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Undergraduate Creative Writing Program at Columbia University

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Major Requirements

Registration Procedures


Related Programs

the Major in Creative Writing

Students should declare the major by the end of their sophomore year. Please read the Major Info Form for more information.

Courses: 36 points are required. 5 workshops, 4 seminars, and 3 related courses.

Workshop Curriculum

15 points within the division in the following courses. One workshop must be in a genre other than the primary focus. For instance, a fiction writer might take four fiction workshops and one poetry workshop:

Beginning Fiction, Poetry, or Nonfiction Workshop (3 pts)

This course is open to non-majors, and will have sections in fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction. Beginning workshops are designed for students who have little or no previous experience writing literary texts in a particular genre. Students are introduced to a range of technical and imaginative concerns through exercises and discussions, and eventually produce their own writing for the critical analysis of the class.

Intermediate Fiction, Poetry, or Nonfiction Workshop (3 pts)

Permission required. Admission by writing sample. Enrollment limited to 15 students. This course can be repeated in fulfillment of the major.

Intermediate workshops are for students with some experience with creative writing, and whose prior work merits admission to the class (as judged by the professor). With sections in fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, the intermediate workshops present a higher creative standard than beginning workshops, and increased expectations to produce finished work. By the end of the semester, each student will have produced at least seventy pages of original fiction or non-fiction, or twenty original poems.

Advanced Fiction, Poetry, or Nonfiction Workshop (3 pts)

Prerequisite: Intermediate Workshop. Permission required. Admission by writing sample. Enrollment limited to 15 students. This course can be repeated in fulfillment of the major.

Building on the work of the Intermediate Workshop, Advanced workshops are reserved for the most gifted creative writing students. A significant body of writing must be produced and revised. Students in the advanced workshops will have taken several courses in the major already (workshops and seminars), and they bring their additional literary experience and knowledge to the classroom, which at once raises the level of discourse and potential for achievement.

Senior Creative Writing Workshop in Fiction, Poetry, or Nonfiction (4 pts)

This course is restricted to seniors who are majors in creative writing. Enrollment is limited, and is by permission of the professor. The senior workshop offers students the opportunity to work exclusively with classmates who are at the same high level of accomplishment in the major. Students in the senior workshops will produce and revise a new and substantial body of work.

Seminar Curriculum

12 points within the division. Two of the seminars must be from “Craft and Practice”, and two must be from “History and Context”:

Creative Writing Seminar: Craft and Practice (3 pts)

“Craft and Practice” seminars offer close examination of literary techniques such as plot, point of view, tone, suspense, and narrative voice. Extensive readings are required, along with creative exercises.

Creative Writing Seminar: History and Context (3 pts)

“History and Context” seminars offer a broad view of literary history as it relates to the concerns of a writer. These seminars cover specific genres or periods of time, and seek to inform students about the kinds of approaches that are possible in their chosen genre. Extensive readings are required, along with short critical papers or creative exercises.

Creative Writing Master Class: Special Topics (1 pt)

Based on graduate courses such as R6307, R6303, R6301

Master Classes put students in contact with distinguished teachers for concentrated tutorials on a variety of literary topics, all of which relate to the creative pursuits of a writer. The Master Classes are offered, usually, by visiting faculty of the highest level, and are restricted to students in the major.

Related Courses

9 points in the following courses:

Related courses should provide concentrated intellectual and creative stimulation for the student writer, exposure to a body of ideas that will enrich the student’s artistic instincts. These courses will necessarily be different for each student writer, but they might be drawn from departments such as English, Comp. Lit, Philosophy, History, and Anthropology (among others). Students will determine, in consultation with their faculty advisors, the related courses that will best inform their creative work.

Some examples:

PHIL V2003x Introduction To the Philosophy of Art 3 pts
PHIL V3801 Aesthetics and Ethics 3 pts
PHIL G4481x Philosophy of Language 3 pts

ANTH V1009x Language and Culture 3 pts
ANTH V3925 American Narrative Culture: Captivity & Release 4 pts.
ANTH V3947 Text, Magic, Performance 4 pts

AHIS W3650y Twentieth-Century Art 3 pts
AHIS BC3968x Art Criticism 4 pts

CLLT V3132x Classical Myth 3 pts
CLLT V3135 The Ancient Novel 3 pts

CLEN W3208x Twentieth-Century Comparative Fiction 3 pts
ENGL W4593y Theory and History of the American Novel, 1789 To 1860 3 pts

CLEN W3390x Studies In Narrative: Strange Fiction (Seminar) 4 pts
ENGL W3283x Post-1945 American Literature 3 pts
ENGL W3711y The Big Ambitious Novel In Contemporary America (Seminar) 4 pts

ENGL W3409x Form In Poetry (Seminar) 4 pts
ENGL W3630x American Poetry: the American Long Poem (Seminar) 4 pts
ENGL W3967x Twentieth-Century British and American Poetry (Seminar) 4 pts

CLEN W4560y Backgrounds To Contemporary Theory 3 pts
FREN W3676y Structuralism - Post-Structuralism 3 pts
SOCI G4030y Sociology of Language 3 pts