Curriculum/Course Descriptions

Antioch University Santa Barbara’s MFA in Writing and Contemporary Media program requires the successful completion of 48 semester units of coursework shown below:

MFA in Writing & Contemporary Media: Total Units 48
MFA Semester 1 (Residency 1) – 12 Units
CRW 5110The Art of Storytelling (4)

The Art of Storytelling (4)

The Art of Storytelling begins during Residency 1 and continues using Antioch University’s virtual learning environment for the remainder of the semester. Students examine the essentials of narrative and dramatic structure across genres. Following Residency 1, online
instruction and discussions are supplemented by a variety of writing assignments in multiple genres and modalities.
CRW 5230Reading to Write I (4)

Reading to Write I (4)

Reading to Write I begins during Residency 1 and continues using Antioch University’s virtual learning environment for the remainder of the semester. Students learn strategies for close and effective reading across genres and media. The assigned reading supports the writing assignments in Art of Storytelling (CRW 5110) and Multigenre Workshop I (CRW 5310). While students read and write about these works with a critical eye, they also view the readings as potential models for their own creative writing.
CRW 5310Multigenre Workshop I (4)

Multigenre Workshop I (4)

The Multigenre Workshop begins during Residency 1 and continues using Antioch University’s virtual learning environment for the remainder of the semester. A faculty mentor monitors and comments on student work in their chosen genre or medium, with all students providing feedback and commentary to their peers. Each student will have at least one week during which her/his work is the focus of the Multigenre Workshop.
MFA Semester 2 (Residency 2) – 12 Units
CRW 5410Writing with a Mentor I (4)

Writing with a Mentor I (4)

During Residency 2, students are matched with a faculty mentor. Before Residency 2 concludes, students and faculty will agree on the work that will be completed during the semester and the student will complete a Learning Plan Agreement. At minimum, students will submit original work to their faculty mentor 4 times during the semester (approximately once per month), with the faculty mentor responding in a timely fashion to each submission.
CRW 5240Reading to Write II (4)

Reading to Write II (4)

Reading to Write II begins during Residency 2 and continues using Antioch University’s virtual learning environment for the remainder of the semester. Reading to Write II focuses on readings in the student’s major genre(s). Students read and write about these works with a critical eye, using them as models of style and content for their own writing.
CRW 5320Multigenre Workshop II (4)

Multigenre Workshop II (4)

Multigenre Workshop II begins during Residency 2 and continues using Antioch University’s virtual learning environment for the remainder of the semester. A faculty mentor monitors and comments on student work, with all students providing feedback and commentary to their peers. Each student will have at least one week during which her/his work is the focus of the workshop. Multigenre Workshop II is recommended for students who are still exploring their genre focus.
MFA Semester 3 (Residency 3) – 12 Units
CRW 5720Thesis Project I (8)

Thesis Project I (8)

Thesis Project I begins during Residency 3 and continues using Antioch University's virtual learning environment for the remainder of the semester. Students and faculty mentors agree on the written work that will be completed during the semester and the student will complete a Learning Plan Agreement. This work will be the beginning of the student's capstone or Thesis Project. Students will be assigned a Thesis Project advisor, typically one of the student's faculty mentors. At minimum, students submit original work to their faculty mentor/advisor 4 times during the semester (approximately one per month), with the faculty mentor responding in a timely fashion to each submission.
CRW 5510Practical Aspects of Being a Professional Writer (4)

Practical Aspects of Being a Professional Writer (4)

Practical Aspects of Being a Professional Writer begins during Residency 3 and continues using Antioch University's virtual learning environment for the remainder of the semester. The course focuses on the plethora of ways that professional writers sustain and support their professional lives. Through research, interviews with experts, and course materials, students assess the new landscape for storytellers in their chosen genre, which, in addition to traditional methods of publication, may include online and self-publication, or teaching. If appropriate, students may also participate in internships or a practicum.
MFA Semester 4 (Residency 4) – 12 Units
CRW 5730Thesis Project II (8)

Thesis Project II (8)

During Residency 4, students will meet with their Thesis Project advisor and agree upon the work necessary to bring the student's project to completion. During the rest of the semester, students will submit both original and revised thesis work to their advisor/mentor at agreed upon intervals. The student's Thesis Project is completed after it has been reviewed and approved by the thesis advisor and another MFA faculty member in the student's area of emphasis (chosen by both the thesis advisor and the student, with administrative approval by the program director).
CRW 5650Thesis Project Workshop (4)

Thesis Project Workshop (4)

The Thesis Project Workshop begins during Residency 4 and continues using Antioch University’s virtual learning environment for the remainder of the semester. The Workshop provides students the opportunity to receive additional support and experience by exchanging selected portions of their work with each other Residency 4 and throughout the semester.
Total Units 48

MFA Curriculum Format and Delivery

AUSB’s MFA in Writing and Contemporary Media program is a low residency program that is made up of 48 academic units distributed across four semesters. Every semester begins with a 7-day residency, for a total of 28 face-to-face days of instruction across four residencies. Each semester continues using Antioch University’s virtual learning environment (i.e., Sakai) for the remainder of the term. Students will also be required to attend a 3-day Graduation Residency to make a final presentation of a portion of their Thesis Project.

Each of the residencies (except the graduation residency) consists of a total of 7 days of workshops and other learning activities as well as student/faculty meetings to develop each student’s Learning Plan Agreement for each semester.

The following represents the time distribution for each course in each Semester, including both time spent in the on-campus residency and the hours expected each week in off-campus learning activities (on-line and off-line):

Course
Semesters 1-3
ResidencyOnline/offline Hours per weekTotal
Course 112 hours6 hours132 hours
Course 212 hours6 hours132 hours
Course 312 hours6 hours132 hours
Semester 4
Thesis Project24 hours12 hours132 hours
Thesis Project Workshop12 hours6 hours132 hours

The Residency is an essential part of the AUSB MFA experience. Students spend 7 days, beginning on Sunday evening and continuing through Saturday night. Travel for students coming from outside of the Central Coast will likely be the Saturday before the residency begins, returning home on the Sunday after the residency ends.

The Thesis Project may include both a written and audio and/or visual component. An hour-long program or podcast, for example, would include both the written script as well as a digital recording of the program or podcast. While a feature-length screenplay might exist solely in written form, a short film would likely both the written script as well as the video production of that script. The ultimate form of the product will be decided by the student, in consultation with her/his faculty Thesis Project Advisor.

The hours allotted for a typical Residency are as follows:

Sunday evening: Students attend 3 hours of program-wide group activities.

Monday: 9 a.m.-noon (3 hours), 1:30-5 p.m. (3.5 hours), 7-9:00 p.m. (2 hours).

Tuesday: 9 a.m.-noon (3 hours), 1:30-5 p.m. (3.5 hours), 7-9:00 p.m. (2 hours).

Wednesday: 9 a.m.-noon (3 hours), 1:30-5 p.m. (3.5 hours), 7-9:00 p.m. (2 hours).

Thursday: 9 a.m.-noon (3 hours), 1:30-5 p.m. (3.5 hours), 7-9:00 p.m. (2 hours).

Friday: 9 a.m.-noon (3 hours), 1:30-5 p.m. (3.5 hours), 7-9:00 p.m. (2 hours).

Saturday: 9 a.m.-noon (3 hours), 1:30-5:30 p.m. (4 hours).

The total number of face-to-face contact hours during the residency is 52.5.

During the Residency, students meet and get to know their faculty mentors and the students with whom they will work in the virtual learning environment. AUSB’s MFA program is based on a cohort model, which fosters close relationships among students and program faculty.

Residency 1 will be somewhat different than the other Residencies because of the inclusion of specific orientation activities including Introduction to AUSB’s MFA Program, Developing Positive Working Relationships with Faculty Mentors and Fellow Students, and Introduction to Sakai and Antioch Gmail.

During the days not specifically devoted to the courses for the semester, students attend faculty-designed Residency Seminars that change from residency-to-residency. Examples of Residency Seminars include Craft Seminars, Guest Lectures, Workshops, Panel Discussions, and Special Topics. Evening events at each of the Residencies will include readings and activities that involve all program students and feature guest authors. The coursework begun during the Residency will continue using Antioch University’s virtual learning environment for the remainder of the semester.

Residencies take advantage of the evolving interests and expertise of program faculty and the availability of guest speakers, and as a result, each Residency will be somewhat different, although some popular seminars and lectures may be repeated. The Residency is intended to vibrant and exciting because each one is unique.