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Vermont College

Vermont College of Fine Arts
Established 2008
Type Private non-profit
President Thomas Christopher Greene
Academic staff about 60
Postgraduates about 225
Location Montpelier, Vermont, United States
Affiliations New England Association of Schools and Colleges

Coordinates: 44°15′19″N 72°34′3″W / 44.25528°N 72.56750°W / 44.25528; -72.56750 Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA) is a national center for graduate education in the arts. VCFA educates emerging and established artists through its low-residency model, one of the first of its kind, offering six Master of Fine Arts degrees in the following fields: Writing, Writing for Children & Young Adults, Visual Art, Music Composition, Graphic Design and Film. Its faculty includes Pulitzer Prize finalists, National Book Award winners, Newbery Medal honorees, Guggenheim Fellowship and Fulbright Program fellows, and Ford Foundation grant recipients.

Mission & Purpose

Vermont College of Fine Arts is a national center for education in the arts, fostering the excellence of emerging and established artists and advancing the arts to create a more humane world.

VCFA is a place where the creative expression of individuals is nurtured and a sense of community flourishes. The organization allows national and international leaders in the arts to gather, teach, and show and perform their work.[1]


Graduate programs offered:

  • Masters of Fine Arts in Visual Art
  • Masters of Fine Arts in Writing
  • Masters of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults
  • Masters of Fine Arts in Graphic Design
  • Masters of Fine Arts in Music Composition
  • Masters of Fine Arts in Film

Certificates offered:

  • Graduate-level picture book certificate


The low-residency structure allows students get their graduate degrees through brief, on-campus residencies, self-designated study, flexible scheduling, and personalized attention through one-on-one guidance with a faculty mentor. The five ten-day on-campus residencies consist of workshops, lectures, readings, panel discussions, student-teacher conferences and critiques, presentations of works in progress."[1] A faculty member works with five or fewer students through written correspondence, electronic/video/telephone communication in between residencies.

All programs feature writers-in-residence, artists-in-residence, and artist/scholars who give lectures, readings, and workshops. Artists and writers-in-residence have included Callithumpian Consort.

MFA in Writing

Established in 1981, the VCFA MFA in Writing Program was one of the first low-residency programs in the country. one of the top five low-residency programs nationwide. The program's 1200+ alumni/ae have published over 650 books and received nearly every literary award in the country. The MFA in Writing offers concentrations in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and translation. A dual-genre option in Writing for Children & Young Adults is available. Residency abroad options include a summer residency in Slovenia and a winter residency in Puerto Rico.

The MFA in Writing requires 2 theses: a critical thesis and a creative thesis in addition to a giving a lecture and public reading.[10] Each faculty member supervises five writers through semester-long communication. During the 10-day on-campus residencies, students participate in small, faculty-guided workshops, daily seminars, lectures, and discussions, as well as readings by faculty, graduating students, and visiting writers.

The faculty of the MFA in Writing Program have published more than 300 books and have won almost every major literary award. More than two-thirds of the faculty teach at other universities.[11]

MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults

Established in 1997, the VCFA MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults Program was the nation's first MFA program focusing on writing for young readers. In the program students pursue studies in the writing of picture books, middle-grade or young adult literature and come to campus twice a year for 10-day residencies. After the residencies students begin faculty-guided independent-study projects. During the independent study project students are supervised and maintain a correspondence with faculty and peers.

The MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults requires 2 theses: a critical thesis and a creative thesis in addition to giving a lecture and public reading.[10] Candlewick Press, Houghton Mifflin/Clarion, and Harcourt Trade Publishers have established scholarships and prizes for students in the Writing for Children and Young Adults program.[1]

MFA in Visual Art

The Master of Fine Art in Visual Art Program at VCFA allows students to earn a 60-credit MFA degree over a period of two years through a combination of ten-day, on-campus residencies followed by six-month semesters of self-designed artistic practice. Students work in their home studios in between residencies. Whether on campus or at home, students participate in a discourse structured around their visual culture research and studio projects. Through this process of exchange, students explore their interests and make connections that help position their work within broader social, historical, and intellectual debates.

Since its founding in 1991, the MFA in Visual Art Program has been based on the principle of individualized learning. While in the program, students complete a series of interdisciplinary writing projects supervised by faculty members and pursue their studio work with guidance from local artists chosen in collaboration with the program.

The MFA in Visual Art Program’s pedagogy is based on the understanding that art does not exist in a void but within a social context, and that process is integral to the product.

MFA in Graphic Design

In the tradition of VCFA’s graduate programs in other fields, this program requires one week of campus residence for each six-month semester and matches each student with a faculty mentor for one-on-one independent study. The MFA in Graphic Design allows design professionals to work closely with faculty who are leading practitioners in the field, students merge practice with design theory and research to expand their fluency in visual culture.

MFA in Music Composition

The MFA in Music Composition at VCFA carves out space in the lives of professional musicians and music teachers for inquiry and experimentation as well as research and critique, making room for both the exploration and the refinement of their craft. Students not only produce work but also hear and share the music they write with an engaged community of peers and faculty. Through the program’s low-residency, self-designed study model, students define their own paths in Contemporary Composition, Electronic Music, Jazz, Scoring for Media, or Songwriting, simultaneously engaged in their working lives and their artistic practice.

MFA in Film

The MFA in Film at VCFA is uniquely designed for independent filmmakers and screenwriters, who wish to refine their craft, develop a body of work, explore new approaches and technologies, and build professional relationships through an individualized curriculum. The program focuses on three distinct modes of film: narrative, documentary, and animation, emphasizing the strategic use of affordable emerging technologies. Each student gains aptitude in the disciplines of screen writing, producing, directing, editing, sound design and recording, lighting, camera operation and cinematography, and will have mastered one or more of these disciplines. Students collaborate on some projects and work independently on others.


The focus of Vermont College has changed since its beginnings as Newbury Seminary in 1831. After existing in several forms including a Wesleyan Seminary and a Methodist Seminary, it became Vermont Junior College in 1941.[1] In 1958 it became Vermont College. In 1972 Vermont College merged with Norwich University; the two schools became fully integrated in 1993. Union Institute acquired Vermont College in 2001. The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in writing program was established in 1981 and the MFA in visual art in 1991. The MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, the first "MFA program in writing for young readers," began in January 1997. In 2008 Vermont College of Fine Arts became an independent fine arts institution.[1] In 2011 it launched an MFA program in Music Composition and one in Graphic Design[2]

College Hall, the central building on campus, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was completed in 1872 and includes a two-story high chapel and a pipe organ from 1884.[3]


Student profile

The average student age is 35 years old. Students live all over the world and continue working in their current careers while attending Vermont.

Faculty Profile

Approximately 60 authors and artists teach at Vermont College. All have terminal degrees in their specialty.[1]

MFA in Writing Faculty Awards
Name Award Book Year
Rigoberto González Shelley Memorial Award[4] 2011
David Wojahn O. B. Hardison, Jr. Poetry Prize[4] poet's teaching and art 2007
Jean Valentine National Book Award[5] Door In the Mountain 2004
Diane Lefer Mary McCarthy Prize for Short Fiction[6] California Transit 2005
Sascha Feinstein Pennsylvania's Governor's Award for Artist of the Year 2008
Sascha Feinstein Hayden Carruth Award poetry collection Misterioso 2008
David Wojahn O. B. Hardison, Jr. Poetry Prize[4] poet's teaching and art 2007
Douglas Glover Governor-General's Award for Fiction Elle 2003
Douglas Glover Writers' Trust of Canada Timothy Findley Award 2006
David Wojahn The Carole Weinstein Prize in Poetry 2008
David Wojahn Pulitzer Prize finalist Interrogation Palace: New and Selected Poems 1982–2004 2007
David Wojahn O. B. Hardison Award from the Folger Shakespeare Library 2007
Natasha Sajé Fulbright fellowship
Natasha Sajé Robert Winner and Alice Fay di Castagnola Awards from the Poetry Society of America
Natasha Sajé Campbell Corner Poetry Prize
Betsy Sholl Poet Laureate of Maine 2009
Domenic Stansberry Edgar Award Best Paperback Original The Confession 2005
Mary Ruefle National Endowment for the Arts fellowship
Mary Ruefle Whiting Award
Mary Ruefle Guggenheim Fellowship 2002
Mary Ruefle Award in Literature from The American Academy of Arts and Letters
Robin Hemley Pushcart Prize “The Big Ear” 1994
Robin Hemley Pushcart Prize “Installations” 1990
Robin Hemley First Prize Nelson Algren Award for Fiction from The Chicago Tribune 1996
Robin Hemley Editor's Choice Award for Nonfiction from The American Library Association. Invented Eden 2003
Robin Hemley Guggenheim Fellowship 2008
Xu Xi O. Henry Prize Story Collection, shortlist for the inaugural Man Asian Literary Prize 2006
Xu Xi New York State fiction fellowship
Xu Xi Ploughshares Cohen Award 2005
MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults Faculty Awards
Name Award Book Year
Franny Billingsley National Book Award Finalist[7] Chime 2011
Tim Wynne-Jones Boston Globe – Horn Book Award[8] Blink & Caution 2011
Franny Billingsley Boston Globe – Horn Book Honor[8] Chime 2011
Rita Williams-Garcia Newbery Honor[9] One Crazy Summer 2011
Rita Williams-Garcia Coretta Scott King Award winner[10] One Crazy Summer 2011
Rita Williams-Garcia NAACP Image Award finalist[11] One Crazy Summer 2011
Rita Williams-Garcia National Book Award Finalist[12] One Crazy Summer 2010
Rita Williams-Garcia National Book Award Finalist[13] Jumped 2009
Tim Wynne-Jones Governor General’s Literary Award Finalist[14] The Uninvited 2009
Kathi Appelt PEN Award The Underneath 2009
Kathi Appelt Newbery Honor Book[9] The Underneath 2009
Shelley Tanaka Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children[15] Amelia Earhart: The Legend of the Lost Aviator 2009
Kathi Appelt National Book Award finalist The Underneath 2008
A. M. Jenkins Printz Honor Book Repossessed 2008
Laura McGee Kvasnosky Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Zelda and Ivy: The Runaways 2007
Tim Wynne-Jones Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book[16] Rex Zero and the End of the World 2007
Sarah Ellis TD Canadian Children's Literature Award[17] Odd Man Out 2007
Cynthia Leitich Smith National Book Festival book[18] Tantalize 2007
Martine Leavitt National Book Award finalist[19] Keturah and Lord Death 2006
Julie Larios Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book[20] Yellow Elephant 2006
Julie Larios Pushcart Prize and Academy of American Poets Prize Poetry
Leda Schubert NY Times Editor's Choice[21] Ballet of the Elephants 2006
Margaret Bechard ALA Best Books for Young Adults[22][23] Spacer and Rat 2006
Sharon Darrow Junior Library Guild selection[24] Trash 2006
Uma Krishnaswami Notable Book for a Global Society--International Reading Association[25] Naming Maya 2005
Kathi Appelt PEN finalist in Children's literature[26] My Father's Summers 2005
Rita Williams-Garcia ALA Best Books for Young Adults[27] No Laughter Here 2005
Margaret Bechard School Library Journal Best Book of the Year designation, and ALA Best Books for Young Adults[28][29] Hanging onto Max 2003
An Na Michael L. Printz Award[30] A Step From Heaven 2002
An Na Children's Book Award in YA Fiction-International Reading Association[30] A Step From Heaven 2002
An Na National Book Award Finalist[30] A Step From Heaven 2001
Franny Billingsley Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book[31] The Folk Keeper 2000
Franny Billingsley The Mythopoeic Fantasy Award[31] The Folk Keeper 2000
Ellen Howard Christopher Award (Canadian)[32] The Log Cabin Quilt 1997
Tim Wynne-Jones Governor General's Award (Canada)[33] The Maestro 1995
Tim Wynne-Jones Governor General's Award (Canada)[33] Some of the Kinder Planets 1993
Sarah Ellis Governor General's Award (Canada)[33] Pick-Up Sticks
Marion Dane Bauer Newbery Honor Award[34] On My Honor 1987
MFA in Visual Art Faculty Awards
Name Award Book Year
Ashley Hunt BAK Center for Contemporary Arts, Research-In-Residence, Utrecht, NL 2008
Ashley Hunt Ford Foundation Social Justice Grant for Independent Media Production Documentary: Close Tallulah Now! 2002
Ashley Hunt New York Foundation for the Arts, Swing Space Fellowship 2007
Ashley Hunt Ford Foundation Social Justice Grant for Independent Media Production Documentary: Close Tallulah Now! 2002
Ashley Hunt Fellow of the Vera List Center for Art & Politics


David Deitcher Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant recipient.|

David Deitcher Lambda Literary Award Book: Dear Friends: American Photographs of Men Together, 1840–1918 2001
David Deitcher Canada Council, Independent Critics and Curator Award 2004–2005
David Deitcher Canada Council, Independent Critics and Curator Award 2006–2007
David Deitcher Fellow Swann Foundation for Cartoon and Caricature 1982
Dont Rhine Mid-Career Artist Award: California Community Foundation, Los Angeles 2007
Dont Rhine Individual Research Residency: Interface Centre, University of Ulster, Belfast 2006
Dont Rhine Individual Studio Residency: Banff Centre for the Arts, Alberta, Canada 2005
Faith Wilding Guggenheim Foundation Fellow 2009
Faith Wilding Creative Capital Emerging Fields Grant (with subrosa) 2004–2006
Lana Lin New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship 2001
Lana Lin Fulbright Foundation Fellowship 2003–2004
Lana Lin Jerome Foundation Media Arts Grant 1996
Marie Shurkus Doctoral Award of Excellence, Graduate Fellowship, Concordia University, Montreal 2001–2003
Marie Shurkus Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Pomona College 2007–2009
Michael Minelli Wexner Center for the Arts Commission Exhibition: Shiny 2006
Sowon Kwon Book: Dear Friends: American Photographs of Men Together, 1840–1918 2005
Sowon Kwon New York Foundation for the Arts in Sculpture 1995
Dont Rhine California Community Foundation Fellowship 2007


Alumni and students are published with major publishing houses. They work as "librarians, editors, freelance writers, teachers, directors of arts organizations, illustrators, and publishers."[35]

Alumni Awards
Name Award Work Year
LeAnne Howe Native Writers' Circle of the Americas Winner[36] Literature 2012
LeAnne Howe Ford Foundation Fellowship [37] Literature 2012
Debby Dahl Edwardson National Book Award Finalist[38] My Name Is Not Easy 2011
Kekla Magoon Nominee NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work Youth/Teens[39] The Rock and the River 2010
Kekla Magoon Coretta Scott King Award John Steptoe New Talent Author Award[40] The Rock and the River 2010
Sundee T. Frazier Coretta Scott King Award John Steptoe New Talent Author Award[41] Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything in It 2008
April Pulley Sayre Geisel Honor Book Award[42] Vulture View 2008
Ann Parr National Council of Social Studies Honor Award for ethnicity[43] Gordon Parks: No Excuses 2007
Robin Oliveira James Jones First Novel Fellowship[44] My Name is Mary Sutter 2007
Martine Leavitt National Book Award finalist[19] Keturah and Lord Death 2006
Stephanie Greene ALA Notable Book[45] Queen Sophie Hartley 2006
Deborah Wiles National Book Award finalist[46] Each Little Bird That Sings 2005
Ed Briant Publishers Weekly Flying Start[47] Paper Parade 2004
An Na Printz Award[48] A Step From Heaven 2002
Deborah Wiles Coretta Scott King Award John Steptoe New Talent Author Award[49] Freedom Summer 2002

Notable alumni

Notable alumni of the program include:


External links

  • Vermont College of Fine Arts
  • The T.W. Wood Art Gallery and Arts Center
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