Creative Nonfiction

The Creative Nonfiction Specialization offers graduate students an opportunity to develop as writers and readers of creative, or literary, nonfiction. The program is innovative in that students can focus as much on reading and theorizing creative nonfiction as they can on writing it. Investigating the art and craft of creative nonfiction as practitioners and theorists, students encounter and engage genres as different as the personal essay, literary journalism, science writing, memoirs, and lyric essays. Recently the genre of creative nonfiction has expanded in exciting ways, and students are given the opportunity to study hybrid forms as well. Theses within the program range from a critical analysis of a work of creative nonfiction to a student’s own creative nonfiction essays or a single long work.

Students who have studied nonfiction here have had a wide range of careers subsequent to earning their degrees. Some have become technical writers, freelance writers, magazine and newspaper staff writers and editors, anthology editors, developmental editors, ghost writers, literary agent associates, grant writers, and professors.

English Department faculty members have recently published nonfiction books, essays, articles, and contributions to creative nonfiction anthologies, and their expertise has contributed to a vibrant writing community in the department. Department members who do work in creative nonfiction include Dan Beachy-Quick, John Calderazzo, Gerald Callahan, SueEllen Campbell, Matthew Cooperman, Sue Doe, Camille Dungy, Harrison Candelaria Fletcher, EJ Levy, Sarah Sloane, and Debby Thompson.

Application deadlines: We accept applications for fall and spring semesters. To apply, please see our Graduate Student Application Process information or contact the Graduate Programs Assistant.

The application deadline for the fall term is February 15 and the application deadline for the spring term is September 15. Teaching Assistantships are available on a competitive basis. Assistantships begin in the fall semester. Please apply by January 15 for full consideration.


  • Completion of thirty-six semester credits, including six credits of thesis
  • Completion of the required courses listed below
  • Oral defense of your thesis
  • Most students complete their degrees in two years (four to five semesters of course work)

Course of Study

  • Two E640C Graduate Writing Workshop: Essay—six credits. E640C is offered in fall semesters.
  • E513C Form and Techniques: Essay—three credits. E513C is currently offered every other spring semester.
  • Two E641 Writing Nonfiction: Variable Topics—six credits.
  • Two additional reading courses chosen in consultation with advisor—six credits (Select from the following: E505 major Authors, E506 Literature Survey, E630 Special Topics in Literature, E631 Crossing Boundaries, E632 Professional Concerns in English, E633 Special Topics in Discourse Studies, or E635 Critical Studies in Literature and Culture.)
  • One relevant course, 300-level or above, outside English Department—three credits.
  • One additional English course at the 500—or—600–level—three credits (may include E 607A Teaching Writing – Composition and Rhetoric, required for all GTAs, or E687 Internship. Please note that 6 is the maximum number of internship credits that you may apply toward your degree.)
  • One additional English course chosen in consultation with advisor—three credits (select from the following: E687 Internship or one English course at the 500- or 600-level).
  • E699 Thesis—six credits (may be split up between fall and spring semesters of second year or taken all together in spring semester of second year).

Faculty Education and Research Bios