Program of Study

The Program in Creative Writing offers beginning and advanced workshops, which are limited in enrollment to ensure the benefits of working closely with faculty. Most courses require an application, which includes a writing sample or written statement of interest. (Please consult individual course postings for instructions.)

Each workshop focuses on one genre only (poetry, fiction, screenwriting or translation). Workshops meet for up to three hours weekly and are primarily devoted to the discussion of student work. All creative writing program courses are graded pass/D/fail but are not counted in the pass/D/fail budget.

Students begin the creative writing course sequence in either the fall or spring with 201, 202, 203, 204, 205, 206, 348 or 448. (Any of these may be repeated for credit with a different instructor). Students who have taken two 200-level courses may apply for the 300 (advanced) level.

At the end of each semester, a student from each workshop section is nominated by the class to read in an end-of-semester student reading.

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» Apply to Write a Creative Writing Thesis 


Students who wish to pursue a Certificate of Proficiency in Creative Writing may apply to the Program in late March of their junior year. The application consists of a short form and an extensive portfolio of work in the relevant genre.

In deciding which students are most likely to bring an extended creative project to a successful conclusion, the Program considers instructor feedback regarding demonstrated talent, potential, discipline, skill at revision, and ability to make good use of criticism.

Successful applicants are assigned specific deadlines and an advisor, with whom they meet throughout senior year. To earn the certificate, students must complete the following requirements:

(1) Take two 200-level courses in creative writing by the end of sophomore year and two 300-level courses by the end of junior year. (A portion of this requirement may be waived in unusual circumstances.) The courses need not be in a single genre; students are encouraged to experiment with kinds of writing new to them.

(2) Write a creative senior thesis in one genre (e.g., collections of poems, stories, a screenplay, a novel, or literary translations in poetry or fiction) under the direction of program faculty.

The Creative Thesis

Accepted students seek permission from their home departments to use the creative thesis to satisfy departmental thesis requirements. For students in the Department of English Creative Writing Track and the Comparative Literature Department’s Program D, approval is routine, and several other departments have welcomed creative theses. Still, some students undertake the creative thesis as a “second thesis.”

Students are expected to begin their theses over the summer before the senior year, and those who have not made satisfactory progress by mid October are returned to their major department to write a regular thesis.

English majors accepted for a creative thesis may count a maximum of two creative writing courses at the 300 or 400 level toward their eight English departmentals, and their theses are supervised and graded by Program faculty. (English majors not accepted for a creative thesis may still count one 300 or 400 level creative writing course as their Program I cognate.) Otherwise, their requirements–distribution, senior comprehensives, etc.–are identical to those of regular English majors. Thesis students may not take other creative writing courses during their senior year.

Majors in departments other than English should, after successful application to the Program, secure the written permission of the Departmental Representative of their major department to undertake the creative thesis. Such students will usually be assigned advisors in both the Program and the major department. These advisors will negotiate the grading procedure. The department may have special requirements—for example, a critical preface or an extensive bibliography. The thesis will receive a “review” and a letter grade from a faculty reader, in consultation with the thesis advisor.

There is no set length for the thesis. Fiction theses have ranged from 80 to 400+ pages, 100-200 pages being typical. A poetry thesis normally contains 20-40 poems, depending on their length. In general no more than 20% of the thesis should be revised work from previous years. The thesis deadline is established by the Program in Creative Writing, typically sometime in the first week of April.