Welcome to the OSU Creative Writing Program
Our creative writing program gives talented students of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction the opportunity to learn the art together in a supportive community with highly accomplished faculty. Emphasizing the importance of craft and grounding the practice of artistic writing in knowledge of the literary tradition and its active presence in contemporary culture, we offer individualized attention to students in small classes (maximum enrollment 12 at the graduate level, 18 or fewer for undergraduates), and eligibility for competitive scholarships specifically designated for creative writers. Our students consistently go on to publish well, take advanced degrees at the most highly respected graduate programs in the nation, and succeed as mature professionals. Currently there are about 50 students enrolled in our graduate program, with roughly equal numbers in poetry and in prose.
Graduate students in creative writing submit original creative works prefaced by a critical introduction rather than a scholarly thesis or dissertation. Doctoral students have the option of testing in the Practical Poetics and Fictional Rhetoric comprehensive examination area. This area is designed to assess knowledge of close reading and craft. Our creative writing PhD program is unique in including this focus on literary technique at the comprehensive examination level, allowing our graduate students to integrate their work as writers into their overall academic approach.
Our BA in English with creative writing option consists of 53 hours, including 15 hours of workshop, 24 hours of literature surveys, literary criticism, and upper-division literature courses. Upper-division electives account for 17 hours.
The MFA in Creative Writing consists of 42 hours, 12 in workshop, 3 in Craft and Forms, and 15 of other appropriate departmental course offerings. The 12 remaining hours are for thesis preparation.
More Information about MFA Degree Requirements
The PhD in English with concentration in creative writing consists of 60 hours, 9 to 15 in workshop and 15 to 20 dissertation hours. The remaining 25-36 hours consist of other appropriate departmental course offerings. PhD students may take one of their two comprehensive exams in Practical Poetics, Fictional Rhetoric, or Theory and Practice of Creative Nonfiction—areas specifically designed for creative writers. Their dissertation project is also creative, usually a collection of poetry, short stories, novel, or essays with a critical introduction.
Toni Graham took both her MA in English and her MFA in creative writing at San Francisco State University. Her collection of short stories, The Daiquiri Girls, won the Grace Paley Short Fiction Award from the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) and was published by the University of Massachusetts Press in 1998. She has also been the winner of the California Short Story Award and the Herbert Wilner Award for Short Fiction, and has received a Pushcart Prize citation. Her second book, Waiting for Elvis, was published in 2005 by Leapfrog Press and won the John Gardner Book Award in 2006. The Suicide Club, her third collection of short stories, won the 2014 Flannery O'Connor Prize and was published in 2015 by University of Georgia Press. She is editor-in-chief and fiction editor of Oklahoma State University's literary magazine, the Cimarron Review.
Lisa Lewis (program director) was educated at the Iowa Writers Workshop (MFA) and the University of Houston (PhD). She has received awards from the American Poetry Review, Crazyhorse, and the Missouri Review, as well as a Pushcart Prize, and her poems appear in two editions of Best American Poetry. Her books are The Unbeliever (Brittingham Prize), Silent Treatment (National Poetry Series), Story Box (Poetry West Chapbook Contest), Vivisect (New Issues Press), Burned House with Swimming Pool (Dream Horse Press), winner of the American Poetry Journal prize, and The Body Double, forthcoming in 2015 as a winner of the Georgetown Review Poetry Manuscript Contest. In 2011 she was awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She serves as poetry editor of the Cimarron Review.
Aimee Parkison has an MFA in fiction writing from Cornell University and a BA in English from Oklahoma State University. Parkison has been awarded the Starcherone Prize for Innovative Fiction, a Christopher Isherwood Fellowship, a North Carolina Arts Council Prose Fellowship, a Writers at Work Fellowship, a Kurt Vonnegut Fiction Prize from North American Review, and a Hearst Fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society. Her writing has appeared in in the anthologies Men Undressed: Female Writers and the Male Sexual Experience, I Go to the Ruined Place: Contemporary Poems in Defense of Global Human Rights, and Wreckage of Reason: An Anthology of Contemporary XXperimental Prose by Women Writers. Parkison’s writing has been published by numerous magazines, including Hayden’s Ferry Review, So to Speak, Nimrod, The Literary Review, Unstuck, Feminist Studies, Mississippi Review, North American Review, Quarterly West, The Cossack, Cimarron Review, Santa Monica Review, Other Voices, Crab Orchard Review, Fiction International, Seattle Review, This Land, and Denver Quarterly. Her books are The Petals of Your Eyes (Starcherone/Dzanc 2014), The Innocent Party (BOA Editions, Ltd. 2012), and Woman with Dark Horses (Starcherone 2004).
Find out about course offerings at the Course Offerings Page.
The creative writing faculty is open to an eclectic range of student writing. We enjoy working closely with student writers, and we limit enrollment in graduate workshops to 12 students. Graduate workshops and classes in Craft and Forms cover a wide range of topics important to working writers, with readings in published poetry and prose assigned to students to accompany critical workshop discussion of their own work. Typically the graduate program consists of approximately 50 writers, who have developed a university-sanctioned Creative Writers Association which sponsors student and guest readings each year. In addition, the department sponsors a nationally distributed literary magazine, the Cimarron Review. Opportunities are available for graduate students to work as readers and associate editors of the Cimarron, as well as to teach creative writing.
Past undergraduate students have gone on to study at Cornell University, New York University, University of Montana, Sarah Lawrence, Western Michigan University, University of Virginia, Colorado State, University of Maryland, University of Pittsburgh, Indiana Universtiy, and University of Southern California. Graduate students have gone on to study or teach at at Drake University, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Columbus State, Ohio University, SUNY-Binghamton, Auburn, University of South Carolina, Baylor, Mesa State College, University of Cincinnati, Roger Williams University, University of Nebraska, University of Oklahoma, University of Central Oklahoma, Southeast Missouri State University, and Millikin University.
Students and recent alumni have published books of poetry, chapbooks, short story collections, and novels on Cooper Dillon, Steel Toe Books, Calamari Press, Subito Press, and others, as well as started journals like The Collapsar and The Fiddleback.
You can find out more about student and alumni publications at the Student and Alumni Publications Page.
While in the graduate program, our creative writing students have the opportunity to teach Intro to Creative Writing courses. Their experiences help prepare them to be future teachers at the university level.