Unleash your creative potential

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Find out about our creative writing scholarships here

Thorough. Challenging. Substantive.

These are some terms independent reviewers have used to describe Susquehanna’s creative writing program, one of the most rigorous and successful undergraduate programs in the nation. 

We’d add another to the list: vibrant.

Since one in 12 students at Susquehanna is a creative writing major, we have dedicated creative writing housing, poetry slams, seven student-run publications and frequent late-night literary gatherings.  See photos here.

From Day One, your work will be critiqued by professional, published authors — who are also your professors — and you’ll have plenty of chances to interact one-on-one with them

With separate introductory courses in poetry, creative nonfiction and fiction, you’ll feel confident selecting a genre. You’ll also take intermediate and advanced courses in those genres and literature courses that teach writers how to read for craft and technique.

Writing is a skill valued around the world and in all professions. Our program lays the foundation for a lifelong career in fields like advertising, corporate communications, graphic design, editing, education, journalism, law, ministry or technical writing.

Our alumni network of more than 700 trained writers stand ready to help you make valuable connections in any number of fields. We also were recently ranked one of the top writing programs in Pennsylvania, thanks in part to graduate employment rates and earnings.

Many of our writers choose to attend graduate school after Susquehanna, and almost all who apply are admitted and receive generous teaching assistantships.

“Studying creative writing at Susquehanna gives students a space to contemplate ideas about themselves that they sometimes can’t air back home. The worlds they wrote so eloquently about were as fascinating to me as, I think, mine was to them.”

-Aminatta Forna, Commonwealth Writers Prize winner

"As a faculty member of a Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) program, I search every year for driven, worldly applicants who know the power of deep thinking, active creative practice, and meaningful community building. Susquehanna University's creative writing major is training its students in all these things, thanks to a devoted and forward-thinking faculty that encourages both rigor and collegiality." 

-Elena Passarello, actor, writer, and recipient of a 2015 Whiting Award

No. 6 creative writing program in Pennsylvania
-Zippia Inc.

"Outstanding  Creative Writing Program."
-HuffPost, "So You Want to Be a Writer?"  (Top 40 ranking in North America)

"Recommended creative writing program."
-Rugg's Recommendations on the Colleges, 32nd edition (Top 60 national ranking)

"Susquehanna University has the best undergraduate writing program in the United States."
-Robert Boswell, Guggenheim Fellow and New Yorker fiction writer

"Susquehanna's writing program is extraordinary in every way-in fact, I've never seen anything like it. The students are wildly talented, deeply committed, and supportive of one another, and faculty are nearly super-human in their rigor as teachers and in their achievement-nationally and internationally-as poets, essayists and fiction writers. This is a rare and wondrous place."
- Lia Purpura, Guggenheim Fellow, author of On Looking and Rough Likeness

"I had no idea a writing program like this existed. Susquehanna's students are every bit as dedicated and intellectually sophisticated as any MFA student I've met. Nowhere have I encountered a faculty more passionate about student learning. But what I'll remember most about my astounding week at Susquehanna was the sense of community: generous, genuine, and exhilarating."
Ann Pancake, author of Strange As This Weather Has Been and Given Ground

"What Susquehanna offers its undergraduate writers rivals that of any established and exemplary MFA program. It's an amazing program in every way."
- Jill McCorkle, author of Creatures of Habit and The Cheer Leader

Here are just a few of the fields in which recent creative writing graduates have found jobs, along with a selection of employers:

Advertising—Simon and Schuster; Warfel Construction
Client Relations—Ingram Content Group 
Copywriting—World Wrestling (WWE); Virtucom Group
Corporate Communications—Susquehanna Health consortium; Vanguard; Compucom
Graphic Design—Pixar
Editing—Marvel Comics; In Touch magazine; Prentice Hall; Harpercollins; Thieme Publishers;  Nature
English Teacher Abroad—Shane English School, China; English Academy, Indonesia
Fact Checker—Us magazine
Fiction Writer—Galatea app
Instructor—Hollins University; University of Virginia
Journalism (sports editor)—Finger Lakes Community Newspapers
Lawyer—Cureton Clark (NJ)
Legal editor—Agora,Inc.
Marketing—Language Workshop Center for Children; Casemate Publishers
Ministry—Unitarian Church in Summit, NJ; Mahatma Gandhi Center at JMU
Professor—University of North Dakota; Mississippi State University; University of Indianapolis
Social Media/Publicity—Penguin Young Readers, Makenna Held LLC
Student Life Staff—Ursinus College; Susquehanna University
Teacher—Raritan-Bridgewater High; Lincoln Middle; Mountain Rose Academy; Peace Corps
Technical Writer—Virtucom; VectorCSP

Recent graduates have enrolled in programs at:

Arizona State University, MFA in Fiction
Auburn University, education
California Institute of the Arts, MFA in Poetry
Columbia Publishing
Emerson, MFA
Fullbright Fellowships, France and Germany
George Mason, MFA
Iowa Writers Workshop, multiple graduates, fiction and poetry
Johns Hopkins University, MFA in Fiction
New Mexico State, MFA in Creative Writing 
New School for Public Engagement 
Portland State, MFA
Rhode Island University, Ph.D.
Sarah Lawrence, MFA
Southern New Hampshire University 
Stony Brook Southampton, MFA in Writing and Literature
Temple University-Sociology
University of Arizona, MFA 
University of Idaho 
University of Massachusetts Boston, MA in Applied Linguistics
University of Montana, MFA in Creative Nonfiction
University of New Hampshire, MFA in Fiction
University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Graduate Teaching Assistantship in Poetry
University of Notre Dame, MFA in Poetry
University of San Francisco, MFA in Poetry
University of Wyoming, MFA in Nonfiction
Yale Divinity School

The creative writing major emphasizes literature and writing courses that will be most valuable in preparing students not only for careers in writing, but also for related careers in law, education, publishing and editing. Courses are organized to offer breadth and depth, practical skills, and intensive independent writing, presentation and production experiences.  

Requirements for the Creative Writing Major. 46-48 semester hours with grades of C- or better.

Semester Hours View Full Course Catalog >>
4 WRIT-251 Introduction to Fiction
4 WRIT-252 Introduction to Poetry
4 WRIT-253 Introduction to Creative Nonfiction

8        Intermediate creative writing workshops chosen from WRIT-351 Intermediate Fiction, WRIT-352 Intermediate Poetry, and WRIT-353 Intermediate Creative Nonfiction

4        Advanced creative writing workshops chosen from WRIT-451 Advanced Fiction, WRIT-452 Advanced Poetry and WRIT-453 Advanced Creative Nonfiction

4 WRIT-550 Senior Seminar
2-4 WRIT-520 Practicum
or WRIT-540 Internship

8         ENGL-265 Forms of Writing, with no repetition of genre and no limitation of topic within the course topics listed below:

           ENGL-265: Novel 

           ENGL-265: Short Story

           ENGL-265: Formal Structure of Poetry  

           ENGL-265: Narrative Poetry

           ENGL-265: Lyric Poetry 

           ENGL-265: Prose Poetry/Lyric Essay

           ENGL-265: Personal Essay

           ENGL-265 Memoir

           ENGL-265 Literary Journalism

           ENGL-265 Popular Writing

4 ENGL-290 Aesthetics and Interpretation

4         ENGL courses at the 300 level other than ENGL-381, ENGL-382, and ENGL-388

Note: A student is required to participate in a senior reading and to produce a senior chapbook in order to graduate with a creative writing major.

Minor in Creative Writing. Creative writing minors complete, with grades of C- or better, at least 20 semester hours beyond ENGL-100 and including a WRIT 300-level, intermediate workshop class. The remaining courses are chosen with guidance and approval of the departmental minor adviser from departmental offerings that are part of the creative writing major. See the course descriptions for information about which courses may be repeated. COMM-131 Introduction to Journalism also satisfies requirements of the minor. Declaration of a creative writing minor requires submission of a six- to eight-page creative writing sample to the director of creative writing. Select members of the creative writing faculty will review this sample to ensure that students have the ability to succeed in this minor. Note that approval of a creative writing minor does not guarantee a place in workshop classes. The creative writing minor is not open to students pursuing the creative writing major.

The Writers Institute provides a hub for all things creative writing-related at Susquehanna University.  It facilitates the Seavey Reading Series, which brings around six nationally known writers, editors, and/or literary agents a year to the area. The Institute funds and supports four major literary magazines on campus—Rivercraft, Essay, the Susquehanna Review , and Apprentice Writer—as well several smaller journals and the Forum for Undergraduate Student Editors.

The Writers Institute also organizes a senior reading and chapbook series to celebrate the accomplishments of creative writing majors.

We have a dedicated building that serves as the nucleus of our vibrant community of published writers and gives students a space to connect and unwind. Renovated in 2010, it houses faculty offices, classrooms designed for writing workshops, conference spaces and a library.

Glen Retief, Ph.D.

Department: English & Creative Writing
Associate Professor of English & Creative Writing

Email Address retief@susqu.edu
Phone Number 570-372-4035

Karla Anne Kelsey, Ph.D.

Department: English & Creative Writing
Professor of English & Creative Writing


Catherine Zobal Dent, Ph.D.

Department: English & Creative Writing
Associate Professor of English & Creative Writing

Email Address dent@susqu.edu
Phone Number 570-372-4518

Silas Dent Zobal, Ph.D.

Department: English & Creative Writing
Associate Professor of English & Creative Writing


Matthew Neill Null

Department: English & Creative Writing
Assistant Professor of English & Creative Writing

Email Address nullm@susqu.edu
Phone Number 570-372-4383

Monica Prince

Department: English & Creative Writing
Assistant Professor of English & Creative Writing


Hasanthika Sirisena

Department: English & Creative Writing
Assistant Professor of English & Creative Writing

Email Address sirisena@susqu.edu
Phone Number 570-372-4755

Ashley Houtz

Department: Provost
Academic Assistant


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Student Publications

The Apprentice Writer

A national literary journal for budding high school writers like you!

Essay Magazine

Our student-run creative nonfiction magazine annually showcases student memoirs, personal essays and literary journalism pieces.


A magazine of travel writing that publishes stories from students' cross-cultural experiences.


We started this national group of student editors and writers and it now has an annual conference hosted by member institutions and a caucus that meets at AWP each year.


An annual collection of student poetry, short stories and novellas put together by students.


An online genre/speculative literatures magazine focusing on the odd, experimental, unusual and weird.

The Squirrel

Susquehanna's student-run satirical news source

The Susquehanna Review

Nationally distributed, student-run literary magazine featuring work from student writers across the country.

Seavey Reading Series
Seavey Reading Series

Internationally recognized writers visit Susquehanna University for free public readings.

For High School Writers
For High School Writers

Learn more about events for high school writers, as well as our creative writing scholarships.

For High School Writers
Alumni Awards & Publications

A selection of awards and publications from our Writers Institute alumni.

Contact Us

Mailing Address

Writers Institute
514 University Ave.
Selinsgrove, Pa. 17870

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610 University Ave.

Campus Map

Phone & Email


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