The Certificate in Innovative Writing presents a unique form of graduate study in creative writing, closely intertwining the practice of writing with literary and aesthetic inquiries.
Students in the Certificate program also receive an MA in English, or a related field of study.
Our program creates a collaborative space in which we reflect on the ethical and political implications of creative writing within the matrix of global citizenship; tease out evident and obscured connections between contemporary and historical texts; consider how aesthetic concerns are inflected by various systems of power; and create rigorous, sensuous, contentious—above all, evocative—forms of writing that embody imaginative and forward-thinking strategies.
Our hope is to create an environment in which new forms of writing will flourish. Poetry. Fiction. Hybrid forms. Digital and electronic media. However innovation takes place.
Informed by UB’s long history of innovation in the arts, the writing workshops and literature seminars in the Certificate in Innovative Writing arise from our faculty’s shared belief that writing engages with—and intervenes in—the worlds we inhabit as much as the identities we pose and perform; that writing is a situation layered by critical examination, inventive thought, wild speculation, complex, often paradoxical feelings, multiple, entangled media platforms and social circuits, differing perceptions of time, and an ongoing translation of languages, as much as people and cultures.
Our Certificate invites you to view writing as an investigative, exploratory process in its own right: a mode of inquiry that, at its best, can articulate and rearticulate diverse experiences of 21 century culture, and unearth, perhaps even overturn, our most foundational thoughts—freeing them for profound imaginative work.
Students in the Innovative Writing Certificate program immerse themselves in a mentorship community of faculty and students that begins with each student and their work. Our aim is to create a culture of writing activated by conversations with a cohort of fellow thinkers and makers, to offer our writers conditions where they can begin to write what they might not have been able to write alone. Above all, to give students skills to keep on writing long after they leave the formal space of the workshop.
Workshops and seminars in the Innovative Writing program are enhanced by the MA and PhD communities at the University at Buffalo and the English Department’s distinctive Poetics Plus and Exhibit X Fiction Series. Our award-winning guests include: Caroline Bergvall, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Mary Caponegro, Miles Champion, Robert Coover, Kathryn Davis, Lydia Davis, Samuel R. Delany, Brian Evenson, Percival Everett, Renee Gladman, Lyn Hejinian, Yunte Huang, Laird Hunt, Susan Howe, Shelley Jackson, Tan Lin, Nathaniel Mackey, Ben Marcus, Carole Maso, Bernadette Mayer, Tom McCarthy, Fred Moten, Lisa Robertson, Juliana Spahr, Lynne Tillman, Steve Tomasula, Cecilia Vicuna, Rosmarie Waldrop, and Diane Williams.
Students interested in the Certificate program may also receive an MA in English or a related field of study. Students with at least a Bachelor’s degree can also pursue this course of graduate study as a stand alone Certificate.
Current MA and PhD students at UB, in English as well as other departments, can apply to enroll in the Certificate Program. These students earn the Certificate by taking the 4 required courses while satisfying their other degree requirements.
The Certificate in Innovative Writing is particularly useful for students who are interested in enhancing their writing portfolios and/or their critical and literary backgrounds before applying to MFA and PhD programs. For PhD students, the Certificate is valued as a credential for writing related careers, including the teaching of creative writing.
Graduate courses in the Innovative Writing Certificate Program consists of 18 credits distributed as 4 courses.
1. English 547: "Fall Workshop Colloquium in Fiction” (6 crs.) OR English 549: "Fall Workshop Colloquium in Poetry” (6 crs.)
2. English 548: "Spring Fiction Workshop” (3 crs.) OR English 550: "Spring Poetry Workshop” (3 crs.)
3. English 502: "Introduction to Critical and Cultural Theory” (3 crs.)
4. English 598: "Creative Project Guidance” (6 crs.)
Students enrolling in the Innovative Writing Certificate Program and the MA in English take 4 elective seminars in addition to the above courses.
Students enrolling only in the Certificate in Innovative Writing -- in addition to other degree programs elsewhere at UB -- take only the above 4 courses.
Our Certificate program is highly flexible and can be completed in one year, three semesters, or two years.
Most students follow one of these sequences, though others are an option.
Fall Semester Year 1
Spring Semester Year 1
* ENG 598 can also be taken in the fall semester, as part of a three-semester MA Plan
Fall Semester Year 1
Spring Semester Year 1
Fall Semester Year 2
Spring Semester Year 2
Undergraduates must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 to be considered for the MA. Students with a GPA of 3.6 or higher do not need to submit GRE scores.
This program offers no financial assistance.
The preferred application deadline for the program is February 15. However, we will continue to review applications after that date on a space-available basis
Applicants to the MA in Innovative Writing Certificate Program are asked to submit both a creative and a critical sample of their work, along with a Personal Statement.
The “creative sample” should be 15-25 pages and can take many forms: poetry, fiction, cross-genre writing, sound, image or new media projects. We welcome writing that is embedded within traditional genres, writing that moves outside genres in provocative ways, as well as works that exist in non-print based forms. For applicants who are working in other/new media forms, please submit links to samples that are roughly equivalent to the target page lengths. If you need to submit a CD, please contact the Director of Creative Writing to make arrangements.
The “critical sample” should be approximately 10 pages.
In your Personal Statement, please reflect on the nature of your work, on past or future projects, and/or contributions you can make to our graduate program. Candidates who are not from conventional Humanities-based background are more than welcome: feel free to take this opportunity to expand on your move between fields. Finally, if your creative and critical samples are related or embedded projects, please amplify the nature of that engagement in the Personal Statement as well.