fellowship that allows you to build real-world skills. To do so, research schools and programs in your discipline and find out what kinds of stipends are available. These are usually competitive, so preparing an excellent application is key to winning a stipend.

Research schools in your discipline to see which ones offer funding. In creative writing, for example, schools including the University of Miami and the University of Florida offer full stipends that cover tuition and offer a small paycheck in exchange for teaching, tutoring students in the university's writing center and performing research or assistant work. Similarly, the University of Delaware offers a full stipend for MFA students studying the fine arts. According to the website, funding is given to students on a competitive basis, and transcripts, work experience and the quality of your portfolio all play a role. Stipends come in the form of teaching assistantships in which you teach one to two classes per year in addition to your coursework. Finding these stipends requires research and analysis to determine the right school for you and your odds of being awarded funding.

Demonstrate your ability to teach, research or deliver value to the school you want to attend. Sure, graduate students are there to learn, but they also should benefit the school in some way by teaching introductory courses to undergraduates or tutoring students in different disciplines. As a graduate student, you are often an inexpensive resource for the university. The school may have you instruct a freshman-level class in your field. It is a large responsibility. Demonstrate through your application letter and portfolio that you are a serious student ready to do more than just study for your own benefit. Express your interest in teaching or conducting research, and demonstrate past experiences in which you took on similar responsibilities. This will make it more likely that you'll land the funding you desire.

Keep your funding by maintaining a solid track record with teaching or research. Take your classes seriously, and spend time working with your students, even if it cuts into time you want to devote to your own work. Teaching is often part of a graduate student's life, and realistically, it pays the bills for many writers and artists even after they finish their degrees. The better your teaching record, meaning your observations and evaluations, the more likely you will be to keep your funding during your graduate student career.

 

About the Author

Jan Archer holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a master's degree in creative writing. Roth has written trade books for Books-a-Million and has published articles on green living, wellness and education topics. She taught business writing, literature, creative writing and English composition at the college level for five years.

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