Creative Writing Program

About the Creative Writing Program

The philosophy of the Creative Writing Program at MU is that imagination stimulates progress, and in our classes, we inspire and challenge our students to imagine inner landscapes of their own. By using sound and symbol to build new worlds and characters, to evoke images and tell stories, students who study Creative Writing learn to elevate language to an artform.

The University of Missouri’s Creative Writing Program is known for its commitment to literary study as an essential component of literary production. The department offers the B.A. with a Creative Writing depth of study, an Undergraduate Minor in Creative Writing, as well as the M.A. and Ph.D. in English with a concentration in creative writing.

Professor William Peden founded MU’s Creative Writing program in 1946, with the vision of combining creative writing and serious literary scholarship. His mission continues today. Our M.A. program has been in existence since the 1970s, and the Ph.D. with an emphasis in creative writing was established in 1988.

Creative Writing Minor

The minor in Creative Writing is ideal for students who want to use the narrative, lyrical, and research tools involved in literary work in order to enrich and enhance their primary field, whether that primary field is Psychology, Journalism, History, or any other subject in Arts & Science and beyond.

The Creative Writing minor consists of 15 credit hours of coursework. For Creative Writing courses, it must include at least 3 credit hours at the 1000 level (1500, 1510, 1520, 1530) in any genre, 3 credit hours at the 2000 level (2510, 2520, 2530) in any genre, and 3 credit hours at the 4000 level (4510, 4520, 4530) in any genre. In addition to these requirements, students must take 6 credits of electives in any 3000- or 4000-level English courses. A grade of C- or above must be earned in all minor coursework and a minimum GPA of 2.0 achieved in the minor. A minimum of 9 credit hours must be completed in MU coursework. Students who declare a major in English cannot simultaneously minor in Creative Writing.

For more information, visit the English Minor.

B.A. in English with Creative Writing Emphasis

The B.A. in English with a Creative Writing “depth of study” offers students the opportunity to practice a literary art form (fiction, poetry, and/or creative nonfiction) with the guidance of published writers. Students work to develop technical skills specific to each genre and enter into aesthetic conversations with the literary community.  

In addition to the core requirements of the major, Creative Writing specialists are expected to take 9 credits of workshop (usually in one genre) to fulfill their “depth of study” requirement.

For more information, visit the Undergraduate Program.

Ph.D. in English with a Creative Writing Emphasis

Although there are benefits for students who simply want to take courses at the undergraduate level, it is sustained practice and discipline in craft that leads to the development of habits, skills, and reflexes that are necessary to create successful literary art. The Ph.D. in English with a Creative Writing emphasis is conceived of as an opportunity to specialize for individuals whose relationship to their craft is lifelong. This means honoring the individual goals and aesthetics of the student writer, and enabling them to succeed on their terms.

The University of Missouri offers a Ph.D. in English with a Creative Writing emphasis. Students may specialize in Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, or any combination of the genres. It is a fully-funded program designed to be completed over a five-year period, and there are three stages to the process which, for Creative Writing graduate students, often looks like the following:

  • Coursework (2 years)
  • Preparation for Comprehensive Examination (1-2 years)
  • Dissertation Writing (1-2 years)*

* Progress through the Ph.D. for Creative Writers often varies from the Ph.D. Sample Timeline, because Creative Writing students often need two full years to complete their Comprehensive Exam reading, and because Creative Writing students often develop their dissertation over the course of the entire five-year period.


  • Our incoming Ph.D. students enter the program with Master’s Degrees (either an MFA in Creative Writing or an MA in a related field), and usually pursue the Doctorate in order to give them (1) the time to write, (2) the formal training to excel in their field, and/or (3) the qualifications to teach at institutions of higher education or to work in a non-academic field.
  • We believe that poetry, fiction, and nonfiction are mutually informing genres, and therefore our Ph.D. students are expected to take courses in more than one area.
  • During the course of the five-year program, our Ph.D. students have multiple opportunities to teach Creative Writing within their primary genre(s), and often in other genre(s) as well.
  • Because Ph.D. students in Creative Writing often enter the program with strong publication records, developed voices, and goals for their own writing, the role of the faculty is to help students articulate and fulfill the goals that they already possess as mature literary artists.

For full program details, visit the Graduate Program.

Creative Writing Awards, Prizes and Scholarships

View awards, prizes and scholarships for Creative Writing undergraduate and graduate students.

Program Opportunities 


The English Department offers several internships opportunities. Interns can work at The Missouri Review, Persea Books and Wigleaf. 

Learn more about the internship opportunities here

Student Organizations and Publications

Students can become involved in the English Department through English at MU, Creative Writing Club, EPIC (literary magazine) and the Linguistics Student Organization.