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Poetry Classes Offered in Massachusetts with School Descriptions

Aug 01, 2019

There are 18 colleges and universities within Massachusetts that have poetry courses. Read an overview of ten of the largest schools' programs, requirements and tuition info and find out which school is the right one for you.

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Essential Information

Massachusetts has colleges and universities that offer undergraduate and, in some instances, graduate programs in English, creative writing and literature that include poetry classes. Program requirements often include studies of the major poets, poetry readings and poetry writing workshops. Admission to a program related to poetry requires a basic college writing class or an original manuscript of poems, for example. Through co-curricular and other activities, students can also join English honor societies, participate in internships, write for literary journals or even study abroad.


Boston University

This private research university, the largest school on this list, is located in a historic area of Boston. Through the Department of English, students can pursue a 6-course minor or 11-course bachelor's degree in English. Both programs require a course in British literature, through which students learn about poetic genres and political poetry. The program also includes two poetry electives that cover topics associated with contemporary American and 20th-century British and Irish poets.

The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing requires 32 credits to complete and provides students with the opportunity to pursue a genre specialization in poetry that culminates in a 30-page thesis of poetic work. Students can apply for a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship in Poetry, which funds up to three months of travel to provide students with unique inspiration for their creative writing.

Brandeis University

Brandeis University in Waltham is a private research institution. Its minor programs in English and creative writing allow students to take several courses in poetry, and its bachelor's degree program in creative writing has a poetry honors project option and an 11-course thesis option in poetry. Dual major/minor options also include content in poetry. The department is staffed by approximately 20 full-time faculty members, some with special interests in the history of poetry, contemporary verse and women's poetry. Coursework specific to major literary figures may cover topics in Renaissance and Victorian poets, as well as the epic works of John Milton and Edmund Spenser.

The Master of Arts can be completed in two or three semesters of full-time study, and a total of 12 courses are required for the Doctor of Philosophy. Graduate studies include topics in 19th-century American poetry and romantic verse, and doctoral students receive their own teaching assignments.

Fitchburg State University

The state university at Fitchburg was founded in 1894, and the Department of English at this school offers bachelor's degrees and minors in literature and professional writing. Through a required class in British literature, students can receive an introduction to major poets like John Milton, Percy Shelley and Samuel Pepys. Depending on the specialization, the degree plan may also include a writing intensive course, a course in poetry reading or a study of modern verse. Currently, the 20-member English Studies faculty includes a published poet and poetry researcher.

Harvard University

Harvard University in Cambridge was founded by American colonists in 1636 - just 16 years after landing at Plymouth. Currently, the Department of English has over 40 faculty members, and the division offers an undergraduate concentration and a graduate degree in English literature.

Undergraduate writing courses are taken under advisement and include beginning, intermediate and advanced poetry workshops. Through literary courses and seminars, students can also pursue topics in lyrical and metaphysical poetry, receive a comprehensive introduction to the work of John Keats and read the poems of Seamus Heaney and Thomas Hardy.

Qualified graduates who are interested in pursuing a doctorate can apply to the Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy program, and both degrees can be completed within 4-7 years. Graduate seminars currently include the study of John Milton and Robert Lowell, as well as the relationship between American poetry and literary history.

Lesley University

Lesley University is located in Cambridge. Its Humanities Division includes nearly 20 professors and lecturers, and the school is unique in its emphasis on experiential learning and liberal arts-based fieldwork.

Students who pursue the Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing will have the opportunity to specialize in one of five literary genres, including poetry. To support their area of specialization, students can pursue topics in American and British verse and have the opportunity to perfect their craft.

The department also offers a low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (with a specialization in poetry), and according to Poets & Writers magazine, the program is one of the top six in the United States. Students can pursue an accelerated B.A./MFA in Creative Writing.

Northeastern University

This is a large, private research school in Boston, and the English Department has more than 30 full-time faculty members. Through topics and surveys in American literature, bachelor's degree students can explore the work of Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman. Major poets covered in the survey of British literature include W. H. Auden, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and W. B. Yeats. Students can also take a course in creative writing or participate in a poetry workshop that culminates in a portfolio of finished work.

The 30-credit Master of Arts in English can be completed on a full- or part-time basis, but students who pursue the Doctor of Philosophy must make a full-time commitment. In particular, graduate students can explore the relationship between the city and literature, and featured poets may include William Blake and Ezra Pound.

Salem State University

This university was founded in 1854, and the campus is located just 15 miles away from Boston in the coastal town of Salem. It's also one of the largest schools in the state university system. In addition to the chair, the Department of English has approximately two dozen full, associate and assistant professors. Through the Bachelor of Arts program, students can pursue a concentration in creative or professional writing, and the curriculum includes a survey course in 17th-century English poetry and a study of Shakespeare's narrative poems. In addition to a poetry workshop and a course in poetry craftsmanship, the department offers classes in contemporary and modern poetry and the poetic themes of peace and war.

Students who pursue the Master of Arts in English can specialize in either literature or writing, and the degree requires 33-39 credits to complete. The 800-level poetry workshop can be repeated up to three times, and in addition to writing, activities include critical reviews, readings and theoretical studies.

Suffolk University

Suffolk University in Boston is located adjacent to the city's common and historic district. Through the College of Arts & Sciences, students can earn an undergraduate degree in English and acquire a broad background in the cultural contexts, history and style of American and British poems and prose. Currently, the faculty consists of 20 full-time members, including published poets.

Undergraduate English studies include the work of John Milton, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, as well as topics in contemporary poetry and writing workshops. Through the Poetry Center, students also have the opportunity to attend lectures, readings and workshops.

University of Massachusetts Amherst

The town of Amherst is situated in a scenic area of Western Massachusetts' Pioneer Valley and serves as a home for the flagship school of the university system. The Department of English is composed of a number of award-winning faculty members, and professional strengths and specialties include fiction and poetry writing, Renaissance prose and world literature.

The major in English is a writing-intensive program, and through literary courses and readings, undergraduates become acquainted with a variety of American, Old English, Romantic and modern poets. In addition to studying the work of, among other literary figures, Byron, Coleridge, T.S. Eliot and Langston Hughes, students can also take upper-level electives in poetry writing.

Students can also pursue the 60-credit Master of Fine Arts for Poets and Writers; alumni include a Pulitzer-prize winning United States Poet Laureate. Poetry writing courses and topics can also be found in the graduate programs in English and American Literature.

Western New England State University

This Springfield school acquired its university status in 2011, and the Department of English offers two tracks in creative writing and literature within the English major. The creative writing program, one of the fastest growing in the College of Arts and Sciences, is a member of the Association of Writing Programs, and both the literature and writing faculties consist of seasoned professors and published poets.

In addition to a study of Shakespeare's narrative poems, students can take survey courses in literature that cover the work of major American and British poets. Through a 3-credit poetry workshop, they can also have the chance to become acquainted with poetic devices and forms while writing and editing professional-quality work of their own.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Poetry Programs and Courses Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)
Boston University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Minor in English,
Bachelor of Arts in English,
Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
Undergraduate: $53,948;
Graduate: $53,572*
Brandeis University 4-year, private not-for-profit; small city Minor in English,
Minor in Creative Writing,
Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing,
Master of Arts in English,
Doctor of Philosophy in English
Undergraduate: $55,395;
Graduate: $50,272*
Fitchburg State University 4-year, public; midsize suburb Minor in English Studies,
Bachelor of Arts in English Studies,
Bachelor of Science in English Studies
$10,354*
Harvard University 4-year, private not-for-profit; midsize city Bachelor's degree in English,
Master of Arts/ Doctor of Philosophy in English
Undergraduate: $50,420;
Graduate: $47,562*
Lesley University 4-year, private not-for-profit; midsize city Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing,
Bachelor of Arts/Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing,
Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
Undergraduate: $27,975;
Graduate: $18,150*
Northeastern University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Arts in English,
Master of Arts in English,
Doctor of Philosophy in English
Undergraduate: $51,522;
Graduate: $24,309*
Salem State University 4-year, public; large suburb Minor in English,
Minor in Professional Writing,
Bachelor of Arts in English,
Master of Arts in English
Undergraduate: $10,642 in-state; $17,082 out-of-state;
Graduate: $8,188 in-state; $9,808 out-of-state*
Suffolk University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Minor in Creative Writing,
Minor in English,
Bachelor of Arts in English
$38,566*
University of Massachusetts Amherst 4-year, public; large suburb Minor in English,
Bachelor of Arts in English,
Master of Fine Arts for Poets and Writers,
Master of Arts in English and American Literature
Undergraduate: $15,887 in-state; $34,570 out-of-state;
Graduate: $15,782 in-state; $30,845 out-of-state*
Western New England State University 4-year, private not-for-profit; midsize city Minor in English,
Bachelor of Arts in English
$36,804*

Source: *NCES College Navigator

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