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BA/MA Graduate Program in Creative Writing

Person writing in a journal with a pen, teacup and phone visibleThe English Department offers 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 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. All of our second-year M.A. students receive teaching assistantships that provide valuable college teaching experience and include tuition remission.

Application Deadline: The next application deadline for the BA/MA Program is March 15, 2023.

Our program also features a series of readings and residencies by prominent writers, called the Mary Rolling Reading Series. In the past, we have had Elizabeth Alexander, Jo Ann Beard, Aimee Bender, Richard Blanco, Elizabeth Bradfield, Sandra Cisneros, Lydia Davis, Mark Doty, Rita Dove, Stuart Dybek, Robert Hass, Terrance Hayes, Juan Felipe Herrera, Jane Hirshfield, Cary Holladay, Sarah Manguso, Li-Young Li, Sharon Olds, Susan Orlean, Robert Pinsky, George Saunders, David Shields, Melanie Thernstrom, Justin Torres, Jess Walter, John Edgar Wideman, and many, many others come speak.

Core Creative Writing Faculty

Our accomplished faculty writers have earned some of the most prestigious writing awards and honors, including National Endowment for the Arts, Pennsylvania Arts Council, Stegner, Dobie-Paisano, D.H. Lawrence, Bunting and Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellowships; Lambda Literary, Whiting Writers and O. Henry Awards, as well as numerous Pushcart Prizes. They have been in residence at places like Breadloaf, Yaddo, Djerassi, Millay and MacDowell Colonies and have had their work published in journals such as The American Poetry Review, Antioch Review, Epoch, Guernica, New Letters, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Poetry, TriQuarterly, Vanity Fair, The Village Voice, and many, many other journals.

Current graduate faculty include prose writers William J. Cobb, Elizabeth Kadetsky, Samuel Kọ́láwọlé, and Toby Thompson, and poets Shara McCallum and Julia Spicher Kasdorf.

Meet our Core Creative Writing Faculty:

Notable Graduates

Writers who received graduate degrees at Penn State include

  • Sarah Blake
  • Katherine Bode-Lang
  • Peter Chilson
  • Rita Ciresi
  • Morris Collins
  • Geffrey Davis
  • Krista Eastman
  • 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
  • James Charlesworth
  • Jillian Cantor


  • Nomi Eve
  • Matthew Kirkpatrick
  • Jane Miller
  • Chinelo Okparanta
  • Ruth Ellen Kocher, and
  • Ryan Teitman.
For more information, please contact:
Julia Kasdorf
Director of Creative Writing
Liberal Arts Professor of English
(814) 865-0025
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