Two programs within the umbrella of the Department of English focus on particular aspects or genres of literary endeavor.
The purpose of the Creative Writing program is to give students a rigorous background in the fundamentals of creative work by providing them with the opportunity to study with established poets and prose writers. The program is committed to interdisciplinary work while also teaching the elements of creative writing that underlie all genres. Creative Writing sponsors events , workshops , and lectures and also schedules many undergraduate and graduate classes in writing. Visiting writers each quarter provide a dynamic component to the curriculum, with authors ranging from George Saunders to Susan Howe. English faculty member John Wilkinson is currently the Director of the Program in Creative Writing and the Program in Poetry & Poetics, and several English faculty members, including Rachel Cohen, Edgar Garcia, Srikanth Reddy, Jennifer Scappettone, and Vu Tran, regularly teach both creative and critical classes.
- Creative Writing Website
- Upcoming Creative Writing Events
Minor in English and Creative Writing
Undergraduate students who are not majoring in English may enter a minor program in English and Creative Writing. These students should declare their intention to enter the minor program by the end of Spring Quarter of their third year. Students choose courses in consultation with the Program Manager in Creative Writing and must submit a minor program consent form to their College Adviser in order to declare the minor. Students completing this minor must follow all relevant admission procedures described in the Creative Writing website. Courses in the minor may not be double counted with the student's major(s) or with other minors and may not be counted toward general education requirements. Courses in the minor must be taken for quality letter grades, and all of the requirements for the minor must be met by registering for courses bearing University of Chicago course numbers.
Requirements for the minor program:
- 2 Creative Writing courses (at least one at the Special Topics or advanced level)
- 3 Creative Writing or English electives
- 1 portfolio/projects workshop (or advanced workshop depending on genre) to be taken in the Winter Quarter of the students' fourth year
- A portfolio of the student's work to be submitted to the Director of Undergraduate Studies by the end of the fifth week in the quarter in which the student plans to graduate. The portfolio might consist of a selection of poems, one or two short stories or chapters from a novel, a substantial part or the whole of a play, two or three non-fiction pieces, and so forth.
There is no minor solely in English. The Minor in English and Creative Writing for Non-English Majors is the only minor available through the Department of English.
Poetry and Poetics
This program aims to coordinate the University's various curricular approaches to the creative and critical practice of poetics. The Program supports the History and Forms of Lyric series, an ongoing series of lectures by prominent scholars, and a graduate workshop that focuses on work in progressfrom students, faculty, and visitors. The discussions enabled by the Program are intended to help students at all levels to pursue work that crosses disciplines and discourses. The Program also supports collaboration among faculty members in the form, forexample, of team-taught courses, conferences, and lectures. The Program is overseen by an ad-hoc committee of faculty from various departments, including the Department of English.
The Program in Poetry and Poetics
The University of Chicago in general, and the Department of English in particular, are known for the interdisciplinary and theoretically driven work of their faculty and students. Many English faculty members have joint appointment in other programs at the University, including Comparative Literature, Cinema and Media Studies, Art History, Theater and Performance Studies (TAPS), and the Divinity School, among others. Interdisciplinary work is encouraged in the Department of English--both graduate and undergraduate students take classes in a variety of University departments and programs. Students in these programs, in turn, enliven English classes with their perspectives. Listed below are links to some of the departments with which the Department of English works closely.
- Cinema and Media Studies
- Department of Art History
- Department of Comparative Literature
- Department of Philosophy
- Divinity School
- Theater and Performance Studies (TAPS)
The Program in Creative Writing is part of the Department of English Language & Literature at the University of Chicago. Students at UChicago pursue creative writing within the larger context of academic study. While the purpose of the program is, above all, to give students a rigorous background in the fundamentals of creative work by providing them with the opportunity to study with established poets and prose writers, it differs from creative writing programs at other universities in seeing itself as an integral part of the university’s intellectual life, and most particularly in providing opportunities for interdisciplinary work. The program offers an undergraduate major in Creative Writing; a joint minor in English and Creative Writing that includes a creative portfolio; and a formal Creative Writing Option through the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities .
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Ron Offen Poetry: Ari Banias
New Voices in Nonfiction: Raquel Gutiérrez
New Voices in Fiction: Kate Folk
New Voices in Poetry: Tracy Fuad
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College Of Liberal Arts And Sciences
Program for writers.
UIC offers a PhD in English with creative dissertation and also an MA in English with creative manuscript.
The MA is considered preparation to enter an PhD program, either in literature or creative writing; or a degree to prepare a writer to enter jobs in publishing, public relations, high school or community college teaching, grant writing, corporate writing, and other communications fields.
UIC’s PhD is suitably academic and scholarly, blending thorough studies in critical theory and literature with in-depth immersion in the writing of fiction, poetry or creative nonfiction. The program is usually completed in 5 or 6 years. In that time students prepare themselves to work as professors with 3 or 4 solid individually designed teaching areas. In the same time, students also become skilled and imaginative college composition instructors, and have opportunities to broaden expertise in this area if desired. PhD students in the Program for Writers also teach beginning creative writing courses in their genre, and may teach introductory literature courses as well. All PhD students are offered teaching assistantships.
The student who finishes a PhD with creative dissertation also graduates with a book-length MS of poetry, fiction or creative nonfiction. Some students are able to complete more than one book. Students in the program are encouraged to seek publication before they finish the program. There are opportunities for assistance in learning the literary market and how to present oneself to it. The Program for Writers Workshops welcome new drafts as well as revisions of drafts seen in earlier workshops. Workshops are offered in short fiction, the novel, creative nonfiction, and poetry. A student-run reading series presents public readings of works-in-progress by both PhD and MA students in the program.
The 2-year Program for Writers MA is designed to provide intensive work in a particular genre plus an advanced overview of literary and cultural studies. A 3-year option can include secondary teaching certification. The MA is designed as a stepping-stone to PhD work but it also prepares students for community college or high school teaching, careers in publishing or editing, and other professional areas. Students complete the MA with a partial MS, or portfolio, roughly 75-150 pages (prose), somewhat shorter for poetry (40-50 pgs). The project could consist of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. Excerpts from novels or from a longer creative nonfiction piece are allowed, as are combinations of fiction and nonfiction. Some students do complete a book-length manuscript. MA and PhD students are in writing workshops together, so master’s students benefit from the combined years of experience and a wide range of aesthetics.
Be sure to review our admissions information, as well as MA degree requirements and PhD degree requirements.
Creative Writing Faculty
University and College Creative Writing Degree Programs
Chicago state university, mfa in creative writing.
Fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. 2016 faculty include Brenda Aghahowa, Forrest Hazard, and Christine Ohale.
Columbia College, Creative Writing BA
Faculty include Don De Grazia, Garnett Kilberg-Cohen, Aviya Kushner, Eric May, Patricia McNair, Joe Meno, and Alexis Pride, David Lazar, Shawn Shiflett, Tony Trigilio, David Trinidad, Sam Weller.
DePaul University, MA in Writing and Publishing
Fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. 2016 faculty include Kathleen Rooney and Miles Harvey. ( Our interview .)
Northwestern University, MFA in Prose and Poetry, and MA in Writing Programs
The graduate creative writing program housed in Northwestern University’s School of Professional Studies has been conferring MFA and MA degrees for more than a dozen years and currently its degree tracks are fiction, poetry, nonfiction, popular fiction, dual genre and publishing and professional development. Faculty Director is Christine Sneed . 2022 faculty include: Paula Carter , Gioia Diliberto , Charles Finch , Gina Frangello , Rebecca Morgan Frank , Miles Harvey , Laurie Lawlor , Rebecca Makkai , Juan Martinez , Faisal Mohyuddin , Natalie Moore , Simone Muench , Naeem Murr , Lori Rader-Day , Ed Roberson , Donna Seaman , Megan Stielstra , Rachel Jamison Webster , and Michael Zapata .
NU also offers certificates in Advanced Graduate Study, with a faculty led by Reginald Gibbons and Chris Abani .
Many of its alumni have gone on to publish poetry and prose with distinction. Among them are fiction writers Ross Ritchell ( The Knife , 2015), Tara Stringfellow ( Memphis , forthcoming 2022), Charles “LC” Fiore ( Coyote Loop , 2021), Jennifer Companik ( Check Engine and Other Stories , 2021) Ignatius Aloysius ( Fishhead: Republic of Want , 2020), Allison Epstein ( A Tip for the Hangman , 2021) Cheryl Reed ( Poison Girls , 2017), nonfiction authors Kevin Davis ( The Brain Defense , 2017) and Sara Connell ( Bringing in Finn , 2011), and poet Virginia Rice Smith ( When I Wake It Will Be Forever , 2014).
Its students coedit TriQuarterly Online with creative writing students in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and have taken part in publishing and teaching internships with presses and organizations including Agate Publishing, Northwestern University Press, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, 826 CHI, 826 Valencia, with future internships also available at Tortoise Books and with New York literary agents based in Chicago.
Roosevelt University, MFA in Creative Writing
Roosevelt University’s main facilities look out onto the spectacular, iconic Chicago of Michigan Avenue. Roosevelt’s MFA program started in 1999 and has since graduated a steady stream of accomplished authors. It offers specialties in fiction and creative non-fiction. MFA candidates, under the guidance of a faculty advisor, edit the university’s annual literary magazine, The Oyez Review . The magazine, in publication since 1965, has developed a reputation for high-quality literary work.
Program director Christian TeBordo currently leads a program that includes a faculty of Regina Buccola and Kyle Beachy. TeBordo took over for Scott Blackwood.
Notable writers with affiliations to Roosevelt University include:
- Leon Forrest (CLHOF Class of 2013) took classes at Roosevelt University before dropping out in 1960, shortly before he was drafted.
- Lorraine Hansberry (CLHOF Class of 2010) also was a student at Roosevelt.
- Langston Hughes (CLHOF Class of 2012) gave a poetry performance at the Auditorium Theatre.
- Carolyn Rodgers (CLHOF Class of 2012), earned her BA from Roosevelt in 1965.
- Shel Silverstein (CLHOF Class of 2014), a student at Roosevelt College from 1950 until he was drafted in 1953, contributed cartoons to the student newspaper The TORCH . He also wrote columns and briefly served as Art Editor.
- Sterling Plumpp (Fuller Award recipient, 2019) graduated from Roosevelt in 1968 with a degree in psychology, during which time he took an introduction to creative writing course as well as a class in Romantic Literature. He stayed at Roosevelt University another two-and-a-half years before accepting a teaching position at University of Illinois-Chicago.
More recent graduates include Lori Rader-Day, Jessica Anne, and Cassandra Morrison.
Roosevelt also offers undergraduate creative writing classes that are tended to by the entire English faculty as well as the creative writing faculty. Students with a creative writing concentration work toward a capstone project on par with graduate-level work.
Roosevelt University’s writing program, though mostly populated with Chicagoans, entices a good number of out-of-state applicants.
School of the Art Institute, MFA in Writing
“Crossing freely between the genres of poetry, fiction, playwriting/screenwriting, nonfiction, and across the school…writers design their own track of interests and learn to trust the authority of their own intuition.” 2016 faculty include Janet Desaulniers, Calvin Forbes, and James McManus.
University of Chicago, MAPH Writing Option
“An alternative to an MFA.”
University of Illinois-Chicago
UIC offers a PhD in English with creative dissertation and also an MA in English with creative manuscript. The MA is considered preparation to enter an PhD program, either in literature or creative writing; or a degree to prepare a writer to enter jobs in publishing, public relations, high school or community college teaching, grant writing, corporate writing, and other communications fields.
Sterling Plumpp’s. People. Jeffrey Renard Allen (committed for his doctorate), Reginald Young (was on his), chaired Duriel E. Harris’s thesis. Tyehimba Jess majoring in sociology. Came to U-IC specifically to take course on Black Aeshetic. Most important writer, Amira Baraka.
Faculty includes: Cris Mazza
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University of Illinois, Chicago
Illinois, united states.
UIC offers a PhD in English with creative dissertation and also an MA in English with creative manuscript.
The Program for Writers at UIC is one of the oldest PhD-granting writing programs in the country. Program for Writers PhD alumni have been teaching at colleges and universities throughout the country, and their books regularly appear in book review pages and on college syllabi.
The small and selective PhD Program for Writers is designed to prepare students for blended careers in writing, critical scholarship and university teaching. UIC has placed emphasis on assembling a permanent writing faculty, stressing a long-term relationship between professor and student. Workshop courses are offered in short fiction, the novel, nonfiction and poetry. In addition to both traditional and alternative forms of fiction and creative nonfiction, the Program’s prose community has developed an interest in the blur between the genres, including other cross-pollinating genres such as flash-fiction, flash-nonfiction, flash-novella, prose poetry, novel in lyric poem. The poetry program places particular emphasis on the lyric poem, both in a 21st-century context and throughout literary history.
Financial assistance for UIC graduate students takes the form of teaching assistantships plus tuition and fee waivers. There are also numerous fellowships for individual application.
The 2-year Program for Writers MA is designed to provide intensive work in a particular genre plus an advanced overview of literary and cultural studies. A 3-year option can include secondary teaching certification. The MA is designed as a stepping-stone to PhD work but also prepares students for community college or high school teaching, careers in publishing or editing, and other professional areas. Students complete the MA with a partial MS, roughly 75-150 pages (for prose) somewhat shorter for poetry (40-50). MA and PhD students are in writing workshops together, so master’s students benefit from a combined years of experience and a wide range of aesthetics.
601 S. Morgan St. MC 162, Dept of English Chicago Illinois, United States 60607 Phone: (312) 413-2795 Email: [email protected] http://www.uic.edu/depts/engl/index.html
Bachelor of Arts in English/Literature +
Minor / concentration in creative writing +, master of arts in creative writing +.
The 2-year Program for Writers MA is designed to provide intensive work in a particular genre plus an advanced overview of literary and cultural studies. A 3-year option can include secondary teaching certification. The MA is designed as a stepping-stone to PhD work but also prepares students for community college or high school teaching, careers in publishing or editing, and other professional areas. Students complete the MA with a partial MS, roughly 75-150 pages (for prose) somewhat shorter for poetry (40-50). Some students do complete a book-length manuscript. MA and PhD students are in writing workshops together, so master’s students benefit from a combined years of experience and a wide range of aesthetics.
PhD in Creative Writing +
UIC's small and selective PhD program is designed to prepare students for blended careers in writing, critical scholarship and university teaching. Because it is a commuter campus, UIC has placed emphasis on assembling a permanent writing faculty, stressing a long-term relationship between professor and student. The program offers a lively combination of individual supervision and group workshopping opportunities for students to develop literary writing to a professional standard and to produce significant critical scholarship. Workshop courses are offered in fiction (both short story and novel writing), poetry, and nonfiction writing. Financial assistance for UIC graduate students takes the form of tuition and fee waivers, teaching assistantships, and, the availability of university fellowships. The Program for Writers at UIC is one of the oldest PhD-granting writing programs in the country. UIC's PhD graduates with creative dissertations in poetry and fiction have been teaching at colleges and universities throughout the country, and their books regularly appear in book review pages and on college syllabi.
Charlatan: Selected Stories. Something Wrong With Her, Is It Sexual Harassment Yet?, Disability, Indigenous: Growing Up Californian, Waterbaby, Trickle-Down Timeline, Various Men Who Knew Us as Girls, others
Public Works, The Pornographors
Perception , Grains of the Voice, Rotary, Restoration
the Devil's Highway, Hummingbird's Daughter, Nobody's Son, others
Lake Michigan, 2018. The Performance of Becoming Human Brooklyn, 2016. In the Murmurs of the Rotten Carcass Economy, 2015. The Book of Interfering Bodies, 2011.The Ecstasy of Capitulation Buffalo, 2007.
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Loyola University Chicago
Department of english, prospective phd students.
The Department of English at Loyola University Chicago offers MA and PhD programs in literature and culture across three broad historical areas, Medieval and Renaissance Literature, Nineteenth Century Studies, and Modern Literature and Culture, with a special emphasis in textual studies.
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Loyola’s PhD program in English provides many advantages :
I. A faculty of scholar-teachers . At many universities, a large and overcommitted faculty has little time or incentive to concentrate on teaching and mentoring its students. Smaller departments where teaching is emphasized, on the other hand, may lack the research-active faculty found at the more prestigious institutions. At Loyola, you will find the best of both worlds in a faculty of nationally respected, active scholars who also take pride in their teaching, and who give graduate education and graduate students the care and attention they deserve.
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II. Success in the job market . Despite the notoriously challenging market for PhDs in the humanities, the English department at Loyola has a strong, long-standing record of success in placing our students in jobs—particularly at liberal arts colleges where teaching is valued, but also at research universities and community colleges. See our Placement History for more details!
III. A humane Graduate Assistantship program . The service requirements that come with a Loyola assistantship are fair and manageable. Our graduate assistants (GAs) teach four courses of their own during the four years of their assistantships, though never more than a course a semester. When not teaching, they have the opportunity to work closely with faculty mentors as either research assistants or teaching assistants. There is never a point at which a GA's work requirements impede his or her ability to move ahead toward the PhD.
IV. A balanced education in literature, theory, and textual studies . With distribution requirements spread over four areas—Medieval and Renaissance Literature, Nineteenth Century Studies, Modern Literature and Culture, and Textual Studies and Digital Humanities—our PhD program offers up-to-date training in the discipline's major areas of expertise. Program requirements are supported by a wide range of courses in the various historical periods of English and American literature, literary and critical theory, post-colonial and global literatures, cultural studies, textual scholarship, digital humanities, and the teaching of writing.
V. Manageable degree requirements . Coursework in the PhD program can be completed within three years (two years for students entering with the MA degree), with the qualifying exams and dissertation taking two to three more years.
- Graduate Course Schedules and Catalog
VI. Real training in teaching skills . Our department considers the training of our graduate assistants in classroom teaching to be an important part of what we do. We do not throw new graduate students into the composition classroom with orders to teach! During their first year with us, we instruct our GA's in the art of teaching, mentor them in our own writing classes, and give them hands-on tutoring experience in the Writing Center. Our students feel well prepared when they teach their own first courses. And ongoing instruction in pedagogy as well as ample opportunities to teach both writing and literature, provides our graduates with an excellent skill set that is very attractive to prospective employers.
VII. The Center for Textual Studies and Digital Humanities . Loyola's Department of English is a close partner with the University's Center for Textual Studies and Digital Humanities. This department’s collaboration with the Center provides students with opportunities to participate in conferences and symposia with Loyola faculty and prominent visiting lecturers, to work with faculty on research projects, and to take new courses and pursue research of their own in this exciting interdisciplinary area. Students may take courses both in the department and in the interdisciplinary MA program in digital humanities.
VIII. A vibrant community . Students have long praised our program for its strong community. Our students work closely with faculty members and with one another. MA and PhD students take the same courses and share in the department’s rich array of social and professional opportunities. Social outings; “salons” where advanced students present their work; writing workshops for students presenting at conferences or publishing essays; workshops on teaching, the job search, and writing seminar papers; guest speakers and graduate student conferences—these are just some of the activities sponsored by our English Graduate Student Association (EGSA) and the department to enhance our students’ professional training.
IX. Chicago is a wonderful place to pursue a graduate degree. A thriving, culturally vibrant, yet very "livable" city, Chicago has something for every graduate student, including educational and programs and events hosted by the city’s many universities, the Newberry Library, The Art Institute of Chicago, museums and theaters. The Loyola campus, located on the shores of Lake Michigan, provides an attractive refuge while also giving easy access to the resources of the city around it. See the English Graduate Student Resources pages for more information on what resources are available in the area for personal and professional growth.
X. Positive outcomes . All students who enroll in our program will:
- Learn the significance and the history of British and American literature (broadly defined)
- Gain an appreciation and understanding of diverse voices in literary history
- Learn how to think both critically and creatively
- Learn how to write effectively and persuasively
- Contribute to existing scholarly discourses in the field as a literary critic
- Establish an appreciation of the diversity of texts by authors writing in English
In addition, students in the PhD program gain valuable knowledge about how to become active members of the profession by:
- Learning how to present at academic conferences
- Submitting new research to scholarly journals
- Organizing symposia
- Preparing for the academic job market and related fields
Discover More About the PhD Program!
- Graduate/ Professional
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University of Illinois, Chicago
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Poetry: Jennifer Ashton, Daniel Borzutzky, Christina Pugh, Luis Urrea Fiction: Christopher Grimes, Cris Mazza, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Luis Urrea Nonfiction: Mary Anne Mohanraj, Luis Urrea
Students receive full funding for six years through teaching assistantships and can also apply to numerous fellowships.
UIC also offers an MA in English with creative manuscript. MA and PhD students take writing workshops together.
The program is designed to prepare students for blended careers in writing, critical scholarship, and university teaching. Workshop courses are offered in short fiction, the novel, nonfiction, and poetry. The prose program also places an emphasis on cross-genre work, including flash fiction, flash nonfiction, flash novella, prose poetry, and verse novels. The poetry program places an emphasis on the lyric poem throughout literary history and in the twenty-first century.
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- Learn more about English and Creative Writing
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Get In Touch
A graduate admissions representative is ready to answer your questions about this program. Email David Marts today.
Creative Writing (MFA)
The fall 2024 application is now open we review applications on a rolling basis, and we encourage you to apply as soon as you have gathered your application materials to be considered for the widest array of potential funding opportunities., time to degree: 2 years across genres, part-time options are available.
Our Creative Writing MFA is a single, seamless program that allows you to take classes in as many genres as you like (poetry, fiction, or nonfiction). This MFA supports hybrid writing that combines elements of more than one genre.
We're interested in the rich literary history by which the genres are traditionally constituted, and in the ways in which such definitions may fall away.
Writing of all kinds happens here in a supportive, exceptionally creative community.
As a full- or part-time student in the Creative Writing MFA program at Columbia, you'll be a member of a vibrant community of writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and hybrid work across genres. Innovative and exploratory approaches are encouraged, as are more traditional approaches to prose and/or poetic forms. With an unusually large, well-published, aesthetically diverse faculty, you'll be stimulated and nurtured as a writer in one of the most exciting cities in the country for emerging literary artists.
See application requirements | View Required Courses | View program costs (PDF)
In the Classroom
As a student in Columbia College Chicago's Creative Writing MFA program, you'll have close working relationships with our award-winning faculty members in an intimate community of writers. You'll find a home at Columbia if you're looking for a program that emphasizes discipline and process, craft and critical thinking, and cross-genre possibilities. Our faculty members will support you in your growth as a writer. As role models and authors, they'll encourage and inspire you to experiment, take risks, and engage with other writers and artists
Core Graduate Faculty in Creative Writing:
- CM Burroughs is the author of The Vital System (Tupelo Press, 2012) and Master Suffering (Tupelo Press, 2021,) which was longlisted for the National Book Award and a finalist for the Lambda Literary and L.A. Times Book Awards. Burroughs has been awarded fellowships and grants from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, Djerassi Foundation, and Cave Canem Foundation. Burroughs' poetry has appeared in Poetry, Callaloo, jubilat, Ploughshares, Best American Experimental Writing , and The Golden Shovel Anthology: Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks .
- Don De Grazia wrote the novel American Skin (Scribner) and other works which have appeared in TriQuarterly, The Chicago Tribune, The Outlaw Bible of American Literature, Rumpus , and elsewhere. He is a screenwriter in the WGA (East) and his rock opera, co-written with Irvine Welsh, debuted at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it was short-listed for Best New Musical.
- Lisa Fishman's seventh poetry collection is Mad World, Mad Kings, Mad Composition (Wave Books 2020). Earlier books include 24 Pages and other poems, F L O W E R C A R T , and The Happiness Experiment , on Wave and Ahsahta Press. Her poetry, essays, and hybrid works appear regularly in journals, and she is anthologized in Best American Experimental Writing, American Poetry: The Next Generation , and elsewhere.
- Garnett Kilberg Cohen has published three books of short stories. Her prose has appeared in many places, including The Gettysburg Review, Witness, American Fiction, TriQuarterly , and The New Yorker (2019) online. Her nonfiction has twice been awarded Notable Essay citations from Best American Essays , and several of her stories have won awards, such as the Crazyhorse Fiction Prize and the Lawrence Foundation Prize. Find more information here .
- Aviya Kushner is the author of The Grammar of God (Spiegel & Grau); a National Jewish Book Award Finalist, Sami Rohr Prize Finalist, and one of Publishers' Weekly's Top 10 Religion Stories of the Year; the chapbook Eve and All the Wrong Men (Dancing Girl Press); and the poetry collection Wolf Lamb Bomb (Orison Books). She is The Forward's language columnist and a Howard Foundation Fellow in nonfiction.
- Alexis Pride's novels include All I Want For Christmas , (co-authored, Level 4 Press, 2021), Where the River Ends (Tanksley-Simpson Publishing), and Sex Kills with short fiction published in TriQuarterly, F Magazine, and elsewhere. Scholarly publications include "Teaching Beyond the Text: What To Do If Johnny Can't Read So Good?" (The ICERI Proceedings, Seville, Spain). See a sample of Pride's work here .
- Joe Meno is the author of seven novels and two short story collections, including Marvel and a Wonder , Hairstyles of the Damned , and The Boy Detective Fails . He is a winner of the Nelson Algren Award, the Great Lakes Book Award, and was a finalist for the Story Prize. His recent nonfiction book, Between Everything and Nothing , follows two asylum seekers in the Trump era.
Opportunities for Graduate Students
New MFA students may be admitted on a competitive basis to the Graduate Student Instructor program, which provides training in the teaching of undergraduate composition and is followed by the opportunity to teach Writing and Rhetoric upon approval. Assistantships are also available to new graduate students on a competitive basis. Students holding assistantships may work as teaching assistants, as editors on department publications, as events coordinators, or as faculty research assistants, among other possibilities.
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With a Creative Writing MFA, Columbia alumni go on to find employment in teaching, editing, arts administration, public relations, nonprofit agencies, literary foundations, advertising, and copywriting. Many have started successful journals and independent presses while others work for national publications or continue their studies in doctoral programs. A stunning number of our alumni have had their books and chapbooks published by both major publishing houses and on highly regarded independent presses. They have won contests and awards judged by renown writers nationally and internationally. Their voices are part of the contemporary literary landscape.
Here are just a few of our alumni who have gone on to have their work published, often by winning prestigious contests:
- Hafizah Geter (MFA '10) poetry collection Un-American , was published on Wesleyan University Press.
- Jan-Henry Gray (MFA '16) is the author of Documents , selected by D. A. Powell as the winner of the 2018 A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize and published by BOA Editions.
- Julia Fine (MFA ’16) is the author of The Upstairs House and What Should Be Wild , which was shortlisted for the Bram Stoker Superior First Novel Award and the Chicago Review of Books Award.
- Megan Stielstra (MFA ’00) is the author of three collections: Everyone Remain Calm , Once I Was Cool , and The Wrong Way to Save Your Life , the 2017 Nonfiction Book of the Year from the Chicago Review of Books. Her work appears in the Best American Essays, New York Times, The Believer, Poets & Writers, Tin House, Longreads, Guernica, The Rumpus, and elsewhere.
- Naomi Washer (MFA ’15) is the author of a novel, Subjects We Left Out (Veliz Books) and several chapbooks including Trainsongs (Greying Ghost Press), Phantoms (dancing girl press), and American Girl Doll (Ursus Americanus Press). She is also the translator of Sebastián Jiménez Galindo’s Experimental Gardening Manual ( Toad Press).
- Abigail Zimmer (MFA ’14) is the editor of Lettered Streets Press and the author of two chapbooks as well as the full-length poetry collection, G irls Their Tongues , published by Orange Monkey Press.
- Amy Lipman (MFA ’14) poetry collection, Getting Dressed , was published by Spuyten Duyvil Press, and her chapbook, Cardinal Directions , was a runner-up for the Ghost Proposal Chapbook prize and published on Ghost Proposal .
- Andrew Ruzkowski's (MFA '13) poetry collections are A Shape & Sound , Do You Know This Type of Tree , and Things That Keep Us From Drifting . After his MFA, he completed a Ph.D. at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. A generous scholarship in his memory has been established for students with a primary interest in poetry at Columbia College Chicago; for information about the Andrew Ruzkowski Memorial Scholarship, see here .
- Brandi Homan (MFA '07) is the author of Bobcat Country and Hard Reds , published by Shearsman Books, and is co-founder of the feminist press, Switchback Books.
- Brittany Tomaselli (MFA '15) won the 2019 Omnidawn Chapbook Contest (poetry) judged by Carl Philips, resulting in the publication of Since Sunday on Omnidawn .
- Jeff Hoffmann (MFA '19) first novel, Other People's Children , published by Simon & Schuster.
- Leif Haven (MFA '12) won the 1913 Prize judged by Claudia Rankine, resulting in the publication of his poetry collection, Arcane Rituals From the Future , on 1913 Press.
- Kate Wisel (MFA ’17) is the author of Driving in Cars With Homeless Men , winner of the 2019 Drue Heinz Literature Prize, selected by Min Jin Lee. She is also a part-time faculty at Columbia.
- Nathan Breitling's (MFA '11) poems have appeared in journals such as Court Green and The Columbia Poetry Review. A generous award in his memory has been established for MFA students with a primary interest in poetry at Columbia College Chicago; for more information about the Nathan Breitling Poetry Fellowship, see here .
- Sahar Mustafah (MFA '14) first novel was published by W. W. Norton; The Beauty of Your Face has been reviewed in the New York Times and elsewhere.
- Tyler Flynn Dorholt (MFA '09) co-edits and publishes Tammy and his chapbook, Modern Camping , was selected by John Yau for the Poetry Society of America chapbook prize. His first book, American Flowers , was published by Dock Street Press.
- Toya Wolfe's (MFA '15) first novel Last Summer On State Street was published by William Morrow and recently won the $25,000 Pattis Family Foundation Chicago Book Award . The novel has received global acclaim.
- Books, chapbooks, zines, journals, and presses have also been published and established by many other prolific MFA alumni, including: Becca Klaver, Chris Terry, Erik Fassnacht, Geling Yan, Geoff Hyatt, Holly Amos, Jessie Ann Foley, Joshua Young, Kelly Forsythe, Ryan Spooner, S. Marie Clay, Steven Teref, Toni Nealie, and more.
Chicago: A City of Writers
Living and studying in Chicago means you’ll have access to one of the richest literary scenes in the country. Readings that are free and open to the public are hosted across the city almost every night of the week; many include open mic opportunities for newcomers. Whether you incline toward story-telling venues, poetry readings, slams, avant-garde literary theater, lectures, spoken word performances or fiction readings, Chicago provides a welcoming environment for both new and established writers. Our downtown location in the South Loop sets the stage for surprising, challenging, and inspiring conversations among artists, educators, activists, scholars, and performers––whether in museums, galleries, bars, on the subway or in the stree t. You’ll be provided with a free CTA pass while you’re in the MFA program, as well as free membership at the Chicago Institute of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art, so you can explore Chic ago’s wealth of creativity to your heart’s content
The Efroymson Creative Writing Reading Series
The Efroymson Creative Writing Reading Series at Columbia College Chicago has a long tradition of featuring nationally and internationally renowned writers. Hosted by the Department of English and Creative Writing, the series is committed to presenting critically engaged contemporary authors and embracing diverse voices. Every author who reads in our series also meets in an intimate, informal setting with our MFA students and a faculty host either after or before the reading. And our own MFA students “open” for the featured writers by giving a short reading of their own.
Fridays at Five Graduate Students Reading Series
An Intellectual Crucible for Writers: UChicago’s MAPH
Chicago is home to three MFA in Creative Writing programs—Roosevelt, Columbia College, and Northwestern—where writers can take the time to focus solely on their craft. But writers who want to combine their creative work with another discipline have options in the city as well. Last month, for instance, we spoke with DePaul University about their MA in Writing and Publishing, which blends the workshop aspects of an MFA with publishing industry expertise.
This week, we chatted with John Wilkinson , Chair for Creative Writing and Poetics at the University of Chicago. Instead of an MFA, UChicago offers a graduate student track in Creative Writing through their innovative MAPH (Master of Arts Program in the Humanities). In addition to focusing on their creative work, the MAPH trains writers for one year to become successful scholars before they tackle a PhD, MFA, or some other academic pursuit.
Adam Morgan: What sets UChicago’s MAPH program apart from the other writing programs in Chicago?
John Wilkinson: The MAPH is a distinctive—even legendary—UChicago program that offers one year of intensive training in critical theory and research skills as a basis for a scholarly career. Students who opt for Creative Writing workshops and a creative (rather than scholarly) capstone project also take the core theory classes and a range of graduate seminars. From the start, this mix proved attractive to poets, since the poet-scholar profile is increasingly desirable to university departments. But more fiction and nonfiction writers are now attracted to the MAPH as English departments become further orientated towards Creative Writing. It is an advantage to be able to teach not only fiction workshops but courses on narrative theory or the history of the novel.
The MAPH is not an MFA. Some MAPH students will go on to an MFA at a high-ranked school, and others to a PhD in Creative Writing. Some will continue literary studies to PhD at graduate school while continuing to write. We have a remarkable number of well-published writers in our PhD program in English, so even without an MFA program we have a very strong graduate Creative Writing community from which MAPH students benefit. Some also become involved with Chicago Review —the best graduate student-edited literary magazine in the nation.
Adam Morgan: How do you respond to Anis Shivani’s infamous claim that MFAs and other university writing programs are “a closed, undemocratic medieval guild system that represses good writing”?
John Wilkinson: It simply isn’t a guild system, since admission is not by birth or social station. Empirically there is much evidence to counter the suggestion that the MFA represses good writing—in extraordinary novels, poems and memoirs. There are risks in the MFA system, but it’s easy to attack a caricature of the workshop that cannot critique a work beyond suggesting a comma be moved. I don’t know any teacher who would countenance this in reality. While I recognize certain MFA-approved styles of poetry (often rewarded by prizes) that bore or irritate me, there are numerous counter-examples of adventurous writing coming out of MFA programs.
For poetry a real problem is of reception, linked to a meager and pusillanimous critical culture and overwhelming levels of production. On one side are reviews which are little more than extended publisher’s puffs, and on the other (especially online) a culture of ad hominem attack whether from right or left, based on inferences about a poet’s political position. It was quite a shock to stumble the other day across John Wheelwright’s reviews in Poetry from the late thirties—so decisive in judgments about poetry!
I do believe in the exercise of judgment, although it’s absurd to judge for an imaginary unified culture. There are many kinds of poetry, and judgment within kinds is desirable and should be risked. Teachers of Creative Writing need to be straightforward in their judgments, or they can mislead students into wasting time better spent in other pursuits. Teachers can be wrong of course, but their wrongness will not thwart a determined writer. I know!
Adam Morgan: What do you look for in the writing of potential students?
John Wilkinson: I can’t answer for all of my colleagues, but what I look for is the pressure of necessity to write, rather than polish. There are many talented students who can produce skillful poems or short stories just as they produce excellent scholarly papers. But to read through a stack of applications is to become disaffected by mere competence. I suppose all teachers long for an unfamiliar note, a different sensibility.
Additionally MAPH applicants need to be able to cope with an intellectually demanding course—there is no point in admitting someone who will feel inadequate. I should note the student-reported levels of satisfaction with MAPH are extremely high.
Adam Morgan: What kinds of projects are your candidates currently working on?
The Adventures of Hannah Weinstein: Robin Hood and Red Scare Resistance in “Red Sapphire”
- A graphic memoir in the writing style of WG Sebald.
- A memoir of playing football in the infamous-for-football town of Steubenville, OH.
- An interactive essay/web site about Otherkin, people who claim to be Other: to be black, Asian, Hobbit, dragon, even though they’re not.
- A personal history of drug use within the Mormon Church.
- A reported piece about a Burmese migrant community in a conservative Chicago suburb.
- A Southern Gothic novel/coming of age story about a preacher’s son who loses his father (the preacher) to suicide, then grows up to marry a woman who resembles his mother.
- A novella about a man searching for his individual identity within the framework of fraternity culture on an American college campus.
- A novel about a woman who flees a suffocating family life and escapes to California to follow the advice of a psychic who has given her a (clearly flawed) tarot card reading.
- A collection of short stories about urban alienation, starring a woman who arrives in an unnamed city and sets about trying to make sense of her first job and independence.
Adam Morgan: What drew you to UChicago?
John Wilkinson: Among the attractions: location in a major and affordable city (I’m British so I judge affordability against London); a preference for an urban university rather than a protected campus space; UChicago’s justified reputation for intellectual seriousness of purpose and its recent significant shift of emphasis towards the creative arts; and Chicago’s expanding, ambitious, scrappy, exciting literary scene.
Involvement in shaping arts development at the University, both in Creative Writing and more broadly, continues to offer great opportunities both on campus and through external partnerships. For example, right now I’m organizing a centennial conference on Gwendolyn Brooks involving the Logan Center (the university’s main arts resource), the Arts Incubator in Washington Park, the DuSable Museum of African American History, and the Poetry Foundation.
Adam Morgan: What do you hope candidates leave the program equipped with?
John Wilkinson: With a piece of writing of publication quality and of a quality which will facilitate entry to a top Creative Writing program with full scholarship; with some sense of the direction in which their writing might develop; and with the intellectual confidence to advocate for their own work, and to discuss literary texts in the most demanding company.
Adam Morgan: What do you see in the future of the MAPH program?
John Wilkinson: This is hard to answer since Creative Writing is only one tributary of the MAPH. For our small part of it, I feel we should promote it much more strongly, given the shifts in patterns of employment, and think about how it might feed into a graduate program in future (possibly PhD). There are few jobs for MFA graduates, and the MAPH shows a student has the intellectual druthers to think and write both creatively and critically. There is no person or organization that cannot benefit from such skills.
Adam Morgan is the founding editor of the Chicago Review of Books and the Southern Review of Books. His essays and criticism have appeared in The Paris Review, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago magazine, and elsewhere.
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