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pacurtiss's avatar

Letters of recommendation for MA or MFA several years after BA.

Asked by pacurtiss (9points) May 5th, 2012

I graduated with a BA in English in 1997. Since that time, I’ve wandered around the country delivering pizzas. I’ve seen many places and peered into many interesting faces. Now though, I wish to return to the the university and pursue an MA or an MFA in Creative Writing. Writing fiction and reading literature have always been my passions. I wish to take life to a new level. But how can I? It appears that in order to be accepted into graduate school letters of recommendations are required. How am I supposed to get those? Most of the professors who know my work are no longer at the university I attended? They have moved on to other places or have retired. I do not know how to find them. Would letters from a boss or two work? I’ve been published in an online poetry journal several times. Would a letter from its editor work? Any ideas? Thanks.

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6 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I think both your bosses and the editor of the journal are a good idea. You could talk to someone at the university and see what they recommend regarding contacting professors.

gailcalled's avatar

Ooch. Remember to proof read, please. Let your writing do the talking. I second the idea of talking to someone in the department. Often, a short and pithy essay about why you don’t have recent recommendations will do the trick. And one very short character recommendation from a boss.

(from which I graduated from?)

muppetish's avatar

First of all, you should seriously consider which degree you wish to pursue: an MA in Literature or an MFA in Creative Writing. If you want to go for your MA, you will need letters of recommendation from former professors no matter which university you apply to. They care about you are as a student and you cannot rely on a portfolio for admission. Write to or visit the current dean of your former department and try to track down some former professors. Even if they are retired or teaching at a different university, as long as you can refresh their memory on the courses you took with them and your current goals, I am sure that they would be willing to help you.

If you are going for your MFA, letters from work places would be helpful, but a letter from a former professor would still make your application stronger.

Also, keep in my mind that both applications will probably require a sample of your writing. For an MA, you will need a research paper (usually a packet of twenty pages of scholarly writing) and for your MFA, you will probably need a portfolio.

pacurtiss's avatar

Thanks to all. To muppetish. Your words telling me to ask the dean of the department to help me track down former professors was is a great idea. Be that as it may, it seemed as if your words telling me to send a sample of my writing appeared to assume that I am ignorant.

gailcalled's avatar

@pacurtiss: Don’t be mean.^^ You asked for advice, some of which seems self-evident to some of us here (or at least me). We were courteous and gave it.

muppetish's avatar

@pacurtiss You are reading too much into my post. I mentioned the sample writing because many students at my university did not keep copies of their essays and ran into a slew of trouble when portfolios were do for our exit course. Since you mentioned it has been a long time since you were last in school, I thought it was worth mentioning in case you didn’t have any research papers saved.

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