A writing classroom, where a student sits and looks at their computer with the professor in the background.

Creative Writing (BFA)

As a student in the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program in Creative Writing at University of the Arts, you will study the writing of poetry, fiction, flash / memoir and nonfiction from award-winning authors, pursuing your interests in an ever-expanding list of courses such as Graphic Novel, Speculative Fiction, Screenplay Adaptation and many more. The Creative Writing BFA degree program utilizes the workshop model, which is a working session for your writing that includes a judgment-free discussion with your peers and faculty. While studying at UArts, you’ll be able to take advantage of a huge variety of minors and arts courses including music, theater and dance, and you’ll be able to collaborate with your peers in an inspiring, artistic environment.

The Ideal Student

The ideal student for the BFA in Creative Writing is passionate about writing and learning to read literature from the perspective of a working artist. They will be interested in storytelling, expanding their understanding of the world, and developing their knowledge and grasp of the technical skills needed to be the next major voice in poetry, the short story or the novel. You do not need to have prior experience with the workshop model, nor with formal Creative Writing courses. The ideal student wants to develop their voice and learn how to share it with others. 

Esteemed Faculty

What makes our BFA degree program unique is the amount of contact students have with professors and the quality of our professors and community of BFA writers. When you walk the halls of our buildings, you’ll see professors and students engaged in conversations about texts long after class ends. You’ll see real engagement from instructors who care about the development of your work and your career. Relationships don’t end with graduation; rather, they continue through lifelong mentorship and friendship. In UArts’ Bachelor of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing, your work is treated with a high level of respect as you are pushed to further your skills and find your voice through readings and writing. You’re treated like an artist who has arrived at the right place and whose work is ready to flourish. 

Professional Opportunities


Though internships and courses about careers in the industry, you’ll graduate with practical experiences to enter the writing world. You’ll have networking opportunities during the Visiting Writers Series, when guest authors engage students in contemporary discourse. Our alumni have gone on to Master of Fine Arts programs around the country and are publishing in the finest literary journals.

The best thing about attending the Creative Writing program was my workshop peers. I trust them so much with my writing. You really get to know one another and each other’s writing. The professors and mentors are among them as well. Together, we become a network of support and inspiration.—MeeRee Orlandini BFA ’19

Curriculum

As a Creative Writing major, you’ll be prepared for a variety of professional writing careers. Within the major requirements, 45 of the 60 credits are dedicated exclusively to writing courses, including small, intensive workshops in poetry and fiction. You can also take “craft” seminars that are focused on specialized writing forms and genres, literature courses, a hands-on course in publishing, and a cross-disciplinary course requiring close collaboration with a student in another artistic field. You’ll graduate with a linked short story collection or book of poems that can be published or used as application materials for an MFA program or postgraduate fellowships.

A Creative Writing student reads their senior thesis at a podium.

Graduates of the Creative Writing program are expected to

  • understand the elements of the poem and the short story and be able to use them, skillfully and deliberately, in their own work;
  • be close and careful readers, able to analyze text with a writer’s eye;
  • demonstrate knowledge of significant books, writers and trends in the contemporary landscape, as well as the context for the development of these models and traditions;
  • write ably in a range of forms and genres;
  • critique writing usefully and productively, delivering detailed, well-supported verbal and written peer feedback;
  • find and articulate connections between their writing and other artistic disciplines;
  • demonstrate practical knowledge of producing a literary magazine;
  • hone public speaking skills by reading work aloud, introducing visiting writers and participating in public readings and other presentations;
  • engage in thorough, substantial revision of written work;
  • demonstrate a mature awareness of their own process of writing and revising, both in written self-assessments and exit interview;
  • produce a final portfolio of professional-quality writing; and
  • have something to say.
     

Sample Curriculum


Duration: Four years, full time
Credits: 120 credits

Major requirements: 63 credits
Discipline history: 9 credits
Critical Studies: 33 credits
Free electives: 15 credits

Expand all Collapse all
First Year

First Year


Fall Semester: 15 credits
Intro to Contemporary Poetry (3c)
Intro to Contemporary Short Story (3c)
The Writing Life (3c)
Writing I Placement (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (3c)

Spring Semester: 15 credits
Intro to Contemporary Poetry II (3c)
Intro to Contemporary Short Story II (3c)
Science course (your Choice) (3c)
Writing II Placement (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (3c)

Second Year

Second Year


Fall Semester: 15 credits
Intermediate Short Story Workshop (3c)
Craft Seminar (your choice)* (3c)
Literature course (your choice)** (3c)
Poetry & Poetics (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)

Spring Semester: 15 credits
Intermediate Poetry Workshop (3c)
Craft Seminar (your choice)* (3c)
Literature course (your choice)** (3c)
The Short Story (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)

*Craft seminars offered at this level include courses like Poetic Translations & Adaptations, Travel Writing, Graphic Storytelling, Memoir / Flash Fiction and Creative Nonfiction.

**Literature courses at this level cover topics like African American Literature, Lyric Poetry, Women Writers, Myths and Murders: Ancient Greek Drama and Queer Literature.

 

Third Year

Third Year


Fall Semester: 15 credits
Literary Editing & Publishing (3c)
Craft Seminar (your choice)* (3c)
High Modernism (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)

Spring Semester: 15 credits
Careers & Community (3c)
Advanced Workshop in Poetry or Short Story (3c)
Literature course (your choice)** (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)

*Craft seminars offered at this level include courses like Poetic Translations & Adaptations, Travel Writing, Graphic Storytelling, Memoir / Flash Fiction and Creative Nonfiction.

**Literature courses at this level cover topics like African American Literature, Lyric Poetry, Women Writers, Myths and Murders: Ancient Greek Drama and Queer Literature.

Fourth Year

Fourth Year


Fall Semester: 15 credits
Senior Seminar: Poetry I or Short Story I (3c)
Craft Seminar (your choice)* (3c)
Literature course (your choice)** (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (3c)

Spring Semester: 15 credits
Senior Seminar: Poetry II or Short Story II (3c)
Craft Seminar (your choice)* (3c)
Literature course (your choice)** (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (3c)

*Craft seminars offered at this level include courses like Poetic Translations & Adaptations, Travel Writing, Graphic Storytelling, Memoir / Flash Fiction and Creative Nonfiction.

**Literature courses at this level cover topics like African American Literature, Lyric Poetry, Women Writers, Myths and Murders: Ancient Greek Drama and Queer Literature.

Student Experience

As a student in a truly arts-centered university, you’ll have many opportunities to collaborate with students in other majors. You might work with Illustration and Graphic Design students on our popular undergraduate literary magazine, Underground Pool. A poet or fiction writer might team up with a music major to create a joint artistic work in our Writing and Collaboration course. Students in the Illustration program design author portraits and posters for the Visiting Writers Series each year, a tradition that started in 2014. Creative Writing majors can also take advantage of our affiliation with the nationally renowned American Poetry Review and their student internships, housed right here at UArts. 

Student Profiles

Nyeree Boyadjian headshot
Nyeree Boyadjian

'21

Creative Writing (BFA)
Writer focusing in prose and poetry; recipient of the 2019 Second Place Liberal Arts Prize in Fiction
Headshot of Laura Miller
Laura Miller

'21

Creative Writing (BFA)
Poet interested in landscapes and cityscapes; published in Scoundrel Time magazine
Headshot of Ishara Serrette
Ishara Serrette

'21

Creative Writing (BFA)
Writer focusing fiction and poetry, with an emphasis on developing dynamic Black characters
A headshot of Angie Stein
Angie Stein

'21

Creative Writing (BFA)
Poet, short story author and illustrator who works primarily in horror, sci-fi and fantasy

Faculty Profiles

Our faculty are award-winning writers active in their field outside the classroom. They use their industry expertise and love for education to provide mentorship, often continuing conversations about texts or career advice long after class ends. The relationships you’ll build with faculty will continue beyond graduation.

Steve Kleinman headshot
Steve Kleinman

Creative Writing (BFA)
Interim program director, award-winning author
Sebastian Agudelo headshot
Sebastian Agudelo

Creative Writing (BFA)
Poet, winner of the Saturnalia Book Prize
Headshot of John Wall Barger
John Wall Barger

Creative Writing (BFA)
Author of four collections of poetry; finalist for the 2020 Grayson Book Prize
Headshot of Daisy Fried
Daisy Fried

Creative Writing (BFA)
Recipient of Guggenheim, Hodder and Pew Fellowships
Elise Juska
Elise Juska

Creative Writing (BFA)
Award-winning novelist, Entertainment Weekly's "Must List", Philly Inquirer's "Best Books" List
Rahul Mehta headshot
Rahul Mehta

Creative Writing (BFA)
Latest novel, 'No Other World,' published by HarperCollins in 2017

Alumni & Careers

Career Development

Gregory Pardlo talks with students from the Creative Writing program during the Visiting Writers Series.

Throughout your studies, you’ll take courses that prepare you to land your desired career. You’ll build a portfolio of work during Senior Seminar and learn about professional opportunities in the writing field during Careers & Community. You’ll have the opportunity to gain professional experience and a behind-the-scenes view of the writing industry during an internship. Though students are responsible for finding their own internships, faculty often use industry contacts to connect students with opportunities in the field. Throughout these experiences, you’ll develop the skills needed to succeed in the field, such as adaptability, creativity, critical thinking, persuasion and social perceptiveness.

Internships that have previously hosted UArts students include

  • American Poetry Review

  • CAPA Philly

  • Cleaver Magazine

  • Esquire Magazine

  • Folk Arts Cultural Treasures Charter School

  • Metro Philly

  • Mighty Writers

  • Neon Butterfly

  • Out and About Magazine

  • Philadelphia Magazine

  • Philadelphia Style Magazine

  • Study Breaks magazine

  • Tail Fly Fishing Magazine

  • University of Pennsylvania

Alumni

Graduates of Creative Writing are accomplished, award-winning writers who have had works published in magazines, journals and more. Alumni can be seen around Philadelphia practicing in a variety of fields, as Philadelphia’s regional arts and culture sector has a $4.1B effect on the area’s economy and creates the equivalent of 55,225 full-time jobs.* Nationwide, Creative Writing alumni make up part of the 131,200 jobs for writers and authors.**

*Agenda: Prosperity, a 2017 study by Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance

**Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Writers and Authors 

Zoe Darazsdi Headshot
Zoe Darazsdi

BFA '20

Creative Writing (BFA)
Writer whose work has been published in Philadelphia publications
Mikayla Morell
Mikayla Morell

BFA '20

Creative Writing (BFA)
Writer whose poem “To Girls Everywhere: I am with You” appeared in Brine Literary
Headshot of MeeRee Orlandini
MeeRee Orlandini

BFA '19

Creative Writing (BFA)
Poet and educator applying writing background in the K-12 classroom
Glorious Piner headshot
Glorious Piner

BFA '19

Creative Writing (BFA)
Podcast host and poet, published in 'Queerbook' and American Poetry Review
Emily Famularo at lectern
Emily Famularo

BFA '17

Creative Writing (BFA)
Founder of popular online music magazine The Hook Journal
Maggie Fenning
Maggie Malachi Lily

BFA '17

Creative Writing (BFA)
Writer, illustrator and curator

As the industry continues to grow, graduates find themselves in a variety of roles. Common careers for Creative Writing majors include

  • Author
  • Advertising copywriter
  • Editor
  • Ghostwriter
  • Journalist
  • Playwright
  • Screenwriter
  • Speechwriter

Gallery

While in the BFA in Creative Writing program, you will have the opportunity to work on Underground Pool, our undergraduate-led literary journal. You’ll also gain editing, copy editing and publishing experience. Though internships and courses about careers in the industry, you’ll graduate with practical experiences to enter the writing world. Your undergraduate study will culminate in a finished collection of poems or a series of short stories.

Creative Writing Senior Theses

An illustration of a girl, in black and white, holding a pink heart. Text reads "Disembodied by Mikayla Morell"
"Disembodied" by Mikayla Morell

Read the senior theses.

 

Underground Pool

The cover of Underground Pool spring issue 2020. A lamp post is seen in a parking lot at sunset with telephone poles in the background.

Read the 2020 issue.

 

The cover of Underground Pool spring issue 2020. A hand in pink lighting touches a mirror.

Read the 2019 issue.

 

A cover of Underground Pool spring issue 2017. An illustrated head with a flower around one eye is seen in a bird cage.

Read the 2017 issue.

 

A cover of Underground Pool spring issue 2016. An illustrated tiger is in the jungle.

Read the 2016 issue.

 

Read previous issues of Underground Pool.

How to Apply

Admissions Deadline: There is no set deadline. UArts operates on a rolling admissions basis, which means we will receive and process applications throughout the year as space remains available in each program. 

The following materials are required for your application. 

  • A completed application for admission

  • A nonrefundable $60 application fee

  • Official transcripts 

    • Official transcripts from the high school(s) you have attended are required. For transfer students, transcripts from each college you have attended are required. They must be mailed directly by your school in a sealed envelope to the Office of Admissions, emailed directly from your school, or sent through a secure electronic transcript delivery service. Transcripts sent or emailed by students are not considered official. They should be sent to the Office of Admissions, University of the Arts, 320 S. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19102 or via email to undergradcredentials@uarts.edu

    • For transcripts from outside the U.S., refer to the instructions for international students

  • A personal statement 

    • Your individual voice and personal insights play an equally important and valued role in an admissions review. Your personal statement allows you to share your story, express yourself and place a spotlight on your creative journey—past, present or future. It helps us get to know you and your dreams, ideas, challenges, opportunities and/or goals in a way your transcripts and other application materials can’t. 

    • Here are some questions to help you shape your personal statement. Interpret them as you wish. There are no right or wrong answers—there’s only your story.

      1. When and how did you realize you wanted to be an artist?

      2. How will University of the Arts help you achieve your creative and professional goals?

      3. How do you want your creativity to affect the future?

    • There is no word count requirement, but we recommend you share your story in 250 to 500 words. Upload your personal statement with your application for admission or email it to undergradcredentials@uarts.edu.

  • Your portfolio 

    • Your portfolio should be 10 to 15 pages long and must include at least two different pieces of writing. Writings can include poetry, short stories, creative nonfiction and excerpts from short stories or novels. Applicants submitting poetry must also submit some prose.

    • Essay: The portfolio should also include a 150- to 200-word essay that responds to the prompt, “Describe an important window.” Learn more about submitting a Creative Writing portfolio.

  • International applicants must submit proof of English proficiency

  • Optional Materials 

For more information, visit our first-year application checklist and transfer checklist

Apply now.
 

Scholarships & Financial Aid

UArts recognizes the extraordinary talent of our students through a range of merit-based scholarships. All applicants are automatically considered for such scholarships—no special application is necessary.

Nearly 80 percent of UArts’ undergraduate students enrolled on a full-time basis are eligible for some type of need-based aid. Additionally, some scholarship opportunities take need-based criteria into account. All students who are U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens and are enrolled in a degree program are encouraged to apply by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Learn more about tuition and financial aid.

Events

Annie Liontas shakes hands with Creative Writing students over a table of books during the Visiting Writers Series.

Visiting Writers Series
Each year, the Visiting Writers Series, sponsored by the Creative Writing program, brings at least two acclaimed poets and novelists to campus per semester. Our students engage with visiting authors and write and present introductions for guest speakers during the series. Visiting authors also come to classes and offer contemporary discourse and personal encouragement.

Fall 2020 visiting writers

Past visiting writers have included Kazim Ali, Jamel Brinkley, Tyree Daye, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Annie Liontas, Carmen Maria Machado, Afaq Mahmoud, Liz Moore, Joyce Carol Oates, Gregory Pardlo, Alicia Jo Rabins, Roger Reeves, David Simon, Darin Strass, Laura van den Berg and more.

Salons and Student Readings
Throughout the year the students hold salons, which are open mics run by members of the BFA program and are open to students interested in sharing their work. At the end of each year, the Creative Writing program hosts a student reading to celebrate graduating seniors.

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