The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Creative Writing Specialization

The letter of specialization in Creative Writing provides inspiration, support, and serious instruction in craft for committed writers. Classes usually include readings in one or more literary genres and workshop review of students' writing. A letter of specialization is conferred on students who successfully complete the following program of courses.

Requirements (5 courses)

Students must complete a minimum of five courses (2 required and 3 electives) with a minimum grade of "B" in English 354 and all other courses to be counted toward the letter of specialization. 

If approved, students may substitute appropriate courses at UMass and the four colleges (Smith, Mount Holyoke, Amherst, and Hampshire) for the optional courses listed below. Pre-approval must be by the Director of the specialization path in creative writing, Professor John Hennessy. You can reach him via email at

Oxford Summer Program courses in creative writing will be counted toward the letter of specialization.  Transfer students may count creative writing courses taken at other institutions toward the letter of specialization.  

Two required courses: 

  • English 354 Creative Writing: Introduction 
  • English 355* Creative Writing: Fiction or English 356* Creative Writing: Poetry.

Three writing electives:

  • English 146 Living Writers
  • English 254 Writing and Reading Imaginative Literature
  • English 350 Expository Writing
  • English 352 Article Writing
  • English 355 Creative Writing: Fiction* or English 356 Creative Writing: Poetry*
  • English 385 Creative Nonfiction, English 450 Advanced Expository Writing
  • English 391NM Narrative Medicine: How Writing Can Heal
  • English 499C and 499D: Foundations and Departures in  Creative Writing: Fiction, Poetry and Literary Nonfiction. Honors thesis in creative writing.  This is a two semester course that counts for two courses toward the letter and can replace English 355 or 356.
  • English 499Y/P honors thesis in creative writing/independent study
  • English 396 and 496 Independent Study that is at least 3 credits and creative writing based.

*English 355 and 356 have the completion of English 354 or 354H set as a prerequiste.  Admission is by instructor consent.  These courses may be repeated once for credit with a different instructor. 

For further information, contact the Director of Creative Writing specialization path, Professor John Hennessy, 391 Bartlett Hall,