Skip to main content

PhD in Creative Writing and Literature

Building on the broader study of a Master’s degree (MA or MFA), the PhD degree in creative writing and literature is marked by increasing sophistication in writing and literary scholarship. PhD students craft a program that focuses on three distinct but related fields of expertise:

  1. A selected genre, including the history of the genre and contemporary theoretical approaches to it
  2. A related historical period, literary theory, or rhetoric
  3. An area of inquiry specific to your interests and eventual dissertation

The pursuit of PhD study is marked by increasing independence in thinking, writing, and research. The degree offers solid preparation for creative and scholarly publication and expert undergraduate and graduate teaching as well as related cultural professions.

Minimum Requirements for Admission

  • MA in English or MFA in Creative Writing
  • 3.5 GPA in graduate studies
  • One foreign language (may be completed while in residence for the degree)
  • Scores from the GRE General Test

Application Deadline: December 31

Degree Requirements

45 hours of coursework (five semesters of full-time study) in this distribution:

  • 3 hours of Introduction to Doctoral Studies in English (ENGL 7390)
  • 3 hours of bibliography, literary theory, or rhetoric. If you have completed a course in any of these areas for the MA or MFA, this requirement will be waived, giving you three additional hours of electives (but not a reduction in the total hours required).
  • 24 hours of literature, including either History of Poetry and Poetics (ENGL 7380) or History of Narrative and Narrative Theory (ENGL 7381); 9 hours in early literature; 6 hours in later literature; and 6 hours of elective courses selected in consultation with the graduate advisor and your faculty mentors. Early British literature is defined as British literature before 1800 and early American literature is defined as literature before 1865.
  • 3 hours of Writers on Literature (ENGL 7324).
  • 12 Hours in creative writing, including 3 hours of Master Workshop (ENGL 8322 or 8323)
  • Foreign Language: you must demonstrate reading knowledge of two foreign languages or intensive knowledge of one foreign language.
  • Dissertation

Application Materials

Consult the UH Graduate School [link to site] for detailed instructions on how to submit your application electronically. The English Department requires the following materials:

  • Online application and application fee.
  • Three letters of recommendation from people who know your creative or academic work well. Letters will be solicited by the UH Admissions Office and submitted electronically.
  • Official academic transcripts (sealed in the issuing envelope) from every university or colleges you have attended. Official transcripts should be sent directly to the UH Graduate Admissions Office (University of Houston, Graduate Admissions, P.O. Box 3947, Houston, TX 77253-3947).
  • Copies of official transcripts with degree(s posted, uploaded to online application.
  • Official scores for the GRE General Test. Official ETS copy of the report is required and should be to the University of Houston, Main Campus (institution code 6870). No department code is needed, and indicating one will slow down the application process. Note: Scores take 4-6 weeks to reach the university for official verification. Please plan your test date accordingly. Applicants without GRE scores will not be offered admission.
  • Your Statement of Intent (1000 words, double-spaced). State why you wish to pursue graduate studies in creative writing; which writers in your genre you are reading and their importance to your work; and whether you have taught before and intend to pursue teaching as a career.
  • An original creative writing sample (10 pages for poetry, 20-25 pages for prose). Fiction and nonfiction manuscripts should be double-spaced, on numbered, single-sided pages; poetry may be single-spaced and formatted as desired. Note: submitting more than the recommended amount is strongly discouraged and could adversely affect the evaluation process.
  • A critical manuscript (no more than 20 pages), usually a scholarly paper written for a literature course.

General Politics and Procedures

Program Guidelines are available here [link to pdf]. Additional university policies may be found in the Graduate Catalog [link to Graduate Catalog].