Creative Writing

Finding your own voice—that’s what the creative writing major at Earlham offers. You’ll do substantial work in the creative genre(s) of your choice, including a major guided portfolio project as a senior, and explore how your and others’ writing can make a positive difference in the world. 

Since good readers make good writers, you’ll also engage with a wide variety of literary texts from different periods and voices, together with a wide range of theoretical approaches on how and why literature matters. You’ll hone your craft as a writer, experiment with different writing techniques, and learn how to communicate with diverse audiences and engage the literary marketplace and publication process.

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In addition to publishing, students with creative writing degrees often work in writing-related fields such as journalism, copyediting, marketing and advertising, web design and social media and public relations.
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Leah Naomi Green ’05 won the prestigious Walt Whitman Award in 2019 from the Academy of American Poets, for her first book of poetry, The More Extravagant Feast.

Earlham alums have earned MFAs at programs such as the University of California at Irvine, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Columbia University, and CUNY/ Queens College. Prize-winning alumni writers include Mat Johnson, Maurice Manning and Leah Naomi Green.

Writing in pursuit of truth

Creative writing allows us to pursue truth in a variety of forms. Through storytelling and the written word, writers are able to lay bare the truths we see in the world, bring forth new or underrepresented voices and create connection.

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The Bain-Swigget Poetry Prize and the Gettman Prize award Earlhamites for their works of prose, fiction or poetry.

Earlham also offers its Creative Writing majors memberships to AWP (The Association of Writers and Writing Programs), which offers a host of online resources related to writing and publication, along with the chance to attend one national AWP conference during their undergraduate career.

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Hands-on experience

The Crucible, established in 1956, is a student-run literary magazine that publishes works by Earlham students. As a student staff member, you will gain invaluable experience in editing and publishing.

Earlham faculty and students collaborating

Our faculty

Our faculty write and teach in a variety of genres, including poetry, fiction and playwriting and serve as advisers for the student literary magazine, The Crucible.

Program details

As a student in the creative writing program, you’ll take 11 four-credit courses, culminating in a capstone course. In the capstone, you’ll be asked to write a manifesto about why and how you write, as well as a creative piece that exemplifies this.

As a liberal arts college, Earlham offers multiple disciplinary and interdisciplinary majors and minors in which students cultivate deep and specific knowledge and experience. Equally important, the College expects every student to develop broad, general skills and proficiencies across the curriculum.

As part of their general education, students complete six credits in each academic division of the College: humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and visual and performing arts. In addition, students meet requirements for first-year courses, analytical reasoning, perspectives on diversity and wellness.

Learn more about general education at Earlham.

To earn a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing, you must complete the following courses, in addition to general education requirements.

  • Required courses:
    • ENG 221 Introduction to Creative Writing (appropriate for first-year students)
    • ENG 302 Foundations of Literary Study
    • ENG 401 Junior Research Seminar
    • ENG 470 Advanced Writing Workshop
    • ENG 488 Senior Capstone Experience
  • An additional 3 advanced creative writing courses chosen from the following:
    • ENG 470 Advanced Writing Workshop (can be taken more than once with different topics)
    • ENG 385 Reading and Writing Poetry
    • ENG 386 Reading and Writing Short Fiction
    • ENG 471 Playwriting
    • Internship in writing or editing, with department pre-approval
  • 3 additional English literature content courses, at least 2 of which are above 302
  • You may count one literature or creative writing course from an off-campus program or one creative writing course in a different language towards the additional courses required for the major, with department approval.

View a full list of creative writing courses and their descriptions.

Yes! To earn a minor in creative writing, you must complete the following courses:

  • One introductory course from the following:
    • ENG 203 Women and Literature
    • ENG 204 African American Literature
    • ENG 205 American Literature and Ecology
    • ENG 206 Literature and Identity
    • ENG 207 Literature and Film
    • ENG 208 Contemporary Literature
  • One 300-level or higher English course
  • ENG 221 Introduction to Creative Writing
  • Two creative writing courses chosen from:
    • ENG 470 Advanced Writing Workshop
    • ENG 385 Reading and Writing Poetry
    • ENG 386 Reading and Writing Short Fiction
    • ENG 471 Playwriting

View a full list of creative writing courses and their descriptions.

The creative writing program prepares you for a number of careers in writing and communications—fields that are only growing as companies and individuals rely more and more on digital media.

As a graduate, you may pursue careers in editing, publishing, copywriting, technical writing, UX writing, journalism, marketing and communications, and a variety of other fields.

In addition to off-campus study programs and research experiences with faculty in places like London and Tibet, students have also participated in a variety of internships. Recently, students have interned at the Indiana Review as a submissions intern, at GenNow as a media and writing intern, and at Writers House as an editorial intern.

Visit the Earlham Center for Global and Career Education to learn more about available off-campus study programs, research experiences and internships.

The creative writing program is for students who have a passion for writing and want to hone their craft. If you love communicating ideas to others in effective and compelling ways, this is the major for you.

Next steps

We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.
We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.