To Ph.D. or not to Ph.D.

There is a certain fear that approaches as one enters their final MFA year, that precipice of open – and, yet, not so open – opportunity ahead following graduation. I suppose it’s partly the realization that I’m swiftly approaching 30, but there seems to be an urgency in me, a need to get something done. But. At the same time, part of me wants to just wander the world and stave off becoming an adult (as if doing an MFA isn’t adult enough) until maybe…35? Someone needs to hitchhike the Pan-American Highway, right?

I have talked to a few people in Ph.D. programs in creative writing or who know of someone who has spent time in one. I don’t know that I’ve met anyone who says, “fuck yes, do a Ph.D.! It’s so great!” There’s always a bit of restraint in their voices, a bit of trepidation. You don’t get to write nearly as much as you want. You have to do too much literature and theory. Too much foreign language. Too much planning, teaching, stuff other than writing.

But. A Ph.D. is a better road to getting a teaching job than an MFA…but I still need a book. The book is the thing. You can’t do shit without a book in hand, on shelves. A novel. A former teacher told me not to even think about Ph.D.s, but to just get a real world job and pound away at a novel. A Ph.D. is a waste of time, she said.

It’s not that I really want to do a Ph.D., like it’s some burning need inside me, but it’s not as though I want to get a “real job,” either.

I have a lot to figure out this year.

Just in case you wonder, the schools I’m looking at are:



-SUNY – Albany

-University of Nebraska – Lincoln

-Texas Tech

-Univ. of Wisconsin – Milwaukee

-Univ. of Illinois – Chicago



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