Creative Writing Emphasis

English Master of Arts Program


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The M.A. in English with Emphasis on Creative Writing provides advanced study in the writing of literary genres and the cultural contexts of literary production. 

Two Seminars

Students in the Creative Writing Emphasis will complete two 8000-level seminars beyond the required ENGL 8906 (ENGL 8171, ENGL 8181, ENGL 8191, WRIT 8500, WRIT 8902 or others with approval). For this emphasis, WRIT 8902 cannot be counted toward this requirement.

Credits in a Related Field

Within the required 32 credits, students in the Creative Writing Emphasis will complete at least 6 credits in a related field or fields. Related field courses may be at the 4000, 5000, or 8000 level and must be offered for graduate credit. A faculty member from the related field will participate in the comprehensive exam.

Language Requirement or Six Additional Hours

Candidates for the English M.A. Degree with a Creative Writing Emphasis have a number of options for satisfying the language requirement

Under certain circumstances, the requirement may be waived for foreign students.

Comprehensive Exam

Under the supervision of an examining committee, the candidate will be given a 2-day, 6-hour written examination focusing on the individual student's course work and required supplementary readings.

The candidate will write the following:

  1. Close analysis of a text from the perspective of creative-writing craft, history, and culture (2 hours).
  2. Answers to questions based on 3 lists of works that represent significant developments in the history of literary writing and production, as well as in media, genre, markets, technology, or other social, economic, or material conditions affecting creative writing  (3 hours).
  3. Related field OR Synthetic option (1 hour):
    The third part, lasting an hour, may be based on the student's work in the related field or minor and on a reading list drawn up by the candidate in consultation with the related-field representative on the examination committee.
    Alternatively, the student may elect the synthetic option. In this case, the student will work with the Exam Committee to develop a synthetic reading list, and answer an exam question (or questions) requiring synthesis across the diverse components of the Writing Studies field, including literary, rhetorical, linguistic, compositional, and cultural-studies methods.

For details, see The Comprehensive Exam for the MA in English: The Creative Writing Emphasis.

Checklist for an English MA Graduate Degree Plan in the Creative WritingEmphasis

MA students submit a Graduate Degree Plan form in their second semester to record courses they have taken, will take, and plan on taking to ensure that they have a means to fulfill all requirements of both the English MA degree and their particular emphasis in their two years.  The following checklist summarizes these requirements for the Creative Writing emphasis. 

  • Language specified for the language requirement
  • ENGL 8906
  • 2 8000-level seminars (beyond ENGL 8906, WRIT 8902, WRIT 8910, ENGL or WRIT 8094)
  • 2 hours of Plan B credit taken (ENGL 8094 or WRIT 8094)
  • 32 total credits minimum
  • 20 credits minimum in major
  • at least 2 courses taken in a related field
  • at least 2 courses in creative writing (fiction, poetry, New Media Writing)
  • Course work taken to provide comprehensive grounding and advanced study in English, including
    • contemporary literature (twentieth- and twenty-first century)
    • history of authorship or readership (for example, courses in literary periods, literary criticism, literary theory as it relates to authorship or reading, cultural or intellectual history, creative writing courses emphasizing historical texts)
    • material and cultural contexts of creative writing (print culture, book history, genre, media, digital culture, digital humanities, creative writing courses emphasizing cultural contexts, other studies in material and historical contexts, etc.)

Note that, in many cases, a single course can serve to prepare the MA student in more than one of the categories above.  Many creative writing courses, for instance, would include reading and analysis of contemporary literature. Courses in a literary period might also provide critical tools for studying material and cultural contexts as well as for examining the history of authorship. 

Do not list lower-division courses (such as world language classes taken to fulfill the language requirement) on the Graduate Degree Plan.