Degree Requirements

Required Courses

The Master of Liberal Arts, Creative Writing and Literature degree field consists of 12 courses. 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 study
  • 2 literature courses
    • EXPO 42a is a literature option
  • 1-week, on-campus writer's residency
  • Thesis proposal tutorial
  • 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.

Courses for Admission

  • 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

The two courses don't need to be taken in a particular order or in the same semester, but each course must be completed 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 a four-year, regionally accredited US bachelor's degree or its foreign equivalent. You cannot already have or be in the process of earning a master's degree in creative writing or related field.

Applying to the Degree Program

During the semester of your second degree course, submit an official application to the program. Don't delay! We have fall, spring, and summer admission cycles.

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

For more details about eligibility and the application process visit Admissions.

Admissions

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 master class taught by a notable instructor.  An agents-and-editors weekend follows.  After this intensive week of instruction, you attend two online-option guest lectures and participate in a final online-option, wrap-up session, during which you’ll have an opportunity to read a portion of your new work. Housing is not available for the one-week stay on campus. 

You may choose to stay on campus for the entire three weeks, giving you the opportunity to work on your revisions on campus, attend guest lectures in person, and take advantage of all the Harvard resources available to you as a Summer School student. Housing is available through Harvard Summer School for the three-week stay on campus.

International Students Who Need a Student Visa

To meet the on-campus requirement, you can easily request an I-20 for the F-1 student visa through Harvard Summer School; however, you must stay on campus for the entire three weeks. 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 5 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.