You're a writer with big dreams of penning the next great novel, blockbuster movie, or intense video game. You could always just sit down, get the creative juices flowing, and see if you can crank out something good enough to get yourself some attention. But an undergraduate degree in creative writing, and the diverse training that comes with it, is a more professional way to kick off your career.
Creative writing is an interesting field for international students to break into; while anyone can certainly just sit down and write to their heart's content, a solid basis of knowledge and creative development provided by the actual creative writing major can give prospective Shakespeares everywhere a huge leg up on the competition. What an undergraduate degree in creative writing entails can vary greatly depending on the program, but you can be sure that you'll learn creative writing in many different types, genre, and class formats. Let's find out more about what international students will have to do to get that creative writing major.
For most students, the first year of an undergraduate degree in creative writing will consist of a balance of introductory creative writing courses and time spent on the school's other requirements. These introductory courses will include larger lecture classes to expose students to the core ideas and skills of creative writing – think basic English composition classes, literary history classes, and such – as well as a smattering of courses in which you actually get to do some creative writing off the bat, albeit in a more limited manner. Also, don't fret if you find yourself spending most of your class time getting rid of your school's general education requirements – better to take them now than in later years when your writing load will become more intense.
Sophomore and Junior Years
The creative writing major tends to vary more between programs in the middle years, when international students will get more practical creative writing experience and begin to concentrate their classwork on their chosen sector of creative writing. Students will start to take second- and even third-level courses in their actual creative writing classes (Intermediate Poetry, Fiction Writing II, etc.) and, to a lesser extent, still see those lecture hall based, foundational knowledge courses pop up with more specific topics like American Literature or genre-specific writing. Rearing its head for the first time (at least for most programs) will also be some sort of course on the business side of creative writing, focusing on how to market yourself and best approach your writing career in your writing type of choice. Finally, the middle years are the time to wipe out any lingering general education classes, as you'll want them out of your hair in the even more writing intensive senior year.
Once international students reach the senior year of their undergraduate degree in creative writing, they'll see almost exclusively advanced creative writing classes. At this point students should have honed in on a specific type of creative writing to focus on (poetry, fiction, screenwriting, etc.). Sometimes this is done by choosing an official track or concentration, but more often than not it is simply up to the student to choose their classes most efficiently. And while branching out and learning multiple types of creative writing is great in the first few years of a creative writing major, by your senior year it's time to pick your specialty and learn as much about it as possible for the sake of your future career. The vast majority of creative writing majors require some form of a final portfolio, which could range from one significant work of a chosen type to a wider array of small projects demonstrating your mastery of the many facets of creative writing. In the latter case, it is still advisable to focus most of your time and creative energy on your preferred type, as mastering that will likely be the key to starting your career.
An undergraduate degree in creative writing spans a lot of material, going from general to specific as students advance through the program. It's also a great choice for students who want to creatively produce something in their time in college rather than just sit in classes and lectures. So get ready to get creative, and tackle a creative writing major today!