English, Creative Writing Option

The undergraduate English major with emphasis in creative writing combines a range of workshops in verse, short story, novel, and creative non-fiction or expository writing with a broadly based, historically grounded introduction to the literatures of Britain, the United States, and, increasingly, Anglophone literature from around the world.  Courses in language study examine the structural, historical, social, and aesthetic dimensions of English. Good writing, analytical ability, research skills, and a broadened perspective on the world are among the practical accomplishments majors can expect to acquire, all of which can be applied to a range of careers.

Admission to the Creative Writing Option

Applicants to the Creative Writing option must have already declared, or be eligible to declare, the English: Language and Literature major.

Applications for the Creative Writing option are accepted in autumn, winter, and spring quarters, and should be submitted to the Creative Writing office, B-25 Padelford, by the third Friday of the quarter at 4:00pm. Applications to creative writing are not accepted in summer quarter.

Eligibility Requirements:

To be eligible to apply for the Creative Writing option, you must

  1. have already declared, or be ready to declare, the English major program;
  2. have completed ENGL 283 (beginning verse writing) and ENGL 284 (beginning short story writing) or transfer equivalents.

Admission to the Creative Writing option is competitive; however, in recent quarters, between 60 and 85 per cent of applicants have been accepted.

Application Procedure:

Submit two sets of the following application materials by 4:00pm on the third Friday of autumn, winter, or spring quarter (no applications accepted in summer):

1. Undergraduate Creative Writing Option Application (PDF) (two copies)Transcripts for all college work completed, both at the UW and elsewhere (these are additional sets of transcripts, separate from the transcripts you will have supplied as part of your application for the major):

  • Unofficial UW Transcript (two copies): Even if this is your first quarter after transferring to the UW, you should submit an unofficial UW transcript, available through the MyUW system;
  • Complete set of transcripts from all schools from which you have transfer credit (two copies): We need the information contained in the complete transcript from each transfer school; the transfer summary on a UW unofficial transcript is not sufficient. Photocopies of transcripts are acceptable. You should be able to obtain copies of your transfer transcripts from the Gateway Center in 171 Mary Gates Hall if you are a premajor. If you already have a major, your transcripts should be available from the advising office for your current major.

2. A Writing Sample (two copies) of 3-5 poems and 5-10 pages of fiction (preferably a complete story), double spaced:

  • Review the writing sample guidelines and be sure to submit literary fiction and poetry (as opposed to genre fiction, song lyrics, spoken word, and the like).
    See our basic guidelines on writing samples. Though genre fiction in general -- and the shifting and ambiguous boundaries between genre fiction and literary fiction -- merits a much longer discussion, in a nutshell, beginning writers applying to the creative writing option in the major should steer clear of submitting as their writing samples any stories that include one or more of the following: dragons, knights, princesses in distress, private eyes investigating murders, cold war spies, spaceships, aliens, entire civilizations on other planets, gunslingers in the Old West, zombies, wizards, alternative realities, and the like. For additional information, see articles from Wikipedia and The New Yorker on genre fiction.

  • Be sure to proofread carefully.

Admission decisions are based primarily on the potential a student exhibits in his or her writing sample - grades and GPAs are usually not at issue. Admission decisions are sent to applicants by e-mail, normally within two weeks of the application deadline.

Admission to the Creative Writing option is competitive; completion of the requirements above does not guarantee admission. In recent quarters, however, between 60 and 85 per cent of applicants have been admitted.

Students who are denied admission to the Creative Writing option will continue to be English majors, and may complete the requirements for the literature BA in English. They may apply for the Creative Writing option one additional time, but if they are denied admission then, they must complete the literature major or elect another major in another department.

Major Requirements, Creative Writing Option

Effective Autumn 2013 and later. For those accepted to the Creative Writing option in the English major in Autumn 2013 and later. If you declared the Creative Writing option in Spring 2013 or earlier, please see the older requirement sets.

A minimum of 60 credits in English

ENGL 202 [formerly ENGL 301] (Introduction to English Language and Literature) 
Grades of 2.0 or above required in both courses.
(ENGL 202 was formerly numbered ENGL 301, but the content remains the same. If you took ENGL 301 and 297, you can use these as prerequisites when you apply to the English major, and you can use them toward the major in place of the new course number, ENGL 202.)

ENGL 283 (Beginning Verse Writing) and ENGL 284 (Beginning Short Story Writing): 10 credits.
Both courses (or transfer equivalents) must be completed for a student to be eligible to apply for admission to the Creative Writing option.

English Literature Core: 10 credits.
At least 5 credits from each of two categories. All courses must be taken at the 300 level or above. Note that all students must complete at least 15 credits in pre-1900 literature.*

English Literature Electives: 15 credits.
All courses must be taken at the 300 level or above. Note that all English majors in both major options must complete at least 15 credits in pre-1900 literature.*

ENGL 383 (The Craft of Verse) and ENGL 384 (The Craft of Prose): 10 credits.
Both of these courses must be completed before students may move up to the 400-level workshops.

Approved 400-level Creative Writing courses: 10 credits.
(ENGL 483, 484, 485, 486, 487, 493: Each of these 400-level workshops may be repeated for credit.)

*Pre-1900 Literature:
At least 15 credits in ENGL courses must be focused on pre-1900 literature. (These pre-1900 literature credits may overlap with English Literature Core courses within the English major requirements.)

Limit on 200-level ENGL credit:
Only 5 credits of 200-level ENGL beyond the required courses (ENGL 202, 283, and 284) may be applied toward the English major: all other English credits must be taken at the 300 or 400 level.

GPA Requirements:
All English majors must maintain a minimum overall GPA of 2.00 in all UW ENGL courses.

At least 25 ENGL credits applicable to the English major must be taken in residence at the UW Seattle.

Satisfactory Progress

Department of English Admission and Continuation Policy (PDF) (rules for satisfactory progress)

Have questions?

For assistance with planning and for questions, please consult English Undergraduate Advising.