Undergraduate Program

Undergraduates interested in the writing of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have a number of opportunities to develop those interests. Genre specific workshop courses focus on creative composition, the development of craft and technique, and rigorous revision practices based on group feedback.

The department regularly offers a sequence of 200, 300, and 400 level workshops in Creative Writing. The workshops, along with a variety of literature courses (including courses on contemporary writers), help students to expand their own perceptions and skills as writers.

Undergraduate English Majors may also pursue a Creative Writing concentration within the major. The Creative Writing Concentration is designed as an undergraduate course of study for students seriously considering careers as writers of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

Many of our undergraduates publish their writing in Laurus (the undergraduate literary magazine) and Plains Song Review, and submit their work to the English department's literary contests each spring. Some also serve as interns with Prairie Schooner.

Undergraduate Creative Writing students have gone on to further study in M.F.A. and/or Ph.D. Programs in Creative Writing. Many have gone on to publish their work.

Graduate Program

Enrolling more than 150 students and composed of 42 graduate faculty (including 10 in Creative Writing), the Graduate Program in English at the University of Nebraska offers an MA and a PhD in Creative Writing. Graduates of UNL’s Ph.D creative writing program have received recognition from the Pulitzer Prize, National Endowment for the Arts, Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers, Best American Essays, Best American Poetry, New York Times Editors’ Choice, the Today Show, the New York Public Library, the National Magazine Award, and the National Poetry Series, among other distinctions, and have been published in the Paris Review, the Atlantic, Harper’s and many other magazines and journals. The UNL creative writing program is also home to the Prairie Schooner literary journal, the American Life in Poetry newspaper project (edited by Ted Kooser), and the Nebraska Summer Writers Conference.

The Creative Writing MA consists of 24 hours of course work and a 6 credit creative thesis plus an oral examination. Students select a thesis committee consisting of a chair and two readers who guide them in their creative project.

For the Creative Writing PhD, students develop a program of course work, reading lists for the comprehensive examination, reading knowledge of a foreign language, an optional collateral field, and a creative dissertation project. In the construction of such a degree program, students are guided by a self-selected Supervisory Committee.

The PhD program consists of 90 hours beyond the bachelor's degree. The usual program of studies for the PhD student is 24-30 hours of course work beyond the master's, plus a maximum of 30 hours of dissertation credit. The department accepts up to 36 hours of MA credit as part of the PhD degree.

Creative Dissertation Embargo Policy


The Prairie Schooner, founded in 1927 at the University of Nebraska, is widely recognized as one of the premiere literary quarterlies in the nation. Creative Writing graduate students often serve as interns with the magazine.

Related Events and Activities

The English Department sponsors a number of visiting writers every year. Recent visitors include: Charles Baxter, Tim O’Brien, Naomi Shihab Nye, Randall Kenan, and Lucille Clifton.

The No Name Reading Series features bi-monthly readings by creative writing students and other writers from the Lincoln community. Each year the English Department holds several student literary contests for Arts & Sciences prizes, including the Academy of American Poets Prize, the Vreeland Award, and The Mari Sandoz Fiction Prize.

The department is also the host for the Nebraska Summer Writers' Conference, a yearly festival of weekend and weeklong writing workshops, readings, individual conferences, and panel discussions with nationally known, prize-winning writers such as Curtis Sittenfeld, Meghan Daum, Brock Clarke, Kim Addonizio, Sigrid Nunez, Benjamin Percy.

Gerry Shapiro

Gerald Shapiro Photo In Memoriam: Gerry Shapiro (1950-2011)

Click to read one of his short stories, "The Marine Mammal Guy," which is included in his collection "From Hunger."
Read his obituary here.