Thesis hours

Spring 2012 will be my final semester at my MFA program. I’ve been debating with myself for two weeks now whether I should take advantage of the fact that I can just take thesis hours for my final semester OR choose to take thesis hours plus two classes.

So, here are my pro and con lists:



-Deadlines. I’d be required to turn in 11 poems, plus two short stories. I could also turn in revisions of the poems for my thesis, so I could get more feedback on my overall thesis.

-Criticisms. I’d get comments on all work turned in.

-I’d be able to take a fiction workshop from the Richard Bausch.


-Less time. The final draft of my thesis is due in March. Taking two classes, plus TEACHING two classes, would leave me little time to give that the attention it needs. I also wouldn’t have much time to read to prepare for my comps.

-More stress. Less time means I’d be more stressed to get things done.

-Reading and critiquing other people’s work. While I enjoy doing it, it takes up a lot of time outside of class.



More time. I could work on my thesis more, plus plan my lessons, grade, have time to go to the gym, wrote on my own time, etc.

-Less stress because of above.


-No deadlines. There’s nothing like deadlines to inspire me, which means I’d be all on my own, and I have some worries about not producing without this “deadline” hanging over my head. I’ve done pretty good over break, but it’s still a concern.

-No critiques. I’d actually need to start getting together with my outside workshop group more or finding folks online to help me out.


Seeing this on the screen helps. It’s obvious that I should seriously consider just taking thesis hours this semester. I wasn’t able to dedicate a lot of time last semester to my thesis and extra time next semester could really be put to some good use toward that. My other concerns, like not producing, are going to be my concerns after I graduate anyway. Maybe now is the time to try being consistently independent with that.


Thoughts? For those of you who did an MFA, did you have the option of just taking thesis hours? Did you take advantage of it? Why or why not?

9 thoughts on “Thesis hours

  1. Do you feel sad about graduating soon? If so, maybe you’re not ready to give up classes just yet. If it’s not too stressful, take them. The only classes I’ve ever regretted are the ones I didn’t take in college (that would be geography and philosophy).

    You have plenty of time later to try writing independently, but if you feel like you need a break to refuel, then maybe don’t take the classes.

      1. I only started thinking seriously about an MFA around 4 months ago. I think it would have been rushing to try to make the deadlines for Fall 2012. Many of those deadlines are next week! I haven’t taken the GRE either, so no. I might apply for Fall 2013. I think the extra time will help me be more focused and have better samples if I do apply.

        I’m glad my comment helped you, but don’t take the classes if it will stress you out too much.

  2. Hmm, I wonder if you can audit the classes? I would vote taking the class with Richard Bausch hands-down if you haven’t taken a class with him already. He has high expectations and workshops are honestly pretty brutal, but you learn so much. His stories about writing alone are worth the class! (I took a class with him when he visited UT for a semester).

  3. We don’t have thesis hours at CalArts. We take classes both semesters. But to be kind to myself this final semester, I am taking fewer classes. I’d say, give yourself the break. You can always get reading lists from the profs if you want to do the reading later.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s