The Creative Writing Option

The MAPH option in creative writing is intended for students who plan to do a creative writing thesis project in fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction. Unlike MFA programs that offer professionally oriented training in writing, students taking the option are not expected to concentrate all their attention on their own writing, but rather to develop their artistic practice in the context of rigorous critical inquiry.

Interested students are encouraged to visit the website for the Committee on Creative Writing for further information on creative writing at the University of Chicago. You can also watch interviews with creative writing faculty here and here


In addition to the regular MAPH application materials, applicants to the creative writing option must also submit two copies of a creative writing sample with their application. Visit our admissions page for more detailed information about the application process. 

MAPH students have the opportunity to switch into the creative writing option during the year, even if they did not originally apply. Current students interested in joining the option should email two copies of a creative writing sample to the Program Coordinator. 


In addition to completing the MAPH core course, students in the option take:

  • 1 creative writing course in the student's chosen genre in fall quarter
  • Creative Writing Thesis/Major Projects workshop in winter quarter
  • 3 academic courses relevant to the proposed thesis area
  • 2 elective courses to be taken in any area of student interest

Creative writing thesis projects must have both a creative component and a brief critical essay about the work. 


Instructor permission is required for most creative writing courses. This process requires submission of previous creative work by fixed deadlines prior to the start of each quarter. For more information on creative writing courses and the application process, see here

Students who apply to and are admitted to the creative writing option during admission will receive priority for spots in autumn quarter Creative Writing classes, but must still submit writing samples for courses requiring them. They also automatically have a place reserved for them in the genre-specific Thesis/Major Projects workshop in winter. The creative writing faculty member who leads the winter workshop will also be available to serve as the student's thesis director during spring quarter. 

Student Profiles

Korey Williams (MAPH'14)

Thesis title: "The Harder Parts"

"Composing 'The Harder Parts' was an act not only of hope but also of integration, the coming together of lyric and narrative, compression and expansion, memoir and fiction, research and poïesis. MAPH provided, for me, the intellectually stimulating environment necessary for pursuing such difficult work."







Gregory Lawless (MAPH'04)

Thesis title: "The Etcetera Flowers"

"I long ago destroyed all of the poems that I wrote during MAPH, and I hope to never see them again. They were failures, but they were productive failures, I think, which ultimately led to poems I didn't want to throw away. MAPH is a great place for productive failure, for the kind of intense, chaotic artistic and intellectual experiments that lead not just to learning but transformation. Today, I feel that all of the poems I don’t throw away, those few that survive, were somehow born during that time."