Writing Concentration

The Writing Concentration is an intensive track for English majors who want more sustained work in Creative Writing. While there are many ways to pursue creative writing at Yale, and within the English Department, the Writing Concentration provides a structure for creative work and a community of support that many writers find rewarding.  The Writing Concentration is not a separate degree or certificate; it is a part of the English major and builds on the wealth of its literary offerings. 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 at the end of the junior year or occasionally in the fall of the senior year. 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.

Students in the Writing Concentration take at least four required courses. These include intermediate and advanced workshops in writing–at least two of which focus on one genre and at least one in another–and the Senior Project, English 489. 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. Students interested in the Writing Concentration are encouraged to consult the DUS about the requirements of the English major. 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. Students share their works-in-progress with their fellow students throughout the academic year, and participation in Writing Concentration meetings and events is expected. 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 spring of the junior year, and in a few cases as late as the fall of the senior year. Students applying in the spring of their junior year may elect to complete the Writing Concentration Senior Project in either the fall or the spring of their senior year, and participate in Writing Concentration meetings and events throughout their senior year. Students who are admitted in the fall of their senior year complete the Senior Project in the spring term.

Writing Concentration Prerequisites

  • Two advanced level workshops numbered ENGL 451 or higher. At least one of these courses must be in the genre in which a student plans to complete ENGL 489, The Writing Concentration Senior Project.
  • One creative writing workshop numbered ENGL 131 or higher in a genre different from the Concentration Project.

Proposal Requirements

  • Students must obtain the strong support of an advisor. Ideally this is someone with whom the student has studied in the past in a workshop at the advanced level. It is strongly recommended that students seek out an advisor well in advance of the deadline.
  • Students must submit an proposal form with a prospectus providing a detailed overview of the proposed project (500-1,100 words). The prospectus will include a schedule of meetings with the advisor as well as note any assigned readings or intermediate due dates. The advisor must review, approve, and sign the prospectus.

Students interested in becoming Writing Concentrators should contact the Writing Concentration Coordinator, Cynthia Zarin, well in advance of applying.

Writing Concentration Proposal Form

The proposal form and email of approval from your advisor are due by 5:00 pm on Monday, November 1, 2021 (for students beginning senior year in Spring 2022); Friday, April 1, 2022 (for Fall 2022). Final applications are subject to approval by the Writing Concentration Committee, chaired by the Writing Concentration Coordinator. Approval is not automatic since the Writing Concentration Committee may stipulate revisions to the proposed project as a condition of approval. Final acceptance into the Writing Concentration is contingent upon successful completion of the prerequisites. Applicants will be notified of admissions decisions via email before the end of term.

Senior Project Guidelines

Writing Concentration senior projects should be double-spaced and printed in a standard twelve-point font. Poetry projects are expected to be between 30 and 40 pages in length. Fiction projects are expected to be between 50 and 60 pages (approximately 16,000-19,000 words) in length. Nonfiction projects are expected to be between 30 and 40 pages (approximately 10,000-12,000 words), not including ancillary material (source notes, bibliographies, acknowledgments). Students concentrating in playwriting shall write a full-length play, in standard format, as agreed on by the student and the advisor. These are general guidelines; the scope and format of senior projects are to be determined in consultation between the student and the advisor.

The senior project due date and other important dates for English majors are posted on the English Department site at Deadlines and Forms.