Creative/Critical Writing Concentration

Prospective Student Information

UC Santa Cruz offers a concentration in Creative/Critical Writing for Literature Ph.D. students. This is an individualized course of study in which students can write a creative dissertation with a critical introduction or a cross-genre creative/critical project. Students have completed speculative novels, collections of poems and personal essays, experimental memoirs, biographies, cross-genre work, and translations of works of poetry and prose. Descriptions of previous qualifying exam and dissertation topics can be found with student bios here.  

Creative/Critical Writing Concentration Overview (please refer to the Literature Ph.D. Program overview for more information)

Entering students complete all the requirements for the Literature Ph.D. with the addition of a creative/critical enhancement to their degree in the form of original creative work, with a critical introduction, and, if desired, work in poetics, translation, form and/or critical writing from the perspective of writerly practices.


For applicants to the Creative/Critical Writing concentration, the department requests the following additional materials: 20-25 pages of prose (at least one complete piece and an additional sample preferred), or 10-12 pages of poetry. The writing can be poetry, prose fiction, creative non-fiction or hybrid/cross-genre.


The general requirements for all Ph.D. students apply to the Creative/Critical Writing concentration:

  • The Proseminar, Literature 200, to be taken in Fall Quarter of the first year;
  • A one-quarter Pedagogy of Teaching/Teaching Assistant Training, Literature 201, to be taken prior to or in conjunction with the first Teaching Assistant appointment;
  • Twelve courses leading to the definition of an area of concentration. Six of these must be regularly-scheduled Literature seminars (from the sequence LIT 221-288). Up to two graduate-level courses may be formally approved for transfer from other graduate institutions or programs.
    1. One course must focus on pre-modern literature and culture. This course may, but need not, be in the student’s area of concentration; it may also be used to satisfy one of the non-English-language course requirements.
    2. A minimum of two courses must be in a non-English language literature.
    3. Four courses must be Creative/Critical concentration-designated courses (Graduate Creative Writing Workshops and Methods and Materials); 
  • One two-credit advising course, Literature 291F, per quarter;
  • Three quarters of supervised teaching experience;
    Creative/Critical Writing concentration only: Of the three quarters of supervised teaching experience required, at least two will be in the undergraduate creative writing concentration;
  • The Literature Department’s intensive three-week Graduate Summer Language Program or equivalent;
  • A qualifying exam portfolio (includes an oral component);
  • A prospectus outlining and defining the dissertation project;
  • A dissertation (written in conjunction with Literature 299, Thesis Research).

Qualifying Examination and Dissertation

At least one member of the QE committee, normally the chair, must be from among the participating core faculty in Creative Writing, and at least one departmental member of the committee will not be one of these.  Students in the concentration will meet the requirements of the (revised) Ph.D. program Qualifying Examination, with the choice to substitute original creative work for the Qualifying essay requirement. This work may also be, if the student chooses, a hybrid creative/critical work.

Ph.D. candidates in the Creative/Critical concentration may choose one of two options for the dissertation:


  1. A book-length original creative project—novel, novella, collection of poems, collection of stories, creative nonfiction, or a hybrid/experimental form (including but not limited to digital/new media, performance/performativity/screenplay, the lyric essay) with a critical chapter or chapters totaling at least 75 pages exploring the historical, methodological, and/or theoretical foundations of the creative work;


  1. A dissertation on theory, form, poetics or literary history; a translation of a creative work with a 30-50-page, substantive, critical introduction; a critical edition.


The following faculty are participating Creative Writing faculty mentors:
Christopher Chen
Micah Perks
Jennifer Tseng
Rob Wilson
Ronaldo Wilson

See Also