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), opportunities to take workshops across genres, and eligibility for competitive scholarships specifically designated for creative writers. Currently there are about 50 students enrolled in our graduate program specializing in poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction.
Our program also publishes one of the oldest quarterlies in the nation, Cimarron Review. Since 1967, the Cimarron has showcased poetry, fiction, and nonfiction with a wide-ranging aesthetic. Graduate students at both the MFA and PhD levels work as assistant editors for the Cimarron, screening and recommending submissions, and associate editors whose work on the magazine involves corresponding with contributors, selecting cover images, participating in magazine layout, and otherwise working with production. Associate editors are also released from some teaching responsibilities.
Our award-winning faculty have mentored and advised hundreds of emerging writers who have gone on to publish in their fields and to acquire jobs teaching writing. Creative Writing students and alumni have placed their work in such venues as The New Yorker, the New York Times, and the annual Best New Poets anthology, and published books with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, BOA, Sibling Rivalry Press, and other distinguished presses. Their accomplishments include the AWP Award Series Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction, the Gwendolyn Brooks Centennial Poetry Prize, the Gold Line Press Poetry Chapbook Competition, the Pushcart Prize, the Tulsa Artist Fellowship, the Oklahoma Book Award, and selection as National Book Award finalist.
The program offers teaching assistantships (including full tuition waivers) and fellowships, with opportunities to teach freshman composition and creative writing as well as to tutor in the Writing Center. Current students are also eligible for annual creative writing scholarship competitions and other competitive opportunities. Accepted applicants receive full funding if they meet the priority placement application deadline and complete a teaching assistantship application.
Degrees and Requirements
BA: Our undergraduate students consistently go on to publish well, take advanced degrees at some of the most highly respected graduate programs in the nation, and succeed as mature professionals. 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. Undergraduates have the opportunity to be editors and staff interns in OSU’s undergraduate digital literary magazine, Frontier Mosaic.
Past undergraduate students have gone on to study at the University of Iowa, Cornell University, New York University, University of Montana, Sarah Lawrence College, Emerson College, University of North Carolina-Wilmington, Western Michigan University, University of Virginia, Colorado State University, University of Maryland, University of Pittsburgh, Indiana University, and the University of Southern California.
Graduate students have gone on to study or teach at Drake University, Texas A&M, Texas Tech University, Kansas State University, Columbus State University, Ohio University, SUNY-Binghamton, Auburn University, University of South Carolina, Baylor University, Mesa State College, University of Cincinnati, Roger Williams University, University of Nebraska, University of Oklahoma, University of Central Oklahoma, Southeast Missouri State University, Millikin University, and West Chester University.
MFA: The MFA in Creative Writing is a three-year artistic experience that consists of 42 hours, including 12 in workshop, 3 in Craft and Forms, 6 in literature, and 9 of other appropriate departmental course offerings. The 12 remaining hours are for thesis preparation.
PhD: The PhD program requires 60 hours beyond the master’s degree for completion, including at least 31 hours of coursework and 15 to 20 dissertation hours. Graduate students in creative writing submit original creative works prefaced by a critical introduction rather than a scholarly thesis or dissertation. Doctoral students are required to pass two qualifying exams and may choose to test in two creative writing genres, either Practical Poetics, Theory and Practice of Creative Nonfiction, or Fictional Rhetoric; or they may choose to focus on an area outside creative writing for their second exam, such as literature, screen studies, or other departmental offerings. Creative writing exams are 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 qualifying examination level, allowing our graduate students to integrate their work as writers into their overall academic approach.
Sarah Beth Childers has an MFA from West Virginia University. Her memoir-in-essays, Shake Terribly the Earth: Stories from an Appalachian Family, was published by Ohio University Press in 2013. Her work appears in Brevity, Colorado Review, Wigleaf: (Very) Short Fiction, Pank, Guernica Daily, and Superstition Review, as well as the anthologies Love and Profanity: A Collection of True, Tortured, Wild, Hilarious, Concise, and Intense Tales of Teenage Life and Mountains Piled Upon Mountains: Appalachian Nature Writing in the Anthropocene. Sarah Beth was a recipient of the Olive B. O'Connor Fellowship at Colgate University in 2009. She serves as nonfiction editor for the Cimarron Review.
Dinah Cox earned both an MA and a PhD at Oklahoma State University. Her first book of stories, Remarkable, won the fourth annual BOA Short Fiction Prize and appeared in 2016. A second collection, The Canary Keeper, appeared from PANK Books in 2019. Her stories have appeared or are forthcoming in StoryQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, Copper Nickel, Cream City Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, The Laurel Review, Gulf Coast online, and others. In addition, her work has won prizes from The Atlantic Monthly, Hayden's Ferry Review, The Texas Observer, and Jabberwock Review. She has served as Associate Editor of Cimarron Review since 2005.
Janine Joseph earned a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston and an MFA in Poetry from New York University. She is the author of Driving Without a License (Alice James Books), winner of the Kundiman Poetry Prize. Her poetry, essays, and critical writings have recently appeared in The Nation, The Georgia Review, Orion Magazine, Pleiades, The Atlantic, Copper Nickel, Poets & Writers, The Poem’s Country: Place & Poetic Practice, and the Academy of American Poets' Poem-a-Day series. A librettist, Joseph’s commissioned work for the Houston Grand Opera/HGOco include In Our Care, What Wings They Were: The Case of Emeline, “On This Muddy Water”: Voices from the Houston Ship Channel, and From My Mother's Mother. A 2019 MacDowell Fellow, she is an organizer for Undocupoets and serves on the Advisory Board for the Center for Poets & Writers in Tulsa. She was born in the Philippines.
Lisa Lewis (program director) was educated at the Iowa Writers Workshop (MFA) and the University of Houston (PhD). She has received an NEA Individual Fellowship, 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, The Body Double (Georgetown Review Poetry Manuscript Contest), and most recently, Taxonomy of the Missing (The Word Works, Tenth Gate Prize). Recent work appears or is forthcoming in Crazyhorse, Gulf Coast, South Dakota Review, American Journal of Poetry, Florida Review, Four Way Review, New England Review, and elsewhere. She serves as editor-in-chief of the Cimarron Review.
Aimee Parkison holds an MFA from Cornell University and is the author of five books of fiction. Her most recent book, Girl Zoo (FC2/University of Alabama 2019), is a collaborative experimental story collection co-authored with Carol Guess. Parkison’s fourth book, Refrigerated Music for a Gleaming Woman (FC2/University of Alabama Press 2017), won the FC2 Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize and was named one of Brooklyn Rails’ Best Books of 2017. Parkison writes to explore voices and characters, opening doors to unusual journeys through language. Parkison is widely published and known for revisionist approaches to narrative. Her fiction has won numerous awards, including a Christopher Isherwood Fellowship, the Kurt Vonnegut Prize from North American Review, the Starcherone Prize for Innovative Fiction, the Jack Dyer Prize from Crab Orchard Review, a North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship, a Writers at Work Fellowship, a Puffin Foundation Fellowship, and an American Antiquarian Society William Randolph Hearst Creative Artists Fellowship.
Find out about course offerings at the Course Offerings Page.
Our graduate students have developed a university-sanctioned Creative Writers Association, which sponsors a lively Poetry, Prose, and Pints student reading series and an annual reading series that features visiting writers.
Our undergraduates have developed Frontier Mosaic, an official university student organization and online literary magazine which sponsors undergraduate readings and a launch party for each new issue. The new Creative Writers Club offers undergraduates their own social opportunity for gathering with like-minded students for informal workshopping and other events.
You can find out more about student and alumni publications at the Student and Alumni Publications Page.