Degree Requirements

Required Courses

The Master of Liberal Arts, Creative Writing and Literature degree field consists of 12 courses, two of which are required for admission. A one-week, on-campus writer’s residency is required.

12 Graduate Courses

The degree is customizable. Within the program curriculum, you choose the creative writing and literature courses that meet your personal learning goals.

  • Proseminar
  • Advanced fiction writing
  • 3 creative writing courses
  • 1 creative writing independent tutorial
  • 2 literature courses
    • EXPO 42a is a literature option
  • 1-week, on-campus writer's residency
  • Crafting the thesis proposal
  • Master’s thesis part one
  • Master’s thesis part two

Search Creative Writing and Literature Courses

Admissions: Earn Your Way In

To begin the admission process, you simply register—no application needed—for the following two graduate-level degree courses. Both are available online.

  • HUMA 101 Proseminar: Elements of the Writer's Craft
    • Before registering, you'll need to pass our online test of critical reading and writing skills or earn a B or higher in EXPO 42a Writing in the Humanities.
    • You have two attempts to earn the minimum grade of B in the proseminar, which cannot be more than two years old at the time of application.
  • Advanced fiction writing

You complete the two degree courses with a grade of B or higher, without letting your overall Harvard cumulative GPA dip below 3.0. Before you enroll in any degree-applicable courses, you need to possess an undergraduate degree.

Applying to the Degree Program

During the semester of your second degree course, submit an official application to the program. We have fall, spring, and summer admission cycles.

If you submit a complete application—which includes required Harvard courses, grades, and cumulative GPA—you will be admitted, after which you’ll have only 10 more courses to take to earn the degree.

How to Apply

The Harvard On-Campus Experience

Many courses can be taken online, but the degree requires a Harvard campus experience.

One-Week Writer’s Residency

For the writer’s residency, you come to campus for a week-long summer course. From Monday to Friday, you attend a master class taught by a notable guest instructor. An agents-and-editors weekend follows.

You may apply for three-week housing through Harvard Summer School for a fee. Then, for the two weeks following the residency, you could work independently on creative writing projects.

International Students Who Need a Student Visa

To meet the on-campus requirement, you spend three weeks on campus in the summer, with one week dedicated to the writer's residency and the following two weeks to independent writing. You can easily request an I-20 for the F-1 student visa through Harvard Summer School. For more information, see the important visa information on the International Student Study Options page.

To Complete Your Degree

Maintain a Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 or Higher

Earn a B or higher in each of the two degree courses required for admission and a B– or higher in each of the subsequent courses, but be sure to maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (B) or higher. You are allowed to receive two withdrawal (WD) grades without them affecting your GPA. Any additional WD grades count as zero in your cumulative GPA. See Academic Standing.

Finish Your Coursework in Under Five Years

You have five years to complete your degree requirements. The five-year timeline begins at the end of the term in which you complete any two degree-applicable courses, regardless of whether or not you have been admitted to a degree program. Moreover, courses over 10 years old at the point of admission will not count toward the degree.

Graduate with Your Harvard Degree

When you have fulfilled all degree requirements, you will earn your degree: Master of Liberal Arts in extension studies, Field: Creative Writing and Literature. Degrees are awarded in November, March, and May. You participate in the annual Harvard Commencement ceremony in May. 

Degree Guidelines and Policies

For information about special academic opportunities, student privileges, and policies, see Completing Your Degree.