Writing Concentration

The Writing Concentration is an intensive track for English majors who want more sustained work in creative writing. (For other creative writing options, including introductory courses and options for non-majors, see “Creative Writing.”) The Writing Concentration is not a separate degree or certificate; it is a part of the English major and builds on its literary richness. It aims to give English majors with a demonstrated interest and achievement in writing an opportunity to plan the writing courses they take in a coordinated way and to do advanced work in tutorial. The Writing Concentration accepts a limited number of serious writing students in their junior and senior years. Concentrators are taught by distinguished professional writers who have direct contact with students, in small classes and one-on-one conferences, helping them to discover their goals and shape their sense of themselves as writers. Yale undergraduates have consistently won more national writing competitions than students from any college in the country. In addition, they have gone on to pursue important careers as poets, novelists, journalists, and editors.

Students in the Writing Concentration take at least four required courses: these include intermediate and advanced courses in writing, at least two of which focus on one genre and at least one in another. The goal is to develop strong writers’ skills in concert with fine readers’ insights, and students complete at least 11 courses in the major in addition to writing concentration courses. In the senior year, students complete the Writing Concentration Senior Project, in which they produce a single sustained work or a portfolio of shorter works. Like the senior essay, the senior project is read and commented on by a second faculty member who confers with the project’s advisor. Students present their work in an annual evening group reading called “The Concentrators’ Ball.”

Students normally apply for admission to the Writing Concentration in the fall of the senior year, and in some cases as early as the fall of the junior year.  It is expected that senior applicants will have completed by the end of the fall semester the following: 1) at least two courses numbered ENGL 451 or higher, with at least one of these courses being in the genre in which they plan to complete ENGL 489, The Writing Concentration Senior Project (Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction, or Drama) and 2) one course in another genre, which may include a creative writing course numbered ENGL 131 or higher. Final applications are subject to approval by the Writing Concentration Committee, chaired by the Writing Concentration Coordinator.

Guidelines for the Writing Concentration Senior Project, as well as applications for the Writing Concentration, and the Writing Concentration Program Senior Project, can be found here.

Students interested in becoming Writing Concentrators are advised to contact the Writing Concentration Coordinator, Cynthia Zarin.