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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

A&S’ Creative Writing Program Introduces New Undergraduate Degree

The renowned program now offers a 30 credit major and 18 credit minor.

Jan. 29, 2021, by Dan Bernardi

Stack of Books

The Department of English’s signature creative writing program – home of the renowned M.F.A. in creative writing – will now offer a new bachelor of arts degree. Building on the nationally ranked master’s program, the new creative writing major and minor are open to students with an interest in developing their skills as writers and readers of creative nonfiction, fiction and poetry.

The new B.A. marks a milestone for the creative writing program, which previously only housed an M.A. (1962-1994) and M.F.A. (1994-present) since its founding in 1962. For the first time, talented undergraduate writers can enroll in the program, which concentrates on the craft and quality of literary writing. They will address the challenges of the literary process with their fellow writers under the guidance of highly accomplished faculty authors, including Mona Awad, Dana Spiotta, Jonathan Dee, Brooks Haxton, Bruce Smith, Matt Grzecki, Sarah Harwell and Christopher Kennedy.

The creative writing major is 30 credits and combines a grounding in literary study with a workshop-style focus on writing. Students will learn to effectively use language to create complex and emotionally powerful experiences in the form of stories, poetry and creative nonfiction. Coursework will include literature, creative writing workshops and craft classes. Creative writing workshops focus on the students’ own creative work, while craft classes such as Reading and Writing Poetry and Fairytales in Fiction are classes where students “read like writers” – learning craft and literary techniques from the work of established writers. The creative writing minor requires students to take 18 credits of craft classes and creative writing workshops.

Coran Klaver, associate professor and department chair of English, says students will benefit from a course of study designed specifically for undergraduate creative writers. “The new creative writing major continues to draw on the strengths of our literary and screen studies curriculum of the Department of English, while also providing undergraduate students with customized workshops and crafts courses,” Klaver says. “I am thrilled that our students will now have the ability to focus on their passion for creative writing through this new major, as well as to work more closely with our talented creative writing faculty members.”

Christopher Kennedy, professor of English and director of the M.F.A. program, says, “I’d like to thank A&S Dean Karin Ruhlandt for the opportunity to create the undergraduate degree and Sarah Harwell for all her hard work to bring it to fruition.”

Students in the B.A. program can utilize myriad creative writing resources, including the well-established Raymond Carver Reading Series, opportunities to meet with visiting writers and highly talented graduate students who will help guide undergraduates, and an undergraduate creative writing club called “Write Out.”

First-year students can also choose to live in the Creative Writing Learning Living Community (LLC), where they can meet fellow students and create friendships, network with faculty and established authors through public readings and LLC dinners, and explore their passion for reading and writing poetry, fiction, graphic novels, creative nonfiction or any other types of writing.

According to Sarah Harwell, associate director of the creative writing program, in addition to being authors, graduates with a creative writing degree can also go on to careers in the fields of publishing, public relations, marketing, advertising, web design, media design, branding, social media communications, teaching, publishing, editing, grant writing, journalism, technical writing, health care professions and computer science.

“Nearly every profession is in need of highly skilled writers to interpret technical fields to the general public, to create compelling stories, and to compress and synthesize information so that it is gripping and persuasive,” Harwell says.

The program is now accepting students. For more information about enrolling, email Sarah Harwell at scharwel@syr.edu.