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.

For full program details, visit the Graduate Program

  • 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.