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Undergraduate Creative Writing Program at Columbia University

MFA Program

Undergraduate Program MFA Program Faculty Courses FAQ  

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is there a concentration in Creative Writing?
A: There is no concentration in Creative Writing. 

Q: How do I become a Creative writing major?
A: Students are admitted to the Creative Writing major by application only. Applications are held every spring.  

Q: What should I do if I’m interested in creative writing, but not certain about majoring?
A: We suggest coming in to talk with the Program Assistant, Dorla McIntosh ( or with a faculty advisor.  It’s also a good idea to take a beginning level workshop or a seminar to get a sense for the kind of instruction the Program offers. 

Q: What should I do if all Beginning workshops and Seminars are full by the time I’m allowed to register?
A: With the exception of the application-only workshops (Intermediate, Advanced, and Senior), ALL REGISTRATION IS DONE THROUGH THE UNIVERSITY REGISTRATION SYSTEM.  Continue to look for openings online until the semester begins.  Once classes commence, the Program Assistant, Dorla McIntosh, will leave the rosters open for two weeks to allow for add/drops.  If you see an opening online during this period, add the class and contact the Instructor immediately for a syllabus and any missed work.  There is a great deal shuffling during the first two weeks of the semester; typically, students end up with at least one of the classes they wanted to take.

Q: What classes can I take if I am not a creative writing major?
Every class in the Creative Writing Program is open non-majors, though most workshops are application-only and preference is sometimes granted to majors.

Q: How do I register for workshops? 
A: Register for any Beginning Level workshop online when your registration period opens. Registration procedures for Intermediate, Advanced, and Senior level workshops are described in detail here: [link to registration procedures]

Q: Must I take all levels of the workshops in my genre and take them in order?
A: No to both questions.  While it makes the most sense to take the workshops as a sequence, it is not necessary.  You may count two workshops at the same level toward your degree and you may take any level workshop in any order. 

Q: What are the “related courses” required for the major and how do I get them approved?
A: Related courses are described in detail here: [Link to info]

Q: I am a transfer student; will any of my previous credits transfer toward the major?
A: You must speak with a faculty advisor about transferring credit for the major.  Transfer credits are not accepted toward Workshop or Seminar requirements, but you may be able to count one or two courses toward Related Courses.

Q: If I choose to study abroad, how will I fulfill my major requirements?
A: Courses taken abroad cannot fulfill Workshop or Seminar requirements, but can fulfill Related Course requirements.  It’s a good idea to speak with a faculty advisor about your plans.

Q: I would like to take a Master Class in the School of the Arts Summer Program.  Will it count toward my degree? 
A: Master classes are offered for one credit.  You may count up to three Master Class credits as Seminar credits in your major.   [Add link to program]

Q: Can I earn credit for working on Quarto, the Department’s creative writing journal?
A: Yes, you may earn up to three Related Course or Seminar credits depending on your position with the magazine.  Work on Quarto begins in October and continues through April; students register for credit in the spring term.

Q: How might I earn Departmental Honors? 
A: Candidates for departmental honors are nominated based on grade point in major courses and contributions to the health and vibrancy of the Creative Writing Program.  Traditionally, only one or two students are awarded honors each year. 

Q: I have a different major but want to pursue writing classes at Columbia. Will I be able to take high-level workshops and seminars?
A: You will be eligible for all classes, though preference will sometimes be given to majors. You must submit a writing sample for workshops at the intermediate level or above.

Q: Will Barnard Creative Writing courses count toward the new major?
A: The Barnard Playwriting workshop may be counted as your out-of-genre workshop. It is best to clear this with a faculty advisor before taking the workshop.

Q: How many Undergraduate Creative Writing workshops can a student take
each semester?

A: Students can take only one Undergraduate Creative Writing workshop each semester.

Q: How many seminars can a student take each semester?
A: Students can take up to two Undergraduate Creative Writing seminars each semester.

Q: Can I take one workshop and one seminar in the same semester?
A: Yes.

Q: Can I complete the Undergraduate Creative Writing major if I plan to study abroad?
A: It is possible to complete the major with study abroad, but students should discuss this situation with an Undergraduate Creative Writing advisor as soon as possible in order to plan an appropriate program of study.