Our Program is one of only a handful in the US that offers English PhD students the chance to pursue a Minor in creative writing. All graduate students in the Department of English are eligible to apply to take one creative writing workshop as an elective toward their Master’s Degree requirements and one workshop as an elective toward their PhD requirements. Graduate students in other departments and programs should consult with their academic advisors to determine which, if any, creative writing courses may be counted as electives.
Currently enrolled PhD students in the Department of English whose major field of study is in the program of Literary Studies, Composition & Rhetoric, or English Language & Linguistics may apply to elect an Internal Minor in Creative Writing, under the guidelines set forth by the Director of Graduate Studies. PhD students in other departments may, with the permission of their departments, apply to elect an External Minor in Creative Writing.
Students admitted to the Minor in fall 2008 and thereafter must complete 9 credits of graduate or advanced undergraduate workshops and 3 credits of an elective that is relevant to the student’s work in creative writing. For the Internal Minor, the elective must be selected in consultation with the English Department’s Director of Graduate Studies. For the External Minor, the elective must be selected in consultation with the student’s academic advisor. PhD students wishing to apply for an Internal or External Minor must have already completed or be currently enrolled in an advanced-level undergraduate or graduate creative writing workshop (the “prerequisite workshop”). Application for admission to the Minor consists of submitting to the MFA director, via Ron Kuka, a writing sample and a 1-2 page single-spaced personal statement justifying the Minor’s relevance to the student’s current or future research and career plans.
Admission to individual workshops is not guaranteed for any student, but is based on evaluation of a writing sample that must be submitted to the instructor by November 1 for spring semester workshops and by April 1 for fall semester workshops. Writing samples should consist of either 10 pages of single-spaced poems, with each new poem beginning on a new page, or up to 30 double-spaced pages of fiction. Admission to the Internal Minor is determined by a committee composed of Creative Writing Program faculty. Admission is based on the quality of the writing sample, performance in the prerequisite workshop, and the personal statement. PhD students admitted into the Internal Minor in Creative Writing are guaranteed admission to either an advanced undergraduate or graduate-level workshops, though admission to all graduate workshops is at the discretion of the instructor. Graduate students enrolled or interested in the Creative Writing Minor are encouraged to consult a member of the Creative Writing Program faculty prior to applying to the Minor and prior to choosing a workshop.
Please note that creative writing classes often appear to be closed even when there is room for additional students. This is done when all or some of the students in a workshop are admitted on the basis of writing samples, and is especially true of graduate-level workshops. If you are interested in a class that appears to be closed, please contact Ron Kuka to determine the actual enrollment status.
Other Important Information
Graduate students may take Graduate Workshops or any advanced undergraduate workshop (ENGL 303, 305, or 307) for graduate credit. All graduate students must secure the course instructor’s permission to enroll in these courses (except in the case of MFA students taking the Graduate Workshop in their genre). Graduate students who are not in the MFA program may not take more than one creative writing workshop in any semester. The Graduate Fiction Workshop and the Graduate Poetry Workshop may be repeated for graduate credit, but we discourage students from repeating workshops with the same instructor.
FAQ for the English PhD with Internal Minor
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Q: Is this a PhD in Creative Writing?
No. This is a PhD in English, with a Minor in Creative Writing.
Q: So how does the PhD with Internal Creative Writing Minor differ from a traditional PhD in Creative Writing?
The major difference between our PhD in English with an Internal Creative Writing Minor and a traditional PhD in Creative Writing is that English PhD students at UW-Madison write a scholarly dissertation in their primary areas of study; i.e., creative dissertations are not permitted. Further, our PhD students are expected to spend the majority of their time on their academic areas of specialization and only secondarily on their creative work.
Q: I've applied / am applying to the PhD in English, but where is the space for me to indicate my application to the Creative Writing Minor?
The Internal Minor in Creative Writing differs from most other minor areas in one important respect: students must be accepted to the PhD in English, gain entry into a creative writing course by writing sample, and then apply for admission into the Minor. Admission to the Internal Minor in Creative Writing cannot be offered or promised when a student is first accepted into the PhD program.
Q: Do members of the Creative Writing Program faculty have input in the admission of PhD students with MFAs in creative writing or who have expressed in their application material an interest in the Internal Minor?
A: No. The Creative Writing Program does not participate in the PhD program’s admissions process. In admitting PhD students, the English Department evaluates the factors outlined on the PhD application website. Creative Writing faculty will, however, be available to talk to admitted PhD applicants about the Internal Minor during the Graduate Admitted Students Program (GASP) weekend, when admitted PhD candidates are invited to Madison to meet with faculty and students.