Bread Loaf’s online program offers students a unique opportunity to concentrate on their writing skills at the same time as they explore a focused content area in literature or allied fields. Combining independent and guided study, the program’s individual (Directed Writing and Research) and small group (Critical Writing) tutorials are grounded on exceptionally close mentoring from dedicated faculty. The flexible schedule, concentrated in a six-week summer session, allows students to immerse themselves in intensive graduate study from any location.

Students may count a maximum of four units of online BLSE tutorials towards their MA or MLitt degree, not counting those taken in 2020 and 2021. Degree candidates admitted from 2023 on must take at least six of their ten units in-person, at a Bread Loaf campus, spending at least one summer at our main campus in Vermont.  

Critical Writing Tutorial (CWT)

The online Critical Writing Tutorial gives students an opportunity to concentrate on critical writing skills and strategies as they delve deeply into a focused area of literary study. Open to students at all stages of their Bread Loaf career, it is ideal for students new to critical writing as well as for those preparing a piece for publication.   

Limited to five students each, the CWT will address key areas of writing practice, including:

  • Defining the research question
  • Understanding audience
  • Defining and optimizing writing voice and style
  • Structuring sentences, paragraphs, and arguments
  • Integrating historical, critical, and secondary materials
  • Revising
  • Framing the work for presentation or publication

It will simultaneously include exploration of a literary field through the window of a single long-form text (such as a novel or five-act play) or a body of related shorter texts (poems, essays, or short stories), paired with relevant critical and contextual materials. Students will be expected to produce roughly 25 pages (6,000+ words) total as they take their writing and thinking through several stages of revision.

The CWT carries two units of credit, one in Group 1 and one in the designated field of focus (Groups 2-5). Students will meet at least twice a week for a total of five hours/week across a six-week summer session, which coincides with the Vermont session dates. Additionally, students should expect to spend at least 10 hours per week working independently on tutorial assignments.

Ordinarily, students may enroll in the CWT only once, and they may not take another BLSE course simultaneously. Students who took a one-unit Tutorial in Critical Writing in 2020 or 2021 may take a CWT taught by a different professor. CWT students are eligible to apply to take up to two units of DRW.  Students who have taken a two-unit Advanced Writing Tutorial in 2020 or 2021 are not eligible to take the CWT but they may apply to take up to two units of DRW.

Read full details of the Critical Writing Tutorial.

Directed Research and Writing (DRW)

A closely mentored independent study, the remote Directed Research and Writing gives students the latitude to work from any location, the flexibility to set meeting times, the freedom to shape their own course of study, and the choice of earning one or two units of credit.  

Available to returning students and ideal for those in their final Bread Loaf summers, the DRW allows students a sustained opportunity to design and pursue a major critical, creative, or pedagogical project, under the direction of a faculty advisor. The mainstay of the writing and revision will take place online across the 6-week summer session (coinciding with Vermont session dates), though students will complete the preliminary reading and research beforehand.  

The DRW can be taken for either one unit or two units of credit (in any distributional Group or Groups), with eligibility and expectations for the scope of the work calibrated to the credit load. All projects must be grounded on some area(s) studied in a Bread Loaf course in which the student has earned an A- or better. 

Read more about Directed Research and Writing. The DRW replaces our former options for independent study: the Independent Reading Project, Oxford Independent Tutorial, and Summer Project in Theater Arts.

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