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Creative Writing

The Creative Writing major is designed for students who have an intense interest in cultivating the skills, knowledge and inventiveness needed to write creative nonfiction, fiction and poetry.

The program combines a grounding in literary study with a workshop-style focus on writing and language. Students will learn to create complex and emotionally powerful work and join a long and storied tradition of writers from Syracuse University that have critiqued the ills of society, explored human frailties and strengths and probed the psychological depths of horror and mystery.

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About the College of Arts and Sciences

The founding college of Syracuse University remains at the center of undergraduate learning. The College is divided into the natural sciences and mathematics, the humanities, and the social sciences, with the lattermost offered in partnership with the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

Learn more about the Creative Writing program .

Core coursework includes literature classes, creative writing workshops and craft classes in at least two genres. The program balances reading historical and contemporary literature with the practice of writing. Sample courses include

  • Reading and Writing Poetry
  • Fairytales in Fiction
  • Interpretation of Nonfiction
  • Advanced Fiction Workshop
  • World Literature
  • Introduction to Shakespeare

Practical Experience

Take advantage of real-world learning opportunities that will bolster and enhance your experience.

  • Join the Creative Writing Learning Living Community (LLC) to explore your passion for writing, meet fellow students and network with faculty and established authors through public readings.
  • Supplement your learning and networking experiences as a Renée Crown University Honors
  • Gain hands-on experience as an intern or volunteer in a variety of sectors with assistance from the College of Arts & Sciences’ Undergraduate Academic and Career Advising Office .
  • Pursue undergraduate research opportunities both on and off-campus through the SOURCE .

Study Abroad

Consistently ranked among the top international education providers in the U.S.,  Syracuse Abroad is a storied part of the Syracuse experience. With over 100 programs in 60 countries, nearly half of all students go abroad during their four years.

Life After Syracuse University

The career options for majors in the Creative Writing Major are broad. Creative writers publish their work but are also in demand in a variety of fields, including:

  • Communications
  • Public relations
  • Advertising/marketing
  • Journalism and technical writing

Mona Awad, Chanelle Benz, Jonathan Dee, Matt Grzecki, Sarah Harwell, Brooks Haxton, Mary Karr, Christopher Kennedy, George Saunders, Bruce Smith, Dana Spiotta

The MFA program in Creative Writing at Syracuse has long been regarded as one of the best in the country. Each year six students are admitted in poetry and six in fiction to work closely in small workshops with an accomplished group of writers. Coursework includes a strong emphasis on the study of literature. Six semesters are usually needed to complete the M.F.A.

Applicants must upload a sample of fiction or poetry with their online application through CollegeNet no later than December 15, as well as complete the online graduate application for graduate study.  Admission is based primarily on the writing sample, but also upon the academic record. Thus, letters of recommendation should address not only the student’s creative work, but also his or her general preparedness for advanced graduate study. Likewise, in their personal statements on the application for graduate study, students should state their reasons for pursuing an M.F.A. in creative writing as well as describe their own backgrounds as writers.

Submit online Graduate Application via ApplyWeb by DECEMBER 15th. 

  • FICTION APPLICANTS: UPLOAD your 20 page maximum writing sample with your CollegeNet application by DECEMBER 15.
  • POETRY APPLICANTS: UPLOAD your 10-12 POEMS with CollegeNet application by December 15 . Do NOT mail in your poetry writing sample.

Candidates must complete 48 credits of coursework, which includes 9 credits of workshop, a minimum of 9 credits in forms courses, a 3-credit second-year essay seminar, 12 to 15 credits in other English department courses, 6 to 9 credits of electives outside the department, and 6 credits for the preparation of the thesis (a collection of poems or stories or a novel).

For more information about our graduate programs, visit our department web site at .

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Writing, editing and revision in student’s primary literary genre, leading to a creative manuscript of publishable quality

2. Reading in ways that contribute to a student’s writing

3. Analyzing and writing with care about literary texts

4. Responding thoughtfully and critically to work by other MFA students

5. Demonstrate writerly discipline by accepting criticism from professionals and rewriting accordingly, writing regularly, and developing a life-long reading list

6. Place their own work in the context of a broad range of issues and activities associated with a literary writer and the communities in which the writer lives and works

7. Teach composition and research writing to undergraduates and conduct one-on-one tutoring sessions in a Writing Center

MFA Graduate Awards

First year MFAs come in on a Creative Writing Fellowship award which carries no teaching duties. The award comes with a stipend and a 24 credit hour tuition scholarship.

Second and third year students are funded by teaching assistantships. Teaching assistantships include a 24 credit hour tuition scholarship and a stipend of $20,000. Second year TAs will have full responsibility for teaching/consulting in the department of Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition. They are expected to attend regular staff meetings and workshops and participate in a mentoring group. There is a review of each teaching assistant’s performance as a teacher. Third year students will teach in the English Department, courses to be determined on an as needed basis.

Orange Alert

Creative writing faculty.


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Minor or Concentration

Get in Touch    David Lloyd Program Director Reilly Hall 316 Le Moyne College 1419 Salt Springs Road Syracuse, NY 13214 (315) 445-4100 Request Information

Welcome to the Creative Writing Program!


  • A concentration within the English major
  • A minor available to any student

According to a recent poll, 1,500 CEOs think the number one “leadership competency” is creativity. From solving problems to doing in depth research, creativity matters in real world situations. While it takes critical thinking to identify a problem, it takes creative thinking to come up with solutions. Creative Writing at Le Moyne can help develop your creative side.

The Creative Writing Curriculum

  • Playwriting
  • Scriptwriting (TV and film)
  • Creative Nonfiction
  • Special topics (including “the short story cycle” or “food as metaphor”)
  • Independent studies for specialized writing projects

Whether they share their passion with others or nourish a secret talent, many students write poems, stories, plays, and scripts. The Creative Writing Program offers a stimulating and supportive environment for students to pursue their passion for imaginative writing. We’ll help find the writer in you. Detailed information about the creative writing program can be found in the Le Moyne College catalog .

Meet the Faculty

  • David Lloyd Program Director, Professor of English
  • Patrick Lawler Writer-in-Residence
  • Linda Pennisi Writer-in-Residence
  • Dan Roche Associate Professor, Communication & Film Studies

The Writing Life

syracuse university creative writing

  • student readings of original work
  • the Creative Writing Student Club
  • productions and staged readings of student-authored plays and scripts
  • readings and craft talks by visiting authors
  • editorial experience with the college literary magazine, the  Salamander
  • collaborations with students working in other arts-related areas, such as film, drama, photography, and art

What's Next for Creative Writing Students?

syracuse university creative writing

Creative Writing Program students have been accepted into MFA and other graduate programs at top universities around the country. And they publish their work in nationally-distributed magazines, win awards, have their plays produced, and publish books. Graduates in Creative Writing have found employment in various careers, including:

• Management • Marketing • Law • Journalism • Film • Education • Library Science • Public Relations • Publishing • Medicine

"My creative writing courses taught me how to use the power of language and images to impress and convince. As Hemingway said, 'You don't need big words to create big emotions.'"

Newhouse Writing Awards

Congratulations to the 2021 recipients of the Newhouse Writing Awards. Please click on any title to read more about the judges and their comments on the winner's work. 

The Nine Mile Prize in Poetry

The Nine Mile Prize in Poetry recognizes an outstanding poem submitted by a Le Moyne College full-time undergraduate in the creative writing program. There are no criteria for “outstanding,” only an awareness of the craft and art of poetry, and faithfulness to the materials of the poem. The winner will be selected by Nine Mile magazine editors Robert Herz and Stephen Kuusisto, receive a $50 cash prize, and publication in a forthcoming issue of Nine Mile ( /). All submissions to the Newhouse Poetry Award by creative writing concentrators and minors are eligible for the Nine Mile Prize in Poetry.

The 2021 Nine Mile Prize in Poetry has been awarded to Nikita Sharkey for “My Father Smiles Like Fire and I Live in the Flicker.” Robert Herz and Stephen Kuusisto selected a runner-up, McKenna Dicamillo, whose poem “rock beats icarus” will also appear in Nine Mile.

How do I join the Creative Writing Program?

Students join the program by declaring a creative writing concentration (if an English major) or a creative writing minor (if a major in another department). In either case, the requirements are the same: 4 writing workshops and 1 literature course.

Mission Statement

The Creative Writing Program enables English majors with a concentration in Creative Writing and Creative Writing minors to become writers and critics of poetry, fiction, plays, nonfiction, and scripts through participation in writing workshops and individual tutorial sessions with instructors, and through the study of contemporary writing and traditional literature.

Learning Goals

Students who take the Creative Writing concentration should be able to:

  • create and revise successive drafts of their own imaginative writing (poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, plays, film scripts and/or new or hybrid forms such as the prose poem)
  • employ techniques and strategies appropriate to imaginative writing in one or more genres (or a hybrid genre). For example a student poet might demonstrate facility with metaphors, sound patterns, enjambment; a fiction writer might do so with dialogue, plot development, flashback.
  • express reasonable, balanced opinions of peer writing during class workshop discussion, along with constructive suggestions for revision
  • complete and organize a manuscript of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, tv or film scripts, plays, or works in new or hybrid genres (such as the prose poem). This manuscript can consist of a single work or multiple works that demonstrate professional presentation of the creative writing, appropriate to the genre(s) represented. As a whole the manuscript should be correctly formatted and free of errors – of a quality that could be submitted to a professional journal for publication. Manuscript length will vary according to genre and instructors’ individual requirements.

Web Links to National Creative Writing Organizations

  • The mission of Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) is to foster literary talent & achievement, to advance the art of writing as essential to a good education, & to serve the makers, teachers, students, & readers of contemporary writing.
  • Poets & Writers, Inc. is the primary source of information, support, and guidance for creative writers. Founded in 1970, it is the nation's largest nonprofit literary organization serving poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers. The national office is located in New York City.
  • The Poetry Society of America, the nation's oldest poetry organization, was founded in 1910. Its mission is to build a larger and more diverse audience for poetry, to encourage a deeper appreciation of the vitality and breadth of poetry in the cultural conversation, to support poets through an array of programs and awards, and to place poetry at the crossroads of American life.
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Find details about every creative writing competition—including poetry contests, short story competitions, essay contests, awards for novels, grants for translators, and more—that we’ve published in the Grants & Awards section of Poets & Writers Magazine during the past year. We carefully review the practices and policies of each contest before including it in the Writing Contests database, the most trusted resource for legitimate writing contests available anywhere.

Find a home for your poems, stories, essays, and reviews by researching the publications vetted by our editorial staff. In the Literary Magazines database you’ll find editorial policies, submission guidelines, contact information—everything you need to know before submitting your work to the publications that share your vision for your work.

Whether you’re pursuing the publication of your first book or your fifth, use the Small Presses database to research potential publishers, including submission guidelines, tips from the editors, contact information, and more.

Research more than one hundred agents who represent poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers, plus details about the kinds of books they’re interested in representing, their clients, and the best way to contact them.

Trying to get your work published can feel like wandering in a maze. If you are running into one dead end after another, not sure which way to turn, Poets & Writers can demystify the process and help you reach your destination—publication.

Every week a new publishing professional shares advice, anecdotes, insights, and new ways of thinking about writing and the business of books.

Stay informed with reports from the world of writing contests, including news of extended deadlines, recent winners of notable awards, new contest announcements, interviews with winners, and more.

Since our founding in 1970, Poets & Writers has served as an information clearinghouse of all matters related to writing. While the range of inquiries has been broad, common themes have emerged over time. Our Top Topics for Writers addresses the most popular and pressing issues, including literary agents, copyright, MFA programs, and self-publishing.

Our series of subject-based handbooks (PDF format; $4.99 each) provide information and advice from authors, literary agents, editors, and publishers. Now available: The Poets & Writers Guide to Publicity and Promotion, The Poets & Writers Guide to the Book Deal, The Poets & Writers Guide to Literary Agents, The Poets & Writers Guide to MFA Programs, and The Poets & Writers Guide to Writing Contests.

Find a home for your work by consulting our searchable databases of writing contests, literary magazines, small presses, literary agents, and more.

Subscribe to Poets & Writers Magazine for as little as $1.67 per issue

Poets & Writers lists readings, workshops, and other literary events held in cities across the country. Whether you are an author on book tour or the curator of a reading series, the Literary Events Calendar can help you find your audience.

Get the Word Out is a new publicity incubator for debut fiction writers and poets.

Research newspapers, magazines, websites, and other publications that consistently publish book reviews using the Review Outlets database, which includes information about publishing schedules, submission guidelines, fees, and more.

Well over ten thousand poets and writers maintain listings in this essential resource for writers interested in connecting with their peers, as well as editors, agents, and reading series coordinators looking for authors. Apply today to join the growing community of writers who stay in touch and informed using the Poets & Writers Directory.

Download our free app to find readings and author events near you; explore indie bookstores, libraries, and other places of interest to writers; and connect with the literary community in your city or town.

Let the world know about your work by posting your events on our literary events calendar, apply to be included in our directory of writers, and more.

Subscribe to Poets & Writers Magazine for as little as $1.67 per issue

Find a writers group to join or create your own with Poets & Writers Groups. Everything you need to connect, communicate, and collaborate with other poets and writers—all in one place.

Find information about more than two hundred full- and low-residency programs in creative writing in our MFA Programs database, which includes details about deadlines, funding, class size, core faculty, and more. Also included is information about more than fifty MA and PhD programs.

Whether you are looking to meet up with fellow writers, agents, and editors, or trying to find the perfect environment to fuel your writing practice, the Conferences & Residencies is the essential resource for information about well over three hundred writing conferences, writers residencies, and literary festivals around the world.

Find information about venues that host readings and author events, including bookstores, bars, cafes, libraries, literary arts centers, and more. The Reading Venues database includes details about how to schedule your own reading, admission fees, audience size, parking and transit information, and more.

Discover historical sites, independent bookstores, literary archives, writing centers, and writers spaces in cities across the country using the Literary Places database—the best starting point for any literary journey, whether it’s for research or inspiration.

Search for jobs in education, publishing, the arts, and more within our free, frequently updated job listings for writers and poets.

Poets & Writers Live is an initiative developed in response to interviews and discussions with writers from all over the country. When we asked what Poets & Writers could do to support their writing practice, time and again writers expressed a desire for a more tangible connection to other writers. So, we came up with a living, breathing version of what Poets & Writers already offers: Poets & Writers Live.

Establish new connections and enjoy the company of your peers using our searchable databases of MFA programs and writers retreats, apply to be included in our directory of writers, and more.

Subscribe to Poets & Writers Magazine for as little as $1.67 per issue

Bring the literary world to your door—at half the newsstand price. Available in print and digital editions, Poets & Writers Magazine is a must-have for writers who are serious about their craft.

View the contents and read select essays, articles, interviews, and profiles from the current issue of the award-winning Poets & Writers Magazine .

Read three decades of essays, articles, interviews, profiles, and other select content from Poets & Writers Magazine .

View the covers and contents of every issue of Poets & Writers Magazine , from the current edition all the way back to the first black-and-white issue in 1987.

In our weekly series of craft essays, some of the best and brightest minds in contemporary literature explore their craft in compact form, articulating their thoughts about creative obsessions and curiosities in a working notebook of lessons about the art of writing.

The Time Is Now offers weekly writing prompts in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction to help you stay committed to your writing practice throughout the year. Sign up to get The Time Is Now, as well as a weekly book recommendation for guidance and inspiration, delivered to your inbox.

Every week a new author shares books, art, music, writing prompts, films—anything and everything—that has inspired and shaped the creative process.

Watch videos, listen to audio clips, and view slideshows related to articles and features published in Poets & Writers Magazine .

Ads in Poets & Writers Magazine and on are the best ways to reach a readership of serious poets and literary prose writers. Our audience trusts our editorial content and looks to it, and to relevant advertising, for information and guidance.

Start, renew, or give a subscription to Poets & Writers Magazine ; change your address; check your account; pay your bill; report a missed issue; contact us.

Peruse paid listings of writing contests, conferences, workshops, editing services, calls for submissions, and more.

Poets & Writers is pleased to provide free subscriptions to Poets & Writers Magazine to award-winning young writers and to high school creative writing teachers for use in their classrooms.

Read select articles from the award-winning magazine and consult the most comprehensive listing of literary grants and awards, deadlines, and prizewinners available in print.

Subscribe to Poets & Writers Magazine for as little as $1.67 per issue

Each year the Readings & Workshops program provides support to hundreds of writers participating in literary readings and conducting writing workshops. Learn more about this program, our special events, projects, and supporters, and how to contact us.

Find information about how Poets & Writers provides support to hundreds of writers participating in literary readings and conducting writing workshops.

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MFA Program

syracuse university creative writing

Poetry: Brooks Haxton, Mary Karr, Christopher Kennedy, Bruce Smith Fiction: Mona Awad, Chanelle Benz, Jonathan Dee, George Saunders, Dana Spiotta

Teaching Faculty: Matthew Grzecki, Sarah Harwell

The program offers full funding, which includes a full tuition waiver and stipend or a teaching assistantship or fellowship. The current stipend for fellowships and scholarships is $20,000.

Salt Hill , BOA Editions  

This program features the Raymond Carver Reading Series and the Graduate Student Reading Series.

Monica Brashears, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Mildred Barya, Grady Chambers, Alexandra Chang, Rebecca Curtis, Christine Kitano, Adam Levin, Annie Liontas, Ellen Litman, Rahul Mehta, E.C. Osondu, Iain Haley Pollock, Alexander Sammartino, Anthony Veasna So, Cheryl Strayed, Daniel Torday.

syracuse university creative writing

Creative Writing Program Introduces New Undergraduate Degree

The Department of English’s signature creative writing program–home of the renowned M.F.A. in creative writing–will now offer a new bachelor of arts degree. Building on the nationally ranked master’s program, the new creative writing major and minor are open to students with an interest in developing their skills as writers and readers of creative nonfiction, fiction and poetry.

The new B.A. marks a milestone for the creative writing program, which previously only housed an M.A. (1962-1994) and M.F.A. (1994-present) since its founding in 1962. For the first time, talented undergraduate writers can enroll in the program, which concentrates on the craft and quality of literary writing. They will address the challenges of the literary process with their fellow writers under the guidance of highly accomplished faculty authors, including Mona Awad, Dana Spiotta, Jonathan Dee, Brooks Haxton, Bruce Smith, Matt Grzecki, Sarah Harwell and Christopher Kennedy.

The  creative writing major is 30 credits and combines a grounding in literary study with a workshop-style focus on writing. Students will learn to effectively use language to create complex and emotionally powerful experiences in the form of stories, poetry and creative nonfiction. Coursework will include literature, creative writing workshops and craft classes. Creative writing workshops focus on the students’ own creative work, while craft classes such as Reading and Writing Poetry and Fairytales in Fiction are classes where students “read like writers”–learning craft and literary techniques from the work of established writers. The creative writing minor  requires students to take 18 credits of craft classes and creative writing workshops.

Coran Klaver, associate professor and department chair of English, says students will benefit from a course of study designed specifically for undergraduate creative writers. “The new creative writing major continues to draw on the strengths of our literary and screen studies curriculum of the Department of English, while also providing undergraduate students with customized workshops and crafts courses,” Klaver says. “I am thrilled that our students will now have the ability to focus on their passion for creative writing through this new major, as well as to work more closely with our talented creative writing faculty members.”

Christopher Kennedy, professor of English and director of the M.F.A. program, says, “I’d like to thank College of Arts and Sciences Dean Karin Ruhlandt for the opportunity to create the undergraduate degree and Sarah Harwell for all her hard work to bring it to fruition.”

Students in the B.A. program can utilize myriad creative writing resources, including the well-established  Raymond Carver Reading Series , opportunities to meet with visiting writers and highly talented graduate students who will help guide undergraduates, and an undergraduate creative writing club called “Write Out.”

First-year students can also choose to live in the  Creative Writing Learning Living Community  (LLC), where they can meet fellow students and create friendships, network with faculty and established authors through public readings and LLC dinners, and explore their passion for reading and writing poetry, fiction, graphic novels, creative nonfiction or any other types of writing.

According to Sarah Harwell, associate director of the creative writing program, in addition to being authors, graduates with a creative writing degree can also go on to careers in the fields of publishing, public relations, marketing, advertising, web design, media design, branding, social media communications, teaching, publishing, editing, grant writing, journalism, technical writing, health care professions and computer science.

“Nearly every profession is in need of highly skilled writers to interpret technical fields to the general public, to create compelling stories, and to compress and synthesize information so that it is gripping and persuasive,” Harwell says.

The program is now accepting students. For more information about enrolling, email Sarah Harwell at  [email protected] .

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