2024 Press Releases All Stories

WCSU M.F.A. program prepares to celebrate 20 years

MFA Residency
MFA Residency
M.F.A. in Creative and Professional Writing Coordinator Anthony D’Aries (green shirt) with students in the program during their Dublin residency.

DANBURY, Connecticut — Western Connecticut State University’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative and Professional Writing program is gearing up to celebrate its 20th anniversary this fall with events planned throughout the year, including a faculty, student and alumni bookfair at the Winter 2025 Residency featuring published books and public readings by members of the M.F.A. community.

Associate Professor of Creative and Professional Writing Anthony D’Aries, coordinator of the M.F.A. program, said, “Since its inception, the program has distinguished itself from other low-residency M.F.A. programs by offering students the opportunity to study both creative and professional writing. Students are poets and grant writers, playwrights and copy editors, horror novelists and technical writers, investigative journalists and speech writers, young adult authors and PR specialists, and so much more. In the last six years, the program has garnered praise from numerous organizations, including being named one of the Best Master’s in Creative Writing Degree Programs of 2024 by Intelligent.com, and has established national and international partnerships with independent bookstores, arts nonprofit organizations, as well as the Oscar Wilde House and Bram Stoker Festival in Dublin, Ireland.”

D’Aries added that students from all over the world have the opportunity to attend weeklong residencies that take place in Dublin, in the Pocono Mountains, and on campus in Danbury. WCSU M.F.A. students will return to Milanville, Pennsylvania, from July 30 through Aug. 4, 2024, for a summer residency at The Highlights Foundation, which “began in 1985, with the goal of improving the quality of books for children through craft workshops for writers and illustrators. As the organization has evolved, so has its mission. Today, the Highlights Foundation positively impacts children by amplifying the voices of storytellers who inform, educate, and inspire children to become their best selves. We live this mission daily by supporting writers and artists across the globe who bring story to kids, with opportunities to hone their craft, learn more about navigating the publishing industry, and build community.”

WCSU alumni and prospective graduate students are welcome to join M.F.A. students at the summer residency for a workshop or two, but need to contact D’Aries first for details at dariesa@wcsu.edu.

When not at the twice-yearly residencies, students complete their coursework during the semester remotely under the close mentorship of professional writers. This low-residency model allows students to build a writing habit into their professional and personal lives. Through internships and teaching practicums, students apply their coursework in their field of choice. These features, in tandem with an emphasis on multiple genres, are some of the reasons why WCSU’s student success rate is so high: 87% of graduates go on to publish books and/or work full-time as professional writers or educators. The many accomplishments by M.F.A. students and alumni can be found at www.wcsu.edu/writing-mfa/wp-content/uploads/sites/172/2023/10/MFA-Writing-Alumni-Achievements.pdf.

D’Aries added that the program also hosts one of the largest book contests in Connecticut, the Housatonic Book Award, which brings renowned authors to campus for public readings and workshops with M.F.A. students. “Most recently, Jason Mott, winner of the 2021 National Book Award for Fiction, was awarded the 2022 Housatonic Book Award in Fiction for his novel, ‘Hell of a Book,’” D’Aries said. “As often happens, students connect with our book award winners and we are fortunate to have the winners come onboard as faculty, as Jason did last semester.”



Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.