Twelve Week Cohort Deadlines and FAQ
The application is free, and if you’re the right fit for the upcoming cohort, we’ll reach out about paying the tuition.
The full cost of tuition for the twelve week cohort is $3297.
We have different payment plans available, ranging from a few weeks up to 24 months.
We are an independent organization outside of academia. Though we do not offer credit hours toward a degree, we do offer a personal, rigorous, and flexible relationship with our writers. Please feel welcome to reach out to our Director, josh (at) pocket-mfa.com, any time with questions or concerns. To begin:
1. Explore our upcoming mentors. Every quarter begins a new Cohort with new mentors.
2. Apply. Every writer can apply for free to be placed with a Mentor of their choice.
3. Join your writing group. Up to ten writers will be selected for each Mentor.
Once you’re on board, you’ll begin the program alongside your writer peers. See more details on our curriculum page here.
Every writer goes through our 12-week learning track, modeled after a semester of graduate level learning.
The first two weeks are direct instruction from your Mentor, with required readings, writing, and discussion with your group of other writers. Every writer will enter the next stage with a specific reading and writing plan developed with their Mentor.
The following eight weeks will be a combination of two core features: 1-on-1 mentorship in the form written and virtual feedback on two packets of writing, and participation in 4-6 workshop meetings with your peers, lead by PocketMFA facilitators.
The final two weeks are the Writing Life Residency, one of two that happens each year. Students from the whole cohort come virtually to learn about all aspects of literary citizenship: the writing life balance, getting published, making a living, marketing your work, self-publishing, etc. The evenings of this residency will be saved for public readings from every writer who wishes to share their hard earned writing.
Once a PocketMFA writer, you will always be invited into future Writing Life Residencies.
The writers who join our program are serious about their craft and enthusiastic about the journey of becoming dedicated and professional authors.
Accessibility is a core value for PocketMFA, and we warmly welcome in writers of all experience levels, background, and abilities. We also invite international students, but please be prepared to meet according to USA time zones.
We’re finding some common themes in our writers joining the program. Do any of these remind you of yourself?
PocketMFA writers are likely working on a project. Whether a book of poems, novel, short story collection, or memoir, almost all of our writers are at some stage in the process of developing a specific project.
PocketMFA writers are likely to have undergrad or graduate experience with writing instruction. Many in the program graduated with a degree in English or Creative Writing, and then went on to pursue further work in education, law, or journalism, with many of our writers holding advanced degrees in those fields. This is not a requirement, but undergrad experience with English courses has been a common thread.
PocketMFA writers are likely to be ready to engage more seriously with the publication journey. With our mentorship experience and our dedicated Writing Life Residency, we deliberately seek to create confidence for writers at any stage of their publishing career.
PocketMFA writers are likely to have encountered a plateau with their own efforts at progress, OR they have a surge of momentum and seek clear direction. The myth of the solitary writer has kept so many books from meeting the world, and our writers are self-advocates who acknowledge that they are ready for the community and mentorship that facilitates real progress.
PocketMFA writers are serious and dedicated to their writing. This is the highest priority for our team as we curate our writing groups in the cohort: is this writer serious and ready to push themselves through our rigorous curriculum? Whether the program is to re-energize the writer’s process, or to meet them at their own high level routine and production, we seek writers who are ready to dive deep and believe in themselves as authors.
12 Weeks in total.
10 hours per week. This includes live Zoom sessions, as well as reading and writing assignments.
Over the course of a week, writers will typically spend the 2-3 hours in one zoom session on the weekend; 4 hours writing new material, annotations, and discussion responses; and 3 hours reading literary and craft texts, as well as peer writings.
Growth requires time and commitment. While we have designed the program to be effective for writers with full lives and works schedules, the program still requires that every writer spends deliberate and earnest time working through the discussions, prompts, and readings.
The PocketMFA is informal, unaccredited, and non-bureaucratic. We don’t give tests or grades.
If you need an official degree, this may not be a fit for your journey. However, we will fully support any writer who, based on their experience with PocketMFA, wishes to pursue a full MFA from a college or university. We will be your enthusiastic allies in building the application and portfolio.
To that end we are working with low-residency MFA programs to develop CPL (Credit for Prior Learning) transfers. Currently, Antioch University Los Angeles’s MFA program is offering Advanced Standing to writers who have experience with PocketMFA—the opportunity to complete their degree in three semesters instead of four.
The application should take less than seven minutes to complete—it consists of some basic personal info, three short answer questions, and a writing sample. Before you begin, you may want to ready your writing sample. This can be a work-in-progress or a published piece.
Our four main criteria for identifying great writers for the program are: (in order of importance) Enthusiasm, Professionalism, Workshop Experience, and Craft Knowledge.
As a competitive program, each session we get more qualified applicants than we have room for, so applying early is a good idea. Some tips for standing out:
Be authentic. We are looking to curate groups with our mentors that can push, sharpen, and root for one another through this program. We can only do that well if we truly get to know you.
Be committed. This is not your typical generative workshop that simply provides space and inspiration to write a couple times a week. We aim for a high level of rigor and engagement as you write, read, grow community, and offer critique to one another. We ask that each writer brings with them the energy and readiness to complete this program at their fullest ability.
Be positive. The best writing groups are made of folks who believe their writing matters. We want our writers to push each other positively into places of discomfort and growth, every step of the way. If you have given up, cynical from the long journey of rejection and invisibility, please take a break, perform some self-care, and apply later once you’ve moved out of those feelings!
Be ready. You will get out of the PocketMFA what you put into it, and we are committed to making sure you get out of it as much as you can. We will give you the tools, the space, the resources, and the encouragement to grow, but only you can do the writing, complete the readings, engage with your Mentor and fellow writers.
For the sample piece of writing, please include what bests showcases your voice, whether it’s an excerpt, a full piece, or a collection.
You can find the mentors at our faculty page.
On their profile pages, you’ll see their personal bios as well as their answers to our Mentor interview:
1. What excites you about writing? How has it affected your life?
2. What mindset does a writer need to continue to grow and learn?
3. What makes a good writing mentor?
4. What is your style of feedback?
The PocketMFA program is designed around accessibility and anti-racist values. Every writer is respected and treated with dignity. To achieve that, our community guidelines are simple:
1. The workshop space is a learning environment of equals in the same pursuit of ever more authentic expression. Every experience and background is rich with value, and no degree, publication history, or follower count makes one writer more worthy to a community than any other.
2. In order to grow, writers must feel safe and challenged. Writing is as personal as it gets, and the degree to which we feel safe to be vulnerable is the degree to which we can push our craft forward. Our workshop facilitators and Mentors seek to provide support in overcoming unexpected differences and difficult moments of personal interactions. We also ask that writers lean boldly into the risk of placing their writing into the hands of their peers and Mentor.
3. Discrimination, in any form, is not tolerated. The pedagogical methods that have dominated creative writing programs since their inception in the 20th century have a well-accounted history of exclusion. We seek to expand on what they’ve done and to create a space that welcomes and lifts up writers of all backgrounds and identities, without hesitation or apology.
4. Self-improvement takes both work and play. Every PocketMFA writer commits to bringing equal amounts of rigor and joy into the experience. This means that fulfilling ten hours every week may require sacrifice to achieve, but that sacrifice is not without purpose, not without the fun of discovery and adventure!
Four Week Seminar Deadlines and FAQ
The biggest difference is that the Seminars are four weeks, whereas the Cohort is twelve weeks.
Beyond the difference of time and price, the Seminars are a more specifically focused space to learn about writing. Where the Cohort is designed to help writers dig in and push forward their larger projects—novels, collections, memoirs, etc.—our Seminars function more as electives. The syllabus for the Seminars might hone in on the single poem, the individual story or essay, the cover letter, perhaps even just the first page of your novel.
The Seminars also do not include the online community space that the full Cohorts utilize. If you’re looking for long term relationships with mentors and fellow writers, and the online space to maintain those, the Cohort will be a better choice.
You can dive deep into the four week curriculum for the Seminars here.
Our monthly seminars are $497 for new students, or $397 for writers who are attending or have completed the Twelve Week Cohort.
You can review the full four week curriculum here.
There are no applications for the Seminars—they are open to all writers who’d like to continue their learning in an environment that encourages graduate level rigor and expectations.
In essence, we’ve tried to miniaturize the graduate semester even further:
Week One: Direct Instruction and Generation
Week Two: Direct Instruction and Revision
Week Three: Peer Workshopping
Week Four: Individualized Feedback and Residency Activities