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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.

Department Resources

  • Graduate Admissions
  • Graduate Contacts
  • Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)

Affiliated Programs

  • LandLocked Literary Magazine
  • The Project on the History of Black Writing
  • Center for the Study of Science Fiction
  • Ad-Hoc African/Americanists and Affiliates

Degree Requirements

  • 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).

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

Reading Lists: 

All students are required to submit three reading lists, based on the requirements below, to their committee for approval. The doctoral exam will be held on a date at least twelve weeks after the approval from the whole committee is received. To facilitate quick committee approval, students may copy the graduate program coordinator 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. Students should work with their committee chair and graduate program coordinator to schedule the exam at the same time as they finalize the lists.

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 3 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 2 of the 4 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.

Reading Lists

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. While the exam schedule is always contingent on student progress, in the first two weeks of the semester in which they intend to take the review , students will work with their committee chair and the graduate program coordinator to schedule the 90-minute RDP. 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 Program Coordinator. 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 four members—two “core” English faculty members, a third 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. While the exam schedule is always contingent on student progress, in the first two weeks of the semester in which they intend to defend the dissertation, students should work with their committee chair and graduate program coordinator to schedule it.

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).

FALL SEMESTER            

  • 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

Darren Canady

  • Associate Professor

Megan Kaminski

  • Professor of English & Environmental Studies

Laura Moriarty

  • Assistant Professor

Graduate Student Handbook

College of Arts and Sciences » Academic Units » English » Creative Writing » Graduate Program » PhD in Creative Writing

PhD in Creative Writing

Program overview.

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 that examines texts through the lens of craft and another that examines them through the lens of literary history and theory. Recent examples of the genre area include Comic Fiction, History of the Love Lyric, and Fantasy; recent examples of the scholarly area include History of the Novel, 20th Century American Poetry, and Modern & Contemporary British Fiction. In the first two years, students take three courses per semester; the teaching load throughout the program is one class per semester. Every PhD student has the opportunity to teach creative writing, with many also teaching literature classes. Most students are funded by teaching, with two or three at a time funded by editorial work at  The Cincinnati Review or Acre Books, and others funded in their dissertation year by college- or university-level fellowships. Fifth-year support, while not guaranteed, has generally been available to interested students in the form of student lecturerships, which carry a 2-2 load. The Creative Writing PhD at the University of Cincinnati has maintained over the last decade more than a 75% placement rate into full-time academic jobs for its doctoral graduates. Two-thirds of these positions are tenure-track.

Application Information

  • Exam Areas and Committee
  • Doctoral Candidacy Form
  • Foreign Language
  • Exam Procedures
  • Dissertations
  • Applying for Fifth-Year Funding
  • Working for The Cincinnati Review
  • Teaching Opportunities
  • All Creative Writing Graduate Courses
  • Archive of Technique & Form Courses

Creative Writing Research PhD


Key information

The PhD in Creative Writing at King’s is a practice-led course, incorporating taught elements and aspects of professional development. It is designed to cater for talented, committed writers who are looking to complete a book-length creative work for publication and sustain a long-term career in writing.

Key Benefits

Our unique programme offers students:

  • a varied, structured framework for the development of their creative work, with regular feedback from experienced author-lecturers in the department through supervision and workshops
  • purposeful engagement with professionals from the publishing and performance industries throughout the course, building potential routes to publication
  • valuable teaching experience in creative writing at HE-level through our Graduate Teaching Assistantship scheme
  • practical experience in public engagement, through curating and chairing public literary events at King’s
  • a community of fellow writers and collaborative projects

English Department

We have over 100 doctoral students from all over the world working on a wide range of projects. Together with our community of postdoctoral fellows, our early career researchers both organise and participate in our thriving seminar and conference culture.

The English department is home to award-winning novelists, poets, essayists, biographers, non-fiction authors, and literary critics, who supervise creative projects at doctoral level within their specialisms.

Works by our staff have won or been shortlisted for a number of literary accolades, including: the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Forward Prize, the Man Booker Prize, the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year, the Costa First Novel Award, the Costa Poetry Award, the Somerset Maugham Award, the Commonwealth Book Prize, the Biographers’ Club / Slightly Foxed First Biography Prize, the U.S. National Book Critics Circle Award, the CWA Gold Dagger Award, the European Union Prize for Literature, the RSL Encore Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the E.M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Letters, le Prix du Roman Fnac, le Prix du Roman Etranger, the Kiriyama Prize, the Republic of Consciousness Prize, the Royal Society of Literature’s Encore Award, and the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. Many of the creative writing staff are Fellows of the Royal Society of Literature.

Their most recent publications are:

Benjamin Wood

The Young Accomplice (Penguin Viking, 2022) – fiction

A Station on the Path to Somewhere Better (Scribner, 2018) – fiction

Edmund Gordon

The Invention of Angela Carter (Chatto & Windus, 2016) – creative non-fiction

Loop of Jade (Chatto & Windus, 2015) – poetry

Anthony Joseph

Sonnets for Albert (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2022) – poetry

The Frequency of Magic (Peepal Tree Press, 2019) – fiction

Lara Feigel

The Group (John Murray Press, 2020) – fiction

Free Woman: Life, Liberation and Doris Lessing (Bloomsbury, 2018) – creative non-fiction

Homing: On Pigeons, Dwellings, and Why We Return (John Murray Press, 2019) – creative non-fiction

Daughters of the Labyrinth (Corsair, 2021) – fiction

Beethoven Variations: Poems on a Life (Chatto & Windus, 2020) – poetry

Emerald (Chatto & Windus, 2018) – poetry

Andrew O'Hagan

Mayflies (Faber & Faber, 2020) – fiction

The Secret Life: Three True Stories (Faber & Faber, 2017) – creative non-fiction

*may vary according to research leave and availability.

King's Alumni

The list of King’s alumni not only features many acclaimed contemporary authors—Michael Morpurgo, Alain de Botton, Hanif Kureishi, Marina Lewycka, Susan Hill, Lawrence Norfolk, Ross Raisin, Alexander Masters, Anita Brookner, and Helen Cresswell—it also includes major figures in literature, such as Maureen Duffy, Arthur C Clarke, Thomas Hardy, Christopher Isherwood, BS Johnson, John Keats, W. Somerset Maugham, and Virginia Woolf.

Course Detail

Our postgraduate writing students are given a supportive environment in which to enhance their technique, to explore the depths of their ideas, to sustain their creative motivation, and to prepare them for the demands of the writer’s life beyond the College.

At King's we know that writing well requires self-discipline and an ability to work productively in isolation; but we also appreciate that postgraduate writers thrive when they are part of a community of fellow authors, an environment of constructive criticism and shared endeavour.

That is why we offer our PhD students the guidance of knowledgeable and experienced practitioners. They will have frequent opportunities to interact and collaborate with peers and forge lasting connections within London’s writing industry.

Students will be expected to attend the quarterly Thesis Workshop, and also to take an active part in curating literary events at King’s, including the Poetry And… quarterly reading series. They will be invited to apply for positions teaching undergraduate creative writing modules as part of the Department’s Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) scheme.

After three years (full-time) or six years (part-time), students are expected to submit either:

  • a novel or short story collection
  • a poetry collection
  • a full-length work of creative non-fiction

In addition, they are also required to submit an essay (up to 15,000 words) that examines their practical approach to the conception, development, and revision of their project, and which explores how their creative work was informed by research (archival, book-based, or experiential).

  • How to apply
  • Fees or Funding

Many of our incoming students apply for AHRC funding via the London Arts and Humanities Partnership. Please see their website ( www.lahp.ac.uk ) for more detail of deadlines, application procedure and awards available. Also the ‘Student Funding’ section of the Prospectus will give you more information on other scholarships available from King’s.

UK Tuition Fees 2023/24

Full time tuition fees:

£5,820 per year (MPhil/PhD, Creative Writing)

Part time tuition fees:

£2,910 per year (MPhil/PhD, Creative Writing)

International Tuition Fees 2023/24

£22,900 per year (MPhil/PhD, Creative Writing)

£11,450 per year (MPhil/PhD, Creative Writing)

UK Tuition Fees 2024/25

£6,168 per year (MPhil/PhD, Creative Writing)

£3,084 per year (MPhil/PhD, Creative Writing)

International Tuition Fees 2024/25

£24,786 per year (MPhil/PhD, Creative Writing)

£12,393 per year (MPhil/PhD, Creative Writing)

These tuition fees may be subject to additional increases in subsequent years of study, in line with King’s terms and conditions.

  • Study environment

Base campus


Strand Campus

Located on the north bank of the River Thames, the Strand Campus houses King's College London's arts and sciences faculties.

PhD in Creative Writing students are taught through one-to-one sessions with an appointed supervisor in their chosen specialism (fiction, creative non-fiction, or poetry) as well as through quarterly thesis workshops. They are also appointed a second supervisor whose role is to offer an additional perspective on the work being produced.

We place great emphasis on pastoral care and are a friendly and welcoming department in the heart of London. Our home in the Virginia Woolf Building offers many spaces for postgraduate students to work and socialise. Studying in London means students have access to a huge range of libraries from the Maughan Library at King’s to the Senate House Library at the University of London and the British Library.

Our PhD Creative Writing students are taught exclusively by practicing, published writers of international reputation. These include:

Benjamin Wood (Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing)

Supervises projects in fiction.

Edmund Gordon (Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing)

Supervises projects in fiction and creative non-fiction.

Sarah Howe (Lecturer in Poetry)

Supervises projects in poetry.

Anthony Joseph (Lecturer in Creative Writing)

Supervises projects in poetry and fiction.

Jon Day (Senior Lecturer in English)

Supervises projects in creative non-fiction and fiction

Lara Feigel (Professor of Modern Literature)

Supervises projects in creative non-fiction and fiction.

Ruth Padel (Professor Emerita of Poetry)

Andrew O’Hagan (Visiting Professor)

*Teaching staff may vary according to research leave and availability.

Our programme also incorporates the following taught components:

Thesis Workshop

A termly writing seminar for the discussion and appraisal of works-in-progress. These are taught on a rotational basis by all members of the creative writing staff, so that students get the benefit of hearing a range of voices and opinions on their work throughout the course.

The Writing Life

A suite of exclusive guest talks and masterclasses from leading authors, publishers, and editors, in which students receive guidance from people working at the top level of the writing industry and learn about the various demands of maintaining a career as a writer.

Recent speakers have included Amit Chaudhuri, Chris Power, Rebecca Watson, Mendez, Frances Leviston, Joanna Biggs, Joe Dunthorne, Francesca Wade, Kishani Widyaratna, Jacques Testard and Leo Robson.

Other elements of professional development are included in the degree:


Candidates in fiction or creative-nonfiction will meet and discuss their work in one-to-one sessions with invited literary agents, who are appointed to yearly residencies. These sessions offer writers a different overview of the development of their project: not solely from the standpoint of authorial technique, but with a view towards the positioning of their writing within a competitive and selective industry. Poetry candidates will meet and discuss their work with invited editors from internationally recognised poetry journals and presses.

Undergraduate Teaching

Through our Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) training scheme, our PhD students can apply to lead undergraduate creative writing workshops in fiction, creative non-fiction, and/or poetry, enabling them to acquire valuable HE-level teaching experience that will benefit them long after graduation.

Reading Series

Our students are required to participate in the curation of literary events at King’s. They are also responsible for curating Poetry And… , a quarterly reading in which leading poets illuminate the powerful connections between poetry and other disciplines. Students will develop skills in public engagement by chairing discussions and may also perform excerpts of their own writing.

Postgraduate Training

There is a range of induction events and training provided for students by the Centre for Doctoral Studies, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and the English Department. A significant number of our students are AHRC-funded through the London Arts and Humanities Partnership (LAHP) which also provides doctoral training to all students. All students take the ‘Doctoral Seminar’ in their first year. This is a series of informal, staff-led seminars on research skills in which students can share and gain feedback on their own work. We run a series of ‘Skills Lunches’, which are informal lunch meetings with staff, covering specific topics, including Upgrading, Attending Conferences, Applying for Funding and Post-Doctoral Awards, etc. Topics for these sessions are generally suggested by the students themselves, so are particularly responsive to student needs. We have an Early Career Staff Mentor who runs more formal workshops of varying kinds, particularly connected to career development and the professions.

Through our Graduate Teaching Assistantship Scheme, doctoral students can apply to teach in the department (usually in their second year of study) and are trained and supported as they do so.

  • Entry requirements

what is creative writing phd

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Department of English and Related Literature

PhD in English with Creative Writing

Join a thriving community of researchers to develop a substantial research project alongside an original piece of creative writing.

Join a passionate and intellectual research community to explore literature across all periods and genres.

Your research

Our PhD in English with Creative Writing encourages distinctive approaches to practice-based literary research. This route allows you to develop a substantial research project, which incorporates an original work of creative writing (in prose, poetry, or other forms). As part of a thriving community of postgraduate researchers and writers, you'll be supported by world-leading experts with a wide range of global and historical specialisms, and given access to unique resources including our   letterpress printing studio  and   Writer in Residence.

Under the guidance of your supervisor, you will complete a critical research component of 30-40,000 words and a creative component written to its natural length (eg a book-length work of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction). A typical semester will involve a great deal of independent research, punctuated by meetings with your supervisor who will be able to suggest direction and address concerns throughout the writing process. You will be encouraged to undertake periods of research at archives and potentially internationally, depending on your research.

Throughout your degree, you will have the opportunity to attend a wide range of research training sessions in order to learn archival and research skills, as well as a range of research and creative seminars organised by the research schools and our distinguished Writers at York series. This brings speakers from around the world for research talks, author conversations, and networking.

Applicants for the PhD in English with Creative Writing should submit a research proposal for their overall research project, along with samples of creative and critical writing, demonstrating a suitable ability in each, as part of the application. Proposals should include plans for a critical research component of 30-40,000 words and a creative component written to its natural length (eg a book-length work of poetry, fiction or creative nonfiction), while demonstrating a clear relationship between the two.

Students embarking on a PhD programme are initially enrolled provisionally for this qualification until they pass their progression review at the end of their first full year of study. 

[email protected] +44 (0) 1904 323366

Related links

  • How to apply
  • Research degree funding
  • Accommodation
  • International students
  • Life at York

You also have the option of enrolling in a PhD in English with Creative Writing by distance learning, where you will have the flexibility to work from anywhere in the world. You will attend the Research Training Programme online in your first year and have supervision and progression meetings online.

You must attend a five-day induction programme in York at the beginning of your first year. You will also visit York in your second and third years (every other year for part-time students).

Apply for PhD in English with Creative Writing (distance learning)

World-leading research

We're a top ten research department according to the Times Higher Education’s ranking of the latest REF results (2021).

35th in the world

for English Language and Literature in the QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2023.

Committed to equality

We're proud to hold an Athena Swan Bronze award in recognition of the work we do to support gender equality in English.

Writers at York series

We host a series of hugely successful seminars, open to everyone, where a stellar cast of world-famous contemporary writers deliver readings and workshops.

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Explore funding for postgraduate researchers in the Department of English and Related Literature.

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Explore the expertise of our staff and identify a potential supervisor.

Research student training

You'll receive training in research methods and skills appropriate to the stage you've reached and the nature of your work. In addition to regular supervisory meetings to discuss planning, researching and writing the thesis, we offer sessions on bibliographic and archival resources (digital, print and manuscript). You'll receive guidance in applying to and presenting at professional conferences, preparing and submitting material for publication and applying for jobs. We meet other training needs in handling research data, various modern languages, palaeography and bibliography. Classical and medieval Latin are also available.

We offer training in teaching skills if you wish to pursue teaching posts following your degree. This includes sessions on the delivery and content of seminars and workshops to undergraduates, a structured shadowing programme, teaching inductions and comprehensive guidance and resources for our graduate teaching assistants. Our teacher training is directed by a dedicated member of staff.

You'll also benefit from the rich array of research and training sessions at the Humanities Research Centre .

what is creative writing phd

Course location

This course is run by the Department of English and Related Literature.

You'll be based on  Campus West , though your research may take you further afield.

We also have a distance learning option available for this course.

Entry requirements

For doctoral research, you should hold or be predicted to achieve a first-class or high upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualification) and a Masters degree with distinction. 

The undergraduate and Masters degrees should be in literature and/or creative writing, or in a related subject that is related to the proposed research project. 

Other relevant experience and expertise may also be considered:

  • Evidence of training in research techniques may be an advantage.
  • It would be expected that postgraduate applicants would be familiar with the recent published work of their proposed supervisor.
  • Publications are not required and the Department of English and Related Literature does not expect applicants to have been published before they start their research degrees.

Supervisors interview you to ensure a good supervisory match and to help with funding applications.

The core deciding factor for admission is the quality of the research proposal, though your whole academic profile will be taken into account. We are committed to ensuring that no prospective or existing student is treated less favourably. See our  admissions policy  for more information.

Apply for the PhD in English with Creative Writing

Have a look at the supporting documents you may need for your application.

Before applying, we advise you to identify potential supervisors in the department. Preliminary enquiries are welcomed and should be made as early as possible. However, a scattershot approach – emailing all staff members regardless of the relationship between their research interests and yours – is unlikely to produce positive results. 

If it's not clear which member of staff is appropriate, you should email the   Graduate Chair .

Students embarking on a PhD programme are initially enrolled provisionally for that qualification. Confirmation of PhD registration is dependent upon the submission of a satisfactory proposal that meets the standards required for the degree, usually in the second year of study.

Find out more about how to apply .

English language requirements

You'll need to provide evidence of your proficiency in English if it's not your first language.

Check your English language requirements

Research proposal

In order to apply for a PhD, we ask that you submit a research proposal as part of your application.

When making your application, you're advised to make your research proposals as specific and clear as possible. Please indicate the member(s) of staff that you'd wish to work with

You’ll need to provide a summary of between 250 and 350 words in length of your research proposal and a longer version of around 800 words (limit of 1000). The proposal for the MA in English (by research) should be 400–500 words.

Your research proposal should:

  • Identify the precise topic of your topic and communicate the main aim of your research.
  • Provide a rigorous and thorough description of your proposed research, including the contributions you will make to current scholarly conversations and debates. Creative Writing proposals should include plans for a critical research and a creative component.
  • Describe any previous work you have done in this area, with reference to relevant literature you have read so far.
  • Communicate the central sources that the project will address and engage.
  • Offer an outline of the argument’s main claims and contributions. Give a clear indication of the authors and texts that your project will address.
  • Include the academic factors, such as university facilities, libraries resources, centres, other resources, and / or staff, which have specifically led you to apply to York.

What we look for:

  • How you place your topic in conversation with the scholarly landscape: what has been accomplished and what you plan to achieve. This is your chance to show that you have a good understanding of the relevant work on your topic and that you have identified a new way or research question to approach the topic.
  • Your voice as a scholar and critical thinker. In clean, clear prose, show those who will assess your application how your proposal demonstrates your original thinking and the potential of your research.
  • Your fit with York, including the reasons for working with your supervisor and relevant research schools and centres.
  • Above all, remember that there isn’t one uniform way to structure and arrange your research proposal, and that your approach will necessarily reflect your chosen topic.

Careers and skills

  • You'll receive support in applying to and presenting at professional conferences, preparing and submitting material for publication and applying for jobs.
  • You'll benefit from training in handling research data, various modern languages, palaeography and bibliography. Classical and medieval Latin are also available. The   Humanities Research Centre   also offers a rich array of valuable training sessions.
  • We also offer training in teaching skills if you wish to pursue a teaching post following your degree. This includes sessions on the delivery and content of seminars and workshops to undergraduates, a structured shadowing programme, teaching inductions and comprehensive guidance and resources for our graduate teaching assistants.
  • You'll have the opportunity to further your training by taking courses accredited by Advance HE:   York Learning and Teaching Award (YLTA)   and the   York Professional and Academic Development scheme (YPAD) .

Find out more about careers

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Application deadline: December 1

The program provides dual emphasis in literature and creative writing, culminating in the dissertation, which combines critical analysis with creative originality. Roughly half of the dissertation is based on original research, that is to say, research contributing to knowledge which enriches or changes the field. Doctoral candidates not only read and write texts as finished products of scholarship in researching their creative work’s literary and historical milieu, but also consider the text as writers create it, then compose texts as writers, a process that goes to the source of the study of literature and of literature itself. This integration of literature and creative writing is reflected in the structure of the dissertation, which introduces the creative work within a context of critical inquiry, bringing together the examination and embodiment of the literary act, a new model of scholarship and creative innovation.

PhD candidates in literature and creative writing must pass the same departmental screening examination taken by PhD candidates in Literature who are not working in the area of creative writing. The exam tests students in various areas of emphasis (British literature, American literature, poetry, prose, etc.) and literature and historical periods as a measure of their preparedness to undertake independent research.

The literature and creative writing student takes 64 units in all, 32 in literature, 24 in creative writing workshops and seminars and 8 units of dissertation studies credits.

Admission Requirements

Requirements for admission to study in the department of English include: scores satisfactory to the department in both the verbal and quantitative General Test and the literature Subject Test of the Graduate Record Examinations; evidence of experience and ability in creative writing, as demonstrated by a creative writing sample; evidence of competence in writing English and interpreting English literature, as demonstrated by a sample of written work by the applicant on literary subjects; a satisfactory written statement by the applicant of aims and interests in graduate work; letters of recommendation from at least three college instructors; and grades satisfactory to the department earned by the applicant at other institutions. This program will accept applicants with BA degrees or transfer students with an MA or MFA in creative writing.

Degree Requirements

These degrees are under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. Refer to the Graduate School    section of this catalogue for general regulations. All courses applied toward the degrees must be courses accepted by the Graduate School.

Graduate Curriculum and Unit Requirements

The graduate curriculum is divided into 500-level foundation courses and 600-level advanced courses. The 500-level courses offer fundamental work in theory and in the history of British and American literatures and cultures. The 600-level courses feature advanced studies in theory, creative writing seminars and workshops and special topics. Although students will normally take 500-level courses leading up to the screening procedure (see Screening Procedure) and 600-level courses thereafter, students after consultation with their advisers may be permitted to take 600-level courses in the first semester of their graduate training.

The student’s course work must total at least 64 units. No more than eight units of 794 Doctoral Dissertation and no more than four units of 790 Research may count toward the 64 units. A maximum of 12 transfer units, approved by the graduate director, is allowed toward the 64 units minimum required by the PhD (See Transfer of Course Work .)

The student will be assigned a faculty mentor in his or her first semester in the graduate program and will be encouraged in subsequent semesters to begin putting together an informal qualifying exam committee. The makeup of the qualifying exam committee may change as the interests of the student change. The faculty mentor and informal qualifying exam committee will assist the student in planning a program of study appropriate to the student’s interests leading to the screening procedure.

Screening Procedure

At the end of the student’s fourth semester (second semester for students who enter with an MA or MFA degree or near equivalent), the student will sit for a departmental examination, which is part of a comprehensive screening procedure. Rarely, and only with the approval of the graduate director and the graduate committee, will a student be allowed to postpone the departmental examination and the screening procedure, and then only for one year. Prior to the screening procedure, the student will be allowed to take a maximum of four units of independent study ( ENGL 590   ), and that independent study will normally be used to prepare for the departmental examination; all other units must be in the 500- or 600-level seminar.

Qualifying Exam Committee

Immediately following successful completion of the screening procedure, the student will nominate formally a five-member qualifying exam committee, including a chair and three other members from the English Department who are in the student’s areas of interest and an outside member from another PhD-granting department. The committee must be in place and approved by the Graduate School at the time the student chooses a dissertation topic, writes the dissertation prospectus and schedules a qualifying examination.

Qualifying Examination

Following completion of course work, the student must sit for a qualifying examination, at a time mutually agreed upon by the student and the qualifying exam committee.

This is a field examination given in the subject of the student’s proposed dissertation research. No less than one month before the qualifying examination, the student will submit to the qualifying exam committee a dissertation prospectus. The prospectus, it is understood, will not be a polished dissertation proposal, but at a minimum it should display a strong knowledge of the subject, much of the relevant secondary material and other contexts crucial to the writing of the dissertation, and should present a workable plan of attack as well as a reasonably sophisticated understanding of the theoretical assumptions involved in the subject.

The qualifying examination will consist of both written and oral portions with special emphasis areas in creative writing. It will focus on the dissertation area and its contexts with the specific format and content of the examination being negotiated among the student and all members of the examination committee. Upon successful completion of the qualifying examination the student proceeds to the writing of the doctoral dissertation.


The final stage of the program is the submission of a creative dissertation that makes an original, substantial and publishable contribution to creative literature: a book of poems, a novel, a collection of short stories.

Foreign Language

PhD students are required to demonstrate proficiency in at least one foreign language. This may be demonstrated by completing a course in the literature of that language at the 400 or 500 level (with a grade of B [3.0] or better) or by passing a foreign language exam that tests proficiency in reading comprehension and translation. PhD students may also be required to demonstrate proficiency in additional languages, as determined by the qualifying exam committee in view of the student’s proposed field of research.

  • Creative Writing Program
  • College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
  • Department of English
  • Academic Programs
  • Graduate Studies

PhD in Creative Writing and Literature

Department of English College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences 3687 Cullen Boulevard, Room 229 Houston, TX 77204-5008 713.743.3015

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Building on excellence in creative writing and a record of excellence in the student’s MA preparation in the broad range of English and American literature or MFA preparation in creative writing and literature, the PhD student in literature and creative writing should work toward increased sophistication as a writer/scholar.

The PhD in Creative Writing and Literature offers innovative, multidisciplinary curriculum; dedicated advising and mentorship from the English department’s dynamic faculty; and solid preparation for expert teaching in the university classroom. The Creative Writing and Literature PhD curriculum is comprised of professional development courses, courses in a curricular area stream, elective courses, and creative writing workshops. As part of their curricular plans, all English department PhD students must enroll in one of five curricular area streams:    

  • Critical Studies of the Americas  
  • Critical Poetics  
  • Empire Studies  
  • Translingual Studies  
  • Rhetoric, Composition, and Pedagogy (For RCP students only; these students will be automatically enrolled in this area stream.)  

Each area stream balances training in foundational disciplinary knowledge with opportunities for specialization that engender creative research and independent thinking. Area stream selections also support PhD students by providing dedicated faculty advising and an intellectual community of faculty mentors and graduate student colleagues.  The degree offers preparation for creative and scholarly publication and for success in a variety of arts and humanities professions.  

Minimum Requirements for Admission

  • MA in English or MFA in Creative Writing
  • 3.5 GPA in graduate studies
  • One foreign language (may be completed while in residence for the degree)

Application Deadline: January 15

Degree Requirements

6 hours Professional Development  

  • 3 hours Intro to Doctoral Studies  
  •  3 hours Master Workshop  

 12 hours Area Stream  

  •  Empire Studies  
  •  Critical Studies of the Americas  
  •  Translingual Studies  

12 hours Creative Writing Workshops  

  •  3 hours History of Poetry and Poetics OR Narrative and Narrative Theory  
  •  3 hours Writers on Literature  
  •  6 hours Major Genre Workshop**  

1 5  hours Elective Courses, each contributing to the student’s area of expertise. Students should select each of these courses in consultation with his/her faculty mentors.  

  • 3 hours Early Literature  (pre-1900)  
  • 3 hours Later Literature  (post-1900)  

If students have taken a course or courses (up to 9 hours) that meet requirements in their MA, the requirements will be waived, allowing students to take additional elective courses (but not reducing the total required hours toward the degree).     

  • 2 written exams (one major field; one sub-field)  
  • 1 oral exam   
  • Foreign Language (reading knowledge of two foreign languages or intensive knowledge of one foreign language)
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  • Dissertation

Application Materials

Consult the   UH   Graduate School   for detailed instructions on how to submit your application electronically. The English Department requires the following materials:

  • Online application   and application fee.
  • Three letters of recommendation from people who know your creative or academic work well. Letters will be solicited by the   UH   Admissions Office and submitted electronically.
  • Official academic transcripts (sealed in the issuing envelope) from every university or colleges you have attended. Official transcripts should be sent directly to the   UH   Graduate Admissions Office (University of Houston, Graduate Admissions, P.O. Box 3947, Houston, TX 77253-3947).
  • Copies of official transcripts with degrees posted, uploaded to online application.
  • Your Statement of Intent (1000 words, double-spaced). State why you wish to pursue graduate studies in creative writing; which writers in your genre you are reading and their importance to your work; and whether you have taught before and intend to pursue teaching as a career.
  • An original creative writing sample (10 pages for poetry, 20-25 pages for prose). Fiction and nonfiction manuscripts should be double-spaced, on numbered, single-sided pages; poetry may be single-spaced and formatted as desired. Note: submitting more than the recommended amount is strongly discouraged and could adversely affect the evaluation process.
  • A critical manuscript (no more than 20 pages), usually a scholarly paper written for a literature course.

General Policies and Procedures

Program Guidelines are   available here.   Additional university policies may be found in the Graduate Catalog.

A sample list of graduate courses is available  here . 

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Faculty of Arts UNB Fredericton

Back to English

PhD in English (Creative Writing)

The critical skills to teach literature and writing.

Application deadline: Dec. 1

The department boasts talented practitioners and instructors in all major genres of creative writing--fiction, poetry, playwriting and screenwriting--as well as expertise in non-fiction and travel writing.

The PhD is designed to give students the critical skills to teach literature and writing at the college or university levels and includes both academic and creative courses, a teaching mentorship program, comprehensive exams, and a dissertation of creative work that includes a 30 to 50-page critical introduction to the creative work.

Related: UNB English PhD students release new books

The culmination of the degree is the book-length thesis, which may be fiction (short fiction or a novel), poetry, a play, a screenplay or a work of creative non-fiction.

Our teaching apprenticeship program (English 6999) affords students a unique opportunity to work closely with a faculty mentor on all aspects of pedagogy, developing skills in lecturing, classroom discussion, marking and course and assignment design while teaching a first year course.

We have a full-year writer-in-residence, an extensive reading series, teaching assistantships and other ways to work directly on editing, including for The Fiddlehead, UNB's international journal of creative writing and Qwerty, a nationally distributed graduate student journal.

The department also offers workshops on grant and scholarship applications. Students work very closely with faculty members.


Students will normally undertake:

  • Two creative writing workshops in two different genres (6 ch)
  • Three academic one-term courses (9 ch)
  • English 6100: Research Methods (6 ch)
  • English 6999: Teaching apprenticeship course
  • Two comprehensive exams
  • Dissertation

The program is designed to be completed in four years.

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What to Know About Creative Writing Degrees

Many creative writing degree recipients pursue careers as authors while others work as copywriters or ghostwriters.

Tips on Creative Writing Degrees

A student sitting beside the bed in bedroom with her coffee cup and writing on the note pad.

Getty Images

Prospective writing students should think about their goals and figure out if a creative writing degree will help them achieve those goals.

Many people see something magical in a beautiful work of art, and artists of all kinds often take pride in their craftsmanship. Creative writers say they find fulfillment in the writing process.

"I believe that making art is a human need, and so to get to do that is amazing," says Andrea Lawlor, an author who this year received a Whiting Award – a national $50,000 prize that recognizes 10 excellent emerging authors each year – and who is also the Clara Willis Phillips Assistant Professor of English at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts.

"We all are seeing more and more of the way that writing can help us understand perspectives we don't share," says Lawlor, whose recent novel "Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl" addresses the issue of gender identity.

"Writing can help us cope with hard situations," Lawlor says. "We can find people who we have something in common with even if there's nobody around us who shares our experience through writing. It's a really powerful tool for connection and social change and understanding."

Creative writing faculty, many of whom are acclaimed published authors, say that people are well-suited toward degrees in creative writing if they are highly verbal and enjoy expressing themselves.

"Creative imaginative types who have stories burning inside them and who gravitate toward stories and language might want to pursue a degree in creative writing," Jessica Bane Robert, who teaches Introduction to Creative Writing at Clark University in Massachusetts, wrote in an email. "Through formal study you will hone your voice, gain confidence, find a support system for what can otherwise be a lonely endeavor."

Read the guide below to gain more insight into what it means to pursue a creative writing education, how writing impacts society and whether it is prudent to invest in a creative writing degree. Learn about the difference between degree-based and non-degree creative writing programs, how to craft a solid application to a top-notch creative writing program and how to figure out which program is the best fit.

Why Creative Writing Matters and Reasons to Study It

Creative writers say a common misconception about their job is that their work is frivolous and impractical, but they emphasize that creative writing is an extremely effective way to convey messages that are hard to share in any other way.

Kelly Caldwell, dean of faculty at Gotham Writers Workshop in New York City, says prospective writing students are often discouraged from taking writing courses because of concerns about whether a writing life is somehow unattainable or "unrealistic."

Although creative writers are sometimes unable to financially support themselves entirely on the basis of their creative projects, Caldwell says, they often juggle that work with other types of jobs and lead successful careers.

She says that many students in her introductory creative writing class were previously forbidden by parents to study creative writing. "You have to give yourself permission for the simple reason that you want to do it," she suggests.

Creative writing faculty acknowledge that a formal academic credential in creative writing is not needed in order to get writing published. However, they suggest, creative writing programs help aspiring authors develop their writing skills and allow space and time to complete long-term writing projects.

Working writers often juggle multiple projects at once and sometimes have more than one gig, which can make it difficult to finish an especially ambitious undertaking such as a novel, a play for the screen or stage, or a well-assembled collection of poems, short stories or essays. Grants and fellowships for authors are often designed to ensure that those authors can afford to concentrate on their writing.

Samuel Ace, a published poet and a visiting lecturer in poetry at Mount Holyoke, says his goal is to show students how to write in an authentic way that conveys real feeling. "It helps students to become more direct, not to bury their thoughts under a cascade of academic language, to be more forthright," he says.

Tips on Choosing Between a Non-Degree or Degree-Based Creative Writing Program

Experts note that someone needs to be ready to get immersed in the writing process and devote significant time to writing projects before pursuing a creative writing degree. Prospective writing students should not sign up for a degree program until they have reached that sense of preparedness, warns Kim Todd, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts and director of its creative writing program.

She says prospective writing students need to think about their personal goals and figure out if a creative writing degree will help them achieve those goals.

Aspiring writers who are not ready to invest in a creative writing degree program may want to sign up for a one-off writing class or begin participating in an informal writing workshop so they can test their level of interest in the field, Todd suggests.

How to Choose and Apply to a Creative Writing Program

In many cases, the most important component of an application to a writing program is the writing portfolio, writing program experts say. Prospective writing students need to think about which pieces of writing they include in their portfolio and need to be especially mindful about which item they put at the beginning of their portfolio. They should have a trusted mentor critique the portfolio before they submit it, experts suggest.

Because creative writing often involves self-expression, it is important for aspiring writing students to find a program where they feel comfortable expressing their true identity.

This is particularly pertinent to aspiring authors who are members of minority groups, including people of color or LGBTQ individuals, says Lawlor, who identifies as queer, transgender and nonbinary.

How to Use a Creative Writing Degree

Creative writing program professors and alumni say creative writing programs cultivate a variety of in-demand skills, including the ability to communicate effectively.

"While yes, many creative writers are idealists and dreamers, these are also typically highly flexible and competent people with a range of personal strengths. And a good creative writing program helps them understand their particular strengths and marketability and translate these for potential employers, alongside the more traditional craft development work," Melissa Ridley Elmes, an assistant professor of English at Lindenwood University in Missouri, wrote in an email.

Elmes – an author who writes poetry, fiction and nonfiction – says creative writing programs force students to develop personal discipline because they have to consistently produce a significant amount of writing. In addition, participating in writing workshops requires writing students "to give and receive constructive feedback," Elmes says.

Cindy Childress, who has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana—Lafayatte and did a creative writing dissertation where she submitted poetry, says creative writing grads are well-equipped for good-paying positions as advertising and marketing copywriters, speechwriters, grant writers and ghostwriters.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual compensation for writers and authors was $63,200 as of May 2019.

"I think the Internet, and writing communities online and in social media, have been very helpful for debunking the idea that if you publish a New York Times Bestseller you will have 'made it' and can quit your day job and write full time," Elmes explains. "Unless you are independently wealthy, the odds are very much against you in this regard."

Childress emphasizes that creative writing degree recipients have "skills that are absolutely transferable to the real world." For example, the same storytelling techniques that copywriters use to shape public perceptions about a commercial brand are often taught in introductory creative writing courses, she says. The ability to tell a good story does not necessarily come easily to people who haven't been trained on how to do it, she explains.

Childress says she was able to translate her creative writing education into a lucrative career and start her own ghostwriting and book editing company, where she earns a six-figure salary. She says her background in poetry taught her how to be pithy.

"Anything that we want to write nowadays, particularly for social media, is going to have to be immediately understood, so there is a sense of immediacy," she says."The language has to be crisp and direct and exact, and really those are exactly the same kind of ways you would describe a successful poem."

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Creative Writing PhD

  • Full-time: 48 months
  • Part-time: 96 months
  • Start date: October 2024 or February 2025
  • UK fees: £5,100
  • International fees: £21,500

Research overview

Nottingham is a fantastic place to study creative writing. From readings to workshops, to guest lectures, we have a wide range of literary and cultural activities on offer. Since 2015, we've also been a  UNESCO City of Literature , offering an annual programme of literary events.

You will join a friendly and supportive research community, which provides the opportunity to:

  • Meet established and emerging writers at our ‘ Off The Page ’ event series
  • Write for  Impact , the university magazine
  • Take part in the Nottingham Poetry Exchange ’s open-mic sessions, magazine, and reading group
  • Write or direct for Nottingham New Theatre
  • Join the Creative Writing Society: write for  Firefly  magazine, or share your podcasts and blogs
  • Get editing experience through  The Letters Page   online journal, working with award-winning writer Jon McGregor

You are also welcome to attend presentations, guest speaker events and reading groups, hosted by our interdisciplinary  Research Centres .

Hear from our students

Creative Writing PhD student, James Aitcheson, discusses doing a PhD as a published author.

Watch the video >

Course content

A PhD in Creative Writing is mainly made up of independent study, with supervision meetings spread throughout the year.

There are no taught credits attached to a PhD, although it is compulsory for full-time students to attend the Arts Faculty Researcher Skills training programme.

Some PhD students also choose to audit masters modules taught by their supervisors where appropriate, though this is not compulsory, nor does it involve any formal assessment.

Part-time students

Part-time students are expected to attend at least two face-to-face meetings in the School of English each year. Most supervision meetings can be held online (e.g. via Teams). Students are asked to attend the initial induction sessions during welcome week in-person if possible, and have their first supervision meeting face-to-face with their supervisory team.

Part-time students are required to take part in all required research training, which in many cases is available online, attend postgraduate seminars where possible, and one postgraduate researcher (PGR) symposium over the period of their registration. Wherever possible the final viva examination will be face-to-face. Students who cannot meet this requirement would need to request to transfer to remote study .

You will complete a written thesis of up to 100,000 words, with expert support and advice from your academic supervisor(s). You will also take a verbal examination called a viva voce, where you explain your project in depth to an examination panel.

A creative writing thesis will mainly consist of your own original creative work. This could be a novel, a manuscript of poems, a collection of short stories, a play, or another form of creative output. Your thesis will also include a critical analysis of your creative work, which you will situate within a theorised or analytical context.

A PhD thesis should not normally exceed 100,000 words in length. It is expected that the creative element would usually comprise 50,000-70,000 words. The critical analysis component will normally be 15,000-30,000 words in length.

What is the thesis pending period?

All periods of registration are followed by a period of writing-up, called the thesis-pending period, when tuition fees are not paid and students are writing up their thesis.

Find out more in the university's Quality Manual

Progression review

All PhD students take part in progression review assessments to ensure that their project is progressing satisfactorily. A progression review consists usually consists of written reports from both the student and the supervisory team.

All students have an independent assessment interview for their Stage 1 and Stage 2 reviews (end of years 1 and 2 for full-time students, years 2 and 4 for part-time students).

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2024 entry.

Meeting our English language requirements

If you need support to meet the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional English course. Presessional courses teach you academic skills in addition to English language. Our  Centre for English Language Education is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

If you successfully complete your presessional course to the required level, you can then progress to your degree course. This means that you won't need to retake IELTS or equivalent.

For on-campus presessional English courses, you must take IELTS for UKVI to meet visa regulations. For online presessional courses, see our CELE webpages for guidance.

Visa restrictions

International students must have valid UK immigration permissions for any courses or study period where teaching takes place in the UK. Student route visas can be issued for eligible students studying full-time courses. The University of Nottingham does not sponsor a student visa for students studying part-time courses. The Standard Visitor visa route is not appropriate in all cases. Please contact the university’s Visa and Immigration team if you need advice about your visa options.

We recognise that applicants have a variety of experiences and follow different pathways to postgraduate study.

We treat all applicants with alternative qualifications on an individual basis. We may also consider relevant work experience.

If you are unsure whether your qualifications or work experience are relevant, contact us .

You will be required to provide a PhD proposal with your application, which will set out the structure of your project.

The basis of a good proposal is usually a set of questions, approaches, and objectives which clearly outline your proposed project and what you want to accomplish. The proposal should also clearly demonstrate how you are going to accomplish this.

A PhD proposal should be a minimum of 1000 words. There is no upward limit for proposals, although successful proposals are often not much longer than about 2000-3000 words. You should consider:

  • The methodologies that you will use in your project (as appropriate)
  • The necessary resources and facilities you will need to carry out your project

It is also helpful to include:

  • A summary of any further research experience, in addition to your academic qualifications. This could include work undertaken at undergraduate or masters level, or outside the educational system
  • The name of the supervisor who may supervise the project (see the full list of supervision areas in the school )

Find out more about  how to write a research proposal.

You may find it helpful to get in touch with a member of academic staff about your research proposal before submitting an application. They may be able to help you with your proposal and offer support to find funding opportunities in your area.

Our step-by-step guide contains everything you need to know about applying for postgraduate research.

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you may be asked to complete a fee status questionnaire and your answers will be assessed using guidance issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) .

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

Additional costs

All students will need at least one device to approve security access requests via Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). We also recommend students have a suitable laptop to work both on and off-campus. For more information, please check the equipment advice .

You'll be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to buy your own copies of core texts. The Blackwell's bookshop on campus offers a year-round price match against any of the main retailers (i.e. Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith).

Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Programme

Midlands4Cities (M4C) PhD students benefit from a high quality package of:

  • enhanced support and training
  • expert supervision
  • excellent networking opportunities

You must apply for a place at Nottingham before submitting your M4C application.

There are many ways to fund your research degree, from scholarships to government loans.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Regular supervision

You will have a team of at least two supervisors. Full-time students will meet with their supervisory team at least 10 times each year (six times for part-time students).

Your supervisors will help you to realise your research project and to guide you through your research. Many students will also attend conferences and publish papers in conjunction with their supervisors, to gain valuable experience and contacts in the academic community.

Professional development

Research students in the School of English benefit from:

  • Opportunities to teach in the school and develop related skills
  • Student-led fortnightly research seminars and an annual symposium
  • Research networks created by the research centres and individual research projects
  • Research council-funded international research exchange visits with leading universities
  • Co-authorship with members of staff
  • Dedicated staff-postgraduate reading groups
  • Support for participation in international conferences and seminars

Postgraduate seminars and conference attendance

A fortnightly  seminar series  is run by and for the postgraduate students in the school during term time.

The seminars provide a forum for students to share work in progress with staff and peers, to hear from invited speakers, and to explore key academic and career topics in a supportive atmosphere.

Researcher training and development

The Researcher Academy is the network for researchers, and staff who support them. We work together to promote a healthy research culture, to cultivate researcher excellence, and develop creative partnerships that enable researchers to flourish.

Postgraduate researchers at Nottingham have access to our online Members’ area, which includes a wealth of resources, access to training courses and award-winning postgraduate placements.

Graduate centres

Our graduate centres are dedicated community spaces on campus for postgraduates.

Each space has areas for:

  • socialising
  • computer work
  • kitchen facilities

Student support

You will have access to a range of support services , including:

  • academic and disability support
  • childcare services
  • counselling service
  • faith support
  • financial support
  • mental health and wellbeing support
  • visa and immigration advice
  • welfare support

Students' Union

Our Students' Union represents all students. You can join the Postgraduate Students’ Network or contact the dedicated Postgraduate Officer .

There are also a range of support networks, including groups for:

  • international students
  • black and minority ethnic students
  • students who identify as women
  • students with disabilities
  • LGBT+ students

SU Advice provides free, independent and confidential advice on issues such as accommodation, financial and academic difficulties.

what is creative writing phd

Where you will learn

Digital transformations hub.

As a researcher you have full access to the  Digital Transformations Hub  and can use our equipment and software for free.

what is creative writing phd

English PhD - dedicated study space

Our research students benefit from dedicated office space with networked PCs, social and communal space, and kitchen facilities.

what is creative writing phd

Library facilities - School of English

  • manuscripts from the 12th-15th centuries and books in Old and Middle English, Old Icelandic, Viking Studies, and runology
  • the  English Place-Name Society  library and archive
  • Hallward Library's  DH Lawrence archive (containing Lawrence family papers, manuscripts, first editions, and books owned by Lawrence)
  • the Cambridge Drama Collection (over 1,500 items including plays and works about the British theatre from 1750-1850)

University Park Campus

University Park Campus  covers 300 acres, with green spaces, wildlife, period buildings and modern facilities. It is one of the UK's most beautiful and sustainable campuses, winning a national Green Flag award every year since 2003.

Most schools and departments are based here. You will have access to libraries, shops, cafes, the Students’ Union, sports village and a health centre.

You can walk or cycle around campus. Free hopper buses connect you to our other campuses. Nottingham city centre is 15 minutes away by public bus or tram.

Whether you are considering a career in academia, industry or haven't yet decided, we’re here to support you every step of the way.

Expert staff will work with you to explore PhD career options and apply for vacancies, develop your interview skills and meet employers. You can book a one-to-one appointment, take an online course or attend a workshop.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route . Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

This course will develop key transferable skills, including:

  • writing skills
  • creative thinking and problem solving
  • planning and researching written work
  • presentation skills
  • editorial and proofreading skills
  • negotiation skills

As a result, our graduates enter a wide range of careers. These include:

  • editorial/technical writing
  • marketing and PR
  • education - primary, secondary and higher education
  • national government
  • not-for-profit organisations

100% of postgraduates from the School of English secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £37,402.*

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2019/20 data published in 2022 . The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on data from graduates who completed a full-time postgraduate degree with home fee status and are working full-time within the UK.

There are a range of public engagement opportunities open to students in the School of English.

You may also apply to gain editing experience through The Letters Page online journal.

"I really enjoyed the creativity that went into the role, as well as how much I was able to learn from my team and their pieces. The atmosphere of our sessions was fantastic, I really feel incredibly lucky to have been able to do this."

- Lizzie Alblas , Creative Writing PhD student, completed a placement with The Letters Page

Spencer Jordan Creative Writing

Related courses

English phd, applied linguistics phd, applied linguistics with english language teaching phd, research excellence framework.

The University of Nottingham is ranked 7th in the UK for research power, according to analysis by Times Higher Education. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a national assessment of the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.

  • We are proud to be in the top 10 UK universities for research into English, while our ranking of 9th by 'research power' reflects our research excellence
  • 90%* of our research is classed as 'world-leading' (4*) or 'internationally excellent' (3*)
  • 100%* of our research is recognised internationally
  • 51% of our research is assessed as 'world-leading' (4*) for its impact**

*According to analysis by Times Higher Education ** According to our own analysis.

This content was last updated on 24 October 2023 . Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.

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You currently have JavaScript disabled in your web browser, please enable JavaScript to view our website as intended.

English at Leicester

  • Midlands4Cities
  • Application process
  • Resources and facilities

PhD in Creative Writing

Pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing at Leicester means becoming part of an exciting and dynamic research and creative environment.

The PhD programme helps give structure to your creative project, and invites you to ask searching questions about your practice, to reflect on the process of producing creative work, and so to write a long critical-reflective essay (usually 15-20,000 words) to accompany the creative work. The creative body of work normally makes up 70% of the PhD, and the reflective thesis 30%.

At its broadest, the emphasis is on trying to comprehend the practice of creation itself - surely one of the most fascinating subjects imaginable.

Creative Writing doctorates lead to a variety of potential career paths. These include novelist, poet, playwright or screenwriter, of course, but there are many related industries that Creative Writing research degree graduates nationally have gone on to work in, including (but not limited to):

  • TV storyline writing
  • Video game creation
  • TV and film production
  • Working as a literary agent
  • Teaching or lecturing
  • Working as a professional stand-up comedian
  • Post-doctoral academic research
  • Public relations
  • Advertising & marketing
  • Political research & speech writing
  • Arts management
  • Content provision
  • Tweet writing
  • Web editing
  • Franchise creation
  • Branding consultancy
  • Literary and other arts events management
  • Intellectual property advising

Application information

It is a good idea to make informal enquiries to the lecturer you believe might be interested in supervising your PhD, prior to making a formal application.

  • List of English at Leicester staff  
  • Recent creative publications by students and staff  

You should have a strong creative and academic track record - entry requirements are an MA or similar in Creative Writing and some prior publication history.

Otherwise, you should have compelling evidence of advanced writing experience, and an awareness of the technical and reflective elements of creative writing practice in an academic environment.

Your application should consist of a persuasive outline for a creative project: a body of poetry, a novel, a work of creative non-fiction, a graphic novel or a substantial film script. This should be accompanied by a theoretical and canonical series of questions that you believe will prove relevant as the creative work progresses.

You should be conscious of the fact that the critical element of a creative PhD is not separate literary critical study - although it may involve such. It is involved in the deeper comprehension of the creative process itself through an articulation of creative practice. As such it may involve historical, ethnographic, practice-based philosophical, social scientific and other theoretical models.

Places on the PhD are awarded on the basis of the quality of the creative sample submitted and the originality of the proposal.

Audio clip: Gwynne Harries discusses his Creative PhD

Listen to PhD student Gwynne Harries discuss his Creative PhD in Welsh Poetic Forms in English Verse.

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Home / Graduate / Prospective Student Information / Creative/Critical Writing Concentration

  • Creative/Critical Writing Concentration

Prospective Student Information

UC Santa Cruz offers a concentration in Creative/Critical Writing for Literature Ph.D. students. This is an individualized course of study in which students can write a creative dissertation with a critical introduction or a cross-genre creative/critical project. Students have completed speculative novels, collections of poems and personal essays, experimental memoirs, biographies, cross-genre work, and translations of works of poetry and prose. Descriptions of previous qualifying exam and dissertation topics can be found with student bios here .  

Creative/Critical Writing Concentration Overview (please refer to the Literature Ph.D. Program overview for more information) Entering students complete all the requirements for the Literature Ph.D. with the addition of a creative/critical enhancement to their degree in the form of original creative work, with a critical introduction, and, if desired, work in poetics, translation, form and/or critical writing from the perspective of writerly practices.

Admissions For applicants to the Creative/Critical Writing concentration, the department requests the following additional materials: 20-25 pages of prose (at least one complete piece and an additional sample preferred), or 10-12 pages of poetry. The writing can be poetry, prose fiction, creative non-fiction or hybrid/cross-genre.

Requirements The general requirements for all Ph.D. students apply to the Creative/Critical Writing concentration:

  • The Proseminar , Literature 200, to be taken in Fall Quarter of the first year;
  • A one-quarter Pedagogy of Teaching/Teaching Assistant Training, Literature 201, to be taken prior to or in conjunction with the first Teaching Assistant appointment;
  • One course must focus on pre-modern literature and culture. This course may, but need not, be in the student’s area of concentration; it may also be used to satisfy one of the non-English-language course requirements.
  • A minimum of two courses must be in a non-English language literature.
  • Four courses must be Creative/Critical concentration-designated courses (Graduate Creative Writing Workshops and Methods and Materials); 
  • One two-credit advising course, Literature 291F, per quarter;
  • Three quarters of supervised teaching experience; Creative/Critical Writing concentration only: Of the three quarters of supervised teaching experience required, at least two will be in the undergraduate creative writing concentration;
  • The Literature Department’s intensive three-week Graduate Summer Language Program or equivalent;
  • A qualifying exam portfolio (includes an oral component);
  • A prospectus outlining and defining the dissertation project;
  • A dissertation (written in conjunction with Literature 299, Thesis Research).

Qualifying Examination and Dissertation At least one member of the QE committee, normally the chair, must be from among the participating core faculty in Creative Writing, and at least one departmental member of the committee will not be one of these.  Students in the concentration will meet the requirements of the (revised) Ph.D. program Qualifying Examination, with the choice to substitute original creative work for the Qualifying essay requirement. This work may also be, if the student chooses, a hybrid creative/critical work.

Ph.D. candidates in the Creative/Critical concentration may choose one of two options for the dissertation:

  • A book-length original creative project—novel, novella, collection of poems, collection of stories, creative nonfiction, or a hybrid/experimental form (including but not limited to digital/new media, performance/performativity/screenplay, the lyric essay) with a critical chapter or chapters totaling at least 75 pages exploring the historical, methodological, and/or theoretical foundations of the creative work;
  • A dissertation on theory, form, poetics or literary history; a translation of a creative work with a 30-50-page, substantive, critical introduction; a critical edition.

Faculty The following faculty are participating Creative Writing faculty mentors: Christopher Chen Micah Perks Jennifer Tseng Rob Wilson Ronaldo Wilson

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Last modified: January 17, 2022

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Course type

Qualification, university name, phd degrees in creative writing.

50 degrees at 42 universities in the UK.

Customise your search

Select the start date, qualification, and how you want to study

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Related subjects:

  • PhD Creative Writing
  • PhD Biography Writing
  • PhD Broadcasting Studies
  • PhD Communication Design
  • PhD Communication Skills
  • PhD Communication Studies
  • PhD Communications and Media
  • PhD Digital Arts
  • PhD Digital Media
  • PhD Film Special Effects
  • PhD Film Studies
  • PhD Film and Television Production
  • PhD Film and Video Production
  • PhD Media Production
  • PhD Media Studies
  • PhD Multimedia
  • PhD Photography
  • PhD Play Writing
  • PhD Television Programme Production
  • PhD Television Studies
  • PhD Television and Radio Production
  • PhD Visual Communication
  • PhD Writing

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  • Course title (A-Z)
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  • Price: high - low
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PhD Creative Practice, History and Theory

University of central lancashire.

  • 3 years Full time degree: £5,000 per year (UK)
  • 6 years Part time degree: £2,500 per year (UK)

English and Creative Writing PhD

University of gloucestershire.

  • 4 years Full time degree: £5,100 per year (UK)
  • 6 years Part time degree: £3,400 per year (UK)

Creative Writing PhD

Bath spa university.

  • 24 months Full time degree: £7,325 per year (UK)

PhD English and Creative Writing

University of roehampton.

  • 4 years Full time degree: £4,711 per year (UK)
  • 7 years Part time degree: £2,356 per year (UK)

University of Surrey

  • 4 years Full time degree: £4,712 per year (UK)
  • 8 years Part time degree: £2,356 per year (UK)

Creative and Critical Writing PhD

Bangor university.

  • 2 years Full time degree: £4,712 per year (UK)
  • 5 years Part time degree: £2,356 per year (UK)

PhD/ MPhil/ MRes Creative Writing

University of strathclyde.

  • 3 years Full time degree: £4,712 per year (UK)

PhD Postgraduate Research in Creative Writing

University of east anglia uea.

  • 6 years Part time degree: £2,356 per year (UK)

Anglia Ruskin University

  • 2.5 years Full time degree: £4,712 per year (UK)
  • 3 years Part time degree: £2,356 per year (UK)
  • 3.5 years Part time degree: £2,356 per year (UK)

Aberystwyth University

Phd in creative writing and english literature, manchester metropolitan university.

  • 3 years Full time degree: £4,850 per year (UK)
  • 6 years Part time degree

PhD Theatre Studies (Playwriting)

University of essex.

  • 4 years Full time degree: £9,375 per year (UK)
  • Literature - Research- Core
  • Dissertation
  • View all modules

University of Hull

English phd,mphil - life writing, university of leicester.

  • 4 years Distance without attendance degree: £5,913 per year (UK)
  • 3 years Full time degree: £4,786 per year (UK)
  • 6 years Part time degree: £2,393 per year (UK)

Creative Writing MPhil, PhD

Newcastle university.

  • 36 months Full time degree: £4,712 per year (UK)
  • 72 months Part time degree: £2,356 per year (UK)

University of Nottingham

  • 48 months Online/Distance degree: £5,100 per year (UK)
  • 96 months Online/Distance degree

University of Plymouth

  • 3 years Full time degree: £4,500 per year (UK)
  • 4 years Part time degree: £3,030 per year (UK)
  • GSRCWRI1 Research Creative Writing- Core
  • Research Skills in the Arts, Humanities & Business- Core
  • GSRCWRI2 Research Creative Writing- Core
  • GSRCWRI3 Research Creative Writing- Core
  • GSRCWRI4 Research Creative Writing- Core

Text, Practice and Research - PhD

University of kent, brunel university london.

  • 3 years Full time degree

University of West London

  • 4 years Full time degree: £3,995 per year (UK)
  • 6 years Part time degree: £2,000 per year (UK)

1-20 of 50 courses

About PhD Degrees in Creative Writing

Creative writing extends beyond the boundaries of normal professional journalism or academic forms of literature. It is often associated with fiction and poetry, but primarily emphasises narrative craft, character development, and the use of traditional literary forms.

A PhD level exploration of creative writing is a three-year full-time programme, where candidates delve into the complexities of literary expression, developing their own research and create projects with the goal of making an original contribution to the field.

There are more than fifty creative writing PhD programmes in the UK, and these give candidates a platform to fully immerse themselves in their ideas and take their work to the next level.

What to expect

A PhD in creative writing offers the time and space to develop personal creative methods, combined with advanced workshops, critical seminars, and guest lectures from working authors. Under an academic mentor's supervision, candidates typically work towards completing a novel, poetry collection or screenplay.

Postgraduate programmes such as these often foster a supportive community of writers and scholars, and collaboration with peers is encouraged. Graduates can expect to emerge as confident and aspirational authors, with a developed style and professional aspiration, prepared for careers in writing, publishing, academia, or other creative industries. The degree provides a pathway for making significant contributions to the world of literature through original and innovative creative works.

Course type:

  • Distance learning PhD
  • Full time PhD
  • Part time PhD



  • Cardiff University
  • University of Suffolk
  • University of Portsmouth
  • University of Buckingham
  • King's College London, University of London
  • University of Sussex
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • University of Aberdeen
  • University of Lincoln
  • University of Birmingham
  • Keele University
  • University of York
  • University of Manchester
  • Swansea University
  • University of Liverpool
  • Lancaster University
  • University of Hertfordshire
  • University of Bristol
  • Leeds Beckett University
  • Goldsmiths, University of London

Related Subjects:

The University of Edinburgh home

  • Schools & departments

English and Scottish Literature

Pre-application guidance for the PhD in Creative Writing

Find out why and how you should apply for our PhD in Creative Writing, including guidance on the creative and critical components of your degree.

How is the Creative Writing PhD structured?

Doctoral degree candidates in Creative Writing spend three years writing a manuscript in consultation with a supervisor.

This manuscript consists of two components:

  • A creative component that comprises 75% of the final manuscript.
  • A critical component, which comprises 25% of the final manuscript.

In practical terms this amounts to the following:

  • Candidates in fiction write a creative manuscript (novel or collection of short stories) that should not exceed 75,000 words in length.
  • Candidates in poetry write a collection of poetry that should not exceed 75 pages of poetry.
  • All candidates (fiction writers and poets) must also write an essay that is approximately 20,000- 25,000 words. This is the ‘critical’ component.

What is meant by ‘critical component’?

The critical component of a thesis manuscript in Creative Writing can be where you analyse how a precise, focused theme or a specific element of craft (character, form, voice, etc.) operates in selected published works. Sometimes, this will be a traditional academic or ‘critical’ essay. Other times, this part of a thesis might tackle more craft-driven questions: in what ways does plot operate in Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse and Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow and how do these ‘operations’ affect readers? How does the use of non-human personae in Louise Glück’s The Wild Iris, Les Murray’s Translations from the Natural World and Edwin Morgan’s poetry reshape reader perceptions?

Alternatively, the critical component may take the form of a critical-reflexive essay, in which you situate your creative project in a critical context. Such an essay is not simply an account of what you did and when you did it; instead, it should be a rigorous and scholarly work that aims for some deeper insight. It is likely to use self-reflection as a means of illuminating the creative process, interrogating the contribution made by your creative writing to a chosen genre and its tradition, and examining how it engages with, and contributes to, wider conceptual or theoretical issues. Examples of critical-reflexive essays can be found in Writing in Practice and Text Journal.

  • Take me to Writing in Practice
  • Take me to Text Journal

It is not expected that the critical component should constitute an original contribution to knowledge, as would be the case when pursuing a conventional 80,000-word thesis manuscript in literary studies; what is important is that it offers an in-depth analysis of a question that, although explored in part or in whole through the work of other writers, relates to, or grows out of, the creative component of your manuscript, and that the creative and critical components are sufficiently connected for the thesis as a whole to form a coherent body of work.

You have only 20,000 -25,000 words for this essay, so when writing your proposal it is important to be focused and specific.

What form does the application take?

Applicants are asked to supply a sample of either fiction (3,000 - 5,000 words; not exceeding 5,000 words) or poetry (10-15 pages of poetry; not exceeding 15 pages), as well as a shorter sample of academic writing (circa 2,000 words). You’ll also need to supply a summary of your proposed project. This summary should comprise an outline of your creative project as well as detailed discussion of your 20,000 to 25,000-word critical component.

Some questions that your proposal might address could be:

  • What would be the proposed structure of the creative portion of your final manuscript?
  • Which resources would you be using for the critical portion (mention a few critics and/or authors you will be discussing by name or, even better, specific titles)?
  • Is there a single overarching research question that both the creative and the critical work will investigate?
  • Why would Edinburgh be a good place for this project?

Please include a bibliography. The application also asks for a personal statement separate from the proposal. This is where you provide information about your previous experiences and attainments as a creative writer; also give a sense of why you want to do the PhD at Edinburgh.

How long should a proposal be?

There is no official limit or minimum length for a proposal. However, effective proposals tend to be 500-750 words long, excluding the indicative bibliography.

Do I need to find someone to supervise my project before applying?

There is no need to identify a supervisor in advance of your application. Applicants who receive an offer of acceptance are assigned a provisional supervisor, taking into account staff research interests and other factors. However, it’s important to make contact with the team if you’re intending to apply for SGSAH (AHRC) funding.

While you do not need to find a member of staff willing to supervise your project before applying, please do take some time to read over staff profiles, staff research interests, and publications in order to ensure that your project is something we can supervise effectively.

Who can supervise your PhD

The following members of staff supervise PhD students in Creative Writing. Follow the links to find out more about their research interests and expertise.

Is there anything else I should consider before applying?

Creative Writing at Edinburgh is staffed by a small cohort of writers of fiction and poetry and we are extremely selective in our recruitment. Sometimes, strong applications from talented writers do not receive offers because the proposed projects fall outside our areas of specialisation. A PhD requires close supervision from a specialist in the field: this holds equally for Creative Writing as for literary studies and applies to both elements of your project.

FAQs about our programme

Do doctoral degree candidates have the opportunity to teach.

In later years, suitably qualified PhD students are offered the opportunity to teach undergraduate tutorials. Please note that these tutorials are linked with pre-honours courses in literary studies, not creative writing.

Would my doctoral manuscript be made available through Open Access?

Conversations regarding Open Access are on-going and ever-evolving. At present, the same policy applies to Creative Writing doctoral manuscripts as to thesis manuscripts written by doctoral students in literary studies and other disciplines within the humanities.

When you submit, you can request a one-year embargo on public access to your thesis. If no embargo is requested then the full text of the thesis is made freely available online via ERA (Edinburgh Research Archive).

Find out more about Access to Thesis restrictions on the Scholarly Communications website

Find out more and apply

You can find out more about language requirements, facilities, fees, funding opportunities and application deadlines for this PhD programme, and formally apply to study on it, on the University of Edinburgh’s online Degree Finder.

Applications to start your PhD in September 2024 open in October 2023.

Take me to the University of Edinburgh's Degree Finder entry for the PhD in Creative Writing

Graduate College

English: creative writing (ph.d.),   application deadlines.

A decorative photo of three graduate students in class looking towards the front of the room attentively.

Deadline for Fall semester: January 15.

  Resume/Curriculum Vitae (CV)

A resume or curriculum vitae (CV) is required; please submit within the online application system.

  Graduate test

The GRE is not required.

Note: International applicants may have to provide evidence of English language proficiency. 


This program requires three recommendations. Please send email requests for such recommendations from within the online system.

  Written statement

Please prepare a statement which covers the following information, and attach it within the online application:

I am applying for admission into the ______________________________ program.

Programs/concentrations include:

  • PhD in Literature
  • PhD in English Education
  • PhD in Creative Writing—Fiction
  • PhD in Creative Writing—Poetry
  • PhD in Creative Writing—Drama

Submit a 750-word essay about why you wish to undertake graduate study and which key experiences have shaped your decision. You may reflect upon ideas, texts, and modes of study that inspire you and discuss your plans for pursuing them. Please use the essay to highlight important aspects of your application.

  Previous written work

Submit a writing sample on a topic in your chosen program/concentration. Your writing sample(s) should be typed, double-spaced, and unmarked. For the Ph.D. in English: Creative Writing, you must submit two samples: (1) a 10-15 page scholarly paper that focuses on a literary topic, and (2) an original piece of creative writing, with applicants interested in Playwriting or Poetry submitting 15-30 pages of original work in their genre, and those focused on Fiction submitting up to 30 pages of their original fiction.

  Other program materials

If applying for graduate assistantship, complete the following narrative and submit within the online application:

If you have taught before, write a 700- to 1000-word essay explaining your teaching philosophy and experience. If you have not taught, write a 500-word essay in which you imagine your own approach to teaching.

  Transcript requirement

An official transcript from the institution from which you received your bachelor degree is required, as well as a transcript from the institution(s) where any additional graduate level courses or degrees have been taken/completed. Applicants are not required to submit an official transcript of courses taken/completed at WMU.

  Additional information

If you have any questions, please review the website below for program and contact information.

Department of English — College of Arts and Sciences

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Admission Steps

English and literary arts - creative writing - phd, admission requirements.

Terms and Deadlines

Degree and GPA Requirements

Additional Standards for Non-Native English Speakers

Additional standards for international applicants.

For the 2023-2024 academic year

See 2024-2025 requirements instead

Fall 2023 quarter (beginning in September)

Final submission deadline: December 15, 2022

Final submission deadline: Applicants cannot submit applications after the final submission deadline.

Degrees and GPA Requirements

Bachelors degree: All graduate applicants must hold an earned baccalaureate from a regionally accredited college or university or the recognized equivalent from an international institution.

Masters degree: This program requires a masters degree as well as the baccalaureate.

Grade point average: The minimum undergraduate GPA for admission consideration for graduate study at the University of Denver is a cumulative 2.5 on a 4.0 scale or a 2.5 on a 4.0 scale for the last 60 semester credits or 90 quarter credits (approximately two years of work) for the baccalaureate degree. An earned master’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution supersedes the minimum standards for the baccalaureate. For applicants with graduate coursework but who have not earned a master’s degree or higher, the GPA from the graduate work may be used to meet the requirement. The minimum GPA is a cumulative 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for all graduate coursework undertaken.

Program GPA requirement: The minimum undergraduate GPA for admission consideration for this program is a cumulative 2.5 on a 4.0 scale

Official scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), C1 Advanced or Duolingo English Test are required of all graduate applicants, regardless of citizenship status, whose native language is not English or who have been educated in countries where English is not the native language. Your TOEFL/IELTS/C1 Advanced/Duolingo English Test scores are valid for two years from the test date.

The minimum TOEFL/IELTS/C1 Advanced/Duolingo English Test score requirements for this degree program are:

Minimum TOEFL Score (Internet-based test): 80

Minimum IELTS Score: 6.5

Minimum C1 Advanced Score: 176

Minimum Duolingo English Test Score: 115

English Conditional Acceptance Offered: No, this program does not offer English Conditional Admission.

Read the English Language Proficiency policy for more details.

Read the Required Tests for GTA Eligibility policy for more details.

Per Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) regulation, international applicants must meet all standards for admission before an I-20 or DS-2019 is issued, [per U.S. Federal Register: 8 CFR § 214.3(k)] or is academically eligible for admission and is admitted [per 22 C.F.R. §62]. Read the Additional Standards For International Applicants policy for more details.

Application Materials

Transcripts, letters of recommendation.

Required Essays and Statements

Writing Sample

We require a scanned copy of your transcripts from every college or university you have attended. Scanned copies must be clearly legible and sized to print on standard 8½-by-11-inch paper. Transcripts that do not show degrees awarded must also be accompanied by a scanned copy of the diploma or degree certificate. If your academic transcripts were issued in a language other than English, both the original documents and certified English translations are required.

Transcripts and proof of degree documents for postsecondary degrees earned from institutions outside of the United States will be released to a third-party international credential evaluator to assess U.S. education system equivalencies. Beginning July 2023, a non-refundable fee for this service will be required before the application is processed.

Upon admission to the University of Denver, official transcripts will be required from each institution attended.

Three (3) letters of recommendation are required.  Academic recommendations preferred.  Letters should be submitted by recommenders through the online application.

Essays and Statements

Essay instructions.

A sample of critical prose (e.g., a seminar paper, scholarly publication, or excerpt from thesis or other longer work demonstrating familiarity with the conventions of academic research and writing) not to exceed 20 pages.

Personal Statement Instructions

The 1-2 page personal statement should address the applicant's past academic experience, future scholarly goals, and address his/her suitability for graduate study in our program.

Résumé Instructions

The résumé (or C.V.) should include work experience, research, and/or volunteer work.

Writing Sample Instructions

Applicants must submit representative samples of creative work (for Prose, no more than 30 pages; for Poetry, 5 - 10 poems).

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Financial Aid Information

Start your application.

Your submitted materials will be reviewed once all materials and application fees have been received.

Our program can only consider your application for admission if our Office of Graduate Education has received all your online materials and supplemental materials by our application deadline.

Application Fee: $65.00 Application Fee

International Degree Evaluation Fee: $50 Evaluation Fee for degrees (bachelor's or higher) earned from institutions outside the United States.

Applicants should complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by February 15. Visit the Office of Financial Aid for additional information.

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Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing

Master of fine arts in creative writing and poetics (low-residency).

Our low-residency MFA provides the structure, support, and professional development you need to take your writing to the next level .

Program Overview

Naropa’s Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing is designed for writers ready to hone their craft and earn their Master of Fine Arts degree through rigorous, cross-genre study. Students who can’t relocate to our Colorado Campus can acquire a quality asynchronous education with in-person residencies.

Whether you have a novel in progress, are preparing for a PhD program, or looking to strengthen your prose, poetry, and hybrid writing, our low-residency creative writing MFA program provides you with resources, accountability, and inspiration that fit your schedules.

Naropa takes traditional low-residency MFA programs a step further with our history of experimental and innovative writing, critical study, and cross-genre publishing. Our unique cross-genre online writing courses, generative residencies, and one-on-one mentorship provide students with a writing community, no matter where they live.

Cross-Genre Curriculum

Unlike other Creative Writing MFA programs, our low-residency MFA is open-genre. This means that writers can work in fiction, poetry, prose, non-fiction, playwriting, and hybrid forms throughout their degree program. Students experiment with narrative structures and forms that fit their unique voices. Writers develop their unique style, critical ear, and vast knowledge of contemporary trends across literary genres.

One-on-One Mentorship

One-on-one mentorship and small online writing classes help writers develop their style, refine their editing skills, and publish their work. Each writer dedicates their final semester to a thesis manuscript. Working one-on-one with their thesis mentor and workshopping with classmates through written exchange, students finish their MFA with a completed manuscript in the genre of their choice.

Generative Residencies

Every semester, our Low-Residency MFA students gather in Boulder, Colorado, for enriching and energizing residencies. MFA students meet one-on-one with mentors, enjoy master classes with guest writers, attend readings, and bond with writers. Residencies also overlap with our spring and fall symposiums, providing students with a rich 4-days of community and inspiration. Each academic year culminates in a week-long writing intensive at Naropa’s Summer Writing Program. This annual festival brings over 60 artists, writers, and thinkers to Boulder, for workshops, readings, panels, and professional development.

Quick Facts

  • Fifteen annual days of residency in Boulder, CO
  • Open-genre curriculum
  • One-on-one mentorship with accomplished faculty
  • Unique Experimental Approach
  • Participation in the Summer Writing Program
  • Cohort model developing a strong sense of community among MFA students
  • Several Scholarship and Financial Aid Opportunities
  • Applications open for August 2024

Program Format

Naropa’s Creative Writing MFA is a rigorous, generative, low-residency two-year program with 4 writing residencies in beautiful Boulder Colorado. The program combines asynchronous craft courses with on-campus residencies. 

Annual fall and spring residencies allow writers to connect with other writers and faculty , deepen their craft, and participate in symposium readings and panels with other MFA students in Boulder, CO. Spring and Fall Residencies run from Saturday through Tuesday during the Spring and Fall JKS Symposiums.

The summer residency immerses writers in a full week of the Jack Kerouac School’s world-renowned Summer Writing Program . Here, students attend workshops, lectures, panels, and readings by numerous visiting writers to hone their craft, make connections, speak on student panels, and prepare for the next step in their writing career.

what is creative writing phd

Course Spotlight

Craft of writing: rooting in the archive.

This course delves into the Naropa University Archive and its rich offerings to explore traditions, movements, and/or schools of writing that inform or extend the aesthetic vision of the Jack Kerouac School toward mindful writing. Possible recent historical examples include New American Poetry, the Beats, San Francisco Renaissance, the New York School, Black Mountain Poetics, the Black Arts Movement, and Language poetry, among others.

Degree Requirements

Unlike many online creative writing MFA programs, our asynchronous classes build community through writer-to-writer feedback and a structured curriculum.

Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing Requirements

26 credits of online asynchronous craft courses.

Students work one-on-one with a mentor, exchanging packets —consisting of letters, bibliographies, contemplative reflections, creative manuscripts, and critical essays—throughout the semester.

  • WRI-631E Craft of Writing: Rooting in the Archive(6)WRI-648E Craft of Writing: Contemplative Experiments(6)
  • WRI-678E Craft of Writing: Cultures & Communities(4)
  • WRI-735E Craft of Writing: Contemporary Trends(6)
  • WRI-755E Craft of Writing: Professional Development(4)

6 credits of MFA Thesis

6 credits of MFA Thesis (faculty mentorship on a book-length creative manuscript)

4 credits of the Summer Writing Program

Two eight-day summer residencies are completed at Naropa’s Boulder campus. Choose two of the following:

  • WRI-751 Summer Writing Program(2)
  • WRI-752 Week Two Summer Writing Program(2)
  • WRI-753 Summer Writing Program(2)

4 credits of fall and spring residencies in Boulder, CO.

  • WRI-789WE Fall Residency(1)
  • WRI-791WE Spring Residency(1)

Why Choose Naropa?

Strong writing tradition.

Founded in 1974 by Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman, the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics encourages experimental forms across genres , pushing for innovation inside and outside the classroom.

Career Readiness

Whether a student plans to teach, write, edit, or work in publishing, our low-residency program provides the framework they need to develop their professional skills alongside a vibrant and supportive writing community.

In-house Publishing

The Kerouac School’s student-run Bombay Gin literary journal publishes work from promising students and distributes it nationally through Small Press Distribution. Students interested in fine-craft letterpress printing can learn at Naropa’s Harry Smith Print Shop and Kavyayantra Press.

what is creative writing phd

How this Program Prepares You

Professional dossier.

Graduates from our low-residency Creative Writing MFA emerge from the program with a solid record of written work . The pieces that make up their dossier are workshopped with peers and perfectioned with guidance from their tutor.

Critical Analysis

You’ll emerge from the program with critical analysis skills that go beyond reading between the lines of a written work. The program will teach you to recognize the role of intersectionality in the literary arts, looking at the wider spectrum that surrounds a piece, and identifying bias, assumptions and stereotypes.

Unleashing creativity

Our workshops, classes and Summer Writing Program encourage students to harness their creativity by exploring experimental forms . Low-residency students receive on-on one mentoring to help them develop their creative writing skills to the fullest, as well as feedback from their writing community, be it online or during their residency.

What You'll Learn

Highly developed writing craft.

Hone your voice in every step of the writing process.

Skill in Critical Analysis

Learn to discuss literary works through a variety of critical lenses.

Contemplative Writing Practice:

Use your writing practice as a tool for self-inquiry and discovery.

Social and Cultural Awareness

Recognize the role of race, class, and gender in literary history and works.

Career Preparedness

Graduate with a publishable manuscript and/or professional dossier.

Career Opportunities with a Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing

  • Lyricist: write words for songs, matching melody and rhyme.
  • Poet: use language to creatively express emotion, ideas and experiences.
  • Proofreader: check written work for errors and inconsistencies.
  • English Teacher: teach at the postsecondary level.
  • Author: craft and publish original material.
  • Editor: review and improve written work for publication.

Hear from a Graduate

Jackie henrion, faqs about the low-residency mfa in creative writing, what is a low residency mfa in creative writing, why choose a low residency mfa creative writing program, how long does it take to complete a low residency mfa in creative writing, how is naropa’s low residency mfa in creative writing different from other programs, what types of funding are available.

Funding includes the Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, and Anselm Hollo Graduate Fellowships.

The fellowships are awarded annually to three incoming MFA Creative Writing and Poetics students (residency program). Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, and Anselm Hollo fellowship recipients will receive full funding (tuition and fees), plus an additional $5,000 scholarship as well as a $4,500 stipend. Fellowship recipients may not simultaneously hold a Graduate Assistantship.

Additionally, partial funding is provided for students who have applied for and been offered graduate assistantships with the Naropa Writing Center.

Visit our Graduate Scholarship page to read more about funding, fellowships and scholarships for the Low-Residency Creative Writing & Poetics MFA and other degrees.

Learn More About the Program

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Connect with your counselor

Olivia phipps.

Graduate Admissions Counselor

Ready to Apply?

Admission requirements.

Naropa University values both academic excellence and critical self-reflection . Our application process not only evaluates academic performance but also candidates’ openness and willingness to engage in contemplation.

Learn more about admission requirements and the application process for our Low-Residency Creative Writing MFA.

Graduate Students

Prospective students who have completed an undergraduate degree are welcome to apply to Naropa. When applying, candidates must submit a transcript of their undergraduate coursework, a statement of interest, a resume, two letters of interest and a creative writing sample. They may also apply for financial aid at this stage. Discover all admission requirements.

International Students

If you obtained your undergraduate diploma from a non-US university, we require additional documentation to review your application. Learn how to apply to Naropa as an international student.

Costs and Financial Aid

Naropa University students have access to several financial aid opportunities and scholarships – over 75% of our graduate students receive some sort of financial support to pursue their studies. Use our calculator to estimate your tuition, housing, materials and other costs.

Undergraduate Scholarship Opportunities

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Interested in our Low-Residency Creative Writing MFA?

Read our blog or listen to our podcast, heartfire festival returns to naropa university, episode 92. andrew schelling: writing as a spiritual practice, womxn of naropa celebrates national poetry month, summer writing program from the archives, together in spirit, student support and resources, academic support, online student support, career services, financial aid, accessibility, related programs, mfa in creative writing, ba in creative writing and literature, request information, plan a visit, about naropa, events & community, user information, support naropa.

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Naropa campuses closed on friday, march 15, 2024.

Due to adverse weather conditions, all Naropa campuses will be closed Friday, March 15, 2024.  All classes that require a physical presence on campus will be canceled. All online and low-residency programs are to meet as scheduled.

Based on the current weather forecast, the Healing with the Ancestors Talk & Breeze of Simplicity program scheduled for Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday will be held as planned.

Staff that do not work remotely or are scheduled to work on campus, can work remotely. Staff that routinely work remotely are expected to continue to do so.

As a reminder, notifications will be sent by e-mail and the LiveSafe app.  

Regardless of Naropa University’s decision, if you ever believe the weather conditions are unsafe, please contact your supervisor and professors.  Naropa University trusts you to make thoughtful and wise decisions based on the conditions and situation in which you find yourself in.


Interview with Alyson Hagy

Home » Interview with Alyson Hagy

Alyson Hagy grew up on a farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She is a graduate of Williams College (’82) where she twice won the Benjamin Wainwright Prize for her fiction and completed an Honors thesis under the direction of Richard Ford. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Michigan (’85) working with George Garrett, Alan Cheuse, and Janet Kauffman. While at Michigan, she was awarded a Hopwood Prize in Short Fiction and a Roy Cowden Fellowship. Early stories were published in Sewanee Review, Crescent Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review. In 1986, Stuart Wright published her first collection of fiction, Madonna On Her Back.

Interviewed by Ian Curtis

Inscape: In your novel Scribe , I felt like there was a unity between the setting and the characters, like the characters were almost a product of the fallen world they lived in. I was wondering if you could just kind of speak to the creation of the characters and then the setting.

Alyson Hagy: I had this vision of a woman sitting in a dilapidated house writing letters. That happens to me on occasion, and it often means it will lead to a short story, so I just sort of put it in my back pocket. As I thought about this woman in a dilapidated house, I thought “What if she were there because people were coming to ask her to write letters because she’s literate?” It was quickly clear to me that I could set this in the place where I’d grown up and that the characters were also going to be from the Appalachian subculture that I’m from. I thought it might be a historical novel. I thought it might be set post-Civil War, 1870s, the sort of ugliness of Reconstruction, but then I thought to myself, “This is my chance to go back to the world I grew up in when the Civil War felt close and soak myself in those voices.”     I think one of the prime reasons I am a writer is I grew up in a really oral storytelling tradition, so people built community and communicated through story. So I thought, “I don’t know who this woman is, and I don’t know who these people are coming to, but they can be the kinds of people that I know in my bones.” I hadn’t done a project like that set in Virginia since my second set of stories in a while, 20 years.     [G]eography influences character for sure in the Blue Ridge Mountains, because people can have privacy. You can get into these hollows and these small, sustainable farms. You can be off to yourself and independent. So, geography influences the community. I am a writer who’s interested in places where it’s hard for human beings to live; where it’s not easy.     What I was trying to do in Scribe was to tell a story (or a series of stories) and have a character who needed to go on a journey where then there would be these stories told around her. I went back and read a lot of Appalachian folklore, which gave me [the] license to do crazy things, like the scene with Billy Kingery giving her the bowl.     I loved writing about Hendricks. I love the sort of stranger who shows up, and you don’t really know who he is. I didn’t know who he was for a while, but I didn’t care. I just knew I was going to find out, and I really enjoyed figuring that out.     One thing I will say is, don’t harness yourself to fashion or what you think should happen. If you’ve got stories to tell, and they seem to be out of the box or unusual or not what other people are doing, tell them. Because it might be necessary for you as a storyteller to go [into] that space. You must follow it. You must follow the stuff you’re committed to. Otherwise, your writing is not going to be interesting. It won’t be your passion. I spent a lot of time trying to talk myself out of some of the moves I was making in Scribe , but in the end, I just had to follow her.

Inscape: How do you know which stories are worth writing?

AH: That’s a great question. One of my early mentors, the writer Richard Ford, said to me, “Before you start writing a novel, try to talk yourself out of it because it’s going to be a three or four-year commitment.” So, ask yourself, take some time. Keep some notes but think about it. “Is this important enough to you?” I have had some false starts. I’m not a natural novelist. I love writing short stories so much. I came to the novelist game relatively late.     [T]here are always other writers out there who know more about Appalachian folk tales, or more about training horses, or about the Korean War—whatever these things that I’ve tried to write about. But there was always a character I just felt like I could live with for a while, and I really wanted to understand them. Some of them have been easier to live with than others, I have to say. Will Testerman in Boleto was a lot of fun. He has a sad life, but he’s a good person. I also had a lot of fun with the Scribe protagonist. She’s hard, but I had a lot of fun with her because I was able to go back to this Appalachia.     I’ve been writing hard for 40 years and the doubt is still powerful. I know it’s not fun to hear. I have to be willing to write poorly and then just keep the faith.

Inscape: How do you hold off the doubt in writing?

AH: I’m good at tuning it out, and I’m a good compartmentalizer. I read and I tend to write short stories on the side while I’m working on novels and that gives me a lot of pleasure. These things help me get out of my head. That helps.     My students were reminding me this week, how scary it can be to be in an MFA program, but also how scary it is to work on a first novel. I failed many times. What picked me up, I think, was that I love books—lots of different kinds of books—so much. I wanted to sing with that choir. There’s just something about writing alongside the books you love that feels really good.     Now, I’m lucky. Right? I have a job. I have a partner who has a job. For some, economic security is so important, and it should be. Being in the arts is triply scary. You may have a family, and that might be a worry. This was true for me when I was raising my kid. I had to find a balance and I did the best I could.

Inscape: Scribe’s characters were masterfully layered. Everyone was morally gray and everyone had more in their story to tell. Why did you choose to write about these types of characters?

AH: In Hendrick’s case, I think it has always seemed to me that characters who are very physically competent, maybe they’re warrior-type figures, often have more complicated interior lives than we might guess. Not always Hendricks is kind of a pirate figure or a highwayman, but he’s a good person. I knew he had been forced to learn to behave and act in certain ways to survive.     I think this also goes back to the way I grew up. [T]he brand of Christianity I was raised in was very interested in that kind of layering. That’s not true for all brands of Christians. It is for me. There would just be people every week who would be digging into the complexity of Saul or King Solomon. Reading the Bible like you’d read literary characters, and I think that that had a huge influence on me.     I believe there are very few human beings who are unredeemable.

Inscape: We’ve touched on this, but what role mentors have played in your writing career?

AH: My mentors have been very important, and they seem to have been there when I needed them the most. I went to a small liberal arts college. Their creative writing was a very, very tiny piece of the English major and I loved being an English major, but I went to college to be pre-med. Then there was a professor who read my essay on Robert Frost and called me into their office. I was so scared ,and he walked me through my essay and where it was not logical, but he said, “Look what you’re doing here. You’re responding to Frost’s metaphors with metaphors of your own. Have you ever thought about taking a creative writing class?” It would never have occurred to me. The professor was a very fine poet and just plucked me out of a freshman class to kind of say “You’re maybe not the greatest analyst in the world, but you love language and I think you should have permission to play with language.” That was the first.     Then at Williams as a senior, Richard Ford, who was one of America’s finest writers, happened to be the visiting writer and he happened to agree, probably because we’re both from the South, to direct my thesis project. He took me on. He didn’t take other people on. I was a hard worker, so I didn’t disappoint him in that way, but he was hard on me because he wanted to see if it really mattered. He wasn’t hard, like cruel, but he asked me, “Why are you writing when you leave here? Nobody’s going to care. It’s easy to be an artist at a college because there’s a lot of privilege. But once you get out in the real world, really, nobody’s going to care about your stories. They aren’t going to. So why are you doing this and how much do you want to do?”     Richard also told me, “I will not write you a letter of recommendation for graduate school until you go out in the real world and live for a while. If you go out in the real world and you’re doing a job and you’re still writing stories at night and on the weekend, you call me up and I’ll write you a letter.” After I graded all those high school papers, I was still writing my stories. Even I was surprised by that, and I did take it as a sign, so MFA.     In my MFA, I thought they were going to say to me, “You’re good enough, but here’s how to even get better. Do this.” That was not what they did. I was actually frustrated because I kind of like to get A’s in class or whatever. My professors really built it more like, how is writing working in your life? Here are all these books you need to read, like, yes, you’ve read George Eliot, you’ve read the classics, but here are all these writers you’ve never heard of and all these writers in translation you never heard of. You’ve got to read like a crazy person.     When I would ask a question about a story, they would just flip it right back to me, trying to train me. I had to work and understand myself so that when I was cast beyond the MFA, I would have some tools.     I’ve also had other mid-career people. I mean, Charles Baxter, one of our greatest story writers, was on the faculty at Michigan when I was a young faculty member, just a generous, kind person. Annie Proulx was out here in Wyoming when I moved here, just a tough and brilliant writer. Super, super kind to me. Also, Joy Williams, who’s also hanging out in Wyoming now. I’ve been really lucky.

Inscape: What would be your advice for new writers?

AH: Play with language. Play with whatever drove you to want to write at first. So, it could be sound, it could be really at the level of syllable and sentence, or it could be the character. Your imagination is filled with these personalities you want to get down. It could be setting, it could be ideas. Some people are idea-driven writers. I’m not. But play [with] whatever draws you there, don’t forget the joy, don’t forget the play because that’s the thing that carries us through.     You also read. Read like a crazy person. And not just the things you think you’re supposed to read. Read what you like. I read so many comics as a kid. If they’d had graphic novels when I was a kid, I might be a graphic novelist. I loved those so much. If you love TV and video games, those can also be a part of your narrative practice. Film, music, there are a lot of ways that you can work on your craft. Some of the finest writers I’ve worked with were trained seriously in the sciences. They’re both analytical and super curious. I would say to give yourself permission to make of language what you want to make of it, because we only have three or four key human impulses, and storytelling is one of them. So, join.

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Office of the Vice President for Research

Ovpr announces recipients of 2024 discovery and innovation awards.

The Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) is honoring 11 faculty and staff for their exceptional contributions to research, scholarship, and creative activity as part of the 2024 Discovery and Innovation Awards .

“ The winners represent the best and the brightest of our University of Iowa faculty and staff, who are making an impact across a range of disciplines,”  said Marty Scholtz, vice president for research. “Their research and scholarship enhance undergraduate and graduate education on campus, and their efforts to expand the frontiers of discovery betters our community, state, and world.”

The OVPR solicited nominations from across campus for the awards, which include: Scholar of the Year, Early Career Scholar of the Year, Leadership in Research, and awards that recognize achievement in communicating scholarship with public audiences, community engagement, arts and humanities, mentorship, research administration and safety. A campuswide event on April 30 will celebrate the winners.

Faculty Awards

Jun Wang

Jun Wang , James E. Ashton Professor and interim departmental executive officer in the College of Engineering’s

 Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, is the 2024 Scholar of the Year . The award celebrates nationally recognized recent achievement in outstanding research, scholarship, and/or creative activities. 

Wang’s research centers on the development of novel remote sensing techniques to characterize aerosols and fires from space. He serves as the University of Iowa’s lead investigator on NASA’s TEMPO, Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring Pollution, which Time magazine named one of its best inventions of 2023. 

“Professor Wang's scholarly endeavors over the past two years stand out as a paradigm of excellence, serving as an exemplary model for both emerging and seasoned faculty members to aspire toward,” said Karim Abdel-Malek, professor of biomedical engineering and director of the Iowa Technology Institute.

James Byrne

James Byrne , assistant professor of radiation oncology in the Carver College of Medicine ( CCOM ), is the 2024 Early Career Scholar of the Year . The award honors assistant professors who are currently involved in research, scholarship, and/or creative activity and show promise of making a significant contribution to their field. 

As a physician scientist, Byrne continues to care for patients while developing novel biomedical therapies for cancer, finding inspiration in everything from latte foam to tardigrades. In his first two years as faculty at the UI, he has earned more that $2.5M in external research funding, including a K08 award from the NIH.

“Dr. Byrne’s scientific creativity stems from both an active and curious mind as well as his ability to bridge diverse fields from engineering to biology to medicine,” said Michael Henry, professor and interim director of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center. “These interdisciplinary boundaries are where some of the most interesting and important work is happening today.”

Donna Santillan

Donna Santillan , research professor and director of the Division of Reproductive Science Research in the CCOM Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, received the Leadership in Research Award , which recognizes research and scholarly accomplishments throughout a career. 

While Santillan’s research has spanned across the field of reproductive science, she has a particular interest in the deadly diseases of pregnancy, including preeclampsia and its intergenerational effects. She designed and directs the Women’s Health Tissue Repository. Santillan’s work has been cited more than 2,700 times, and she has mentored 114 early career scientists and students, a testament to her expansive impact.

“Dr. Santillan has consistently demonstrated an unwavering commitment to fostering the professional and personal development of trainees in research, including myself,” said Banu Gumusoglu, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology. “Her mentorship extends beyond the confines of traditional academic settings, touching the lives of many aspiring trainees from high school through residency, clinical fellowship, and faculty levels.”

Stephen Warren

Stephen Warren , professor of history and American studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), received the Distinguished Achievement in Publicly Engaged Research Award . The award recognizes an individual faculty member who has put addressing public needs and direct engagement with the public, in the service of improving quality of life through research, at the forefront of his or her academic activities.

A prolific scholar of Native American culture, Warren’s research has centered on the Shawnee people of Oklahoma for the past two decades. He has published four books and co-authored the most recent one , Replanting Cultures: Community-Engaged Scholarship in Indian Country, with Chief Benjamin Barnes of the Shawnee Tribe. 

“Over the last two decades, Professor Warren has established himself as a leading community-engaged scholar, and his achievements in research and publishing demonstrate that community engagement and strong scholarship are not mutually exclusive,” said Nick Benson, director of the Office of Community Engagement. “Professor Warren’s work serves as an inspiration for researchers at Iowa and nationally who seek not only to make a difference in academia, but also in our communities.”

Kaveh Akbar

Kaveh Akbar , associate professor of English in CLAS, received the Distinguished Achievement in Arts and Humanities Research Award . This award honors distinguished achievement in humanities scholarship and work in the creative, visual and performing arts. 

Akbar joined Iowa in 2022 to serve as the director of the English and creative writing major. In January, his new novel, Martyr!, was published to critical acclaim. Akbar previously published two prize-winning poetry collections and has served as poetry editor for The Nation  since 2021. 

“Akbar’s leadership in the profession and on campus continues: his transformative work in our department not only enriches the academic experiences of 700+ English and creative writing majors, but also enhances the profile of UI as ‘The Writing University,’” said Blaine Greteman, professor and departmental executive officer of the Department of English.

Cara Hamann

Cara Hamann , associate professor of epidemiology, received the Faculty Communicating ideas Award . This award recognizes excellence in communication about research and scholarship in the sciences and humanities and the study of creative, visual, and performing arts to a general audience directly or via print and electronic media.

Hamann has frequently shared her work on transportation issues, including teen driving, bike and scooter safety, and pedestrian safety, through peer-reviewed journals and extensive media outreach. Her recent op-ed, “The most deadly traffic policy you’ve never heard of leaves you vulnerable, too,” drew widespread attention to a legal loophole in crosswalk laws and appeared in more than 50 news outlets nationwide, including USA Today .

“Dr. Hamann’s work is not only academically rigorous but also accessible and impactful to a

wide audience,” said Diane Rohlman, associate dean for research in the College of Public Health. “Her ability to communicate with clarity, creativity, and passion coupled with her extensive media outreach, exemplifies how she utilizes multiple approaches to address transportation challenges impacting society.”

Bob McMurray and Caroline Clay

Bob McMurray , F. Wendell Miller Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, and Caroline Clay , assistant professor of acting in the Department of Theatre Arts, were recipients of the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) Distinguished Mentor Awards . The awards honors mentors’ dedication to making their students research experiences successful.

“I can’t imagine my research journey without Bob’s welcoming kindness, thriving lab community, and confident mentorship, and I am so deeply grateful for his impact on me,” said Hannah Franke, a psychology and linguistics major mentored by McMurray.

“I know I am far from the only student whose life has been impacted by Caroline Clay,” said Isabella Hohenadel, a second-year theatre arts major. “She deserves to be recognized of all of the wonderful work she does and how much she cares about us as students. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of recognition than her.”

Staff Awards

Angie Robertson

Angie Robertson , department administrator for CCOM’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology, received the Distinguished Research Administrator Award . The award recognizes staff members who performed exceptional service in support of research at the UI by exploring funding opportunities, assisting in grant proposal preparation, submission, post-award administration, and operational support. 

In addition to overseeing every aspect of daily operations for the department, Robertson manages nearly 100 research grants for the department and three longstanding NIH T32 training grants. 

“Angie plays a leading role in our department office, inspiring us to achieve all aspects of our missions ,” said Li Wu, professor and department chair. “She is innovative, collaborative, accountable, and respectful  in her daily work. She exceeds any expectations and sets a great example for staff members in the department.”

Min Zhu

Min Zhu , research specialist in the Iowa Institute for Oral Health Research (IIOHR) within the College of Dentistry, received the Distinguished Research Professional Award . The award recognizes staff members who performed exceptional service in support of research at the UI by conducting experiments, collecting, and analyzing results and performing operational duties associated with a laboratory or research program. 

Zhu has worked as a lab bench scientist in the College of Dentistry since 2006, executing experimental work for grants and other research, working closely with IIOHR faculty members, overseeing lab maintenance and environmental health and safety efforts. 

“Beyond her research skills, Dr. Zhu has been an exceptional mentor and educator for my students and other junior researchers,” said Liu Hong, professor of prosthodontics. “Her kindness and willingness to share her knowledge have made her a beloved figure among them.”


Curtis Iberg , manager of sterilization services in the College of Dentistry, received the Innovation in Safety Award, which celebrates exceptional and ground-breaking innovations that advance safety at the UI. Iberg led a major renovation of the College of Dentistry’s instrument processing and sterilization area, with the aim of encouraging better workflow and support for future growth. 

“His innovations in workspace are a valuable asset to the greater University and demonstrates that the most important people to be involved in a space renovation are those that use the area because they can see how the facility can better function and how it can be designed for future needs,” said Kecia Leary, associate dean of clinics.

Writers Alliance of Gainesville

2024 Creative Nonfiction (Up to 2,500 Words)

The Bacopa Literary Review is looking to publish true stories, written beautifully, and based on the author’s  experiences, perceptions, and reflections in the form of personal memoir  or literary essay (for example, nature, travel, medical, spiritual,  food writing).


  • You must be 18 years old or older.
  • Only one submission to Creative Nonfiction, and do not submit to another genre unless this submission has been declined. Your uploaded file must contain only the title and work itself, not the author's name.
  • One piece, limit 2500 words
  • Double spaced, Arial 12-point typeface preferred 
  • Submit the file in .doc .docx or .rtf  only
  • Bacopa Literary Review does not accept previously published material

The submission process includes a text entry box titled "COVER LETTER,"  where you provide the following information:

  • Name, address, email, phone, title, word count and bio of 50 words or fewe r. This is the only place where your name appears.
  • Where did you hear about Bacopa Literary Review ?

Stephanie Seguin

Creative Nonfiction Editor

what is creative writing phd


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  9. PhD in Creative Writing and Literature

    The PhD in Creative Writing and Literature offers innovative, multidisciplinary curriculum; dedicated advising and mentorship from the English department's dynamic faculty; and solid preparation for expert teaching in the university classroom. The Creative Writing and Literature PhD curriculum is comprised of professional development courses ...

  10. PhD Creative Writing

    The PhD is designed to give students the critical skills to teach literature and writing at the college or university levels and includes both academic and creative courses, a teaching mentorship program, comprehensive exams, and a dissertation of creative work that includes a 30 to 50-page critical introduction to the creative work. The ...

  11. Creative Writing PhD

    The PhD in Creative Writing offers committed and talented writers the opportunity to study Creative Writing at the highest level. Supported by an expert supervisory team you will work independently towards the production of a substantial, publishable piece of creative writing, accompanied by a sustained exercise in critical study. ...

  12. What to Know About Creative Writing Degrees

    Creative writing program professors and alumni say creative writing programs cultivate a variety of in-demand skills, including the ability to communicate effectively. "While yes, many creative ...

  13. Frequently Asked Questions

    Frequently Asked Questions. "Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect.". - Samuel Johnson. Below find the answers to some common questions regarding the Ph.D. in Creative Writing & Literature program. The dropdown menus below will help you skip to the topic in which you are interested.

  14. Creative Writing PhD 2024

    Creative Writing PhD student, James Aitcheson, discusses doing a PhD as a published author. Watch the video > Course content. A PhD in Creative Writing is mainly made up of independent study, with supervision meetings spread throughout the year.

  15. PhD in Creative Writing

    Pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing at Leicester means becoming part of an exciting and dynamic research and creative environment. The PhD programme helps give structure to your creative project, and invites you to ask searching questions about your practice, to reflect on the process of producing creative work, and so to write a long critical-reflective essay (usually 15-20,000 words) to ...

  16. Creative/Critical Writing Concentration

    Admissions. For applicants to the Creative/Critical Writing concentration, the department requests the following additional materials: 20-25 pages of prose (at least one complete piece and an additional sample preferred), or 10-12 pages of poetry. The writing can be poetry, prose fiction, creative non-fiction or hybrid/cross-genre. Requirements.

  17. Creative Writing

    MPhil: a standalone, one-year (full-time) research degree. Students will undertake their own research or creative project, concluding with the submission of a 25,000-word dissertation/project (normally 17,000-18,000 words of creative writing and 7,000-8,000 of critical writing). Students may have the option to audit units from our taught master ...

  18. PhD Degrees in Creative Writing

    About PhD Degrees in Creative Writing Creative writing extends beyond the boundaries of normal professional journalism or academic forms of literature. It is often associated with fiction and poetry, but primarily emphasises narrative craft, character development, and the use of traditional literary forms.

  19. Pre-application guidance for the PhD in Creative Writing

    Doctoral degree candidates in Creative Writing spend three years writing a manuscript in consultation with a supervisor. This manuscript consists of two components: A creative component that comprises 75% of the final manuscript. A critical component, which comprises 25% of the final manuscript. In practical terms this amounts to the following:

  20. English: Creative Writing (Ph.D.)

    PhD in Creative Writing—Poetry; PhD in Creative Writing—Drama; Please prepare a statement which covers the following information, and attach it within the online application: Submit a 750-word essay about why you wish to undertake graduate study and which key experiences have shaped your decision. You may reflect upon ideas, texts, and ...

  21. Creative Writing

    MA/PhD in Literary/Writing Studies; Undergraduate Course Offerings; Graduate Course Offerings; MFA in Creative Writing; Research. Blogs & Digital Projects; ... Faculty working in Creative Writing. Ángel García. Assistant Professor. [email protected]. Gabriela Garcia. Postdoctoral Research Associate. [email protected].

  22. English and Literary Arts

    Degrees and GPA Requirements Bachelors degree: All graduate applicants must hold an earned baccalaureate from a regionally accredited college or university or the recognized equivalent from an international institution. Masters degree: This program requires a masters degree as well as the baccalaureate. Grade point average: The minimum undergraduate GPA for admission consideration for graduate ...

  23. Fully Funded PhD Programs in Creative Writing

    University of Southern California, PhD in Creative Writing and Literature (Los Angeles, CA): Students admitted to the Ph.D. program in Creative Writing and Literature receive financial support and assistance in the form of fellowships and teaching assistantships, which include full tuition remission, year-round health and dental benefits, and a ...

  24. Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing

    Naropa's Creative Writing MFA is a rigorous, generative, low-residency two-year program with 4 writing residencies in beautiful Boulder Colorado. The program combines asynchronous craft courses with on-campus residencies. Annual fall and spring residencies allow writers to connect with other writers and faculty, deepen their craft, and ...

  25. Interview with Alyson Hagy

    Interview with Alyson Hagy. Alyson Hagy grew up on a farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She is a graduate of Williams College ('82) where she twice won the Benjamin Wainwright Prize for her fiction and completed an Honors thesis under the direction of Richard Ford. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Michigan ...

  26. OVPR announces recipients of 2024 Discovery and Innovation Awards

    Kaveh Akbar, associate professor of English in CLAS, received the Distinguished Achievement in Arts and Humanities Research Award.This award honors distinguished achievement in humanities scholarship and work in the creative, visual and performing arts. Akbar joined Iowa in 2022 to serve as the director of the English and creative writing major.

  27. Writers Alliance of Gainesville Submission Manager

    The Bacopa Literary Review is looking to publish true stories, written beautifully, and based on the author's experiences, perceptions, and reflections in the form of personal memoir or literary essay (for example, nature, travel, medical, spiritual, food writing). Guidelines: You must be 18 years old or older. Only one submission to Creative Nonfiction, and do not submit to another genre ...