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Program Overview

Creative Writing

Creative Writing Certificate Program

Writers who are serious about their craft can create a custom course of study to prepare for graduate programs in creative writing. In this post-baccalaureate certificate program, students hone their craft, formalize their training and build a solid portfolio of work for application to MFA and MA/PhD programs in writing. Courses are conducted as writing workshops to allow for valuable feedback from a community of fellow writers. As students analyze and write creative work and learn about the publishing world, their creative development is guided by instructors who are respected writers themselves. Students can explore a variety of writing areas, or they may specialize their course of study based on experience and discipline — fiction, creative nonfiction or poetry.

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About the Creative Writing Certificate Program

Creative Writing Goals and Courses

Additional Information

Students should have some academic writing experience before beginning the Creative Writing post-baccalaureate certificate.

Creative Writing Tuition

Post-baccalaureate students at Northwestern's School of Professional Studies pay per course. For more information about financial obligations and tuition, visit the Tuition page.

Admission for Creative Writing

In addition to completing an online application, you'll also need to submit a few supplemental materials. A list of requirements for admission including application deadlines and tips on how to apply can be found at the Admission page.

Creative Writing Registration Information

Whether you're a first-time registrant or current and returning student, all students register using our online student registration and records systems. Important information about registering for courses at SPS, including registration timelines and adding or dropping courses in which you are already enrolled, can be found at the Registration Information page.

Find out more about the Creative Writing Certificate Program

Program Courses:Course Detail
Reading and Writing Poetry <> ENGLISH 206-CN

Intended for students with little or no formal training in the elements of writing poetry, this course combines both seminar and workshop methods and includes extensive reading of poetry. Students use analytical skills presented in the course to critique each others' drafts of poems written during the quarter. May not be audited or taken P/N. Advanced composition course or equivalent writing experience strongly recommended.


There is no available section.
Reading and Writing Fiction <> ENGLISH 207-CN

Intended for students with little or no formal training in the elements of writing fiction, this course emphasizes the processes and assumptions unique to fiction writing and the development of a personal voice. Students analyze technique and form in works of various authors. Writing assignments include at least two stories developed and revised in a workshop format. Lectures, workshops, and individual conferences. May not be audited or taken P/N. Advanced composition course or equivalent writing experience strongly recommended.


View ENGLISH 207-CN Sections
Creative Nonfiction <> ENGLISH 208-CN

This course is for students who want to improve their writing skills and explore the fundamentals of creative nonfiction. Creative nonfiction borrows techniques from fiction—strong characters, captivating narration, and compelling scenes—and bears a certain allegiance to journalistic practices—a faithfulness to “the facts,” sharp descriptions, and dialogue that rings true. By learning the craft of creative nonfiction, you’ll discover how to interest, amuse, entertain, move, persuade, and instruct your readers.

In this course, you’ll take your writing to a new level. The focus will be on three forms of creative nonfiction: the personal essay, think pieces (which is most of the nonfiction you encounter on the internet), and the lyric essay. You’ll discover how to read as writers, learning from the old masters and new voices. Each week, you’ll experiment with a new form and submit a written assignment. All classes will be conducted in seminar and workshop formats.

May not be audited or taken P/N. Advanced composition class and strong basic writing skills highly recommended.


View ENGLISH 208-CN Sections
Advanced Poetry I <> ENGLISH 306-A

For students who have taken courses in poetry writing or who have been writing poetry on their own, this course offers further practice and study in the development of poems. Students create and refine poems; student writing is discussed in a workshop format and individual conferences. Readings of published poems and writing exercises are also part of the course. The course will be comprised of three major components: in-class writing exercises; discussion of contemporary poetry/poets and of our own works; and a collaborative group performance at the end of the course. Assignments will include: participation (lab, homework, workshop discussion, impromptu readings, oral presentation, attendance), collaborative group performance, final portfolio "book," and assigned texts. May not be audited or taken P/N. Prerequisite: ENGLISH 206 or permission of instructor. Students should have previous poetry writing experience in an academic setting. Instructor's consent and confirmation of the prerequisite course or appropriate writing experience is required for enrollment in this course.


There is no available section.
Advanced Fiction I <> ENGLISH 307-A

The goal of this writing-intensive class is to take your writing and observant reading skills to the next level. We will divide our time between exercises and writing prompts, workshopping student stories, and discussing published pieces. Our particular interest will be in the form stories take, how they build structure, and the use of style as a tool of expression. We’ll start workshopping student stories in the second class, so start writing now! Must attend the first class. 

Prerequisite: ENGLISH 207, previous introductory level fiction writing course, or similar writing experience. Students who have not completed ENGLISH 207 should obtain instructor's consent and confirmation of appropriate writing experience. Please send an email to the professor with your writing background to request a permission number once registration for winter quarter has opened.


View ENGLISH 307-A Sections
Advanced Fiction II <> ENGLISH 307-B

For students who have completed at least one course in fiction writing, this course will provide further study of matters of technique and structure, with an emphasis on the exploration of character and discovery of plot through the process of revising. Short stories by contemporary authors will be read as models. The course builds on the premises, assignments, and goals of English 307-A, but students may enroll without having completed that course. May not be audited for taken P/N.

Prerequisite: ENGLISH 207 or 307-A or comparable courses in creative writing with permission of instructor. Students who have not completed ENGLISH 207 or 307-A should obtain instructor's consent and confirmation of appropriate writing experience. Please send an email to the professor with your writing background to request a permission number once registration for spring quarter has opened.


View ENGLISH 307-B Sections
Advanced Nonfiction I <> ENGLISH 308-A

This workshop course is for students who have taken courses in creative nonfiction or who have been writing creative nonfiction on their own. Students apply their developing command of creative writing techniques and forms to frequent short writing exercises and essays. Class discussion of published essays and excerpts from longer works and student drafts may address such topics as voice, style, structure, the uses of research, and truth.

May not be audited or taken P/N. Prerequisite: ENGLISH 208 or permission of instructor. Students should have previous creative writing experience in an academic setting. Students who have not completed ENGLISH 208 should obtain instructor's consent and confirmation of appropriate writing experience. Please send an email to the professor with your writing background to request a permission number once registration for winter quarter has opened.


View ENGLISH 308-A Sections
Advanced Nonfiction II ENGLISH 308-B

For experienced nonfiction writers, this course will provide continuing work in the analysis and writing of creative nonfiction, emphasizing close reading of assigned selections and careful writing and revision of student work. The course builds on the premises, assignments, and goals of 308-A, with focus on the writing of a longer work; students may enroll without having completed that course. May not be audited or taken P/N.

Prerequisite: ENGLISH 208 or 308-A, or comparable courses in creative writing with permission of instructor. Students who have not completed ENGLISH 208 or 308-A should obtain instructor's consent and confirmation of appropriate writing experience. Please send an email to the professor with your writing background to request a permission number once registration for spring quarter has opened.


View ENGLISH 308-B Sections
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