The English Department is proud to house Harvard’s Creative Writing program. The vital presence of creative writing in the department is reflected by our many distinguished authors. We offer courses each term in fiction, poetry, nonfiction, screenwriting, and playwriting. Courses are open by application to Harvard College undergraduates, graduate students, staff, and students from other institutions eligible for cross registration. Workshops are small, usually no more than twelve students, and concentrate on one genre. For faculty information, please see the Creative Writing Faculty.
Applying to Creative Writing Courses
Applications to creative writing workshops are now online and processed through Submittable. Please make an account with Submittable and submit a separate application for each workshop to which you are applying.
Fall 2016 Deadline: Wednesday, August 31 at 4:00 PM
Spring 2017 Deadline: Monday, January 23 at 11:59 PM
Applications will go offline promptly at 11:59 pm and late submissions will not be accepted. Absolutely no exceptions.
For each course to which you are applying, you must submit the following:
- Online Application (you can access each workshop’s application link with its course listing)
- Letter of Application
- Writing Sample
Submission guidelines for individual workshops (what to include in your letter of application and how long of a writing sample to include) can be found under individual course listings. Please do not query creative writing instructors. Generally, applicants are asked to submit 3-5 pages of poems, prose, or dialogue, depending upon the course. However, individual instructors might request specific subjects or styles in your writing samples, so please make sure to submit the appropriate materials, based on the instructor’s specifications. Please note that writing samples will not be returned.
When ranking your course preferences, please be consistent. Your first choice workshop must be ranked first on each application. Any applications with inconsistent rankings will be disqualified.
You may not edit or resubmit an application once you’ve applied. Please be sure your application materials are finalized and accurate before submitting.
Without approval of the department, no student may take more than two creative writing courses in any one year. A course may be repeated for credit provided the student has the permission of the instructor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies of the Department. English seniors writing a creative thesis may not enroll in a creative writing workshop.
Applicants will receive a course admission decision by 5:00 PM on Thursday, January 26. Admitted students should add the workshop to their Crimson Cart, and the instructor will approve your enrollment request by the course registration deadline.
Workshops generally do not meet during shopping period, unless instructor notifies admitted students otherwise.
The Creative Writing Thesis
Only English concentrators (including joint concentrators) may apply to write a senior thesis in creative writing. Students submit applications in February of their junior year, including first-term juniors who are out of phase. This year’s application deadline is Wednesday, February 15, 2017. Students applying for a creative writing thesis must have completed at least one course in creative writing at Harvard before they apply. No student is guaranteed acceptance. It is strongly suggested that students acquaint themselves with the requirements and guidelines long before the thesis application is due. The creative writing director and faculty must approve any exceptions to the requirements. Petitions for exceptions to the requirements must be made in writing to the creative writing director by Monday, January 23, 2017. Each petition will be considered on a case-by-case basis. After students submit applications in February, the creative writing faculty considers the proposal along with the student’s overall performance in creative writing and other English courses. Students are notified in early March about the faculty’s decision. Students not chosen to write a creative thesis may still apply to write a critical thesis. Those applications are due, this coming year, on Monday, April 3, 2016. Since the creative writing thesis is part of the English honors program, acceptance to write a creative thesis is conditional upon the student continuing to maintain a 3.40 concentration GPA. If a student’s concentration GPA drops below 3.40 after the spring of the junior year (i.e., following notification of conditional acceptance to the program), the student may not be permitted to continue in the thesis program. The same rule applies to students writing critical theses. Students who have questions about the creative writing thesis should contact the program’s Director, Bret Johnston.
Writers in the Parlor
Writers in the Parlor is an event series that brings the country’s finest authors to Harvard to discuss the writing life. Recently, we’ve hosted Michael Pollan, Margaret Atwood, Rick Moody, Harvard English alumnus Uzodinma Iweala ’04, and Tom Perrotta.