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Ph.D. Creative Writing
Ph.d. in creative writing.
A rigorous program that combines creative writing and literary studies, the Ph.D. in Creative Writing prepares graduates for both scholarly and creative publication and teaching. With faculty guidance, students admitted to the Ph.D. program may tailor their programs to their goals and interests.
The creative writing faculty at KU has been widely published and anthologized, winning both critical and popular acclaim. Faculty awards include such distinctions as the Nebula Award, Hugo Award, Osborn Award, Shelley Memorial Award, Gertrude Stein Award, the Kenyon Review Prize, the Kentucky Center Gold Medallion, and the Pushcart Prize.
Regarding admission to both our doctoral and MFA creative writing programs, we will prioritize applicants who are interested in engaging with multiple faculty members to practice writing across genres and forms, from speculative fiction and realism to poetry and playwriting/screenwriting, etc.
The University of Kansas' Graduate Program in Creative Writing also offers an M.F.A degree .
A GTA appointment includes a tuition waiver for ten semesters plus a competitive stipend. In the first year, GTA appointees teach English 101 (first year composition) and English 102 (a required reading and writing course). Creative Writing Ph.D. students may have the opportunity to teach an introductory course in creative writing after passing the doctoral examination, and opportunities are available for a limited number of advanced GTAs to teach in the summer.
- Graduate Admissions
- Graduate Contacts
- Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)
- LandLocked Literary Magazine
- The Project on the History of Black Writing
- Center for the Study of Science Fiction
- Ad-Hoc African/Americanists and Affiliates
- At least 24 hours of credit in appropriate formal graduate courses beyond the M.A. or M.F.A. At least 15 hours (in addition to ENGL 800 if not taken for the M.A.) of this course work must be taken from among courses offered by the Department of English at the 700-level and above. English 997 and 999 credits cannot be included among the 24 hours. Students may petition to take up to 6 hours outside the Department.
- ENGL 800: Methods, Theory, and Professionalism (counts toward the 24 required credit hours).
- The ENGL 801/ENGL 802 pedagogy sequence (counts toward the 24 required credit hours).
- Two seminars (courses numbered 900 or above) offered by the Department of English at the University of Kansas, beyond the M.A. or M.F.A. ENGL 998 does not fulfill this requirement.
- ENGL 999, Dissertation (at least 12 hours).
If the M.A. or M.F.A. was completed in KU’s Department of English, a doctoral student may petition the DGS to have up to 12 hours of the coursework taken in the English Department reduced toward the Ph.D.
For Doctoral students, the university requires completion of a course in responsible scholarship . For the English department, this would be ENGL 800, 780, or the equivalent). In addition, the Department requires reading knowledge of one approved foreign language: Old English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Japanese, Greek, Latin, or Hebrew. Upon successful petition, a candidate may substitute reading knowledge of another language or research skill that is studied at the University or is demonstrably appropriate to the candidate’s program of study.
Doctoral students must fulfill the requirement before they take their doctoral examination, or be enrolled in a reading course the same semester as the exam. Students are permitted three attempts at passing each foreign language or research skill. Three methods of demonstrating reading knowledge for all approved languages except Old English are acceptable:
- Presenting 16 hours, four semesters, or the equivalent of undergraduate credit, earned with an average of C or better.
- Passing a graduate reading course at the University of Kansas or peer institution (e.g., French 100, German 100, etc.) with a grade of C or higher. In the past, some of these reading courses have been given by correspondence; check with the Division of Continuing Education for availability.
- Passing a translation examination given by a designated member of the English Department faculty or by the appropriate foreign language department at KU. The exam is graded pass/fail and requires the student to translate as much as possible of a representative text in the foreign language in a one-hour period, using a bilingual dictionary.
- Passing a translation examination given by the appropriate foreign language department at the M.A.-granting institution. Successful completion must be reflected either on the M.A. transcript or by a letter from the degree-granting department.
To fulfill the language requirement using Old English, students must successfully complete ENGL 710 (Introduction to Old English) and ENGL 712 (Beowulf).
A doctoral student must fulfill the University residency requirement before taking the doctoral exam.
Post-Coursework Ph.D. students must submit, with their committee chair(s), an annual review form to the DGS and Graduate Committee.
Doctoral students must take their doctoral examination within three semesters (excluding summers) of the end of the semester in which they took their final required course. If a student has an Incomplete, the timeline is not postponed until the Incomplete is resolved. For example, a student completing doctoral course work in Spring 2018 will need to schedule their doctoral exam no later than the end of Fall semester 2019. Delays may be granted by petition to the Graduate Director in highly unusual circumstances. Failure to take the exam within this time limit without an approved delay will result in the student’s falling out of good standing. For details on the consequences of falling out of good standing, see “Falling Out of Good Standing,” in General Department Policies and Best Practices.
A student may not take their doctoral exam until the university’s Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship requirement is fulfilled (ENGL 800 or equivalent and reading knowledge of one foreign language or equivalent).
Requirements for Doctoral Exams
All students are required to submit three reading lists, based on the requirements below, to their committee for approval. The doctoral exam will be scheduled a minimum of twelve weeks after approval from the whole committee is received. To facilitate quick committee approval, students may copy the graduate academic advisor on the email to the committee that contains the final version of the lists. Committee members may then respond to the email in lieu of signing a printed copy.
During the two-hour oral examination (plus an additional 15-30 minutes for a break and committee deliberation), a student will be tested on their comprehension of a literary period or movement, including multiple genres and groups of authors within that period or movement. In addition, the student will be tested on two of the following six areas of study:
- An adjacent or parallel literary period or movement,
- An author or group of related authors,
- Criticism and literary theory,
- Composition theory, and
- English language.
No title from any field list may appear on either of the other two lists. See Best Practices section for more details on these six areas. See below for a description of the Review of the Dissertation Proposal (RDP), which the candidate takes the semester after passing the doctoral exam.
While many students confer with the DGS as they begin the process of developing their lists, they are also required to submit a copy of their final exam list to the DGS. Most lists will be left intact, but the DGS might request that overly long lists be condensed, or extremely short lists be expanded.
Review of Literature
The purpose of the Review of Literature is to develop and demonstrate an advanced awareness of the critical landscape for each list. The student will write an overview of the defining attributes of the field, identifying two or three broad questions that animate scholarly discussion, while using specific noteworthy texts from their list ( but not all texts on the list ) as examples.
The review also must accomplish the following:
- consider the historical context of major issues, debates, and trends that factor into the emergence of the field
- offer a historical overview of scholarship in the field that connects the present to the past
- note recent trends and emergent lines of inquiry
- propose questions about (develop critiques of, and/or identify gaps in) the field and how they might be pursued in future study (but not actually proposing or referencing a dissertation project)
For example, for a literary period, the student might include an overview of primary formal and thematic elements, of the relationship between literary and social/historical developments, of prominent movements, (etc.), as well as of recent critical debates and topics.
For a genre list, the Review of Literature might include major theories of its constitution and significance, while outlining the evolution of these theories over time.
For a Rhetoric and Composition list, the review would give an overview of major historical developments, research, theories, methods, debates, and trends of scholarship in the field.
For an English Language Studies (ELS) list, the review would give an overview of the subfields that make up ELS, the various methodological approaches to language study, the type of sources used, and major aims and goals of ELS. The review also usually involves a focus on one subfield of particular interest to the student (such as stylistics, sociolinguistics, or World/Postcolonial Englishes).
Students are encouraged to divide reviews into smaller sections that enhance clarity and organization. Students are not expected to interact with every text on their lists.
The review of literature might be used to prepare students for identifying the most important texts in the field, along with why those texts are important to the field, for the oral exam. It is recommended for students to have completed reading the bulk of (if not all) texts on their lists before writing the ROL.
The Reviews of Literature will not be produced in an exam context, but in the manner of papers that are researched and developed in consultation with all advisors/committee members, with final drafts being distributed within a reasonable time for all members to review and approve in advance of the 3-week deadline . While the Review of Literature generally is not the focus of the oral examination, it is frequently used as a point of departure for questions and discussion during the oral examination.
Doctoral Exam Committee
Exam committees typically consist of 4 faculty members from the department—one of whom serves as the Committee Chair—plus a Graduate Studies Representative. University policy dictates the composition of exam committees . Students may petition for an exception for several committee member situations, with the exception of the Graduate Studies Representative .
If a student wants to have as a committee member a person outside the university, or a person who is not in a full-time tenure-track professorship at KU, the student must contact the Graduate Secretary as early as possible. Applications for special graduate faculty status must be reviewed by the College and Graduate Studies. Requests for exam/defense approval will not be approved unless all committee members currently hold either regular or special graduate faculty status
Remote participation of committee members via technology
Students with committee members who plan to attend the defense via remote technology must be aware of college policy on teleconferencing/remote participation of committee members .
A majority of committee members must be physically present for an examination to commence; for doctoral oral examinations this requirement is 3 of the 5 members, for master’s oral examinations the requirement is 2 of the 3 members. In addition, it is required that the student being examined, the chair of the committee, and the Graduate Studies Representative all be physically present at the examination or defense. Mediated attendance by the student, chair and Grad Studies Rep is prohibited.
The recommended time between completion of coursework and the doctoral examination is two semesters.
Final exam lists need to be approved and signed by the committee at least 12 weeks prior to the prospective exam date. This includes summers/summer semesters. The lists should then be submitted to the Graduate Program Coordinator. Reviews of Literature need to be approved and signed by the committee at least 3 weeks prior to the exam date. Failure to meet this deadline will result in rescheduling the exam. No further changes to lists or Reviews of Literature will be allowed after official approval. The three-week deadline is the faculty deadline--the last date for them to confirm receipt of the ROLs and confer approval--not necessarily the student deadline for submitting the documents to the faculty. Please keep that timing in mind and allow your committee adequate time to review the materials and provide feedback.
Students taking the Doctoral Exam are allowed to bring their text lists, the approved Reviews of Literature, scratch paper, a writing utensil, and notes/writing for an approximately 5-minute introductory statement to the exam. (This statement does not need to lay out ideas or any aspect of the dissertation project.)
Each portion of the oral examination must be deemed passing before the student can proceed to the Review of the Dissertation Proposal. If a majority of the committee judges that the student has not answered adequately on one of the three areas of the exam, the student must repeat that portion in a separate oral exam of one hour, to be taken as expeditiously as possible. Failure in two areas constitutes failure of the exam and requires a retake of the whole. The doctoral examining committee will render a judgment of Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory on the entire examination. A student who fails the exam twice may, upon successful petition to the Graduate Committee, take it a third and final time.
Students cannot bring snacks, drinks, treats, or gifts for committee members to the exam. Professors should avoid the appearance of favoritism that may occur if they bring treats to some student exams but not others.
The doctoral oral examination has the following purposes:
- To establish goals, tone, and direction for the pursuit of the Ph.D. in English for the Department and for individual programs of study;
- To make clear the kinds of knowledge and skills that, in the opinion of the Department, all well-prepared holders of the degree should have attained;
- To provide a means for the Department to assess each candidate’s control of such knowledge and skills in order to certify that the candidate is prepared to write a significant dissertation and enter the profession; and
- To enable the Department to recommend to the candidate areas of strength or weakness that should be addressed.
In consultation with the Graduate Director, a student will ask a member of the Department’s graduate faculty (preferably their advisor) to be the chairperson of the examining committee. The choice of examination committee chair is very important, for that person’s role is to assist the candidate in designing the examination structure, preparing the Review of Literature (see below), negotiating reading lists and clarifying their purposes, and generally following procedures here outlined. The other three English Department members of the committee will be chosen in consultation with the committee chair. (At some point an additional examiner from outside the Department, who serves as the Graduate School representative, will be invited to join the committee). Any unresolved problems in negotiation between a candidate and their committee should be brought to the attention of the Graduate Director, who may choose to involve the Graduate Committee. A student may request a substitution in, or a faculty member may ask to be dismissed from, the membership of the examining committee. Such requests must be approved, in writing, by the faculty member leaving the committee and by the Graduate Director.
Copies of some approved reading lists and Reviews of Literature are available from the Graduate Secretary and can be found on the U: drive if you are using a computer on campus. Despite the goal of fairness and equity, some unavoidable unevenness and disparity will appear in the length of these lists. It remains, however, the responsibility of the examining committee, and especially the student’s chair, to aim toward consonance with the most rigorous standards and expectations and to insure that areas of study are not unduly narrow.
To facilitate quick committee approval, students may copy the graduate secretary on the email to the committee that contains the final version of the lists and reviews of literature. Committee members may then respond to the email in lieu of signing a printed copy.
Comprehension of a literary period (e.g., British literature of the 18th century; Romanticism; US literature of the 19th century; Modernism) entails sufficient intellectual grasp of both the important primary works of and secondary works on the period or movement to indicate a student’s ability to teach the period or movement and undertake respectable scholarship on it.
Comprehension of an author or group of related authors (e.g., Donne, the Brontës, the Bloomsbury Group, the Black Mountain Poets) entails knowledge, both primary and secondary, of a figure or figures whose writing has generated a significant body of interrelated biographical, historical, and critical scholarship.
Comprehension of one of several genres (the short story, the lyric poem, the epistolary novel). To demonstrate comprehension of a genre, a student should possess sufficient depth and breadth of knowledge, both primary and secondary, of the genre to explain its formal characteristics and account for its historical development.
Comprehension of criticism and literary theory entails a grasp of fundamental conceptual problems inherent in a major school of literary study (e.g., historicist, psychoanalytic, feminist, poststructuralist, etc.). To demonstrate comprehension of that school of criticism and literary theory, a student should be able to discuss changes in its conventions and standards of interpretation and evaluation of literature from its beginning to the present. Students will be expected to possess sufficient depth and breadth of theoretical knowledge to bring appropriate texts and issues to bear on questions of literary study.
Comprehension of composition theory entails an intellectual grasp of fundamental concepts, issues, and theories pertaining to the study of writing. To demonstrate comprehension of composition theory, students should be able to discuss traditional and current issues from a variety of perspectives, as well as the field’s historical development from classical rhetoric to the present.
Comprehension of the broad field of English language studies entails a grasp of the field’s theoretical concepts and current issues, as well as a familiarity with significant works within given subareas. Such subareas will normally involve formal structures (syntax, etc.) and history of the English language, along with other subareas such as social linguistics, discourse analysis, lexicography, etc. Areas of emphasis and specific sets of topics will be arranged through consultation with relevant faculty.
Ph.D. candidates must be continuously enrolled in Dissertation hours each Fall and Spring semester from the time they pass the doctoral examination until successful completion of the final oral examination (defense of dissertation).
- Students enroll for a minimum of 6 hours each Fall and Spring semester until the total of post-doctoral exam Dissertation hours is 18. One hour each semester must be ENGL 999. In order to more quickly reach the 18-hour minimum, and to be sooner eligible for GRAships, it is highly recommended that students enroll in 9 hours of Dissertation in the Spring and Fall semesters.
- Once a student has accumulated 18 post-doctoral exam hours, each subsequent enrollment will be for a number of hours agreed upon as appropriate between the student and their advisor, the minimal enrollment each semester being 1 hour of ENGL 999.
- A student must be enrolled in at least one hour of credit at KU during the semester they graduate. Although doctoral students must be enrolled in ENGL 999 while working on their dissertations, per current CLAS regulations, there is no absolute minimum number of ENGL 999 hours required for graduation.
- Students who live and work outside the Lawrence area may, under current University regulations, have their fees assessed at the Field Work rate, which is somewhat lower than the on-campus rate. Students must petition the College Office of Graduate Affairs before campus fees will be waived.
Please also refer to the COGA policy on post-exam enrollment or the Graduate School’s policy .
As soon as possible following successful completion of the doctoral exam, the candidate should establish their three-person core dissertation committee, and then expeditiously proceed to the preparation of a dissertation proposal. Within the semester following completion of the doctoral exam , the student will present to their core dissertation committee a written narrative of approximately 10-15 pages , not including bibliography, of the dissertation proposal. Copies of this proposal must be submitted to the members of the dissertation committee and Graduate Program Coordinator no later than three weeks prior to the scheduled examination date.
In the proposal, students will be expected to define: the guiding question or set of questions; a basic thesis (or hypothesis); how the works to be studied or the creative writing produced relate to that (hypo)thesis; the theoretical/methodological model to be followed; the overall formal divisions of the dissertation; and how the study will be situated in the context of prior scholarship (i.e., its importance to the field). The narrative section should be followed by a bibliography demonstrating that the candidate is conversant with the basic theoretical and critical works pertinent to the study. For creative writing students, the proposal may serve as a draft of the critical introduction to the creative dissertation. Students are expected to consult with their projected dissertation committee concerning the preparation of the proposal.
The review will focus on the proposal, although it could also entail determining whether or not the candidate’s knowledge of the field is adequate to begin the composition process. The examination will be graded pass/fail. If it is failed, the committee will suggest areas of weakness to be addressed by the candidate, who will rewrite the proposal and retake the review by the end of the following semester . If the candidate abandons the entire dissertation project for another, a new RDP will be taken. (For such a step to be taken, the change would need to be drastic, such as a move to a new field or topic. A change in thesis or the addition or subtraction of one or even several works to be examined would not necessitate a new proposal and defense.) If the student fails to complete the Review of the Dissertation Proposal within a year of the completion of the doctoral exams, they will have fallen out of departmental good standing. For details on the consequences of falling out of good standing, see “Falling Out of Good Standing,” in General Department Policies and Best Practices.
After passing the Review of the Dissertation Proposal, the student should forward one signed copy of the proposal to the Graduate Secretary. The RDP may last no longer than 90 minutes.
Students cannot bring snacks, drinks, treats, or gifts for committee members to the review. Professors should avoid the appearance of favoritism that may occur if they bring treats to some student exams but not others.
The Graduate Catalog states that the doctoral candidate “must present a dissertation showing the planning, conduct and results of original research, and scholarly creativity.” While most Ph.D. candidates in the Department of English write dissertations of a traditional, research-oriented nature, a creative writing candidate may elect to do a creative-writing dissertation involving fiction, poetry, drama or nonfiction prose. Such a dissertation must also contain a substantial section of scholarly research related to the creative writing. The precise nature of the scholarly research component should be determined by the candidate in consultation with the dissertation committee and the Graduate Director. Candidates wishing to undertake such a dissertation must complete all Departmental requirements demanded for the research-oriented Ph.D. degree.
Scholarly Research Component (SRC)
The Scholarly Research Component (SRC) of the creative-writing dissertation is a separate section of the dissertation than the creative work. It involves substantial research and is written in the style of academic prose. It should be 15-20 pages and should cite at least 20 sources, some of which should be primary texts, and many of which should be from the peer-reviewed secondary literature. The topic must relate, in some way, to the topic, themes, ideas, or style of the creative portion of the dissertation; this relation should be stated in the Dissertation Proposal, which should include a section describing the student’s plans for the SRC. The SRC may be based on a seminar paper or other work the student has completed prior to the dissertation; but the research should be augmented, and the writing revised, per these guidelines. The SRC is a part of the dissertation, and as such will be included in the dissertation defense.
The SRC may take two general forms:
1.) An article, publishable in a peer-reviewed journal or collection, on a specific topic related to an author, movement, theoretical issue, taxonomic issue, etc. that has bearing on the creative portion. The quality of this article should be high enough that the manuscript could be submitted to a peer-reviewed publication, with a plausible chance of acceptance.
2.) A survey . This survey may take several different forms:
- A survey of a particular aspect of the genre of the creative portion of the dissertation (stylistic, national, historical, etc.)
- An introduction to the creative portion of the dissertation that explores the influences on, and the theoretical or philosophical foundations or implications of the creative work
- An exploration of a particular technical problem or craft issue that is salient in the creative portion of the dissertation
- If the creative portion of the dissertation includes the results of research (e.g., historical novel, documentary poetry, research-based creative nonfiction), a descriptive overview of the research undertaken already for the dissertation itself
- A combination of the above, with the prior approval of the student’s dissertation director.
The dissertation committee will consist of at least five members—three “core” English faculty members, a fourth faculty member (usually from English), and one faculty member from a different department who serves as the Graduate Studies representative. The committee may include (with the Graduate Director’s approval) members from other departments and, with the approval of the University’s Graduate Council, members from outside the University. If a student wants to have a committee member from outside the university, or a person who is not in a full-time tenure-track professorship at KU, the student must contact the Graduate Secretary as early as possible. Applications for special graduate faculty status must be reviewed by the College and the Office of Graduate Studies. Requests for defense approval will not be approved unless all committee members currently hold either regular or special graduate faculty status.
The candidate’s preferences as to the membership of the dissertation committee will be carefully considered; the final decision, however, rests with the Department and with the Office of Graduate Studies. All dissertation committees must get approval from the Director of Graduate Studies before scheduling the final oral exam (defense). Furthermore, any changes in the make-up of the dissertation committee from the Review of the Dissertation Proposal committee must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.
Once the dissertation proposal has passed and the writing of the dissertation begins, membership of the dissertation committee should remain constant. However, under extraordinary circumstances, a student may request a substitution in, or a faculty member may ask to be dismissed from, the membership of the dissertation committee. Such requests must be approved, in writing, by the faculty member leaving the committee and by the Graduate Director.
If a student does not make progress during the dissertation-writing stage, and accumulates more than one “Limited Progress” and/or “No Progress” grade on their transcript, they will fall out of good standing in the department. For details on the consequences of falling out of good standing, see “Falling Out of Good Standing,” in General Department Policies and Best Practices
Final Oral Exam (Dissertation Defense)
When the dissertation has been tentatively accepted by the dissertation committee (not including the Graduate Studies Representative), the final oral examination will be held, on the recommendation of the Department.
Although the dissertation committee is responsible for certification of the candidate, any member of the graduate faculty may be present at the examination and participate in the questioning, and one examiner—the Graduate Studies Representative—must be from outside the Department. The Graduate Secretary can help students locate an appropriate Grad Studies Rep. The examination normally lasts no more than two hours. It is the obligation of the candidate to advise the Graduate Director that they plan to take the oral examination; this must be done at least one month before the date proposed for the examination.
At least three calendar weeks prior to the defense date, the student will submit the final draft of the dissertation to all the committee members (including the GSR) and inform the Graduate Program Coordinator. Failure to meet this deadline will necessitate rescheduling the defense. The final oral examination for the Ph.D. in English is, essentially, a defense of the dissertation. When it is passed, the dissertation itself is graded by the dissertation director, in consultation with the student’s committee; the student’s performance in the final examination (defense) is graded by the entire five-person committee
Students cannot bring snacks, drinks, treats, or gifts for committee members to the defense. Professors should avoid the appearance of favoritism that may occur if they bring treats to some student defenses but not others
These sets of attributes are adapted from the Graduate Learner Outcomes that are a part of our Assessment portfolio. “Honors” should only be given to dissertations that are rated “Outstanding” in all or most of the following categories:
- Significant and innovative plot/structure/idea/focus. The writer clearly places plot/structure/idea/focus in context.
- Thorough knowledge of literary traditions. Clear/flexible vision of the creative work produced in relation to those literary traditions.
- Introduction/Afterword is clear, concise, and insightful. A detailed discussion of the implications of the project and future writing projects exists.
- The creative dissertation reveals the doctoral candidate’s comprehensive understanding of poetics and/or aesthetic approach. The application of the aesthetic approach is innovative and convincing.
- The creative dissertation represents original and sophisticated creative work.
- The creative dissertation demonstrates thematic and/or aesthetic unity.
After much discussion about whether the “honors” designation assigned after the dissertation defense should be for the written product only, for the defense/discussion only, for both together, weighted equally, or eradicated altogether, the department voted to accept the Graduate Committee recommendation that “honors” only apply to the written dissertation. "Honors" will be given to dissertations that are rated "Outstanding" in all or most of the categories on the dissertation rubric.
Normally, the dissertation will present the results of the writer’s own research, carried on under the direction of the dissertation committee. This means that the candidate should be in regular contact with all members of the committee during the dissertation research and writing process, providing multiple drafts of chapters, or sections of chapters, according to the arrangements made between the student and each faculty member. Though accepted primarily for its scholarly merit rather than for its rhetorical qualities, the dissertation must be stylistically competent. The Department has accepted the MLA Handbook as the authority in matters of style. The writer may wish to consult also the Chicago Manual of Style and Kate L. Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Dissertations, Theses, and Term Papers .
Naturally, both the student and the dissertation committee have responsibilities and obligations to each other concerning the submitting and returning of materials. The student should plan on working steadily on the dissertation; if they do so, they should expect from the dissertation committee a reasonably quick reading and assessment of material submitted.
Students preparing their dissertation should be showing chapters to their committee members as they go along, for feedback and revision suggestions. They should also meet periodically with committee members to assess their progress. Prior to scheduling a defense, the student is encouraged to ask committee members whether they feel that the student is ready to defend the dissertation. Ideally, the student should hold the defense only when they have consulted with committee members sufficiently to feel confident that they have revised the dissertation successfully to meet the expectations of all committee members.
Students should expect that they will need to revise each chapter at least once. This means that all chapters (including introduction and conclusion) are shown to committee members once, revised, then shown to committee members again in revised form to assess whether further revisions are needed, prior to the submitting of the final dissertation as a whole. It is not unusual for further revisions to be required and necessary after the second draft of a chapter; students should not therefore simply assume that a second draft is necessarily “final” and passing work.
If a substantial amount of work still needs to be completed or revised at the point that the dissertation defense is scheduled, such a defense date should be regarded as tentative, pending the successful completion, revision, and receipt of feedback on all work. Several weeks prior to the defense, students should consult closely with their dissertation director and committee members about whether the dissertation as a whole is in a final and defensible stage. A project is ready for defense when it is coherent, cohesive, well researched, engages in sophisticated analysis (in its entirety or in the critical introduction of creative dissertations), and makes a significant contribution to the field. In other words, it passes each of the categories laid out in the Dissertation Rubric.
If the dissertation has not clearly reached a final stage, the student and dissertation director are advised to reschedule the defense.
Prior Publication of the Doctoral Dissertation
Portions of the material written by the doctoral candidate may appear in article form before completion of the dissertation. Prior publication does not ensure the acceptance of the dissertation by the dissertation committee. Final acceptance of the dissertation is subject to the approval of the dissertation committee. Previously published material by other authors included in the dissertation must be properly documented.
Each student beyond the master’s degree should confer regularly with the Graduate Director regarding their progress toward the doctoral examination and the doctorate.
Doctoral students may take graduate courses outside the English Department if, in their opinion and that of the Graduate Director, acting on behalf of the Graduate Committee, those courses will be of value to them. Their taking such courses will not, of course, absolve them of the responsibility for meeting all the normal departmental and Graduate School requirements.
Doctoral students in creative writing are strongly encouraged to take formal literature classes in addition to forms classes. Formal literature classes, by providing training in literary analysis, theory, and/or literary history, will help to prepare students for doctoral exams (and future teaching at the college level).
- GTAs take 2 courses (801 + one), teach 2 courses; GRAs take 3 courses.
- Visit assigned advisor once a month to update on progress & perceptions. 1st-year advisors can assist with selecting classes for the Spring semester, solidifying and articulating a field of specialization, advice about publishing, conferences, professionalization issues, etc.
- GTAs take 2 courses (780/800/880 + one), teach 2 courses. GTAs also take ENGL 802 for 1 credit hour. GRAs take 3 courses.
- Visit assigned advisor or DGS once during the semester; discuss best advisor choices for Year 2.
- Enroll in Summer Institute if topic and/or methodology matches interests.
- Consider conferences suited to your field and schedule; choose a local one for attendance in Year 2 and draft an Abstract for a conference paper (preferably with ideas/materials/ writing drawn from a seminar paper). Even if abstract is not accepted, you can attend the conference without the pressure of presenting.
- Attend at least one conference to familiarize yourself with procedure, network with other grad students and scholars in your field, AND/OR present a paper.
- Take 2 courses, teach 2 courses.
- Visit advisor in person at least once during the semester.
- Begin revising one of your seminar papers/independent study projects/creative pieces for submission to a journal; research the journals most suited to placement of your piece.
- Begin thinking about fields and texts for comprehensive examinations.
- Choose an advisor to supervise you through the doctoral examination process.
- Visit assigned 1st-year advisor in person at least once during the semester (at least to formally request doctoral exam supervision OR to notify that you are changing advisors).
- Summer teaching, if eligible.
- Continue revising paper/creative writing for submission to a journal.
- Begin reading for comprehensive exams.
- Attend one conference and present a paper. Apply for one-time funding for out-of-state travel from Graduate Studies .
- Teach 2 courses; take 997 (exam prep).
- Finalize comps list by end of September; begin drafting rationales.
- Circulate the draft of your article/creative piece to your advisor, other faculty in the field, and/or advanced grad students in the field for suggestions.
- Revise article/creative piece with feedback from readers.
- Teach 2 courses; take 997 or 999 (dissertation hours). Enroll in 999 if you plan to take your comps this semester, even if you don’t take them until the last day of classes.
- Take comps sometime between January and May.
- Summer teaching, if available.
- Submit article/creative work for publication.
- Continuous enrollment after completing doctoral exam (full policy on p. 20)
- Research deadlines for grant applications—note deadlines come early in the year.
- Attend one conference and present a paper.
- Teach 2 courses, take 999.
- Compose dissertation proposal by November.
- Schedule Review of Dissertation Proposal (RDP—formerly DPR).
- Apply for at least one grant or fellowship, such as a departmental-level GRAship or dissertation fellowship. (Winning a full-year, non-teaching fellowship can cut down your years-to-degree to 5 ½, or even 5 years.)
- Conduct research for and draft at least 1 dissertation chapter.
- Conduct research and complete a draft of at least 1 dissertation chapter.
- Revise & resubmit journal article, if necessary.
- Attend 1st round of job market meetings with Job Placement Advisor (JPA) to start drafting materials and thinking about the process.
- Research and complete a draft of at least 1 dissertation chapter, if teaching (1-2 chapters if not).
- Visit dissertation chair and committee members in person at least once during the semester.
- Research and complete a draft of at least 1 dissertation chapter (1-2 chapters if not teaching).
- Apply for a departmental grant or fellowship, or, if already held, try applying for one from outside the department, such as those offered by KU’s Hall Center for the Humanities or the Office of Graduate Studies. For a monthly list of funding opportunities , visit the Graduate Studies website.
- Research and complete a draft of at least 1 dissertation chapter.
- Attend job market meetings with JPA in earnest.
- Apply for external grants, research fellowships, postdoctoral positions with fall deadlines (previous fellowship applications, your dissertation proposal, and subsequent writing should provide a frame so that much of the application can be filled out with the “cut & paste” function).
- Research and complete a draft of at least 1 dissertation chapter (1-2 if not teaching).
- Visit dissertation chair and committee members in person at least once during the semester.
- Polish dissertation chapters.
- Apply for grants and fellowships with spring deadlines.
- Defend dissertation.
Creative Writing Faculty
- Director of Undergraduate Studies
- Associate Professor
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The NYU Creative Writing Program
is among the most distinguished programs in the country and is a leading national center for the study of writing and literature.
The graduate Creative Writing Program at NYU consists of a community of writers working together in a setting that is both challenging and supportive.
Low Residency MFA Workshop in Paris
The low-residency MFA Writers Workshop offers students the opportunity to develop their craft in one of the world's most inspiring literary capitals.
The undergraduate program offers workshops, readings, internships, writing prizes, and events designed to cultivate and inspire.
Spring 2022 Reading Series
The lively public Reading Series hosts a wide array of writers, translators, and editors, and connects our program to the local community.
Creative Writing Program
Low-residency mfa writers workshop in paris, undergraduate, washington square review, literary journal, a sample residency calendar, write in paris, scholarships and grant opportunities, program of study, dates and deadlines, creative writing, recent highlights from the mfa community.
• Alumni Tess Gunty and John Keene each won a 2022 National Book Award in fiction and poetry , respectively
• Books by faculty members Sharon Olds and Meghan O'Rourke; and alums Tess Gunty, John Keene , and Jenny Xie were named finalists for the 2022 National Book Awards; books by alum Rio Cortez and faculty member Leigh Newman were also longlisted
• Alum Ada Limón has been named the nation's 24th Poet Laureate by the Library of Congress
• Alum Amanda Larson 's debut poetry collection GUT was selected by Mark Bibbins as the winner of the Poetry Society of America Norma Farber Book Award
• Alum Sasha Burshteyn was named a 2022 winner of the 92Y Discovery Prize. Alums Jenna Lanzaro and JinJin Xu were also named semi-finalists for the prize.
• Alum Clare Sestanovich was selected as a 2022 5 under 35 Honoree by the National Book Foundation
• Alum Maaza Mengiste was awarded a 2022 Guggenheim Fellowship
• Visiting graduate faculty member Brandon Taylor 's collection Filthy Animals was named a 2021/22 finalist for The Story Prize and was shortlisted for the 2022 Dylan Thomas Prize
• Alum Raven Leilani won the 2021 Clark Fiction Prize, Dylan Thomas prize, the 2020 Kirkus Prize for Fiction and the Center for Fiction 2020 First Novel Prize for her debut novel Luster, and was named a finalist for the 2021 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, the Gotham Book Prize, the 2021 PEN/Hemmingway Award for Debut Novel, the 2021 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award
• Alum Desiree C. Bailey 's debut poetry collection What Noise Against the Cane was longlisted for the 2022 Dylan Thomas Prize and was also named a finalist for the 2021 National Book Award in Poetry and the 2022 Kate Tufts Discovery Award, and was published as the winner of the 2020 Yale Series of Younger Poets
• Senior faculty member Sharon Olds was named the 2022 recipient of the Poetry Society of America's Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry
You can read more MFA Community news here and find a list of forthcoming and recently published books by alumni here . NYU CWP alumni include Aria Aber, Amir Ahmadi Arian, Julie Buntin, Nick Flynn, Nell Freudenberger, Aracelis Girmay, Isabella Hammad, Ishion Hutchinson, Mitchell S. Jackson, Tyehimba Jess, John Keene, Raven Leilani, Robin Coste Lewis, Ada Limón, Melissa Lozada-Oliva, Maaza Mengiste, John Murillo, Gregory Pardlo, Morgan Parker, Nicole Sealey, Solmaz Sharif, Peng Shepherd, Ocean Vuong, Jenny Xie, and Javier Zamora.
Ocean Vuong joins the NYU Creative Writing Program Faculty
Mary Gabriel, Author of “Ninth Street Women”, Receives the NYU/Axinn Foundation Prize
Claudia Rankine joins the NYU Creative Writing Program Faculty
Classic podcasts from the lillian vernon reading series.
Zadie Smith and Jeffrey Eugenides
Where to find us.
Sharon Olds is a previous director of the Creative Writing Program. Her 2012 collection Stags Leap was awarded the T.S. Eliot Prize and a Pulitzer.
Foer was listed in Rolling Stone's "People of the Year," Esquire's "Best and Brightest," and The New Yorker's "20 Under 40" list.
Ocean Vuong is the author of the bestselling novel, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous and the poetry collection, Night Sky with Exit Wounds.
Jeffrey Eugenides is the author of acclaimed novels The Virgin Suicides, Middlesex, and The Marriage Plot. His latest collection is Fresh Complaint.
Katie Kitamura’s most recent novel Intimacies was longlisted for the National Book Award and named a Best Book of 2021 by numerous publications.
Terrance Hayes’s most recent publications include American Sonnets for My Past And Future Assassin and To Float In The Space Between.
Darin Strauss is the author of several acclaimed novels, including the most recent The Queen of Tuesday: A Lucille Ball Story.
Claudia Rankine is a recipient of the 2016 MacArthur Fellowship, and the author of six collections including Citizen and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely.
Hari Kunzru is the author of six novels, including the most recent Red Pill, and White Tears, a finalist for the PEN Jean Stein Award.
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Navigate ohio, connect with us, creative writing graduate programs.
About the Program and Placement Record
- Faculty Research Areas
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Creative Writing M.A.
- Admission Requirements
- Degree and Graduation Requirements
- Master's Essay
- Master's Thesis
Creative Writing Ph.D.
- Doctoral Dissertation
- Foreign Language Requirement
- Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination
One of the first universities in the country to offer a Ph.D. in Creative Writing, Ohio University continues as home to a thriving, widely respected graduate program with concentrations in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.
Small by design, our graduate program offers a comprehensive curriculum, an award-winning faculty and the intimacy of small classes.
Over the past three years, seven of our nine graduating creative writing Ph.D. students have landed tenure-track jobs, post-doctorates, or prestigious visiting writer posts. Our MA graduates go on to study in the top MFA and Ph.D. programs.
- English M.A. Placements
- English Ph.D. Placements
Students in the Creative Writing M.A. and Ph.D. programs enjoy:
- Graduate stipends, up to $15,000 per year, with opportunities to teach a wide range of courses, including creative writing workshops
- Generous graduate student travel funding
- Editorial fellowships on New Ohio Review , Quarter after Eight , and Brevity
- Opportunities to interact with distinguished visiting writers
M.A. candidates complete two years of study and write a thesis of creative work in their genre. Doctoral candidates complete five years of study, comprehensive exams, a major critical essay, and a creative dissertation.
The department and its students publish three literary journals:
- New Ohio Review , a national literary journal
- Quarter After Eight , a prose journal edited by graduate students
- Sphere , an undergraduate journal
The department hosts several annual events including an ambitious Spring Literary Festival that brings five nationally distinguished writers to campus for three-days of readings, craft talks, and student discussion. Recent visitors have included Tony Hoagland, Kathryn Harrison, Barry Lopez, Francine Prose, Peter Ho Davies, Kim Addonizio, David Shields, Robert Hass, Charles Simic, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Marilynne Robinson.
Visiting writers engage with our program year-round as well, appearing in both undergraduate and graduate classes, meeting one-on-one with select students, and offering evening readings in the intimate Galbreath Chapel.
In addition to a regular Dogwood Bloom reading series for our graduate students, the creative writing program hosts an annual Writers' Harvest benefit reading for the Southeastern Ohio Food Bank?s Second Harvest, a food distribution program serving Athens, Hocking, Perry, Vinton, Jackson, Gallia, Meigs, Morgan and Washington counties.
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Graduate creative writing.
The Department of English offers an M.A. and Ph.D. specialization in creative writing. Students accepted into the program can take creative writing workshops along with courses in literary studies and composition and rhetoric. The M.A. thesis consists of creative activity and scholarship; Ph.D. students complete a dissertation that includes a book-length work of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction, and a scholarly component.
Creative Writing Program Genres
Every year, the Creative Writing Program accepts applications to the M.A. or Ph.D. programs only in a specific genre. Admissions in "poetry" or "fiction/nonfiction" alternate in each subsequent year.
Fall 2023 Admissions
Fiction / Nonfiction
Fall 2024 Admissions
Alumni of the Creative Writing Program have gone on to shape and influence the national literary voice, their work reviewed everywhere from the New York Times to People magazine , the Wall Street Journal to Vogue , the Washington Post to Vanity Fair . They’ve published their work in Harper’s , the Guardian , the Nation , the New York Times , and the New Yorker . They’ve received recognition from the Pulitzer Prize, the National Endowment for the Arts, National Public Radio, The Today Show, Best American Essays, Best American Poetry, and Best American Stories, among others.
In 2017 alone, our alumni published more than three dozen books. Among recent successes:
This short-story collection by Roxane Gay (who received her M.A. in creative writing from UNL in 2004) was #1 on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list; her New York Times bestselling memoir, HUNGER, was also released in 2017.
The latest young adult novel by Rainbow Rowell (who studied creative writing as an undergraduate at UNL in the 1990s) was a #1 New York Times bestseller; Rowell is also the author of the YA classic, Eleanor & Park (also a #1 New York Times bestseller), and Fangirl , set partly in a creative writing class at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
The film adaptation of emily m. danforth ’s debut novel, The Miseducation of Cameron Post , won the 2018 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize (the event’s top honor). Danforth received her Ph.D. with an emphasis in creative writing from UNL in 2010.
This is just a taste of the fantastic writing and editing by our alumni and students. To learn more about our alumni’s accomplishments, visit our alumni page or browse our galleries of books by alumni and students .
English graduate students have the opportunity to work closely with a devoted and accomplished faculty. Among the awards won by the Creative Writing faculty and their literary works: the Pulitzer Prize; Guggenheim fellowship; National Endowment for the Arts fellowships; PEN America prizes; International Latino Book Award; and the NAACP Image Award. Books by faculty have also been recognized and spotlighted by: the Man Booker Prize; the Oprah 2.0 Book Club; Barnes and Noble Discover series; and the New York Times Notable Books of the Year.
Information for Current Graduate Students
Most of the information you’ll need is available in the English M.A. and Ph.D. handbooks , which include the specifics of supervisory committees, thesis/dissertation readers, field and focus lists, comprehensive exams, thesis/dissertation defense, teaching assignments, etc.
Master’s and Ph.D. students must remain aware of deadlines and timelines for completion of the program. This involves forms that need to be completed, and signed by faculty, throughout the program of studies. When you are in your last year/semester of your program, you’ll want to be especially alert to dates, and to the intricacies and demands of required forms.
A number of online resources can help you keep to deadlines and provide links to necessary forms. These include the following very useful pages of the Graduate Studies and English websites:
Degree Planning for M.A. Students
Degree Planning for Ph.D. Students
Creative Thesis and Dissertation
For m.a. students:.
Creative Writing Thesis. As early as possible in her or his program, but by the end of the second semester of study, the student chooses 3 graduate faculty members for the thesis committee (they need not all be members of the Creative Writing faculty) and then files the CW Thesis Committee Form with the English Graduate Office. The Thesis Committee will guide the student as to the format of the thesis, but a creative thesis will generally be based on an original work of substantive creative activity by the student: a collection of poetry, a collection of short stories, a novel, a novella, a creative nonfiction project, or a mixed-genre collection.
The M.A. thesis in Creative Writing will be based on a minimum number of pages (40 for poetry, 75 for prose), but these pages will not be submitted as the thesis. The thesis, therefore, will consist of:
- a critical introduction of literary influences and thematic and formal issues of craft the student addressed in her or his writing
- an introduction to the work
- a sample of the creative activity
The advisor will assist the student in selecting the prose or poetry for the sample. The Department of English requires that members of thesis committees have adequate time to read and offer suggestions on the final draft of any thesis. Therefore, the final draft of the thesis must be given to committee members at least one month before the deadline for approval of the manuscript.
For Ph.D. students:
Creative Dissertation. The dissertation is based on the student’s own book-length creative work completed while in the graduate program in consultation with a Supervisory Committee. The creative work, when completed, is submitted to the committee but does not serve as the dissertation.
The dissertation consists of:
- a critical introduction that is in response to, and support of, the creative activity
- a description of the project overall
- a sample of the creative work
The Creative Writing Program
About the cwp.
The PhD in English Literature with Creative Dissertation at the University of Georgia is for writers who wish to advance their expertise and sophistication as scholars. Our students are accomplished poets, fiction writers, essayists, translators, and interdisciplinary artists who are ready to move beyond the studio focus of the MFA to a more intensive program of literary study. Over the course of the five-year program our students develop research specialties that complement their writing practice and prepare them professionally for a teaching career at the university or college level.
Our creative writing faculty are nationally and internationally recognized writers and translators with academic specializations in a variety of literary and theoretical fields, including Genre Theory, Poetics, Global Literature, Native American Literature, African American Literature, Postcolonial Literature, and Translation Studies. Our program fosters serious conversations among our students about aesthetics and criticism, experience and culture, and politics and history—not only in the classroom but through public readings and lectures. Our faculty and students play an active role in the cultural life of Athens, both as artists and organizers.
During the first two years of study our Ph.D. candidates select from course offerings in the English Department, seminars that signal both our faculty’s recognition of intellectual and disciplinary change and our abiding commitment to traditional literary history. Each student takes at least one Creative Writing course a year in addition to courses in various literary specialties. A list of our department’s recent graduate course offerings can be found here . Prior to beginning their third year, students prepare reading lists for comprehensive exams in three academic research fields of their choosing. Every CWP student chooses “Forms and Craft” as one of their exam areas. This reading list serves as a research field unique to each writer’s approach to their particular genre. Some of the “Forms and Craft” lists designed recently by CWP students include, “The Midwestern Novel”; “Occult and Visionary Poetics”; “History of Surrealism”; “Monstrosity in Epic Poetry”; and “Literary Translation: Theory and Practice.” The two other exam fields should complement and expand the student’s areas of expertise beyond craft in order to broaden their historical and theoretical understanding of literature. In recent years, CWP students have elected to take exams in fields such as, “A Global History of the Novel,” ”Modernism and the Historical Avant-Garde,” “Aesthetic Theory,” ”African American Literature,” “Latinx Literature,” “Ecopoetics,” “The Southern Novel,” “Lyric Theory,” and “Science Fiction.”
Typically the exam committee is headed by a member of the creative writing faculty and two other professors from the department at large, experts in the respective exam areas. During the third year students read in preparation for written and oral exams. Each written exam takes the form of a twenty-page written exhibit in which the student answers a directive question formulated in conjunction with the exam area’s director. This exhibit should demonstrate the student’s grasp of the field as a whole and serves as a demonstration of their ability to teach in this area at the undergraduate level. Once the student has passed written exams, they are admitted to an oral exam overseen by the exam committee as a whole. Once the student passes both oral and written exams, they are admitted officially to candidacy for the PhD and begin working on their dissertation.
During their fourth and fifth years CWP students complete a creative dissertation with a critical introduction. The dissertation typically is a full-length work in a single genre—a work of fiction, creative non-fiction, or poetry. The introduction is the author’s scholarly address to their audience. In the past students have used the introduction as a scholarly analysis of the state of the genre, a critical meditation on process informed by literary history, or a theoretical tracing of literary influence.
Creative Writing Program Director
Aruni Kashyap [email protected]
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The top fifteen creative writing doctoral programs in the United States, from the University of Denver in Colorado to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Tags: PhD programs MFA Nation by Staff Special Section September/October 2011 9.1.11
The PhD in Creative Writing and Literature is a four-year course of study. Following two years of course work that includes workshop, forms classes, pedagogical training, literature, and theory, students take exams in two areas, one which examines texts through the lens of craft and another which examines them through the lens of literary ...
A rigorous program that combines creative writing and literary studies, the Ph.D. in Creative Writing prepares graduates for both scholarly and creative publication and teaching. With faculty guidance, students admitted to the Ph.D. program may tailor their programs to their goals and interests.
University of Houston, PhD in Creative Writing and Literature (Houston, Texas): Through the Department of English the Creative Writing Program offers teaching assistantships to Ph.D. students. Ph.D. students can receive a teaching assistantship for 5 years. Starting salary for a PhDs is $20,104/9 months.
The graduate Creative Writing Program at NYU consists of a community of writers working together in a setting that is both challenging and supportive. Learn More Low Residency MFA Workshop in Paris The low-residency MFA Writers Workshop offers students the opportunity to develop their craft in one of …
Students in the Creative Writing M.A. and Ph.D. programs enjoy: Graduate stipends, up to $15,000 per year, with opportunities to teach a wide range of courses, including creative writing workshops Generous graduate student travel funding Editorial fellowships on New Ohio Review, Quarter after Eight, and Brevity
Our PhD is a theoretical doctorate: an experience that builds creative thinking alongside critical reading and research. Writers go on to publish novels, poetry collections and critical literary works. They hold tenure track positions at notable universities, edit long-standing journals and are represented by major presses. Our Program Offers:
The PhD in Literature and Creative Writing constitutes solid preparation for creative publication, scholarly publication, and expert undergraduate and graduate teaching. Minimum Requirements for Admission. MA in English or MFA in Creative Writing; 3.5 GPA in graduate studies
The Department of English offers an M.A. and Ph.D. specialization in creative writing. Students accepted into the program can take creative writing workshops along with courses in literary studies and composition and rhetoric. The M.A. thesis consists of creative activity and scholarship; Ph.D. students complete a dissertation that includes a ...
The Creative Writing Program | Department of English The Creative Writing Program ABOUT The CWP The PhD in English Literature with Creative Dissertation at the University of Georgia is for writers who wish to advance their expertise and sophistication as scholars.