Creative Writing

Creative Writing

Photo credit: Craig Chandler | University Communications

Award-winning students, faculty, and publications.

Enrolling approximately 120 students and composed of 41 graduate faculty (including 12 in Creative Writing), the Graduate Program in English offers an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Creative Writing. Our program's alumni have received national and international honors from outlets such as the Pulitzer Prize, the National Endowment for the Arts, Best American EssaysBest American Poetry, the New York Times, the Today Show, and the New York Public Library, among other distinctions.

Undergraduate English majors interested in creative writing, editing, and publishing can jump start a career in these areas by building a major concentration around creative writing.

Acclaimed fiction writer Bernardine Evaristo, who visited campus during fall 2014.

Visiting Writers

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

No Name Reading Series

The No Name Reading Series features monthly readings by creative writing students and other writers from the Lincoln community.
UNL English Club

Literary Contests

Each year the English Department holds several student literary contests for Arts and Sciences prizes, including the Academy of American Poets Prize, the Vreeland Award, and The Mari Sandoz Fiction Prize.


Prairie Schooner

The Prairie Schooner, founded in 1927 at the University of Nebraska, is widely recognized as one of the premiere literary magazines in the nation. Glenna Luschei Editor-in-Chief Kwame Dawes and Managing Editor Ashley Strosnider lead a team of undergraduate interns, graduate editorial staff, and alumni readers who help publish the quarterly literary magazine and its podcast, Air Schooner.

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American Life in Poetry

American Life in Poetry is an initiative of Ted Kooser that provides newspapers and online publications with a free weekly column featuring contemporary American poems. The project was founded in 2005 through a partnership of The Poetry Foundation and the Library of Congress. The Department of English provides administrative support and is home to the project's offices.

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Graduate Creative Writing

The UNL Creative Writing program is also home to the Prairie Schooner literary journal and the American Life in Poetry newspaper project (edited by Ted Kooser).

The Creative Writing M.A. 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 Ph.D., 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 Ph.D. program consists of 90 hours beyond the bachelor's degree. The usual program of studies for the Ph.D. 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 M.A. credit as part of the Ph.D. degree.

Undergraduate Creative Writing

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.

Creative Writing Concentration

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 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.