Guidelines for Graduate Students in English: Creative Writing Option

Welcome to the Graduate Creative Writing Program. The following information has been prepared to help you move easily and successfully through the program. If you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to ask them. 

Department of English Creative Writing Faculty

Professor Dorothy Barresi
Creative Writing Faculty (Poetry)
Office:ST 824
Telephone: 818-677-0911

Professor Kate Haake
Creative Writing Faculty (Fiction)
Office: ST 724
Telephone: 818-677-3421

Professor Leilani Hall
Creative Writing Faculty (Poetry)
Office: ST 820
Telephone: 818-677-3428

Professor Christopher Higgs
Creative Writing Faculty (Fiction)
Office: ST 734
Telephone: 818-677-7207
Email: christopher.higgs@csun.edu

Professor Jack Lopez- Emeriti
Creative Writing Faculty(Fiction and Non-Fiction Prose)

Professor Rick Mitchell
Creative Writing Advisor and Faculty (Playwriting)
Office: ST 733
Telephone: 818-677-3422

Professor Martin Pousson
Creative Writing Faculty (Fiction)
Office: ST 802
Telephone: 818-677-2011

Professor Danielle Spratt 
Graduate Studies Advisor
Office: ST 724
Telephone: 818-677-3412
Email: danielle.spratt@csun.edu

Frank De La Santo
Graduate Administrative Coordinator
Office: ST 705
Telephone: 818-677-3433
Email: frank.delasanto@csun.edu

Professor Beth Wightman
Chair, Department of English
Office: ST 704
Telephone: 818- 677-3434
email: kent.


The MA Degree

Beginning the Program

* Meet with the Graduate Advisor to plan your course of study for your MA and to make sure you have met all requirements to achieve Classified Status.

* Look on line or pick up the English MA Program Calendar of Important dates outside ST 705. Familiarize yourself with the schedule for current semester.

The Qualifying Creative Writing Sample

* During your first or second semester as a graduate student in English (and/or when you are ready): prepare and submit a Qualifying Writing sample. This sample is intended to determine your readiness to pursue creative writing studies at the graduate level. This Sample will be reviewed by three Creative Writing faculty, and you will be notified of the results, in writing, within three weeks of their decision. Also, please note that students who are about to submit a writing sample often consult with a full-time faculty member who teaches their particular genre prior to submitting the writing sample.

Possible results of the reading include: either a determination that you are qualified or not qualified to enter the program, or a postponement of any determination, with an invitation to resubmit. If you are invited to resubmit at a later date, this second sample is not to be submitted until after you have passed a graduate seminar in your chosen genre with a grade of B or better. You may submit qualifying samples no more than two times, and are strongly encouraged to meet with the Creative Writing Advisor to review this process.

* Preparing your sample: Choose your best finished work in the genre in which you plan to write your culminating experience, according to the following guidelines: Poetry, 10 complete poems; Fiction, 1 complete short story; Creative Nonfiction, 1 complete essay; Playwriting, 1 complete one act play, or 1 act from a full length play, or 1 complete performance text of at least ten minutes. For prose narratives, use standard margins, 12 pt pitch, and double space. Remember, more is not to your advantage; we are interested in the quality of your work, as well as your ability to write in complete forms in your chosen genre. You may apply in only one genre in a given semester, and you will be expected to work within the genre during your culminating experience (Capstone Course), should your sample be approved. Samples that do not conform to these guidelines will not be read.

* Submitting your sample:Pick up a cover sheet from outside ST 705 or download a copy. Fill it out, and attach it to your Qualifying Sample. Submit four copies of the Cover Sheet and Sample, collated and stapled in the upper left hand corner to the Graduate Administrative Coordinator, Frank De La Santo, on or before the posted deadline.

* You will be notified in writing of the results of your reading. Please be patient. We give all submissions our most careful attention, and the process can sometimes take time.

Choosing Your Courses:

This is an important part of your graduate experience, and, whenever possible, you should plan your program in consultation with the Graduate Advisor and the Creative Writing advisor. Your program of study includes four courses required of all English graduate students at CSUN—English 638, Major Critical Theories; English 604 Linguistics; and two graduate level (500-600) literature courses. Because everyone must take them, these are often heavily impacted courses; plan to take them as early in your graduate career as possible.

English 652, Creative Writing Studies:

This is a core course for all graduate students in Creative Writing, offered during Fall Semester, and intended as an introduction to the discipline of Creative Writing, and to your professional life as a writer. Plan to take it early in your first or second semester as a graduate student.

Writing Courses:

Your program includes three writing courses. While these courses will typically be workshop courses (512, 608, 609), please be aware that the Department routinely offers special topics courses at the graduate level, under the number 525. Students are allowed to take two 512s, 608s and 609s. Creative Writers must take 3 workshops in their primary genre. Additionally, students may take up to two 400-level courses, and they may not be used for the graduate level literature requirement. All 400-level courses require the approval of the Graduate Advisor via the 400-level consent form.

Elective Course:

CW students have only one elective, consult with Graduate Advisor when selecting this course. Note: all 400-level courses require the approval of the Graduate Advisor via the 400-level consent form. Deadline: first week of the semester that the 400-level class is taken.

Teaching Assistant Program:

Is open to all graduate students in English. It is an important opportunity for students, especially those who intend to pursue academic careers. Applications are available during Fall Semester, and interested applicants will be expected to provide a letter of application, a statement of interest, and academic references, as well as to attend a job interview. Those selected for the program will enroll in English 600A: College Composition: Theory and Pedagogy, during Spring Semester, to prepare for teaching the following year. Further inquiries about this program should be directed to Dr. Irene Clark, Director, English Composition. English 600A may be used as an elective by Creative Writing students. However 600 B/BF is not available as credit for the Creative Writing students but must be completed as part of the TA curriculum.

Your Culminating Experience:

This is an important part of your graduate experience, giving you the opportunity to frame your writing goals and practice in a formal discourse, and to articulate the guiding principles of your work as a writer.

English 698D Graduate Project:

In significantly revising written work, students will practice the tools of research used in the field of English Studies. While students in the Literature and the Rhetoric and Composition Theory Options will focus on revising and developing a previously written essay, students in the Creative Writing Option will write a critical introduction to a revised portfolio of their creative work. Additionally, students will gain experience with professional conferences, presentations, and productions. 

Creative Writing Requirements

  • Core courses:

    1. English 604, Seminar in Language and Linguistics

    2. English 638, Seminar in Critical Approaches

    3. Graduate Level Literature Courses (Choose two): English 525, 617, 620, 622 (Lit), 623 (Lit), 624 (Lit), 630, or 654 (Lit)

    4. Elective Course (Choose one);English 512, 525, 600A/B, 608, 609, 617, 620, 622, 623, 624, 630, or 654
  • Option Specific Requirements:

    1. Methods Course (English 652)

    2. Three Required Creative Writing Courses

    Note: Two workshops must be in primary genre

    Note: English 512, 608, and 609 can be repeated once