Creative Writing Program ranked first in nation
October 6, 2011
By: Kristin Altman
This is the first year that the Poets &Writers has published two lists: one for MFA programs and one for PhD programs. DU offers a doctorate in creative writing, while many creative writing programs across the country offer only an MFA.
“Poets & Writers is one of the premier magazines of the creative writing academic world. We are honored that our faculty and imaginative students have received this deserved recognition,” says Brian Kiteley, former director of the creative writing program.
The rankings are based on at least eight criteria, including selectivity, funding, reputation and job placements.
With only six or seven students admitted each year, the creative writing program at DU has seen substantial growth in the number of competitive applications over the past 15 years. Most students in the program have received a master’s degree or MFA in creative writing elsewhere. Occasionally, the program admits a student without a master’s degree.
Last year, two students received national awards for their work: Jennifer Denrow won a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and Joanna Ruocco won the $15,000 Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize.
Other program alumni are obtaining faculty positions soon after finishing their degrees; last year four graduates took teaching positions in celebrated MFA programs.
“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,” Kiteley says. “Our PhD is a theoretical doctorate, an experience that builds creative thinking.”
Founded in 1947, DU’s PhD creative writing program is one of the oldest in the country. In 1966, the department founded The Denver Quarterly. Edited by faculty and doctoral students, the Quarterly is one of the nation’s oldest and most respected literary journals and has always maintained a broad, interdisciplinary perspective.
“From the start, our program has emphasized the role that intellectual curiosity plays in literary creation and has aimed to bring together creative and critical thinking to the benefit of both,” Kiteley says.
Poets & Writers states that it is “the primary source of information, support and guidance for creative writers. It is the nation’s largest nonprofit literary organization serving poets, fiction writers and creative nonfiction writers … The 2012 rankings feature ratings of full-residency, low-residency and doctoral programs in creative writing on the basis of their popularity, funding, selectivity, fellowship-placement statistics, job-placement statistics and student-to-faculty ratios.”