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About Creative Writing

UMass students who are not English majors may pursue the Letter of Specialization in Creative Writing by completing the same five-course sequence as Concentrators. (English majors, primary or secondary, seeking a credential in creative writing should declare a Concentration in Creative Writing.)
The Letter of Specialization in Creative Writing (CW) leads students through a sequence of introductory, intermediate, and advanced courses. All creative writing courses invite students to work in various forms, styles, and modes, and they provide training in the elements of prosody and the craft of storytelling. Working with the UMass English Department’s esteemed creative writing faculty, students:

  • Workshop their original stories, novel chapters, poems, and essays
  • Study deeply the craft of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction with a focus in one genre
  • Learn to read like writers

This specialization prepares students for successful careers as writers and equips them with important skills. Across fields and professions, few qualities are as prized among employers today as creativity and a facility with expressive written communication.

Requirements (5 courses)

The Letter of Specialization in Creative Writing requires that students take the following five courses:

  1. ENGL 254 Introduction to Creative Writing
  2. One 300-level intermediate creative writing class (genre-specific 350*, 355*, 356*, or 357*)
  3. One 400-level advanced creative writing class (genre specific 450*, 455*, 456*, 457*, or 499C/D**)
  4. Creative Writing Elective #1
  5. Creative Writing Elective #2

Eligible Creative Writing Electives include:

  • ENG 146 Living Writers
  • Any 300-level creative writing class*
  • Any 400-level creative writing class*
  • ENGL 396 (independent study)
  • ENGL 496 (independent study)
  • ENGL 499C/D Honors Project (2-semester thesis projects)**

*300-level creative writing courses require English 254 as a prerequisite; 400-level creative writing courses require a 300-level creative writing course as a prerequisite. 300- and 400-level creative writing courses may be repeated once for credit with a different instructor.
**ENGL 499C/D is a two-semester course that counts for two courses toward the certificate and can replace ENGL 450, 455, 456, or 457.

***Spring 2023 and prior instances of English 391NM Narrative Medicine also count as a 300 elective in creative writing.
If approved, students may substitute appropriate courses at UMass and the four colleges (Smith, Mount Holyoke, Amherst, and Hampshire) for the courses listed above. Pre-approval must be given by the Director of Creative Writing, Professor John Hennessy. You can reach him via email at @email. Oxford Summer Program courses in creative writing may also be counted toward the concentration. Transfer students may count creative writing courses taken at other institutions toward these requirements. 

John Hennessy
Creative Writing Specialization Contact
John Hennessy

Senior Lecturer II

Office: E465 South College
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