Undergraduate Creative Writing
The introductory and advanced courses in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as play-writing and TV script writing, are some of the most sought-after offerings in the Penn State English Department. Our undergraduates have their poems, short stories, and essays published in the student-run literary journals produced on campus by their peers, and honored by the many University-wide creative writing contests. And they learn from the greats as they attend readings by some of America's most exciting novelists, short story writers, poets, and nonfiction writers, who also visit their classes and answer their questions as part of The Mary E. Rolling Reading series and the Steven Fisher Writer-in-Residence program.
Career paths: Creative writing courses place a particular emphasis on the craft of language and original thinking, skills that have propelled alumni into careers in journalism, internet communications, law, public relations, publishing, advertising, teaching, and professional writing. If you'd like to make your mark by your clear, original approach to communication, our courses are right for you. Penn State's creative writing alumni are versatile, adaptable employees who know how to think outside the box. You'll find them working all over the globe--in the consulate in Madrid, Spain, in a supply station in Antarctica, in web design in New York City, and in their own publishing companies in Philadelphia and in Alabama.
If your dream is to pursue graduate study in creative writing, we can help you shape a manuscript that presents your creative work at its best. Our undergraduate creative writers have gone on to graduate programs at the University of Iowa, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Harvard, Oxford, Syracuse, Brown, Emerson College, the University of Florida, Florida State, Arizona, Arizona State, Ohio State, the University of Alabama, the University of North Carolina, the University of Wisconsin, the Michener Center at the University of Texas, and many other institutions.
Notable alumni: Novelist Jillian Cantor, whose seven books have been lauded for their inventive narratives and reviewed in Oprah, Time, and People magazines, used to dazzle us in her undergraduate fiction writing classes. Poet, Stegner Fellow, and National Endowment for the Arts grantee Ryan Teitman perfected his editing chops on Kalliope before going on to serve as poetry editor of The Indiana Review. Writers Diane Ackerman, Nomi Eve, Ruth Ellen Kocher, Jane Miller, and Chinelo Okparanta also caught the interest and earned the respect of their professors and fellow students as they crafted their early work in our classes.
Core creative writing faculty: In poetry: Robin Becker and Julia Kasdorf; in prose, William J. Cobb, Charlotte Holmes, Elizabeth Kadetsky, and Toby Thompson.
Read about our Creative Writing Emphasis, a 15-credit, genre-specific focus for English majors.