Graduate Study in Creative Writing

"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid."

- Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (1817)


The Creative Writing Concentration

For students who enroll full time, the M.A. in English can be completed in four semesters.  Students also have the option of enrolling part time and/or completing the degree through evening coursework.  A sample degree plan is available here.


Degree Requirements

  1. A minimum of thirty-six semester hours of credit is required beyond the bachelor's degree with a grade of "A" or "B," including the following course in the first year of coursework.

    • EH 502  Graduate Writing in English

    • Eighteen hours of courses in literature

    • Fifteen hours of courses in creative writing*

    • Three creative writing thesis hours*

    • No more than 18 hours of dual-listed courses (400 and 500 level listing for the same course) may be counted towards meeting the minimum hours required for a degree.

    • Graduate students will receive graduate credit only for the 500 level versions of dual-listed courses.

    • The required thesis (three hours of thesis credit will be granted on the successful completion and oral defense of the thesis) will serve as the student's exit evaluation along with an oral defense.

    *NOTE: This is a new requirement for students starting in Fall 2016. Students starting in previous semesters must take twelve hours of courses in creative writing and six creative writing thesis hours.

  2. Students may concentrate on fiction, non-fiction, poetry writing, or other genres.

  3. This concentration requires a creative thesis, which is a book-length work of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or other genres. An oral exam or defense, which will situate the thesis in the comprehensive objectives of the creative writing concentration, will be required one to two weeks prior to the Thesis First Submission Deadline for the Graduate School.

  4. Demonstrated proficiency in a foreign language is required.

The Creative Writing Thesis

English Thesis Deadlines 2020-21

  • Fall Thesis Deadline: Defend by 10/9/20
  • Spring Thesis Deadline: Defend by 3/5/21
  • Summer Thesis Deadline: Defend by 6/4/21

A creative thesis is required of all students in the creative writing concentration. The creative thesis is a book-length work of fiction, non-fiction, poetry or a combination. Students must complete an oral defense and submit their thesis prior to the Graduate School deadline prior in order to qualify for graduation that semester. For creative students, this defense will constitute their Comprehensive Examination evaluation.


The thesis is generally undertaken after the student has completed most coursework. The first step is to find a supervising professor to act as the thesis director, and with that director to enlist a committee (three to four members, one of whom must be a Graduate Faculty member from a department other than English). The student then works with the director and committee to develop a prospectus, which must be approved in a prospectus meeting by the thesis committee.

Creative writing students should begin working on their thesis during creative classes and workshops. During the final semester of course work, thesis hours are taken as a course, a total of three semester hours. Students who do not complete the thesis as planned can take additional thesis hours that will not count to the degree. Thesis credit ceases to be current after two years, and the student must be registered for at least one hour of credit during the semester in which the oral defense is conducted.

Registration for Thesis Hours Credit

First Semester of Thesis Work

  1. Though creative writing students enroll in thesis hours only in the semester in which they plan to graduate, students must work with the Director of Creative Writing and the Graduate Coordinator to select a thesis director, enlist a committee, and prepare a prospectus one to two semesters before they enroll in thesis hours. (Students admitted prior to Fall 2016 follow a different plan; see the Graduate Coordinator.)
  2. Students should work with a mentor to develop a work plan for the creative thesis at least one year before their planned date of graduation.

Second Semester of Thesis Work

  1. The English department requires that the Thesis Committee Form be completed in order for any M.A. student to sign up for thesis hours. To get information on Graduate Faculty status and date of appointment for the form, check the Graduate Faculty Roster.
  2. The English Department requires that the Prospectus and the Prospectus Signature Sheet be completed in order for any M.A. student to sign up for a the final semester of thesis hours. Each student must schedule a prospectus meeting at which the three English faculty members on the committee discuss the thesis and approve the prospectus. The Creative Writing Thesis Checklist contains specifications for the prospectus. Information on formatting your signature sheet is available on the Graduate School's Thesis Preparation page.
  3. File a Thesis Hours EH 599 Request Form for three hours of thesis credit. Once approval is given, the student will receive an override to register for thesis hours in PAWS.

Submission Procedures and Deadlines

The departmental oral defense must be completed at least two weeks in advance of the Graduate School deadline for thesis submission. To that end, copies of the thesis must be in the hands of all committee members at least two weeks prior to the oral defense.