One of the terrific perks of studying creative writing at SIUE is the vibrant literary community in the St. Louis metro area. Click here for a Spring 2011 Readings schedule of upcoming readings.

The specialization in creative writing is designed for the student interested in pursuing the art of writing fiction or poetry. Students pursuing this specialization will not only develop their skills as writers, they will be better prepared to teach creative writing, pursue other professional writing opportunities, conduct further research into matters of creative writing pedagogy, and publish their own creative works.

NOTE: By design, the Creative Writing specialization has limited enrollment. Applicants should understand that this makes the program very competitive as regards admissions.

Completion of the program requires at least 30 hours, however students may enroll in an optional second unit of thesis hours, for a total of 33 hours. Students are required to complete the following primary courses (18 hours):

Required Thesis (3-6 hours):  ENG 599.

Required Literature (9 hours):  Students are required to complete three graduate-level literature courses in consultation with their adviser, at least one of which must be in the contemporary period and at least one must be at the 500 level.

Workshop (12 hours): ENG 593 (Poetry workshop) taken four times or ENG 592 (Fiction workshop) taken four times.

Please note that the fiction workshop focuses on the short story. We believe that our students are best served by honing their craft while writing shorter pieces, which can ultimately be submitted to literary journals. We have found, too, that it is ungainly to workshop novels-in-progress and novel fragments.

Electives (6 hours):  The two electives may be any graduate level course offering, an additional unit of thesis hours, a workshop in the student’s minor genre, (492 or 493) or creative nonfiction. [Note: ENG 554, Contemporary Pedagogy, required of all new teaching Graduate Assistants, may not be counted as an elective.]

Students are encouraged to proceed through their coursework at a pace that is appropriate to their circumstances. The program can be completed in four semesters, as demonstrated in the chart below.

1st Semester 2nd Semester 3rd Semester 4th Semester
workshop 1 workshop 2 workshop 3 workshop 4
literature literature (contemp.) literature thesis hours
  elective elective  

Students frequently opt to take longer to complete the program. Many variables will determine how quickly a student earns his or her degree. These include level of preparedness – a less experienced writer may require additional time to write and polish work suitable for the thesis. A student with a Graduate Assistantship or outside employment may find it difficult to undertake more than two courses a term. For students such as these, taking courses during the summer term is one option; literature courses and electives are offered every summer.

Students may also defend their theses after they have completed their coursework and thesis hours. (The Graduate School allows six years for completion of the degree.) 

If the thesis or project is not finished after the student has enrolled in the maximum number of credit hours allowable, the student is expected to enroll in UNIV 500 each term until the work is completed. UNIV 500 is a no-credit "course" for which a fee of $37.50 is charged. This form of enrollment enables the student to maintain access to such resources as faculty, library, computers, and parking.


  1. Knowledge of contemporary literature, particularly in student's genre of specialization, including major figures and important trends
  2. Ability to analyze and critique literary texts in discussion and in academic writing
  3. Ability to articulate specific goals, strategies, aesthetic and formal concerns, and artistic influences relevant to student's creative work
  4. Knowledge of forms and formal elements
  5. Ability to compose cohesive creative texts with deliberate artistic aims
  6. Ability and inclination to prepare and submit manuscripts meeting professional guidelines to litearry and/or commercial publishers
  7. Preparedness for pursuing a terminal degree, and/or finding employment in the fields of teaching or editing, and/or seeking publication for their work, and/or continuing their professional and artistic advancement as writers

Students will submit and defend a thesis which will be a book-length manuscript of poetry (roughly a minimum of 48 pages) or prose (usually a minimum of 120 pages), or a hybrid text. 

Students will also submit an 8-12 page Artist Statement in which they discuss their personal aesthetics and specific influences to the development of their work. Upon admittance to the program, incoming students will be given a reading list (approximately 50 titles in student’s genre). Over the course of study students will be expected to gain familiarization with the reading list; specific guidelines will be discussed with faculty.

Click here for copy of current short fiction reading list and the poetry reading list.

Students are reminded to file for Graduation Check at the beginning of the semester in which they plan to graduate.

If, after reading this page and the applying to the SIUE English Graduate Program page, you still have questions about the Creative Writing program, please contact the Creative Writing specialization advisor, Prof. Geoff Schmidt.

Published by: Department of English Language and Literature
Last Update: January 29, 2011 by the CW Web Mistress: Valerie Vogrin.

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