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PhD in Creative Writing and Literature

Building on excellence in creative writing and a record of excellence in the student’s MA preparation in the broad range of English and American literature or MFA preparation in creative writing and literature, the PhD student in literature and creative writing should work toward increased sophistication as a writer/scholar.

The PhD in Creative Writing and Literature offers innovative, multidisciplinary curriculum; dedicated advising and mentorship from the English department’s dynamic faculty; and solid preparation for expert teaching in the university classroom. The Creative Writing and Literature PhD curriculum is comprised of professional development courses, courses in a curricular area stream, elective courses, and creative writing workshops. As part of their curricular plans, all English department PhD students must enroll in one of five curricular area streams:   

  • Critical Studies of the Americas 
  • Critical Poetics 
  • Empire Studies 
  • Translingual Studies 
  • Rhetoric, Composition, and Pedagogy (For RCP students only; these students will be automatically enrolled in this area stream.) 

Each area stream balances training in foundational disciplinary knowledge with opportunities for specialization that engender creative research and independent thinking. Area stream selections also support PhD students by providing dedicated faculty advising and an intellectual community of faculty mentors and graduate student colleagues. The degree offers preparation for creative and scholarly publication and for success in a variety of arts and humanities 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)

Application Deadline: January 15

Degree Requirements

  1. 45 hours of coursework (five semesters of full-time study) in this distribution:
    • 6 hours Professional Development 

      • 3 hours Intro to Doctoral Studies 
      •  3 hours Master Workshop 

       12 hours Area Stream 

      •  Empire Studies 
      •  Critical Studies of the Americas 
      • Critical Poetics 
      •  Translingual Studies 

      12 hours Creative Writing Workshops 

      •  3 hours History of Poetry and Poetics OR Narrative and Narrative Theory 
      •  3 hours Writers on Literature 
      •  6 hours Major Genre Workshop** 

      15 hours Elective Courses, each contributing to the student’s area of expertise. Students should select each of these courses in consultation with his/her faculty mentors. 

      • 3 hours Early Literature (pre-1900) 
      • 3 hours Later Literature (post-1900) 

      If students have taken a course or courses (up to 9 hours) that meet requirements in their MA, the requirements will be waived, allowing students to take additional elective courses (but not reducing the total required hours toward the degree).   

  2. Doctoral Exams 
    • 2 written exams (one major field; one sub-field) 
    • 1 oral exam  
  3. Foreign Language (reading knowledge of two foreign languages or intensive knowledge of one foreign language)
  4. Dissertation Prospectus
  5. Dissertation

Application Materials

Consult the UH Graduate School 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 degrees posted, uploaded to online application.
  • 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 Policies and Procedures

Program Guidelines are available here. Additional university policies may be found in the Graduate Catalog.

A sample list of graduate courses is available here