Creative Writing


General Questions

What is “”?

It is a blog that features the accomplishments of Creative Writing Program faculty, alumni, and students at The New School, as well as events, news, and updates. To view official program information, visit The New School’s website

What is the writing community like at The New School?

Students come to The New School from across the United States and around the world to live the writer’s life in New York City. To study at The New School is to join a prestigious community of writers who are experimenting and evolving together.

In the tradition of New York City and creative culture, The New School offered the first academic creative writing workshop, and pioneered a new philosophy of education. The idea: students would contribute their own lives and their own stories to their educations. Long before the MFA program existed, The New School was committed to teaching and guiding new writers drawn to New York in search of inspiration, mentorship, and fellow writers. Today, students at all levels study writing as a living art. Our master teachers are themselves preeminent authors.

Is the Creative Writing Program at The New School really new?

Yes and no. Creative writing has been taught at The New School since 1931, when The New School offered one of the first creative writing workshops in the world. We celebrated the 20th anniversary of the MFA program in 2016. On the occasion of The New School’s Centennial, Robert Polito, the founding director of the MFA program, wrote an essay reflecting on the program’s history. You can find the essay here

Are there literary events at The New School?

Yes, The New School hosts an extraordinary calendar of literary events: readings, publishing panels, book releases, award ceremonies, and more. There are over over twenty public events each semester with additional events exclusively for Creative Writing students and alumni.

What are the Creative Writing Program’s offerings?

The New School offers an internationally renowned MFA in Creative Writing program, with concentrations in Fiction, Poetry, Nonfiction, and Writing for Children and Young Adults, as well a BA in Creative Writing and an undergraduate honors program, the Riggio Honors Program: Writing & Democracy. The Creative Writing Program also offers the Summer Writers Colony and the New School Publishing Institute, and an extensive roster of on-campus and online workshops and seminars, open to both degree-seeking students and non-credit continuing education students, via Open Campus.

How does the Creative Writing Program forge connections with the larger writing and publishing world?

The New School is a vital force in Creative Writing—to New York City, to the nation, and to the world. The New School has established its excellence in all aspects of the writing life, from draft to publication.

Ongoing readings, lectures, forums, and other public programs bring visiting writers, teachers, editors, publishers, and literary agents to The New School. As an active player in today’s cultural conversation, The New School maintains long-standing relationships with foundational literary and cultural institutions, hosting awards ceremonies and events for the National Book Foundation, the National Book Critics Circle, PEN America, Cave Canem, the Poetry Foundation, the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP), Strand Bookstore, the Poetry Society of America, the Story Prize, and the Publishing Triangle, among others.

The nationally-distributed literary journal LIT is edited and staffed by current graduate students and recent alumni of the MFA program. 12th Street, the award-winning literary journal of the Riggio Honors Program: Writing &Democracy, is edited by undergraduate honors students and published online.

What is the Creative Writing Program’s publishing record?

In 2019 alone, 35 books were published by Creative Writing alumni and faculty. For more examples of the books, stories, poems, essays, journals, films, organizations, and numerous other projects of our students and graduates, visit us on Twitter and Instagram

Who are some people who have taught writing at The New School? Who teaches writing at The New School now? Who are some people who’ve gone to The New School?

The New School faculty for writing and literature is a veritable who’s who of American poets, novelists, and essayists. Past professors have included Robert Frost, W. H. Auden, Robert Lowell, Amiri Baraka, Frank O’Hara, Kenneth Koch, Stanley Kunitz, Kay Boyle, May Sarton, Horace Gregory, Marguerite Young, William Goyen, Richard Yates, John F. Bardin, Edward Hoagland, David Ignatow, Alfred Kazin, Anatole Broyard, Carolyn Kizer, Daniel Halpern, Carol Muske Dukes, Bernadette Mayer, Pearl London, David Markson, and Gilbert Sorrentino.

Current faculty are listed on The New School’s Creative Writing Program website, and include program director Luis Jaramillo; Helen Schulman, chair of the fiction program; Honor Moore, coordinator of the nonfiction program; Mark Bibbins, coordinator of the poetry program; Caron Levis, coordinator of the writing for children and young adults program; Robert Polito, professor of writing; Alexandra Kleeman, assistant professor of writing; Camille Rankine, visiting assistant professor of writing; and Mira Jacob, assistant professor of writing. 

Alumni of the MFA in Creative Writing include Jennifer Benka (Poetry ’07), Executive Director of the Academy of American Poets; Stephanie Danler (Fiction ’13), bestselling novelist; Yahdon Israel (Nonfiction ’16), founder of the Literaryswag Book Club; Patricia McCormick (Writing for Children ’99), a two-time National Book Award finalist; Sufjan Stevens (Fiction ’00), Academy Award-nominated singer-songwriter; and Jenny Han (Writing for Children ’06), author and executive producer of the Netflix film series To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. Discover publications by our alumni and faculty network on our digital bookshelf.

Where are classes held?

Our courses are held at our campus in Greenwich Village, just a few blocks from Union Square. Online courses in our undergraduate and continuing education programs are open to students from around the world.

When do classes take place?

Creative Writing courses primarily take place on weekday evenings. 

Are there insurance options available to full-time students? Student discounts? What about funding? What about housing?

Yes. The New School’s Office of Student Services offers extensive opportunities, assistance, and discounts. Programs include but are not limited to on- and off-campus housing, financial aid, work study, healthcare, transportation, software, free tickets, and local discounts. Specific questions should be directed to Student Services.

MFA Questions

What are the areas of study in the MFA program?

We offer four concentrations: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Writing for Children and Young Adults.

What will I get out of an MFA from The New School? Are your graduates well published?

Since 1996, The New School has established itself as one of the most discerning, informed, and engaged graduate writing programs in the country. It’s no accident that our alumni are among the most successfully published MFA graduates in the world, and have distinguished themselves as teachers, editors, publishers, and media professionals.

In 2019, 35 books were published by Creative Writing alumni and faculty. To view recent book publications by our community, visit our alumni and faculty bookshelf.

When do classes take place?

MFA in Creative Writing classes take place on weekday evenings. We also offer exclusive Saturday master classes and seminars on writing, teaching, and publishing.

What are the program requirements?

Degree requirements may be found on The New School’s official website. 

Does the program allow for “cross -genre” study?

Applicants with substantial accomplishment in more than one area of concentration may request that their application be considered for a dual concentration, but they must still declare a primary and a secondary field of study. (Students pursuing two concentrations should figure on three years of study.) Additionally, students may take literature seminars outside of their primary genre of study. Elective weekend workshops are available to students and include a mix of writing opportunities, including the study of hybrid and multi-genre texts. 

What is the program size?  What’s the student to faculty ratio? And what about class size?

Across all four concentrations, we currently enroll ~180 students, with ~35 full- and part-time faculty, which is ratio of just about 6 to 1. Our class size varies from 12 students in workshops to 16 in literary seminars.

What about Teaching and Research Assistant positions? Work study?

Teaching and research opportunities are available. Learn more on our official website. 

What about MFA Fellowships?

Scholarships and fellowships are available. Learn more on our official website. 

What are the application requirements for the MFA program? Do I have to take the GRE to apply?

The prerequisites to apply may be found on our website. The GRE is not required.

Prospective students who need to build a writing book before applying to the MFA in Creative Writing Program are encouraged to explore non-credit creative writing workshops offered through Open Campus at The New School.

What kind of writers are you looking for?  Is there a program “voice”?

Our students bring a diversity of life experiences and artistic voices to the program. We do not elevate any particular aesthetic over another; there is no “New School style”. Our program’s focus on developing each writer’s unique voice is what attracts students from across the country and the world.

Our students are of different ages, and come from many countries, backgrounds, and professions. We encourage the exploration of the practical and philosophical considerations of what it means to be a writer in the world.

Undergraduate Questions

Is there an undergraduate major?  Is the undergraduate major a good program for adults and transfer students?

Yes. The BA in Creative Writing, offered through our Bachelor’s Program for Adults and Transfer Students, is a 30-credit major comprised of writing workshops, literature courses, the Writer’s Life Colloquium, and a 4-credit capstone course. Visit the University Course Catalog to view all undergraduate creative writing courses. 

What is the Summer Writers Colony?

The Summer Writers Colony gives undergraduate and non-credit continuing education students the opportunity to discover the writer’s life in New York City. Each June, three short weeks transform the lives and creative practices of 36 students. Summer Writing Colony students participate in intensive workshops and literary salons with New School faculty members and visiting authors.

Past visiting writers include including Paul Beatty, Jericho Brown, Stephanie Burt, Anne Carson, Lucille Clifton, Teju Cole, Billy Collins, Lydia Davis, Jennifer Egan, Stephen Elliot, Jeffrey Eugenides, Mary Gaitskill, Sarah Gerard, Louise Glück, Jorie Graham, Jhumpa Lahiri, Layli Long Soldier, Leslie Jamison, Lisa Ko, Dorothea Lasky, Rick Moody, Maggie Nelson, Joyce Carol Oates, Jenny Offill, Robyn Schiff, Gary Shteyngart, Brando Skyhorse, Tracy K. Smith, John Jeremiah Sullivan, James Tate, Lynne Tillman, Hannah Tinti, Jean Valentine, Colson Whitehead, and Kevin Young.

The Summer Writers Colony is open to continuing education students and may be taken for 6 undergraduate credits or on a noncredit basis. The 2018 Summer Writers Colony begins June 4. 

What is the New School Publishing Institute?

The New School Publishing Institute is a week-long intensive in which students acquire the foundation they need to break into the world of New York City publishing — or launch their own venture.

Led by publishing veteran John Oakes and featuring visits from some of the top CEOs, publishers, agents, and publicists in New York City, the institute offers students and professionals an accelerated and immersive course of study engaging with one of the most popular creative industries in the city. The Publishing Institute enrolls graduate, advanced undergraduate, and non-credit continuing education students, and begins the week after the Summer Writers Colony.

What is the Riggio Honors Program: Writing & Democracy?

The Riggio Honors Program: Writing & Democracy is an innovative undergraduate honors program for students interested in writing, literature, culture, and politics. Writers in this program participate in a 32-credit curriculum of writing workshops, literature and culture seminars, and a thesis project. The Writing & Democracy students also edit and produce 12th Street, and host a monthly reading series. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis for both new students and current undergraduates from all colleges of The New School. Tuition assistance is available for students who undertake to complete the curriculum as part of their bachelor’s degree requirements.

Riggio program graduates have amassed an impressive array of accomplishments. An incomplete tally includes: a novel with Harper Collins; a book of poems with a coveted indie press; enrollment in fully funded graduate programs in creative writing and journalism; national publications in venues such as The Nation, The Paris Review, The New York Times.

Continuing Education Questions

What are the areas of study in Continuing Education?

The Creative Writing Program offers workshops to matriculated and non-credit continuing education students at all levels—in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, dramatic writing, journalism, writing for children—as well as special topics that focus on, for example, writing for New York Magazines, or the personal essay. Instead of lecturing at length, our practitioner-teachers provide guidance by focusing on student manuscripts in a rigorous but supportive environment. In workshop courses, students receive feedback from fellow students as well as written comments from the instructor, which not only works to improve the material at hand, but to broaden the writerly experience, and speed the creative evolution of each student.  Many of our continuing education students go on to publish articles with national newspapers and magazines, from The New York Times to Cosmopolitan to O: The Oprah Magazine to The Paris Review to Granta to Vice and everything in between. Continuing Education students have gone on to sell books to large and small publishers. Our authorial success stories include some of the biggest names in writing: from Mario Puzzo to Jack Kerouac to Madeleine L’Engle.

The Creative Writing Program also offers fundamental writing courses designed for students addressing grammar, structure, and style. If you have not completed a college course in composition, we encourage you to enroll in a fundamentals course before moving on to a workshop.

Where can I find The New School’s offerings in Continuing Education?

Visit the The New School’s Open Campus website to view and register for continuing education courses in writing and literature.

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