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Wondering if an MFA in translation is right for you? Check out these programs

During my time working as a Two Lines Editorial intern I compiled a list of American and international universities that offer MA or MFA degrees in translation, just in time for application season!

translation dictionary page

Though these programs go by a variety of names, they all focus on the translation of works into English from other languages, and usually straddle several humanities departments. All are interdisciplinary. Most having funding available in the forms of teaching, research, or editorial opportunities.

The following universities offer entirely separate translation MFAs that are not rolled into a broader Creative Writing degree:

University of Rochester

Called MALTS, the Masters of Arts in Literary Translation Studies can be completed in one year and offers several exciting internship opportunities at domestic and international publishing houses, including the University’s own Open Letter Press.

University of Iowa

Part of the Writing University, this MFA is centered around translation workshops with other students and Translators-In-Residence. The university is also home to Exchanges, a celebrated journal of literary translation.

Fairleigh Dickinson University

A low-residency program, this MFA requires students to complete two residencies a year for three years: one on campus in Madison, NJ and one in Wroxton, England.

Vermont College of Fine Arts

The International MFA in Creative Writing and Literary Translation is a new and exciting low-residency program that allows students to write in locations such as Reykjavik, Hong Kong, and Lisbon. Residency locations rotate to focus on strengthening the international community of literary translators.

Other programs offer literary translation as one possible “track” within a general Creative Writing MFA. Faculty members who are themselves published translators mentor graduate students towards the production of a book-length work of translation in any genre. Some highlights include:

San Francisco State University

For California residents, this program is an affordable, flexible opportunity to work with renowned translators as Andrew Joron, Paul Hoover, and Carolina de Robertis. Home to the historic Poetry Center and American Poetry Archives, the university has strong ties to the Bay Area literary community and hosts renowned translators such as Forrest Gander (an SFSU alum).

Columbia University

Directed by Two Lines contributor Susan Bernofsky, the Literary Translation program at Columbia (LTAC) features the Word for Word Literary Translation Exchange Program, which pairs Columbia students with peers at international universities for a year of “collaborative mutual translation.”

Queens College (CUNY)

MFA program in Creative Writing and Translation–one of only two in the nation to offer literary translation as a track within a creative writing program.

University of Arkansas

The second of two US MFA programs in Creative Writing and Translation. One of the oldest MFA programs in the nation, offering degree tracks in poetry, fiction, and literary translation.

University of East Anglia

Home to the British Centre for Literary Translation, UEA offers an MA in Literary Translation that can be completed in one year. The program produces a journal called Norwich Papers and a translation anthology.

Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Located in Barcelona, this university offers four interesting Masters degrees in creative and scientific aspects of translation. Only the MA in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics is listed as being taught in English, but any program may be a good option for Spanish speakers. In addition to immersion in Spanish, another perk of these programs is the development of basic skills in Catalan.

A few universities offer concentrations or certificates in Literary Translation as part of a PhD program: SUNY Binghamton in New York, Washington University in St. Louis, and Indiana University Bloomington.

As a current MFA student, I found seminar-style translation workshops infinitely helpful in developing my craft. Even if fellow students and professors don’t speak the same origin language, they can provide valuable feedback about the poetics of the translated piece. In general, embarking on the process with peers is a rigorous but joyful experience that is worth looking into. The best way to discover if an MFA program is right for you is to talk to current or recently-graduated students who might offer honest insights into its community and structure.