Storytelling, a universal art, plays an important part in our history as it allows one to gain a cultural understanding of people, community and things around the world.
One may say that anyone could become a storyteller, but it takes knowledge, practice and discipline to become a great one. An emotional connection must be made with the listener and the right medium must be used for the story to have impact.
On top of that, the writer must develop voice and find their niche.
The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) offers a Master of Fine Arts in Writing (MFA) designed for those with a passion for storytelling. Students focus on fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, young adult and screenwriting.
Students are able to experiment, take risks and test material in a supportive atmosphere. Each semester the student is paired with a mentor, who is selected not only for their literary and teaching accomplishments but also for their approach to teaching and their style of writing. Mentors take a personal interest in each student with whom they are paired and coach them for success in their career.
Fiction and Creative Writing Mentor Amy Hassinger states, “The UNO MFA program distinguishes itself by cultivating a sense of warmth and authentic connection between its faculty and students, as we strive to guide students towards literacy excellence.”
Students complete coursework 100% online through 16-week seminars and complete five short residency sessions each semester. The residency is designed to inspire continued commitment to the art and refuel enthusiasm for the solitary writing time during the semester ahead. Students are introduced to a variety of concepts and practical writing techniques in a mixture of literary activities.
Colleen O’Doherty, recent graduate and published author, stressed the importance of the individualized program. “An education on how to be successful in a creative field looks different with each genre.”
O’Doherty left the program with a toolbox of skills to apply to her creative writing and a broader understanding of the world of theater and production.
O’Doherty confirms the importance of the mentor/student relationship, “The relationships you form with each of the mentors provide an individualized attentiveness to your work.” She mentions how the program has given her connections in the theater world where she had three short plays produced, largely due to the connections she made in the program.
The support does not stop there, Hassinger confirms, “Many MFA students have gone on to form writing groups outside of the purview of the program and continue to read and provide feedback on each other’s work which is an important lifeline for most writers.”
This sense of community is created through the residency portion of the program. Set at the Lied Lodge and Conference Center in Nebraska City, the picturesque facility allows for a serene and peaceful setting to combine craft and theory as students attend lectures, manuscript workshops and read original work.
William Trowbridge, current Missouri Poet Laureate and UNO MFA Poetry Mentor, stresses the intense fellowship formed between students and mentors in an atmosphere of mutual support.
“Students often select this program because they receive one-on-one mentoring from distinguished faculty in a beautiful location and develop newfound relationships with fellow writers, many of which last for the rest of their lives.”
More about online programs from the University of Nebraska
In addition to the MFA program, the University of Nebraska offers several online programs in the areas of the Humanities and Arts including master’s, bachelor’s and certificate options.
All programs are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Many programs also carry prestigious accreditation or recognition specific to their field. For more information about the 125+ online programs offered by the University of Nebraska, visit online.nebraska.edu.