About the Ph.D. Track in Creative Writing and Literature

The Ph.D. program provides dual emphasis in literature and creative writing, culminating in the dissertation, which combines critical analysis with creative originality. Doctoral candidates not only read and write texts as finished products of scholarship in researching their creative work’s literary and historical milieu, but also consider the text as writers create it, then compose texts as writers, a process that goes to the source of the study of literature and of literature itself. This integration of literature and creative writing is reflected in the structure of the dissertation, which introduces the creative work within a context of critical inquiry, bringing together the examination and embodiment of the literary act, a new model of scholarship and creative innovation.

Ph.D. candidates in Creative Writing and Literature must pass the same departmental examination taken by Ph.D. candidates in Literature who are not working in the area of creative writing. The exam tests students in various areas of emphasis (British literature, American literature, poetry, prose, etc.) and literature and historical periods as a measure of their preparedness to undertake independent research.

  • Degree Requirements

    These degrees are under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. All courses applied toward the degrees must be courses accepted by the Graduate School.

    Graduate curriculum and unit requirements

    The graduate curriculum is divided into 500-level foundation courses and 600-level advanced courses. The 500-level courses offer fundamental work in theory and in the history of British and American literatures and cultures. The 600-level courses feature advanced studies in theory, creative writing seminars and workshops and special topics. Although students will normally take 500-level courses leading up to the screening procedure and 600-level courses thereafter, students after consultation with their advisors may be permitted to take 600-level courses in the first semester of their graduate training.

    The student’s course work must total at least 64 units. More than eight units of 794 Doctoral Dissertation and no more than four units of 790 Research may count toward the 64 units. A maximum of 24 Transfer units approved by the graduate director, is allowed toward the 64 units minimum required by the Ph.D.

  • Admission

    Requirements for admission to study in the Ph.D. program in Creative Writing and Literature include:

    • B.A. degree and/or transfer students with an M.A. or M.F.A. in Creative Writing; GPA in undergraduate major and overall GPA
    • scores on the GRE General Test and the GRE literature Subject Test
    • a creative writing sample (25 pages of fiction or 10-12 pages of poetry)
    • a critical writing sample (10-25 pages)
    • applicant's statement of purpose (no more than three pages)
    • letters of recommendation from at least three of applicant's college instructors
    • statement of interest in teaching composition (300-500 words)
    • resume
  • Application deadline: December 1

    Potential applicants may contact:

    Janalynn Bliss, Graduate Coordinator
    Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Literature
    Department of English
    Taper Hall 431
    University of Southern California
    University Park Campus
    Los Angeles, CA 90089-0354
    (213) 821-0477

For more information

Please see the Ph.D. in Creative Writing & Literature website.

Graduate alumni publications pictured above:
James Penner, Pinks, Pansies, and Punks Indiana UP 2010; Peter D. O'Neill and David Lloyd, The Black and Green Atlantic Palgrave Macmillan 2009; Molly Engelhardt, Dancing out of Line Ohio UP 2009; Amy Newlove Schroeder, The Sleep Hotel Oberlin College Press 2010; Bonnie Nadzam, Lamb Other Press 2011; Alexis Lothian, Futures of Feminism and Fandom Aqueduct 2012.

  • USC Dornsife Department of English
  • 3501 Trousdale Parkway
  • Taper Hall of Humanities 404
  • University Park
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0354
  • Fax: (213) 741-0377