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The BA/MA Program in Creative Writing

The next application deadline for the BA/MA Program is March 15, 2021.



At Penn State, we offer an integrated undergraduate/graduate degree in English with a creative writing concentration in Poetry and in Prose (fiction and creative nonfiction). This is a full-residency program that can be completed in two years—the student’s senior year and the additional M.A. year. We place a special emphasis on mentoring writers who are polishing their portfolios for eventual application to outside M.F.A. programs.

Justin Torres meets with students during his visit to Penn State

All students complete 30 credits of graduate course work. Under the supervision of a creative writing faculty member, students complete a substantial creative project, due at the end of the M.A. year.

All of our second-year MA students receive teaching assistantships that provide valuable college teaching experience and include tuition remission.


Our program also features a series of readings and residencies by prominent writers. Past visitors include Elizabeth Alexander, Jo Ann Beard, Aimee Bender, Richard Blanco, Elizabeth Bradfield, Sandra Cisneros, Lydia Davis, Mark Doty, Rita Dove, Stuart Dybek, Robert Hass, Terrance Hayes, Juan Felipe Herrera, Jane Hirshfield, Cary Holladay, Sarah Manguso, Li-Young Li, Sharon Olds, Susan Orlean, Robert Pinsky, George Saunders, David Shields, Melanie Thernstrom, Justin Torres, Jess Walter, John Edgar Wideman, and many, many others.


US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith talks with students during her visit at the Emily Dickinson Lecturer in Poetry in 2017.


This year's Mary Rolling Reading Series, Emily Dickinson lecture, and Fisher Family Writer-in-Residence have been suspended due to Covid-19.

core creative writing faculty

Our creative writing faculty write, publish, and often teach in more than one genre. Shara McCallum and Julia Kasdorf primarily teach poetry; William J. Cobb, Charlotte Holmes, Elizabeth Kadetsky, and Toby Thompson primarily teach prose. Charlotte Holmes is on leave during fall 2020 semester.

notable grads

Writers who received graduate degrees at Penn State include Sarah Blake, Katherine Bode-Lang, Peter Chilson, Rita Ciresi, Morris Collins, Geffrey Davis, Krista Eastman, Vicki Glembocki, Cary Holladay, Jessica Karbowiak, Rachel Mennies, Cathleen Miller, Sally Pont, Rebecca Rasmussen, Jennifer Richter, Lisa Roney, Sheila Squillante, Lyrae Van Clief Stefanon, and William Kelley Woolfitt.

Writers who studied in our undergraduate program include Diane Ackerman, James Charlesworth, Jillian Cantor, Nomi Eve, Matthew Kirkpatrick, Jane Miller, Chinelo Okparanta, Ruth Ellen Kocher, and Ryan Teitman.


From left: Geffrey Davis, Sarah Blake, Charlotte Holmes, Robin Becker, Rachel Mennies, William Woolfitt, Julia Kasdorf, and Katherine Bode-Lang.

application procedure

Internal applications are vetted in the spring of the student’s junior year (deadline March 15--see "Application for the BA-MA Program"). Once accepted into the program by the English Department and creative writing faculty, students file an official application with the Graduate School. This carries an application fee of $65 and consists of the same materials as submitted for the original application. GRE scores are not required.

Please note: At this time, we only accept applications from current Penn State students. You do not have to be an English major to apply, but if you're accepted into the program and wish to pursue the B.A./M.A. degree, you must add English to your major.


for information please contact

William J. Cobb
Director of Creative Writing

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