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university of michigan creative writing program

The Creative Writing and Literature Major is open to ALL LSA students.

Creative Writing and Literature Majors write fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction under the close guidance of faculty mentors, and may workshop their writing with other student writers in small writing seminars. Majors also study the art of writing through the study of literature. Majors specialize in fiction, poetry, or nonfiction early in their studies.

Creative Writing graduates pursue successful careers as writers, editors, educators, advertising professionals, and many other writing related-fields.  Every year our graduates are admitted to competitive graduate school programs in the fine arts, education, law, business, public policy, social work, and other courses of professional study that demand proficient writing skills and creative approaches to problem solving.

RC Creative Writing students have demonstrated unparalled success in the esteemed U of M Hopwood Awards , winning over 100 awards since the 1994-95 school year.

Students meet with the creative writing major advisor when declaring, making course substitutions, discussing transfer/study abroad credit evaluations, internships, preparing major release forms, and information on graduate school study and career paths. 

Although students may pursue study in multiple genres, most specialize in a single genre:

Fiction / Creative Nonfiction

Digital Storytelling

Advising appointments can be made here or by calling RC Academic Services at 763-0032.

Minimum Credits: 28

The major is structured into four genre tracks. In addition to the Fiction / Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, and Digital Storytelling tracks, students may elect a multi-genre track in consultation with their principal writing instructors and the major advisor.

Each track consists of:

Four elective creative writing courses

Five elective upper level literature courses

Fiction / Creative Nonfiction Track

Students complete a minimum of four creative writing courses, at least three of which must be at the 300 level or above and at least three of which must be taken in the RC. A usual track is an introductory course (Narration) and three upper-level courses. Students may count one non-RC creative writing course towards the writing requirement.

Creative Writing Courses: Students may elect any combination of seminars and tutorials from the following:

RCHUMS 220 Narration: Intro to Fiction Writing

RCHUMS 325, 326, 425, 426 Tutorials: Permission of instructor required

RCHUMS 320 Narration: Advanced Fiction Writing

RCHUMS 334 (Section 005) Memoir: Writing from Within

Other departmental offerings listed under RCHUMS 334 or RCCORE 334. Details here.

Literature Electives: Students complete five literature courses, at the 300-level or above. One literature course must focus on either ancient literature or medieval literature (pre-1600). The ancient / medieval requirement may focus on non-Western or Western literature, but must pre-date Shakespeare if a Western literature course is elected. English 367 – Shakespeare’s Plays does not fulfill this requirement, although the course can count towards the literature requirement.

Students are encouraged to take literature courses in the RC Arts and Ideas Major, the  Department of English  or the  Comparative Literature Program . Students majoring in a second language may count one upper-level literature course in that language, or one upper-level literature course completed during a full semester studying abroad in a non-English speaking country. Upper-level literature courses taken abroad also may be counted. All literature courses counted toward the Creative Writing and Literature Major must be at least three (3) credits.

Courses that have been used to meet the requirement in the past include:

RCHUMS 354 Race and Identity in Music

RCHUMS 344 Reason and Passion in the 18th Century

RCHUMS 342 Representing the Holocaust in Literature, Film and the Visual Arts

Other RCHUMS courses listed in the Arts and Ideas in the Humanities major

English 350 Literature in English to 1660 (for ancient/medieval requirement)

English 328 Writing and the Environment

English 379 Literature in Afro-American Culture

Other English Department courses with a literature focus

CLCIV 385 Greek Mythology (for ancient/medieval requirement)  

Asian 314 Strange Ways: Literature of the Supernatural in Pre-modern Japan and China

MEMS 386 Medieval Literature, History and Culture 

Poetry Track

Students complete a minimum of four creative writing courses, at least three of which must be at the 300 level or above and at least three of which must be taken in the RC. A usual track is an introductory course (Writing Poetry) and three upper-level courses. Students may count one non-RC creative writing course towards the writing requirement.

RCHUMS 221 Writing Poetry

RCHUMS 321 Advanced Poetry Writing

RCHUMS 334 Workshop with Incarcerated Poets and Artists

Literature courses listed above under Fiction / Creative Nonfiction

English 340 Studies in Poetry

English 440 Modern Poetry

English 442 Studies in Poetry

Digital Storytelling Track

The digital storytelling track studies the ways story interacts with technology and the effect of digital media on writing and the creative process. Students electing this track pair writing practice with the study of the theory, ethics, and history of digital media.

Creative Writing Courses: At least 4 courses required over two categories 

Creative Writing Courses: choose a minimum of two Residential College creative writing courses that focus on writing fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry. Only one course in a student’s major plan should be at the 200-level:

Introductory Courses (may elect 1 to count towards major):

Upper-level Courses:

RCHUMS 320 Advanced Narration 

RCHUMS 321 Advanced Poetry Writing 

RCHUMS 325, 326, 425, 426 Creative Writing Tutorials 

Digital Writing / Skills Courses: choose a minimum of two digital storytelling / writing courses at the 300-level or above that focus on digital media and/or electronic literature writing and practice. Courses that have been used to meet the requirement in the past include:

RCCORE 334 (Section 004) Digital Storytelling

English 420 Tech and the Humanities / Electronic Literature

RCSCI 360 (Section 001) Documentary Photography

RCHUMS 325, 326, 425, 426 Creative Writing Tutorials with a focus on writing for, and/or creating, electronic literature or digital media content (permission of instructor required)

Digital Studies Requirement: At least 2 courses required 

Choose a minimum of two digital studies theory courses at the 300-level or above that focus on the theory of digital culture and/or the digital humanities. Courses that have been used to meet the requirement in the past include:

AmCult 358 Topics in Digital Studies

AmCult 360 Radical Digital Media

FTVM 368 Topics in Digital Media Studies

English 405 Theories of Writing

Literature Requirement: At least 3 courses required 

Literature courses must be taken at the 300-level or above. Literature courses should not focus on digital studies but should offer complementary skills and additional context in the art and craft of literature. One course must focus on ancient/medieval literature. For more information on specific literature requirements, please see the Literature section listed under Fiction / Creative Nonfiction.

A student deemed eligible to attempt Honors typically completes the following process:

A student whose overall academic record meets the eligibility criteria for honors and whose creative work models originality and the promise of mastery in their chosen genre may apply for an honors thesis. Honors theses are typically 75-100 pages of polished fiction or creative nonfiction, or a collection of 25 or more poems. The student and their faculty advisor will determine the exact length and content of the final thesis. 

To be eligible to apply for honors, a student must demonstrate exceptional skill in the art and craft of prose, poetry, or creative nonfiction. The student must have completed a minimum of two Residential College creative writing classes, although honors students typically complete three or more by the start of their thesis sequence. The student also must hold a GPA of at least 3.4 overall. 

Students who meet the above criteria are eligible to apply for the honors thesis project in the winter term of their junior year, typically by late March. To apply, students shall submit:

A writing sample (10 pages of prose or 5 poems) that represents the student’s best, most polished work.

A brief statement (1-2 pages) describing the honors project. Applicants should also include the name of a faculty member they wish to request as their thesis advisor.

Questions about the submittal process can be directed to the creative writing major advisor  here

The Honors Committee, consisting of faculty in the Creative Writing program, will judge the student’s work on its quality, originality, and promise of mastery in their chosen genre. The Committee reviews all honors applications after the submission deadline. Students are notified of the Committee’s decision in late March or early April. If the planned project is accepted for honors, the Committee will assign a faculty thesis advisor to the student. 

Honors Theses require a two-semester commitment. Students enroll in RCCORE 490 for the fall term and RCHUMS 426 for the winter term. A passing grade in RCCORE 490 earns a Y grade, indicating that the thesis work will continue into the next semester. At the end of the second term, the Y grade converts to the grade earned in RCHUMS 426. Exceptions to the two-semester requirement are rare but may be discussed with the thesis advisor.

When the honors thesis project is complete (typically the last week of March or the first week of April of the senior year), the student’s honors thesis advisor and one other member of the Residential College’s Creative Writing faculty will determine if the project qualifies for honors and (if so) what level of honors the student receives. Honors thesis students also participate in a public reading with fellow thesis students at the end of the winter term (typically the second week of April).

To download the honors information, click here.

Creative Writing faculty

Laura Kasischke Poetry; Fiction

Christopher Matthews Fiction; Poetry

Sarah Messer Poetry; Creative Nonfiction; Prison Creative Arts Program

Susan Rosegrant Creative Nonfiction; Journalism; Fiction

Laura Thomas Fiction; Creative Nonfiction

A. Van Jordan Poetry, Film Studies

Aisha Sloan Creative Nonfiction, Digital Storytelling

Open to All

You don’t need to be a dedicated major to participate in workshops, tutorials, and classes taught by Creative Writing faculty, which are open to enrollment from all students. If even only for a semester, you wish to explore your interest in writing, consider taking a RC Creative Writing course !

For RC students, creative writing courses fulfill the RC Arts Practicum requirement. For RC and LSA students, RCHUMS 220, RCHUMS 221, and RCHUMS 325 satisfy Creative Expression distribution.

You can participate in the RC Review , our annual student-run journal featuring student poetry, fiction, and visual art. RC students can get a credit for participating in the RC Review.

Or consider joining the RC Creative Writing Forum , which like RC Review, offers RC students a credit, but is open to all for participation.

RC Writers website

Check out the  RC Writers Website,  for the Residential College writing community.

Recent Events

Paths to publication: a conversation with allison epstein and jon michael darga.

Link to the video recording here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6ArrpiEKKc

Love & Zombies & Literature: What makes Genre Writing Literary?

Link to the recording of the webinar on our youtube page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SD6LC4Zu-0

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University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

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MFA Program

university of michigan creative writing program

Poetry: Linda Gregerson, Tung-hui Hu, Khaled Mattawa

Fiction: Julie Buntin, Gabe Habash, Peter Ho Davies, Kiley Reid

Creative Nonfiction: Aisha Sabatini Sloan

The program offers full funding for two years, which includes full tuition remission and monthly stipend through fellowships and graduate student instructorships. The program will be able to offer six qualifying graduates of our program one year of post-MFA funding.

Michigan Quarterly Review

The program hosts the Zell Visiting Writers Series, through which invited guests give readings, hold craft talks, lead workshops, and offer individual consultations with students. Other program features include opportunities to teach with 826michigan and InsideOut Detroit, work on the Best American Nonrequired Reading anthology, learn letterpress skills at Wolverine Press, curate the student reading series, and partner with other area literary organizations.

Brittany Bennett, Vievee Francis, Donovan Hohn, Airea D. Matthews, Celeste Ng, Chigozie Obioma, Paisley Rekdal, Jia Tolentino, Jesmyn Ward

university of michigan creative writing program

Writing Program

The writing program offers a range of courses and other academic support not only to casl students but also to undergraduate and graduate students across the university..

Among other projects and initiatives, the Writing Program oversees the UM-Dearborn Writing Center, the campus Writing Awards competition, and the Composition Placement Examination. One important aspect of the Program’s work is helping to bring together faculty from across the disciplines to share scholarship and innovative teaching approaches for improving students’ abilities with written communication and academic research.

About the Writing Program

First-year writing courses at UM-Dearborn provide a basis not only for upper-level writing classes but also for the writing students will do in other courses. Our courses therefore support students as they learn to write effectively, think critically, and develop rhetorical awareness about print, visual, and digital texts.

In our teaching, Writing Program faculty stress inquiry-based research, close reading, critical reflection, revision, collaboration, and active learning. Our courses include the first-year composition sequence and intermediate courses focused on creative and expository writing and writing in professional settings.

Writing Program 3-year Course Plan

Mission Statement

The Writing Program values writing as a process of producing knowledge and communicating ideas to academic, civic, workplace, and transnational audiences. Because writing well involves a complex set of practices, the Writing Program emphasizes college writing as a process that a student develops throughout her or his college career.

The Writing Program office is located in 3018CB. For more information, contact:

Lisa Ballard Administrative Assistant [email protected] 313-593-5238

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  • Helen Zell Writer's Program

Ann Aarbor, MI

Interested in University of Michigan? Admissions officers are waiting to hear from you!

Helen Zell Writer's Program / Helen Zell Writer's Program is located in Ann Aarbor, MI, in an urban setting.

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  • College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
  • Department of English Language and Literature

Affording the MFA

Full funding, stipends, and healthcare for writers!

University of Michigan (Ann Arbor)

University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI Two-year program (36 credits)

Funding : In the first year, all MFA students accepted into the program are offered a full tuition waiver and a stipend of $16,000, either through a fellowship or a combination of a gradership and a fellowship, as well as $6,000 in summer funding. The total first year package equals $22,000. Applicants may also be considered, where appropriate, for Rackham Merit Fellowships, which offer, together with Department of English funding, a stipend and summer-funding package equalling $22,000. Second year support includes a complete tuition waiver, stipend (currently for 2013–2014, $18,600), and health care benefits through a Graduate Student Instructorship.

Faculty : Michael Byers, Linda Gregerson,Peter Ho Davies, Tung-hui Hu, Laura Kasischke, Khaled Mattawa, Eileen Pollack, Keith Taylor, Douglas Trevor, Claire Vaye Watkins

Application (Deadline Jan. 1):

  • Manuscript: 40 double-spaced pages for fiction; 15 pages for poetry
  • Statement of purpose: concise, up to two pages in length, double spaced, about your academic and research background, your career goals, and how Michigan’s graduate program will help you meet your career and educational objectives. Disregard the 500 word limit stated on the application.
  • Personal statement: Clearly labeled, concise, up to two pages in length, double spaced, about your academic and research background, your career goals, and how Michigan’s graduate program will help you meet your career and educational objectives. Disregard the 500 word limit stated on the application.
  • Biographical personal statement: Clearly labeled, concise, up to two pages in length, double spaced, about how your personal background and life experiences, including social, cultural, familial, educational, or other opportunities or challenges, motivated your decision to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Michigan. This is not an academic Statement of Purpose, but a discussion of the personal journey that has led to your decision to seek a graduate degree. Disregard the 500 word limit stated on the application.
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts
  • $75/90 application fee

Admission rate : Each year, we draw ten poets and twelve fiction writers from an applicant pool of roughly 1,000.

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University of Michigan MFA Program Receives Staggering Donation

March 20, 2013.

Helen Zell, Chicago philanthropist and alumnus from the University of Michigan, made a donation of fifty million dollars explicitly for the university’s Creative Writing Program, which U-M has now renamed the Helen Zell Writers’ Program. The intention is to permanently fund the writing program, sustain its growth, and provide full financial support to its students. The program already fully funds twenty-two students with tuition waivers, competitive stipends, and health insurance for two years of study—students may also receive what is referred to as a third year “Zellowship” to continue their work. The largesse from Zell now totals more than sixty million, including a ten million dollar gift in 2004 and endowments for professorships beginning in 2001.

“This is both a transformative and enduring gift,” said novelist Nicholas Delbanco, one of the first directors of the program and its current Robert Frost Distinguished University Professor of English Language and Literature, “[it’s] an act of great faith in and generosity towards those young artists who embrace the work of words.”

Zell has requested, pending further approval, that the Helen Herzog Zell Professor position, a visiting faculty position endowed by her in 2001, be renamed the Nicholas Delbanco Visiting Professorship.

Source: The Record Update


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Art Works

Creative Writing Program


The Creative Writing Program offers undergraduate writers a focused, adventurous experience in creative expression. The Program’s nationally recognized, award-winning faculty teach a wide variety of courses on genre-specific craft across fiction, poetry, play-writing and creative non-fiction. As practicing writers, the program’s faculty lead students in conversations with the some of the most innovative and culturally responsive contemporary writers who visit classes, facilitate generative writing sessions, and offer literary readings and interdisciplinary performances. We also offer courses on the history and practice of literary editing and publishing, along with a range of professionalizing events focused on industry practices and careers for those interested creative writing.    

In our program, self-expression lives alongside political expression. We view writing both as a tool of personal inquiry and growth, and as a tool for critical investigation and literary analysis.  We celebrate a diverse array of social functions for literary practices and affirm that the cultural purpose of literature evolves with an emerging generation of writers, in which we include our students. We welcome writers at all levels of experience, who practice and live within many languages, and who aspire to literary genealogies & traditions on their own terms. In the Program’s classes and culture, creative expression is understood to be a living entity and a practice of global citizenship that includes all of us.   

Our program celebrates writing within and outside the classroom. We facilitate field trips to regional galleries and festivals, and are honored to house the MSU Creative Writing Club, led by students. We are also the home of Red Cedar Review, one of the oldest student-managed literary journals in the United States. 

BA in English with CW Concentration

Minor in Creative Writing


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