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Creative Writing PhD Programs Overview

A Ph.D. in Creative Writing program provides graduates with the knowledge and credentials needed to teach English and creative writing or to work in the fields of publishing, journalism or editing. Learn more about the program and job outlook.

Essential Information

A Doctor of Philosophy in Creative Writing program features a unique blend of both creative work and scholarly study of literature, including literary history and theory. Students study a variety of genres, including poetry, creative nonfiction, short fiction, screenplays and playwriting while honing their craft as writers.

Applicants to these programs must have a bachelor's and master's degree in English or another relevant discipline. Other admissions requirements will vary according to the institution, but a minimum GPA and GRE scores are likely to be required. Most institutions also request creative writing samples in more than one genre or style or in critical writing.

Most Ph.D. programs in creative writing require 4-8 years of full-time study and require 30-60 credit hours beyond what is required for a master's degree. A large portion of these programs is devoted to the creation and defense of a creative dissertation, which may take the form of a full-length novel or novella; a collection of poetry or short fiction; or a play or screenplay.


Ph.D. in Creative Writing

Students working towards a doctoral degree in creative writing will spend most of their time creating pieces of their own and critiquing the pieces of their classmates. However, other coursework may include such topics as the following:

  • Comparative literature
  • Modern and contemporary American literature
  • British and American Literature
  • Composition and rhetoric
  • Creative writing pedagogy
  • Research and critical methods

Popular Career Options

A doctoral degree in creative writing can open doors leading to opportunities in authorship, teaching, publishing, editing and journalism. Most graduates of a Ph.D. program pursue a teaching career within an English department at the university level. However, many graduates become published authors, so they can write and teach professionally.

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of English language and literature postsecondary educators was expected to increase by 10% from 2014-2024. This faster than average growth is attributed to the continued increase in student enrollment (www.bls.gov). As reported by the BLS, the average annual salary English language and literature postsecondary educators was $71,210 in 2015.

Ph.D. programs in creative writing allow students to study various genres of writing while also developing a creative dissertation or publishable piece of professional writing. Graduates may find work as a writer or postsecondary teacher.

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