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Program for Writers

UIC offers a PhD in English with creative dissertation and also an MA in English with creative manuscript.

The MA is considered preparation to enter an PhD program, either in literature or creative writing; or a degree to prepare a writer to enter jobs in publishing, public relations, high school or community college teaching, grant writing, corporate writing, and other communications fields.

UIC’s PhD is suitably academic and scholarly, blending thorough studies in critical theory and literature with in-depth immersion in the writing of fiction, poetry or creative nonfiction. The program is usually completed in 5 or 6 years. In that time students prepare themselves to work as professors with 3 or 4 solid individually designed teaching areas. In the same time, students also become skilled and imaginative college composition instructors, and have opportunities to broaden expertise in this area if desired. PhD students in the Program for Writers also teach beginning creative writing courses in their genre, and may teach introductory literature courses as well. All PhD students are offered teaching assistantships.

The student who finishes a PhD with creative dissertation also graduates with a book-length MS of poetry, fiction or creative nonfiction. Some students are able to complete more than one book. Students in the program are encouraged to seek publication before they finish the program. There are opportunities for assistance in learning the literary market and how to present oneself to it. The Program for Writers Workshops welcome new drafts as well as revisions of drafts seen in earlier workshops. Workshops are offered in short fiction, the novel, creative nonfiction, and poetry. A student-run reading series presents public readings of works-in-progress by both PhD and MA students in the program.

The 2-year Program for Writers MA is designed to provide intensive work in a particular genre plus an advanced overview of literary and cultural studies. A 3-year option can include secondary teaching certification. The MA is designed as a stepping-stone to PhD work but it also prepares students for community college or high school teaching, careers in publishing or editing, and other professional areas. Students complete the MA with a partial MS, or portfolio, roughly 75-150 pages (prose), somewhat shorter for poetry (40-50 pgs). The project could consist of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. Excerpts from novels or from a longer creative nonfiction piece are allowed, as are combinations of fiction and nonfiction. Some students do complete a book-length manuscript. MA and PhD students are in writing workshops together, so master’s students benefit from the combined years of experience and a wide range of aesthetics.

Be sure to review our admissions information, as well as MA degree requirements and PhD degree requirements.