Frequently Asked Questions
The cost depends upon whether you are taking the program for graduate credit or are participating on a non-credit basis. For non-credit participants, as well as NY State residents seeking graduate credit, the cost is approximately $9,500 for the full year.
Out-of-State and international applicants seeking the for-credit option pay approximately $17,000. The cost covers the 16 credits at the graduate level plus ancillary fees and housing during the two residencies.
Unfortunately, this program is no longer eligible for UUP waivers.
Yes. Because the program is accomplished primarily in distance-learning format, it is ideally suited to international students. Our Fellows alumnae have come from as far away as Australia. However, there are a few requirements for international Fellows to qualify for admission:
1) You must have a high school diploma or the international equivalent for the non-credit option. (For-credit applicants require a bachelor's degree or the international equivalent.)
2) You must speak and write in fluent English.
3) You must be available to travel to the US for both the 5-day July and 3-day January conferences.
4) As with our national applicants, admission is selective, and based on the strength of writing samples and letters of recommendation.
The general schedule is as follows:
November 15 - Application deadline.
December 1-10 - Admission announcements
January 1 - 31 - Admissions and enrollment processing; registration for first semester. Assignment of and introduction to first mentor.
Feb. 1 - First submission due to mentor. Begin first Reading Assignment.
Feb. 7 - Response from mentor.
March 1 - Second submission due to mentor.
March 7 - Response from mentor.
April 1 - Third submission due to mentor. First Reading Response due. Begin second
April 7 - Response from mentor.
May 1 - Fourth submission due to mentor.
May 7 - Response from mentor.
May, June - Continue writing/revising independently
June 1 - Second Reading Response due. Begin 3rd Reading Assignment.
3rd week of July - 5-day Southampton Childrens Lit Conference, Stony Brook Southampton, NY.
August 1 - Conference reflection and 3rd Reading Response due. Begin 4th Reading Assignment.
August - Continue writing/revising independently.
September 1 - First submission to Fall mentor.
September 7 - Response from mentor.
October 1 - Second submission to Fall mentor.
October 7 - Response from mentor.
November 1 - Third submission to Fall mentor. Fourth Reading Response due. Begin 5th
November 7 - Response from mentor.
December 1 - Fourth and final submission to mentor.
December 7 - Response from mentor.
December 15 - Final reading response due.
December 15 - January 15 - Final revisions, draft query letter and prospectus.
3rd week of January - Publishing Conference, Stony Brook Southampton, NY.
All forms of writing for children and young adults are eligible for the Fellows program, including non-fiction.
We are fortunate to have a team of accomplished and gifted faculty mentors – established and esteemed children’s lit authors who are well‐versed in all forms of picture book, middle grade and young adult fiction, as well as nonfiction.
Some of our mentors are full-time faculty members, but most rotate in and out of the program and participate on an as-needed basis, subject to their own availability. Among the faculty mentors who have participated in this program to date are:
Lorie Ann Grover
Cindy (Trumbore) Kane
Andrea Davis Pinkney
Peter H. Reynolds
Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Ann Whitford Paul
Mentors are assigned after careful assessment of each Fellow’s stated goals and any works in progress, and change from one semester to the next to provide a wide range of learning opportunities and perspectives. Our faculty is outstanding, and we have a deep bench.
In general, the monthly submission is either one draft of a picture book (1000 words or less) or up to 20 pages of a novel (5000 words.) Some mentors are willing to read and offer feedback on more than 20 pages, or more than one picture book draft, per submission - each mentor works individually – but that is subject to the mentor's availability and cannot be guaranteed.
Each mentor is also in charge of making their own additional assignments, which are specific to each mentee. Assignments may target developing plot or characters, revising for clarity, prompting for generation or something else entirely. There are also reading assignments – some that are globally assigned as part of the Fellowship by the Program Director, and others that the mentor provides. These are mostly craft-oriented books, with separate lists for novelists and picture book authors. Mentors tend to add their own reading recommendations, relative to the type of manuscript their mentee is developing.
Picture book authors have their manuscripts read from start to finish; novelists typically do not. The Fellows program is not designed to provide feedback on every single page or word of your manuscript - that is the job of a freelance or acquiring editor. Our goal is to provide you with the following over-arching types of support:
1) Professional feedback: editorial guidance as you work - identifying strengths and weaknesses in your writing, addressing big picture questions, providing a sounding board for your ideas, etc.
2) Accountability: deadlines to meet, goals to achieve
3) Community - connection with other writers and the writing community for insight, inspiration and professional networking, which continues well beyond the year in the program.
4) Preparation for the professional world – training in the specific standards and guidelines of children’s publishing, the nuances of pitching a manuscript, and introductions to agents and editors.
Our experience is that focusing on the detailed aspects of craft each month (as opposed to the big picture) allows for both the writer and his/her mentor to think more carefully and specifically about the work. By being challenged to work on just one or two chapters each month, Fellows are able to sink deeply into their stories, and to include all the essential moments that a chapter or scene requires. Our view is that learning to work this way best prepares writers for the rigors of the professional writing world – and that they gain lessons in craft that extend beyond the one manuscript.
The final Publishing and Editing conference is an intimate, Fellows-only gathering, led by Program Director Emma Walton Hamilton and novelist/Fellows mentor Patricia McCormick. The Fellows spend two full days on campus polishing their manuscripts and query letters, and learning everything about the submissions, acquisition and publication process. On the third and final day, we head into New York City to meet, hear from and pitch to agents and editors. We begin with a panel discussion with acquiring children’s lit editors, followed by a panel discussion with literary agents who specialize in children’s lit across multiple formats. The Fellows then meet individually with each agent to pitch their work in a kind of “speed-dating” format.
You will have plenty of time and support in the days and weeks leading up to the publishing conference ‐ from your faculty mentors and your colleagues in the program ‐ to prepare your queries and/or pitches. You and your manuscript will be ready to shine!
Your resume should give us a clear idea of who you are. Knowing about your work background, even if not related to writing, helps to give us a full picture. We also want to know about your writing experience, of course.
Non-credit applicants may apply any time of the year up until November 15 by emailing their materials directly to the program director.
For credit applicants may apply any time of year other than during the month of July and the first two weeks in August. During those months, there is no need to do anything with respect to your application other than to be organizing your materials, gathering your letters of recommendation, and polishing your writing sample and statement of purpose. Once the application portal re-opens in mid-August, you may upload and submit your application anytime up until November 15.
There is no difference between the non-credit and for credit option at the academic and experiential level. Both options provide the same rigorous course of instruction, one-to-one mentorship and other benefits.
The for-credit option is simply for those who wish to add a graduate certificate specific to Children's Literature to their CV or resume. The chief differences are financial (for those who live out of state) and administrative. For-credit applicants must apply to the program through Stony Brook's official graduate school admissions portal, provide undergraduate transcripts and meet other enrollment requirements.
The Children's Literature Fellows program may be a good fit for you if:
- You take your writing seriously and are ready to advance to the next level.
- You have a clear idea of what you want to write and are seeking the structure and support to do so, OR you have a manuscript in progress and are seeking the structure and support to finish it.
- You are open to feedback, even if it requires significant rewriting to make your work the best it can be.
- You have the ability and initiative to manage your time and work independently between rounds of feedback.
- You are able to travel to Southampton, NY for five days in July and 3 days in January.
- You are seeking a community of fellow writers.
- You would like to better understand and prepare for entering the world of publishing.
The Fellows program is probably NOT a good fit for you if:
- You have limited time to devote to writing.
- You are intrigued by the idea of writing for children or young adults, but have no specific experience or project in mind.
- You are looking for an easy way to build your author resume, or to break into publishing.
- You are resistant to feedback, or highly sensitive when it comes to discussing your work.
The essential differences between our 1 year Children's Lit Fellows certificate program and an MFA such as VCFA offers are as follows:
Financial - For any non-credit participant (or New York State resident seeking the for credit option) the Fellows program costs around $9,500 for the full year; Out-of-State and international applicants seeking the for-credit option pay approximately $17,000. This covers the 16 credits at the graduate level plus room and board during the two residencies. VCFA students pay 2-4 times that amount for the two year program.
Specialization - Our program requires you to specialize in a specific format - picture book, middle grade or YA novel, and to spend your year with us creating or refining a specific work or works in progress. An MFA such as VCFA tends to be broader in scope and to encourage you to experiment across formats.
Publishing Connections - Most MFA's focus primarily if not exclusively on the craft of writing, and don't offer much in the way of preparation for or connection to the publishing world. Our program culminates with a publishing/editing conference, in which we introduce participants to the ins and outs of the publishing industry and train them in crafting query letter, proposals, elevator speeches and pitches. We then travel into NYC for a full day of meeting, hearing from, and pitching to editors and agents.
Timing/Residency - Our program is 1 year, start to finish, and is accomplished primarily remotely... it requires a total of 8 days in residence on our campus - 5 in the summer, 3 in the winter. Most MFA's are 2-3 years, and require a good deal more time in residence (even if they are low-res programs.)