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Dr. Kat’s List: Five Colleges for Aspiring Novelists

Writing is an important skill for students and professionals to develop in order to succeed in the professional world. While aspiring writers may have a natural talent for the written word, it never hurts to expand one’s knowledge and skills through an English or creative writing program in college. In honor of National Novel Writing Month, here are Dr. Kat’s five colleges for aspiring writers and novelists:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
There’s more to MIT than just science and technology! The writing major at MIT is one of the most dynamic in the country and great for aspiring novelists. Students majoring in writing and humanistic studies at MIT can concentrate in creative writing, science writing, or digital media studies.

Writing majors have access to a plethora of support resources, including the Writing and Communication Center, where students can go to get help on assignments, papers, thesis development, and even book proposals from a staff of published writers and professors. Students can hone their writing skills outside of class by getting involved with The Tech, the student newspaper or Rune, the campus literary magazine. Many writing students are also members of the MIT Writers Group, which meets weekly so members can share their creative writing.

University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
As one of the most popular undergraduate majors at University of Iowa, English offers a creative writing track, and students can also take courses in literature, film, critical theory, and nonfiction writing. However, what really makes UI a great place for future novelists is The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Founded in 1936, the Writers’ Workshop is one of the most famous in the country, with alumni winning 17 Pulitzer Prizes. It was the first creative writing degree program in the US, and is the model for most modern writing programs today.

University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
The creative writing program at the University of Miami has only been around since the 1990s and yet has become one of the most successful for aspiring novelists, with alumni publishing over 40 books. Upon applying, students choose either the poetry or fiction writing track.

In addition to their course studies, students can get involved with MANGROVE, U Miami’s undergraduate literary journal, edited and produced by creative writing undergraduate and graduate students. In addition to the journal, MANGROVE also hosts USpeak, the Creative Writing Program’s open mic series, as well as writing salons in conjunction with the school’s Writing Center.

University of Puget Sound Tacoma, WA
The English program at University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA is a great-fit for students who are not only interested in writing novels, but also understanding their literary backgrounds. The English department does not “see a clear division between the study of literature and the creation of it,” so there’s no separate track for writing.

From studying literature to writing their own works and working at Crosscurrents, the school’s award-winning student literary journal, students interested in pursing a career in writing have many opportunities to advance their skills and knowledge. Students also have the option to earn a certificate in creative writing to complement their English major.

Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT
At Middlebury College, English majors studying creative writing have the unique opportunity to study under some of the nation’s top novelists, poets, biographers, and nonfiction writers. Creative writing instructors include novelist Christopher Shaw, poet and novelist Julia Alvarez, and novelist Kathryn Kramer, to name a few.

As part of the major requirements, English and creative writing students must complete an independent project, allowing them the perfect opportunity to get their first novel, book of poems, or other writing project off the ground while also finishing up their degree. Middlebury also sponsors the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Bread Loaf School of English, summer programs for English literature and writing students looking to gain more experience and expand their works. Students can also write for the school’s various student publications, like The Campus, the weekly student newspaper, and Frontiers and Section 8, two literary journals.

This list is a great place to start for aspiring writers. Other schools that are home to exceptional English and creative writing programs include Knox College, Emory University, New York University, and Washington University in St. Louis. Be sure to do your own research based on courses and instructors you find compelling and, who knows, you may be on the New York Times Best Sellers list one day!

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