Creative Writing PhD Programs Overview

Read details about doctoral studies in creative writing. Find information about admission requirements, program coursework and careers graduates might pursue. Get career information such as employment outlook and average wages for those in a creative writing profession.

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Essential Information

A Doctor of Philosophy in Creative Writing program features a unique blend of both creative work and scholarly study of literature, including literary history and theory. Students study a variety of genres, including poetry, creative nonfiction, short fiction, screenplays and playwriting while honing their craft as writers. A Ph.D. in Creative Writing program provides graduates with the knowledge and credentials needed to teach English and creative writing within an academic setting, or to work in the fields of publishing, journalism or editing.

Most Ph.D. programs in creative writing require 4-8 years of full-time study and require 30-60 credit hours beyond what is required for a master's degree. Coursework may take the form of intensive literature seminars, writing workshops, independent study and research projects. A large portion of most Ph.D. programs is devoted to the creation and defense of a creative dissertation, which may take the form of a full-length novel or novella; a collection of poetry or short fiction; or a play or screenplay.

Education Prerequisites

Education prerequisites for a Doctor of Philosophy in Creative Writing program include the completion of a bachelor's and master's degree program in English or another relevant discipline. Other admissions requirements will vary according to the institution, but a minimum GPA and GRE scores are likely to be required. Most institutions will also request creative writing samples in more than one genre or style and possibly critical writing samples as well.

Program Coursework

Students working towards a doctoral degree in creative writing will spend most of their time creating pieces of their own and critiquing the pieces of their classmates. However, other coursework may include such topics as:

  • Comparative literature
  • Modern and contemporary American literature
  • British and American Literature
  • Composition and rhetoric
  • Creative writing pedagogy
  • Research and critical methods

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

A doctoral degree in creative writing can open doors leading to opportunities in authorship, teaching, publishing, editing and journalism. Most graduates of a Ph.D. program pursue a teaching career within an English department at the university level. However, many graduates become published authors, so they can write and teach professionally. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of postsecondary educators was expected to increase by 17% from 2010-2020. This about average growth was attributed to the continued increase in student enrollment (www.bls.gov). As reported by the BLS, annual mean earnings for postsecondary educators in 2012 were $65,000.

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Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Communications and Journalism
      • Communication Studies
      • Comparative Language Studies and Services
      • English Language and Literature
      • Foreign Language and Literature
  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Communications and Journalism
      • Communication Studies
      • Comparative Language Studies and Services
      • English Language and Literature
      • Foreign Language and Literature
  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Communications and Journalism
      • Communication Studies
      • Comparative Language Studies and Services
      • English Language and Literature
      • Foreign Language and Literature
  • School locations:
    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Communications and Journalism
      • Comparative Language Studies and Services
      • English Composition
        • Creative Writing, General
      • English Language and Literature
      • Foreign Language and Literature
  • School locations:
    • North Carolina (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Duke University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Communications and Journalism
      • Comparative Language Studies and Services
      • English Language and Literature
      • Foreign Language and Literature
  • School locations:
    • Indiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Notre Dame include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Communications and Journalism
      • English Language and Literature
      • Foreign Language and Literature
  • School locations:
    • Columbia (D.C.) (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Georgetown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Communications and Journalism
      • Comparative Language Studies and Services
      • English Language and Literature
      • Foreign Language and Literature
  • School locations:
    • Tennessee (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Vanderbilt University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Communications and Journalism
      • Communication Studies
      • Comparative Language Studies and Services
      • English Language and Literature
      • Foreign Language and Literature
  • School locations:
    • Florida (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Florida include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Communications and Journalism
      • Communication Studies
      • Comparative Language Studies and Services
      • Digital, Radio, and Television Communication
      • English Composition
        • Creative Writing, General
      • English Language and Literature
      • Foreign Language and Literature
      • Journalism
      • Public Relations and Advertising
  • School locations:
    • New York (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Cornell University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Communications and Journalism
      • Communication Studies
      • Comparative Language Studies and Services
      • English Composition
        • Creative Writing, General
      • English Language and Literature
      • Foreign Language and Literature

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