At home in USC's Department of English, the USC Ph.D. IN CREATIVE WRITING & LITERATURE PROGRAM is one of the few dual Ph.D. programs in the country that weaves the disciplines of literature and creative work into a single educational experience. Students complete coursework in both creative writing and literature. The dissertation project is comprised of creative and critical manuscripts, both of which are essential for completion of the degree.

USC CREATIVE WRITING FACULTY include recipients of Guggenheim Fellowships, the National Book Award, National Endowment for the Arts grants, Pushcart Prizes, and other prestigious recognitions for their exemplary writing and dedication to their creative and scholarly work. As professors, the faculty are committed to developing innovative seminars and guiding students in the cultivation of their abilities as writers and scholars. Each incoming student is assigned a faculty mentor, with whom the student will work closely during her/his years at USC. While Creative Writing faculty teach critical courses from time to time, most of these literature and theory-based seminars are led by the faculty in the Department of English, all of whom are impressively accomplished scholars who are devoted to the scholarly growth of their graduate students.

Our program prizes INTERDISCIPLINARY SCHOLARSHIP, so students are encouraged to cultivate their diverse interests with courses outside of the English Department. Many students choose to pursue a complimentary graduate certificate concurrent with the Ph.D. degree.  The Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences offers graduate certificate programs in Gender Studies, Visual Studies, East Asian Studies, and Visual Anthropology, among others.

IN ADDITION TO COURSEWORK, students have the opportunity to participate in Ph.D. student-run projects such as The Loudest Voice, a reading series, and Gold Line Press, a publisher of poetry and fiction chapbooks. Though known for its competitive sports teams, USC also organizes an array of stimulating events throughout the year, including the English Department’s Boudreaux Visiting Writers Series and Frank N. Magill Poetry Series, as well as the University-wide Visions & Voices series, which features diverse and dynamic performances, lectures, and discussions that extend the arts and humanities beyond the classroom. USC also hosts the annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books — one of the largest literary events in the nation. USC itself is located in the heart of beautiful Los Angeles, an international city with a vibrant arts scene, just miles from the beach or hiking trails; students will never be at a loss for something to do.

ADMISSION is extremely competitive: the program accepts 2 or 3 writers per genre every year from hundreds of applicants. All incoming students receive five years of guaranteed funding — three years of fellowship and two of teaching assistantship. Fellowship years are granted during the first, second, and fourth years of study. Funding packages also cover full tuition remission and health insurance.  

OUR STUDENTS and ALUMNI have had book-length works and collections published by Alice James Books, Anhinga Press, Black Lawrence Press, Copper Canyon Press, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hogarth, Northwestern University Press, Other Press, Penguin, Red Hen Press, Saturnalia, Siglio Press, Slope Editions, Tebot Bach, Ugly Duckling Presse, University of Iowa Press, and White Pine Press, among others. Their books, poems, stories, and essays have garnered an impressive array of accolades.

For information concerning admission, please visit our Application page.

Many questions concerning the Creative Writing & Literature Program are answered on our FAQ page.

If you do not find the information you are looking for on our website, please feel free to contact us.

Follow @USC_CWPhD

Professor Geoff Dyer on the Importance of Place

Dyer embraces the importance of place in both his fiction and nonfiction, stressing that nothing has been more important to him as a writer.

Video by article in


Dyer on the Importance of Photography

Photography is a major source of Dyer's inspiration.

Video by article in


Dyer on the Essay as Journey

Dyer notes the inspiration inherent in travel also exists in metaphorical journeys.

Video by article in


The Writer and Composer Class at USC

Writer and Composer is a unique graduate-level class offered by the University of Southern California's Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences by David St. John and faculty of the Thornton School of Music. It provides an opportunity for structured collaboration among poets, composers and singers for the purpose of creating intricate and thought-provoking new work.


A Life of Poetry

English professor and poet laureate for the state of California, Carol Muske-Dukes talks about how poetry is part of her life -- and her work.

Video by Mira Zimet

60-Second Seminars: T.C. Boyle

Video by Mira Zimet

Reading with Aimee Bender


Darwin Among the Poets

Carol Muske-Dukes, and writers M.G. Lord, Susan McCabe, Michael Quick, and Craig Stanford explore the connections between poetic and scientific query in this tribute to Darwin.


  • Janalynn Bliss, Creative Writing Graduate Coordinator
  • University of Southern California
  • Department of English
  • 3501 Trousdale Parkway, THH 431
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0354