The English Major: Creative Writing Option

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BA Courses

Note!  The requirements below took effect in Summer 2022.  If you declared your major before then, please see the old requirements.  If you have questions about which version of the major applies to you, please contact HAS.

The Creative Writing Concentration prepares students not only to be more effective communicators and artists, but also creative problem solvers and more nuanced critical thinkers. By situating small, student-oriented writing workshops alongside literary models, Creative Writing classes enhance the broader study of literature and critical theory, helping students gain a greater understanding of the social and cultural forces informing their work. A student completing the program is more able to situate themselves in a larger aesthetic and social context and make more meaningful, informed decisions about their own artistic practice. In addition, through the intense practice of creative writing, students are able to see the world more clearly, in a more nuanced and meaningful manner, and apply these skills to a wide variety of work and life situations.

This page describes the English Major Concentration in Creative Writing. For the major's other option, see English Language, Literature, and Culture,.

Students enrolled in the Creative Writing Concentration will complete a major consisting of 65 ENGL credits, at least 30 of which must be completed in residence at the University of Washington. A maximum of 20 credits in 200-level courses may count toward the English major, and may be used to fulfill the distribution requirements.

Creative writing students’ coursework is distributed as follows:

  • ENGL 202: Introduction to English Language and Literature
  • A sequence of creative writing workshops: ENGL 283: Beginning Verse Writing, ENGL 284: Beginning Short Story Writing, ENGL 383: The Craft of Verse, and ENGL 384: The Craft of Prose
  • 15 credits in Historical Depth
  • 15 credits in Power and Difference
  • Two 400-level Creative Writing seminars (Please see the 400-level Creative Writing workshop registration instruction page for instructions on registering for these courses)

Please note: Creative writing students do *not* need to complete either ENGL 302 (satisfied by 383 & 384) or the senior capstone (satisfied by two 400-level CW classes), required for the major in Language, Literature, and Culture. All creative writing courses satisfy the Genre, Method, and Language distribution area, so Creative Writing students do not need to complete this area separately.

Applying to Creative Writing:

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 only, and should be submitted through this online application form 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 202, 283 (beginning verse writing) and ENGL 284 (beginning short story writing) or transfer equivalents.

Application Procedure:

Please submit online ONE complete attachment that includes the items below, 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)

RIGHT-click the above link and save it as a PDF to your computer. Fill out the form using Acrobat Reader. Save your changes. Then combine it with the following materials:

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 : 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 Unofficial transcripts from all schools from which you have transfer credit : 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.

2. A Writing Sample of 3-5 poems and 5-10 pages of fiction (preferably a complete story). Fiction should be double-spaced, with 12pt font (Times New Roman) and 1" margins:

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.

Completion of the requirements above does not guarantee admission.

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.

Distribution Areas:

The majority of English courses are distributed among three overlapping areas: Historical Depth, Power & Difference, and Genre, Method, and Language. Creative Writing students are required to complete 15 credits in two of these areas, Historical Depth and Power & Difference, with the remainder of their coursework focusing on Creative Writing workshops. 

Some courses can count towards both "Historical Depth" or "Power & Difference"; however, each course can ultimately only be used to fulfill one requirement. For example, ENGL 351 is listed under both “Historical Depth” and “Power and Difference" but it will only count in one of those categories in a student's degree progress. The student may choose (and can change their mind, shuffling courses as long as they are enrolled). Students noticing issues with how these classes are applying to the distribution areas in their degree audit can contact an advisor at Humanities Academic Services Center (HAS), A-2-B Padelford Hall for support. 

Descriptions of each area, along with the courses fulfilling it, are available below. 

Historical Depth:

People have been speaking, reading, and writing in English for more than a thousand years, producing literature that is at once timeless and deeply informed by the time in which it was written. Cultural artifacts from the English-speaking world have shaped, and been shaped by, social movements and historical conditions around the globe, as has the language itself. With this in mind, English majors are required to take 15 credits focused on materials produced before 1945, with at least 5 of those credits focused on materials produced before 1700. Distributing coursework in this way helps students to understand the depth, richness, and variability of English literature, language, and culture across time, and dramatizes how the ways we organize history affect the stories we tell about it. These courses open up past worlds that are in some ways totally alien and in others very similar to our own, revealing that what seems real and true to us can radically alter over time. Entering into these past realities offers a new perspective on the present and develops our capacity to imagine alternative futures.


Historical Depth Courses:

  • ENGL 210 Medieval and Early Modern Literature, 400 to 1600
  • ENGL 211 Literature, 1500-1800
  • ENGL 225 Shakespeare
  • ENGL 310 The Bible as Literature
  • ENGL 320 English Literature: The Middle Ages
  • ENGL 321 Chaucer
  • ENGL 322 Medieval & Early Modern Literatures of Encounter (P&D)
  • ENGL 323 Shakespeare to 1603
  • ENGL 324 Shakespeare after 1603
  • ENGL 325 Early Modern English Literature
  • ENGL 326 Milton (GML)
  • ENGL 351: Writing in the Contact Zone: North America 1492 - 1800 (P&D)
  • ENGL 376: Introduction to Middle English Language (HD)
  • ENGL 422 Arthurian Legends (GML)
  • ENGL 212 Literature, 1700-1900
  • ENGL 300: Reading Major Texts (can also count as pre-1700 depending on texts)
  • ENGL 303 History of Literary Criticism and Theory I (GML)
  • ENGL 312 Jewish Literature: Biblical to Modern (P&D)
  • ENGL 314: Transatlantic Literature and Culture (P&D)
  • ENGL 315: Literary Modernism (GML)
  • ENGL 327 Narratives of Bondage & Freedom (P&D)
  • ENGL 328 Eighteenth Century Literature & Culture
  • ENGL 329 Rise of the English Novel (GML)
  • ENGL 330 English Literature: The Romantic Age
  • ENGL 331 Globalization & Nationalism in the Age of Empire (P&D)
  • ENGL 332 Nineteenth Century Poetry (GML)
  • ENGL 333 Nineteenth Century Novel (GML)
  • ENGL 335 English Literature: The Victorian Age
  • ENGL 336 English Literature: Early Twentieth Century
  • ENGL 337 The Modern Novel (GML)
  • ENGL 338 Modern Poetry (GML)
  • ENGL 352 Literatures of the United States to 1865 (P&D)
  • ENGL 353 American Literature: Later Nineteenth Century
  • ENGL 354 American Literature: Early Twentieth Century
  • ENGL 373: History of the English Language (GML)
  • ENGL 380: Special Topics in History
  • ENGL 385: Global Modernism (P&D)
Power and Difference:

Literature, language, and culture have been shaped by and in turn shape systems of power. Such systems include capitalism, colonialism, imperialism, and hierarchies of race, status, caste, sex, gender, and sexuality. Over time, systems of power elevate some voices and stories and marginalize and silence others. English majors are required to take at least 15 credits focused on how systems of power operate in and through literature, language, and culture. These courses explore the evolving relationship of literature, language, and culture to structures of violence and dispossession and center critical perspectives that have been marginalized or silenced. They embrace alternative ways of learning about the past and present, and the impress of the former on the latter. They highlight the complex, sometimes contradictory ways in which literature and culture mediate systems of power. In so doing, Power and Difference courses foster our imagination of more just and equitable futures.

Power and Difference Courses:

  • ENGL 207: Introduction to Cultural Studies (GML)
  • ENGL 208: Data and Narrative (GML)
  • ENGL 256: Introduction to Queer Cultural Studies (DIV) (GML)
  • ENGL 257: Introduction to Asian American Literature (DIV)
  • ENGL 258: Introduction to African American Literature (DIV)
  • ENGL 259: Literature and Social Difference (DIV)
  • ENGL 265: Introduction to Environmental Humanities (DIV, GML)
  • ENGL 307: Cultural Studies
  • ENGL 308: Marxism and Literary Theory
  • ENGL 311: Modern Jewish Literature in Translation
  • ENGL 312: Jewish Literature: Biblical to Modern (HD)
  • ENGL 314: Transatlantic Literature and Culture (HD)
  • ENGL 316: Postcolonial Literature and Culture (DIV)
  • ENGL 317: Literature of the Americas (DIV)
  • ENGL 318: Black Literary Genres (DIV, GML)
  • ENGL 319: African Literatures (DIV)
  • ENGL 322 Medieval & Early Modern Literatures of Encounter (HD)
  • ENGL 327 Narratives of Bondage & Freedom (HD)
  • ENGL 331 Globalization & Nationalism in the Age of Empire (HD)
  • ENGL 339: Globalization & Contemporary World Literature (GML)
  • ENGL 340: Irish Literature (P&D)
  • ENGL 349: Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • ENGL 351: Writing in the Contact Zone: North America 1492 - 1800 (HD)
  • ENGL 352: American Literatures to 1865 (HD)
  • ENGL 355: Contemporary American Literature
  • ENGL 357: Jewish American Literature and Culture (DIV)
  • ENGL 358: African American Literature (DIV)
  • ENGL 359: Contemporary American Indian Literature (DIV)
  • ENGL 361: American Political Culture After 1865 (DIV)
  • ENGL 362: Latino Literary Genres (DIV, GML)
  • ENGL 364: Literature & Medicine
  • ENGL 365: Literature & Environment (GML, DIV)
  • ENGL 366: Literature & Law
  • ENGL 367: Gender Studies in Literature (DIV)
  • ENGL 368: Women Writers (DIV)
  • ENGL 372: World Englishes (DIV) (GML)
  • ENGL 379: Special Topics in Power & Difference
  • ENGL 385: Global Modernism (HD)
  • ENGL 386: Asian American Literature (DIV)
  • ENGL 466: Queer and LGBT Literature (DIV)
  • ENGL 478: Language and Social Policy (DIV) (GML)
  • ENGL 479: Language Variation and Language Policy in North America (DIV, GML)