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

  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 EH 502: Graduate Writing in English in the first year of course work. The concentration requires eighteen hours of courses in literature, twelve hours of courses in creative writing, and six creative writing thesis hours. No more than eighteen 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 (six 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.

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

  3. This concentration requires a thesis. For the thesis, a book-length work of fiction, non-fiction, or poetry is required. 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. In the thesis defense, the student demonstrates the thesis to be the culmination of the writing experience and situates the original work in the context of contemporary literature and trends in critical and audience reception.

  4. Demonstrated proficiency in a foreign language is required.

The Creative Writing Thesis

English Thesis Deadlines 2015-16

  • Fall Thesis Deadline: Defend by 10/16/15
  • Spring Thesis Deadline: Defend by 3/11/16
  • Summer Thesis Deadline: Defend by 6/10/16

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.

According to the graduate school’s Guide for Preparing Theses and Dissertations,

The master’s thesis and the doctoral dissertation represent major achievements in graduate study. The thesis/dissertation is a learning experience for the student and contributes to the body of existing knowledge in a given field. Students completing the thesis/dissertation research project or creative endeavor demonstrate a mastery of their fields that reflects the ability to function effectively and independently in the creative or problem solving process.

The quality of the thesis/dissertation is a reflection of the standards of the Graduate School and the University. While creativity and individuality are encouraged, theses must meet the university formatting requirements.


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.

When the student is actually ready to begin devoting regular work to the thesis, thesis hours are taken as a course, a total of six semester hours, which may be taken in any combination over a period of four semesters. 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 Hours

  1. In order to register for thesis credit, students must first obtain authorization from their supervising faculty member, then the approval of the Graduate Coordinator and Department Chair by submitting Thesis Hours EH 599 Request Form. Once approval is given, the student will receive an override to register for thesis hours in PAWS.
  2. The English department also requires that the Thesis Committee Form be completed in order for any M.A. student to sign up for thesis hours. The form is available here.
  3. To get information on Graduate Faculty status and date of appointment for the form, check here.

Second Semester of Thesis Hours

  1. File a new Thesis Hours EH 599 Request Form. Once approval is given, the student will receive an override to register for thesis hours in PAWS.
  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 second 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 Thesis Checklist contains specifications for the prospectus. Information on formatting your signature sheet is available here.

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.