Creative Writing

Students may pursue a creative writing concentration within the major by completing three creative writing courses, one of which is in addition to the ten courses required for the major. The creative writing concentration is regarded not as an offshoot of the traditional major, but rather as a rigorous investigation of the importance of such a major. Students who wish to earn an English major with a creative writing concentration must take the same literature courses required for the traditional English major in addition to the three required creative courses.

Creative Writing Concentration

English majors with a concentration in creative writing must satisfy the requirements for the major, including an introductory-level and an advanced-level creative writing course in a single genre (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or screenwriting), and an additional elective course in another genre of creative writing. Two of these creative writing courses may be the two allowed within the ten courses required for the major, with an additional creative writing course above the ten required (for a total of eleven courses). Students may apply one creative writing course from study-abroad to the concentration. 

NOTE: Introductory creative writing courses (1200-level) are not considered the same as general introductory level courses.  A student may apply one or more introductory creative writing courses to the major in addition to the limit of two first-year seminars, 1100-level courses, and/or ENGL 1070.

Beginning with the class of 2022 (students who entered Bowdoin in academic year 2018-19), first-year seminars in creative writing do not count toward the creative writing concentration.


The department offers a variety of creative writing courses, including:

  • an introductory and an advanced workshop in poetry writing (ENGL 1225 and 2852)
  • an introductory and advanced workshop in fiction writing (ENGL 1228 and 2853)
  • a variety of creative non-fiction courses
  • ENGL 2860 The Fundamentals of Screenwriting

A student may count three of these courses (two courses in one genre, plus a course in another genre) toward the creative writing concentration. Students may also count two of these classes toward the traditional English major.

By taking both creative writing courses and a wide range of literature and theory courses, students learn about creative writing as a craft - and as an engagement with a long, diverse tradition of writers and scholars. The creative writing classes and readings by visiting creative writers act in harmony with the literature classes.  Students learn about literature by writing it and gain a sharper sense of literary form, making certain features of the literary endeavor—such as the effect of influence, the role of the authorial person, and the usefulness of specific literary traditions and techniques—even more vivid.