Graduate Creative Writing

Our Creative Writing program attracts national and international acclaim. UCalgary faculty and students actively enhance the local and national arts communities.

Join us and be part of the journey!

A bookshelf wall of thesis titles

MA with creative thesis

How it works

Apply to submit a substantial work of poetry or fiction as a creative project for the MA thesis in English.

Note: You'll need department permission for a creative MA. We can't guarantee permission to pursue a creative writing project, even if:

  • You're admitted to an MA in English, and/or

  • You've completed creative writing classes at UCalgary or another university.

Even if you're not accepted, we encourage you to continue writing and applying to creative writing graduate courses.

Application components

1. Portfolio

Submit a substantial portfolio of previous work during your graduate program application

This may include:

  • published work

  • five to eight short poems or one to two short stories

  • chapters of a novel

  • or a combination of poetry and prose).

2. Critical approach

Outline your critical awareness of the approach you expect to take.


  • Present a critical discussion of the proposed work
  • Call attention to elements like: 
  • themes, verse-forms, groups of poems, experimental or traditional approaches, etc.


  • Present a critical discussion of possible approaches to:
  • characterization, theme, point of view, narrative stance, experimental or traditional approaches.

Final product: Thesis

Your thesis must contain an introduction or afterword, normally of 20–30 pages, showing some critical awareness of the approach taken.

Average length

  • Poetry project: About 50 pages. 
  • Fiction project: About 150 pages.

English prof spreads awareness about migrant challenges through poetry

PhD with creative dissertation

How it works

You may be permitted to submit a substantial book-length manuscript of poetry or fiction for the PhD thesis in English.

However, this is a highly competitive option with an expected high standard for your project.

While we would expect you to have writing and publishing experience, it will not guarantee admission to the doctoral program, or approval of a creative dissertation project.

Application components

1. Portfolio

Submit a portfolio of writing and published works during your graduate program application.

2. Critical approach

Your dissertation essay must show extensive critical awareness of the approach you expect to take. Expect, as part of your studies, to do research within the genre.

Final product: Dissertation

When you present your dissertation for examination, it must be previously unpublished. It must also be accompanied by a critical essay showing a sophisticated critical and/or theoretical awareness of your approach.


Quantity and quality cannot be equated but you must present a substantial body of work.

As with the dissertation for a critical Ph.D., it should be original and publishable.

Creative Writing faculty

Kit Dobson

Kit Dobson

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Clara Joseph

Clara A.B. Joseph

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Clem Martini UCalgary Creative Writing faculty

Clem Martini

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Suzette Mayr UCalgary Creative Writing

Suzette Mayr

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L. Rain Prud'homme-Cranford Creative Writing Faculty

L. Rain Prud'homme-Cranford

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Vivek Shraya Creative Writing Faculty

Vivek Shraya

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Uchechukwu Umezurike

Uchechukwu Umezurike

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Aritha van Herk UCalgary Creative Writing

Aritha Van Herk

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Anna Veprinska

Anna Veprinska

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Joshua Whitehead

Joshua Whitehead

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Expand your writing career

Zytaruk UCalgary professor

Master of Arts (MA), thesis-based

Thesis-based programs require that you pursue independent and original research culminating in a thesis. You will work under the supervision of a faculty member whose expertise matches your research area.

Michael Chabon visits UCalgary

Master of Arts (MA), course-based

In a course-based program, all degree requirements are fulfilled by completing courses. These may include courses that involve a project, such as a major research paper or group project.

UCalgary professor Anthony Camara on the anniversary of Frankenstein

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The Department of English offers a PhD degree with one specialization, Literature in English. The Creative Writing option is available within this specialization.

Ready to apply?

Have you made your final decision and you're ready to apply?

What you'll need

The Faculty of Graduate Studies has detailed instructions about the application process.

Read admission steps and requirements

Do you have everything?

You are responsible for ensuring your application is complete and all documents are received by the deadline. 

Graduate supervisor

The Department of English does not require you to confirm a supervisor prior to admission.

Begin your application

First create an eID. You must have one to access the online application.

Once you begin, remember to click 'Save & Continue' often to ensure your application is saved.

Online application

Graduate program contacts

Contact us for any questions you may have about the programs we offer in the Department of English.

Graduate Program Advisor

Ask me about graduate program advising

Lori Somner

Associate Head (Graduate Program)

Ask me about graduate degree requirements

Morgan Vanek

Creative Writing Coordinator

Ask me about the Creative Writing Program

Clara A.B. Joseph