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University Writing Programs in Chicago
University Writing Programs in Chicago

University and College
Creative Writing Degree Programs

Chicago State University, MFA in Creative Writing

Fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. 2016 faculty include Brenda Aghahowa, Forrest Hazard, and Christine Ohale.

Columbia College, Creative Writing BA

Faculty include Don De Grazia, Garnett Kilberg-Cohen, Aviya Kushner, Eric May, Patricia McNair, Joe Meno, and Alexis Pride, David Lazar, Shawn Shiflett, Tony Trigilio, David Trinidad, Sam Weller.

DePaul University, MA in Writing and Publishing

Fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. 2016 faculty include Kathleen Rooney and Miles Harvey. (Our interview.)

Northwestern University, MFA in Prose and Poetry, and MA in Writing Programs

The graduate creative writing program housed in Northwestern University’s School of Professional Studies has been conferring MFA and MA degrees for more than a dozen years and currently its degree tracks are fiction, poetry, nonfiction, popular fiction, dual genre and publishing and professional development. Faculty Director is Christine Sneed. 2022 faculty include: Paula Carter, Gioia Diliberto, Charles Finch, Gina Frangello, Rebecca Morgan Frank, Miles Harvey, Laurie Lawlor, Rebecca Makkai, Juan Martinez, Faisal Mohyuddin, Natalie Moore, Simone Muench, Naeem Murr, Lori Rader-Day, Ed Roberson, Donna Seaman, Megan Stielstra, Rachel Jamison Webster, and Michael Zapata.

NU also offers certificates in Advanced Graduate Study, with a faculty led by Reginald Gibbons and Chris Abani

Many of its alumni have gone on to publish poetry and prose with distinction. Among them are fiction writers Ross Ritchell (The Knife, 2015), Tara Stringfellow (Memphis, forthcoming 2022), Charles “LC” Fiore (Coyote Loop, 2021), Jennifer Companik (Check Engine and Other Stories, 2021) Ignatius Aloysius (Fishhead: Republic of Want, 2020), Allison Epstein (A Tip for the Hangman, 2021) Cheryl Reed (Poison Girls, 2017), nonfiction authors Kevin Davis (The Brain Defense, 2017) and Sara Connell (Bringing in Finn, 2011), and poet Virginia Rice Smith (When I Wake It Will Be Forever, 2014).

Its students coedit TriQuarterly Online with creative writing students in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and have taken part in publishing and teaching internships with presses and organizations including Agate Publishing, Northwestern University Press, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, 826 CHI, 826 Valencia, with future internships also available at Tortoise Books and with New York literary agents based in Chicago. 

Roosevelt University, MFA in Creative Writing

Roosevelt University’s main facilities look out onto the spectacular, iconic Chicago of Michigan Avenue. Roosevelt’s MFA program started in 1999 and has since graduated a steady stream of accomplished authors. It offers specialties in fiction and creative non-fiction. MFA candidates, under the guidance of a faculty advisor, edit the university’s annual literary magazine, The Oyez Review. The magazine, in publication since 1965, has developed a reputation for high-quality literary work.

Program director Christian TeBordo currently leads a program that includes a faculty of Regina Buccola and Kyle Beachy. TeBordo took over for Scott Blackwood.

Notable writers with affiliations to Roosevelt University include:

  • Leon Forrest (CLHOF Class of 2013) took classes at Roosevelt University before dropping out in 1960, shortly before he was drafted.
  • Lorraine Hansberry (CLHOF Class of 2010) also was a student at Roosevelt. 
  • Langston Hughes (CLHOF Class of 2012) gave a poetry performance at the Auditorium Theatre. 
  • Carolyn Rodgers (CLHOF Class of 2012), earned her BA from Roosevelt in 1965.
  • Shel Silverstein (CLHOF Class of 2014), a student at Roosevelt College from 1950 until he was drafted in 1953, contributed cartoons to the student newspaper The TORCH. He also wrote columns and briefly served as Art Editor.
  • Sterling Plumpp (Fuller Award recipient, 2019) graduated from Roosevelt in 1968 with a degree in psychology, during which time he took an introduction to creative writing course as well as a class in Romantic Literature. He stayed at Roosevelt University another two-and-a-half years before accepting a teaching position at University of Illinois-Chicago.

More recent graduates include Lori Rader-Day, Jessica Anne, and Cassandra Morrison.

Roosevelt also offers undergraduate creative writing classes that are tended to by the entire English faculty as well as the creative writing faculty. Students with a creative writing concentration work toward a capstone project on par with graduate-level work.

Roosevelt University’s writing program, though mostly populated with Chicagoans, entices a good number of out-of-state applicants.

School of the Art Institute, MFA in Writing

“Crossing freely between the genres of poetry, fiction, playwriting/screenwriting, nonfiction, and across the school…writers design their own track of interests and learn to trust the authority of their own intuition.” 2016 faculty include Janet Desaulniers, Calvin Forbes, and James McManus.

University of Chicago, MAPH Writing Option

“An alternative to an MFA.”

University of Illinois-Chicago

UIC offers a PhD in English with creative dissertation and also an MA in English with creative manuscript. The MA is considered preparation to enter an PhD program, either in literature or creative writing; or a degree to prepare a writer to enter jobs in publishing, public relations, high school or community college teaching, grant writing, corporate writing, and other communications fields.

Sterling Plumpp’s. People. Jeffrey Renard Allen (committed for his doctorate), Reginald Young (was on his), chaired Duriel E. Harris’s thesis. Tyehimba Jess majoring in sociology. Came to U-IC specifically to take course on Black Aeshetic. Most important writer, Amira Baraka.

Faculty includes: Cris Mazza

Christina Pugh

Luis Urrea

Christopher Grimes

Daniel Borzutzky

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