Undergraduate Program Creative Writing

Close up of a student writing in a notebook

Creative Writing Bachelor's Degree Overview

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) in creative writing is your first step toward a career in writing, editing, publishing, journalism, teaching, arts administration, advertising and other creative fields. It will also prepare you to apply to graduate programs in creative writing.

The degree provides you with a comprehensive and intensive curriculum of classes and workshops in craft and technique, exposure to the work of established writers, and opportunities for you to work closely with peers and published writers as they develop and hone their creative work and critical skills.

You get the opportunity to learn from distinguished faculty who bring their real-life experience and expertise as published authors into the classroom. Faculty are deeply engaged with creative writing students and act as mentors and advisors. Students in the program enjoy small class sizes, access to internship opportunities in a vibrant literary city and a support community of peers. Students complete a final portfolio project that they can use alongside a resume. There are active creative writing student groups and writing events, including an annual reading series that brings writers of national and international reputation to campus. The B.F.A. requirements are designed to provide introductory-level experience writing in the three customary genres: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. This is followed by intensive work in one of those genres for which students must apply and be accepted.

The creative writing program at Portland State University is incredibly competitive and requires students to apply for admission directly to the program in their sophomore year to gain access to upper division courses. Transfer students may need to apply to both Portland State and separately to the creative writing program.

The creative writing major is highly flexible with an elective structure that allows you to pursue your interests in literature, literary theory, film, screenwriting and publishing. The department also offers an undergraduate degree or minor in English, minors in writing and film studies and a certificate in comics studies.

Degree Details

Location Definitions:

On campus:
100% on campus
Online:
100% online
Flexible:
Combination of online and on campus
  • BFA
    Bachelor of Fine Arts
    Locations
    On campus
    Total Credits
    180
    Start Term
    Fall, Winter, Spring

Creative Writing Bachelor's Degree: Why PSU?

Portland is a vibrant, literary city—a hub for writers and creatives. Professionals flock to the city and have created a flourishing culture and cultivated a thriving creative industry. Portland State continues to contribute to this community by creating an environment for aspiring writers and creatives to grow and develop.

Students at Portland State and in the creative writing program are encouraged to take part in our student-edited publications and student support services:

  • Pathos Literary Magazine: A creative publication, staffed entirely by students, that exclusively publishes student work in three issues per year.
  • Portland Review: A literary journal produced by graduate students in the English department that promotes the works of emerging writers and artists alongside the works of well-established authors. Portland Review has been publishing exceptional prose, poetry, and art since 1956 and has been noted in the Best American series and honored by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Oregon Arts Commission.
  • Vanguard: A weekly print and digital newspaper distributed for free throughout the Portland State campus area. Entirely student-run, employing about 60 paid student reporters, multimedia contributors, photographers, graphic designers and editors, its publishing body is the Portland State Media Board, consisting of four students, four faculty members, and one community member. The newspaper and its staff have earned several collegiate journalism awards, including the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association General Excellence Award and the Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Circle Award.
  • Ooligan Press: An award-winning nonprofit general trade press that publishes books honoring the cultural and natural diversity of the Pacific Northwest. Ooligan Press is a teaching press staffed by students pursuing master’s degrees in the Department of English.
  • The Writing Center: A service to help students improve their writing and understand strategies to gain critical thinking skills they can adapt to all their writing projects. Writing center staff support students by acting as consultants rather than copyeditors, guiding students through their work by asking questions rather than editing specific text, with the goal of ensuring that the student writer maintains agency over their writing.

Portland State offers many opportunities for students to engage in the broader creative community in the city through internships and jobs. Our students are able to work and carry out internships while they’re in school, allowing them to build relationships and add experience to their resumes.

What can I do with a Bachelor's degree in Creative Writing?

Writing skills are valuable in every industry, we prepare our students to be adaptable and thoughtful communicators. Graduates with Bachelor of Fine Arts from Portland State have gone on to careers in politics, public affairs, writing, advertising, communications, magazine and book publishing, library science, journalism, law enforcement, education, administration, art and even science and technology.

Many of our graduates have pursued graduate degrees in art, creative writing, journalism, business, book publishing, public affairs and even medicine.

Featured Courses

  • WR 212 Introductory Fiction Writing
  • WR 457 Personal Essay Writing
  • WR 313 Intermediate Poetry Writing
  • WR 328 Media Editing
  • WR 399 Special Studies
  • WR 407 Writing Seminar
  • WR 428 Advanced Media Writing
  • WR 456 Forms of Nonfiction
  • WR 458 Magazine Writing
  • WR 459 Memoir Writing
  • ENG 326 Literature, Community, and Difference
  • ENG 327 Culture, Imperialism, and Globalization
  • ENG 428 Canons and Canonicity

Electives

As part of a large and diverse university, students can choose from a wide array of department electives in creative writing, literature, publishing, composition, and technical writing—and may further explore interdisciplinary connections through the College of the Arts, including courses in architecture, art, art history, film, music, and theater.

Accreditation

Portland State University is fully accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).