What the Program Includes

    • 102 Hours of Instruction

      For most of the 10-month program, students meet in three-hour workshops on Tuesday evenings. The majority of our time will be spent workshopping student essays. These workshops are led by instructor Ethan Gilsdorf who, along with each student, provides written feedback. Students are expected to read, provide written feedback and discuss their colleagues’ essays. The instructor also offers prepared lectures and leads discussion on various elements of the craft of essay writing. Each class also typically includes analysis of published essays and impromptu discussions about the essay-writing process, and weekly writing prompts to generate new starts on essays. Breaks between phases and in the middle of phases provide students with time to write, revise and recharge. Informal socializing out of class is encouraged!

    • 6 hours of individual consultations with the instructor

      Three times over the program, and at other times as needed, students will meet with the instructor individually on mutually agreed-upon dates and times. The goal of these meetings is to allow the writer to synthesize the multiple perspectives students have heard at the workshop meetings, identify craft issues, set goals for revision, identify target publications for their essays, as well as strategize a concrete plan for next steps. In addition to these hours, the instructor will be available for informal "office hours" sessions to discuss their projects (usually before class), as well as  additional feedback on drafts, as needed.

    • Guest speakers: Publishing professionals and established essayists

      At least 8 guest speakers —  writers and editors—will visit the program to enrich the program with their professional perspectives, giving students a unique opportunity to interact with them and ask questions. Established essayists and Essay Incubator alums will offer their advice on writing, revision, and submitting their work. Editors at leading journals and magazines will offer inside information on submitting to their publications and the publishing landscape for essays. In the past, writers and editors have included T Kira Madden, Jia Tolentino, Brenda Miller, Dinty Moore, Neema Avashia, Michelle Bowdler, Grace Talusan, Shuchi Saraswat, Theresa Okokon, Dorian Fox, Dennis James Sweeney, Mimi Wong, Patrick Madden, Joey Franklin; editors representing publications such as Ploughshares, Brevity, Catapult, Barrelhouse Books, WBUR Cognoscenti, Agni, Bellingham Review, Fourth Genre, The Offing, and Narratively have visited.

    • One Manuscript Mart appointment at the Muse and the Marketplace. In 2023, the Muse & the Marketplace evolved from an annual conference held only once per year into a conference series featuring year-round online and in-person programming. In addition to the Manuscript Mart appointment, students will receive admission to key Muse and the Marketplace programming and events that will be announced in early 2024. More information will be available soon! 

    • Party and reading

      The class will celebrate the completion of the ten-month program with a reading party. Each student will read a selection from work they produced in the program. Friends and family are invited, with refreshments and pre-/post-reading mingling.

    • Tell-All Boston Reading Series

      Students are invited to submit to Tell-All Boston, a seasonal nonfiction reading series run by graduates of the Memoir and Essay Incubator Programs. Current Essay Incubator students and graduates may join the Tell-All committee or work on other Essay incubator community initiatives.

    • The Essay Incubator Community

A student’s connection to the Essay Incubator doesn't end when the program ends! Current students and graduates of the program meet regularly online to write together, engage in support and feedback via a messaging app, and attend readings and community “homecoming” events. The goal of these activities is to stay connected, network, and offer mentoring and support going forward as writers continue to stay engaged with their writing.


The entire cost of the program is $4,295. Tuition is payable in two installments. Tuition is payable in two installments. Partial fellowships are available and based on a combination of merit and financial need (see Apply page for more info). Students may also be expected to purchase a few anthologies and essay collections as “textbooks”; these will cost approximately $100 total over the course of the program.

Open House and Info Session

Thinking of applying? Each summer, GrubStreet offers an informal Q&A with instructor Ethan Gilsdorf to answer any questions you have about the Incubator, including the workload, the application process, what the program does and doesn’t entail, the schedule, the philosophy behind our approach, and anything else on your mind!

The Essay Incubator Open House and Info Session is on July 11th! Register here

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