Creative Writing

Mississippi State University's English Department offers classes in creative writing for majors and non-majors alike. You can take an individual class, complete a minor, or use creative writing classes as part of your English major. At the graduate level, we offer an emphasis within the Masters of Arts.

Our faculty (fiction writers Becky Hagenston and Michael Kardos, and poets Richard Lyons and Catherine Pierce) teach workshops and craft classes, and mentor graduate students as they work on their creative theses. Creative writing students have the opportunity to gain editorial experience working on Jabberwock Review, the national literary journal produced through the efforts of the Mississippi State English Department and its creative writing program.
Each year we bring to campus prominent, talented visiting authors who not only read and discuss their work but also visit workshops and meet informally with students. Recent visitors include Rita Dove, Dorothy Allison, Terrance Hayes, Brad Watson, Maggie Smith, Allison Joseph, Robert Olen Butler, Natasha Trethewey, Michael Farris Smith, Alexander Weinstein, Lorraine Lopez, Sandra Beasley, Sherod Santos, and Kevin Brockmeier.

Our students have gone on to advanced study in creative writing at prestigious M.F.A and Ph.D. programs across the country, including the programs at Boston University, University of Cincinnati, The Ohio State University, Western Michigan University, Florida State University, Georgia State University, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, University of Kansas, University of Nevada-Reno, Oklahoma State University, Oregon State University, University of Missouri-Kansas City, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and elsewhere.

They have published their work widely in such venues as The Threepenny Review, Kenyon Review, Guernica, Indiana Review, The Hopkins Review, Prairie Schooner, North American Review, Quarterly West, Cimarron Review, The Pinch, The Adirondack Review, New South, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Black Warrior Review, The Hollins Critic, Permafrost, Third Coast, and Ninth Letter.

Requirements for the Undergraduate Minor in Creative Writing

To earn a minor in creative writing, you need to take EN 3303 (Creative Writing), EN 3803 (Intermediate Poetry Writing), and EN 3903 (Intermediate Fiction Writing).

English Majors must three of the following four courses: EN 4303 (Craft of Poetry); EN 4313 (Craft of Fiction); EN 4943 (Form and Theory of Fiction); EN 4953 (Form and Theory of Poetry).

Majors outside of English must take EN 4303 (Craft of Poetry) and/or EN 4313 (Craft of Fiction); they can complete the 18 hours for this minor with any English course at the 2000-level or above.

Requirements for the Creative Writing emphasis in the M.A.

The creative writing emphasis is a 24 credit-hour course of study with an additional 6-hour thesis requirement. At least 9 credit hours are required in creative writing in combination with other courses of the candidate’s choice.

The two-year degree culminates in a creative thesis. Creative writing faculty teach workshops and craft classes, and mentor graduate students as they work on their creative theses.

All students pursuing an MA in English at Mississippi State will take the comprehensive exam during the second year of study.

Applications

Applications are available from the Graduate School, 116 Allen Hall, Mississippi State, MS 39762. For more information about the graduate program in English, contact Lara Dodds, Director of Graduate Studies. For more information about the creative writing emphasis, contact Catherine Pierce and Michael Kardos, Co-Directors of the Creative Writing program.

In addition to the graduate school application, a writing sample is required of all applicants to the creative writing emphasis. Applicants should submit either 10-12 pages of poetry or 15-30 pages of fiction (or up to 30 pages of a combination of poetry and fiction). Email the sample as an attachment to Catherine Pierce (poetry) or Michael Kardos (fiction).

Applications wishing to receive funding for graduate study and be eligible for the department’s Eugene Butler Scholarship in Creative Writing must submit their application, writing sample, and T.A. application by March 15.

Financial Aid

The department offers financial aid to our M.A. students through teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and editorial positions with Jabberwock Review, as well as a number of generous scholarships, including the Eugene Butler Scholarship in Creative Writing, which specifically awards money to incoming students with a creative writing focus. For details about this and other scholarship opportunities, please visit the scholarships page.