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Undergraduate/Graduate Creative Writing



Application deadline for the BA/MA Program is March 15 every year.


At Penn State, we offer an integrated undergraduate/graduate degree in English with a creative writing concentration in Poetry and in Prose (fiction and creative nonfiction). This is a full-residency program that can be completed in two years—the student’s senior year and the additional M.A. year. We have a 2:1 student-to-faculty ratio. We place a special emphasis on mentoring writers who are polishing their portfolios for eventual application to outside M.F.A. programs.

All students complete 30 credits of graduate course work. Under the supervision of a creative writing faculty member, students complete a substantial creative project, due at the end of the M.A. year.

Before their M.A. year, students may apply for some combination of tuition release, teaching stipend, fellowship or scholarship. Students who receive a teaching stipend gain experience teaching first-year composition.



Our program also features a series of readings and residencies by prominent writers, including Elizabeth Alexander, Jo Ann Beard, Aimee Bender, Richard Blanco, Elizabeth Bradfield, Sandra Cisneros, Lydia Davis, Mark Doty, Rita Dove, Stuart Dybek, Robert Hass, Juan Felipe Herrera, Jane Hirshfield, Cary Holladay, Sarah Manguso, Li-Young Li, Sharon Olds, Susan Orlean, Robert Pinsky, George Saunders, David Shields, Melanie Thernstrom, Jess Walter, John Edgar Wideman, and many, many others.

Chinelo Okparanta Reading

Ito Romo Reading


This year's Mary Rolling Reading Series features Lyrae Van Clief Stefanon, T.K. Smith, Suki Kim, Jennifer Haigh, Shara McCallum, Sunil Yapa, and Jillian Cantor.

U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith is the 2017-2018 Emily Dickinson lecturer, and novelist and short story writer Mary Gaitskill is the Fisher Family Writer-in-Residence.

core creative writing faculty

Our creative writing faculty write, publish, and often teach in more than one genre. Shara McCallum and Julia Kasdorf primarily teach poetry; William J. Cobb, Charlotte Holmes, Elizabeth Kadetsky, and Toby Thompson primarily teach prose.

notable grads

Writers who received graduate degrees at Penn State include Sarah Blake, Katherine Bode-Lang, Peter Chilson, Rita Ciresi, Morris Collins, Geffrey Davis, Vicki Glembocki, Cary Holladay, Jessica Karbowiak, Rachel Mennies, Cathleen Miller, Sally Pont, Rebecca Rasmussen, Jennifer Richter, Lisa Roney, Sheila Squillante, Lyrae Van Clief Stefanon, and William Kelley Woolfitt.

Writers who studied in our undergraduate program include Diane Ackerman, Jillian Cantor, Nomi Eve, Matthew Kirkpatrick, Jane Miller, Chinelo Okparanta, Ruth Ellen Kocher, and Ryan Teitman.


application procedure

Internal applications are vetted in the spring of the student’s junior year (deadline March 15--see "Application for the BA-MA Program"). Once accepted into the program by the English Department and creative writing faculty, students file an official application with the Graduate School. This carries an application fee of $65 and consists of the same materials as submitted for the original application. GRE scores are not required.

Please note: At this time, we only accept applications from current Penn State students. You do not have to be an English major to apply, but if you're accepted into the program and wish to pursue the B.A./M.A. degree, you must add English to your major.


for information please contact

Charlotte Holmes
Director of Creative Writing

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