Popular Fiction Writing Graduate Certificate Program

The works of fiction that perennially are the biggest sellers on most publishers’ list are genre titles, i.e. novels and stories based on plot templates featuring narrative trajectories and outcomes that rarely deviate from their template. Characterization and the finer points of the craft of fiction writing are also often on the minds of the authors who write genre fiction, but plot is generally of primary concern, i.e. that the narrative follows the conventions set forth by the genre. 

Workshops offered in popular fiction writing will help build your skill set as a genre writer, with a close eye on the demands and trends of the current marketplace for genre fiction, in particular, mystery, detective, fantasy, and science-fiction novels. The small-group workshop format perennially allows for individual attention from published, award-winning faculty. Flexible scheduling — with courses offered in the evenings and on weekends on Northwestern’s Chicago and Evanston campuses as well as online courses and in hybrid format — gives you the opportunity to balance your professional, personal and writing lives. While earning your certificate you can connect with other writers at readings and other events in an artistic community that extends beyond the University into Chicagoʼs vibrant literary scene.


• Three Units of MCW Popular Fiction Writing Workshops
   (one may include an MCW 413 Fiction Writing Workshop)
• One graduate-level elective course

May include independent study (not to exceed one unit of independent study), a cross-genre course (not to exceed one unit of cross-genre), MCW 570 Seminar on Teaching Creative Writing, MCW 575 The Publishing Industry: Literary Presses and Journals, MCW 579 Practicum in Teaching Creative Writing, MCW 580 Practicum in Publishing, any Publishing and Professional Development course, any graduate-level literature course, or any MCW 490 elective course.



Learning Objectives

The Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Popular Fiction Writing has been designed to ensure that certificate holders:

  • Have a strong working knowledge of the conventions of genre fiction novels and stories
  • Have significantly added to their body of creative work
  • Honed their editorial skills of their own and their peers’ work
  • Learned more about the market and potential opportunities for writers of genre fiction with the goal of joining the ranks of published genre writers

More about the Popular Fiction Writing program

Popular Fiction Writing Course Schedule

The Popular Fiction Writing Course Schedule page provides you with detailed information on the program's offerings.

Popular Fiction Writing Faculty

You can find a full listing of our instructors in this certificate program on the Popular  Fiction Writing Faculty page.

Admission to the Popular Fiction Writing program

Applicants to this certificate program must hold a graduate degree from an accredited U.S. college, university or its foreign equivalent. A competitive graduate record that indicates strong academic ability is required. Work, internship, or research experience is highly desirable, but not a requirement. A list of admission requirements can be found on the Popular Fiction Writing Admission page.

Popular Fiction Writing Tuition

Tuition costs can vary for each of our programs. For the most up-to-date information on financial obligations, please visit our Popular  Fiction Writing page.

Popular Fiction Writing Registration Information

Our Popular Fiction Writing Registration Information page outlines important dates and deadlines as well as the process for adding and dropping courses.

Find out more about Northwestern's Popular Fiction Writing program

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