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The Creative Writing Program

Just for PhD Students

Poets and Writers recently ranked our program the top Creative Writing PhD in the country (see link).  DU's program in creative writing is one of the only writing programs in the country that focuses exclusively on doctoral study.  All of the University of Denver's graduate students in Creative Writing are PhD students.

At other creative writing doctoral programs, MFA and MA students generally outnumber creative writing PhD students in workshops.  We pitch our workshops and other courses to the sophisticated levels of students who have done an MA or MFA in creative writing elsewhere.

The doctoral program in creative writing at the University of Denver resembles a pure mathematics or philosophy PhD.  Our students do a good deal of hard critical reading and research, and some of them write and publish traditional literary critical works.  But we also prepare them as writers, just as a philosophy program prepares philosophers, people who think and apply their historical knowledge to contemporary problems.  Our PhD is a theoretical doctorate, an experience that builds creative thinking.

We no longer offer an MA in creative writing (and we've never had an MFA).

Here is a link to a page with general information about the graduate program, courses available, and interviews with faculty.

We are pleased to welcome Graham Foust to the Creative Writing faculty.  Graham Foust is the author of A Mouth in California, Necessary Stranger, As in Every Deafness, and Leave the Room to Itself, and a translation of Ernst Meister's In Time's Rift, with Samuel Frederick.

Education and Experimentation

At DU, two-thirds of the graduate students in the English Department are in creative writing.  The creative writing, literature, and rhetoric and theory students all work closely together in courses and on other projects.  We believe that the experience of writing is crucial to a profound appreciation of literature and theory.

We encourage students to regard genre in an open way, to experiment with hybrid genres, and to create new ones.  We concentrate on writing first and categories later.  We do workshops in cross-genre writing, travel writing, translation, book reviews, and prose poetry, as well as poetry and fiction.

The faculty regards the old workshop model as outmoded.  All of our workshops integrate literature and writing, and we believe that all writing is creative writing.  Incoming students are required to take their first fall workshop in the genre they applied to the program, but after that course, they can take any kind of workshop they wish (including translation, travel writing, hybrid writing, memoir, and nonfiction workshops, as well as poetry and fiction workshops).

Attracting Talented Writers

Our program has about twenty writers at any one time, and it offers an intimate writing community as well as a bracing academic experience.  We are able to hand-pick students from a highly competitive pool of applicants, selecting six or seven strong and committed writers each year to become teaching fellows (we do not accept anyone without a teaching fellowship).


Amina Cain and Eric Baus, September 30

Karen Tei Yamashita, reading October 18, 7pm, Sturm Hall 480; talk, October 19, 4:30 pm, Sturm Hall 480--both events free and open to the general public

Karen Tei Yamashita is the author of Through the Arc of the Rain Forest, Brazil-Maru, Tropic of Orange, Circle K Cycles, and I Hotel, all published by Coffee House Press. I Hotel was selected as a finalist for the National Book Award and awarded the California Book Award, the American Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association Award, and the Association for Asian American Studies Book Award. She recently received a US Artists Ford Foundation Fellowship, is Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and currently the co-holder with Bettina Aptheker of the UC Presidential Chair for Feminist Critical Race and Ethnic Studies.

Eleni Sikelianos and Teresa Carmody, also October 19, at 7 pm, Counterpath Books, at 613 22nd Street in Denver

2012-2013 visitors: Anne Waldman, Rikki Ducornet, Jack Collom, and Rachel Blau DuPlessis

Graduate Bulletin Information

PLEASE NOTE that the deadline for applications to the creative writing program is JANUARY 1.

Fiction applications should include a writing sample no more than 30 pages long and poetry applicants should submit 5-10 poems.

Application Requirements and Deadlines
Scholarships and Financial Aid
Complete Bulletin

More information about the Creative Writing Program

Creative Writing PhD

Program History 


Alumni, Visitors, Faculty Activity

Mailing List and Applications

Kristen Iverson, a graduate of the creative writing program, interviewed on Fresh Air about her book Full Body Burden

A very nice appreciation of long-time DU Creative Writing professor John Williams' Stoner on NPR

An interview with Brian Kiteley on Writer's Voice radio show

A story about recent PhD graduate Richard Froude

A recent Westword story on John Williams, long-time director of the program

An interview with our own alum, Andrea Rexilius, in Bookslut

Poets and Writers ranking