fullscreen background
Skip to main content

Summer Quarter

Summer Registration Now Open
Most Classes Begin Jun 24
shopping cart icon0

Writing Certificate

Writing Certificates FAQs


How do the Novel and Memoir Writing Certificates compare with getting an MFA?

Our programs are designed for working adults dedicated to finishing a book-length manuscript (novel or memoir) in two years. Unlike MFA programs, which often involve heavy coursework in literature and theory, we require only one course per quarter, focused mainly on writing, although instructors often augment learning with literature and craft books. Our certificate does not qualify individuals to teach at the university level as an MFA might.

How flexible is the schedule? Are there set times when I have to be online?

Much of our instruction is asynchronous on Canvas, which means that students can submit their writing assignments and participate in written discussions when they have time during the week. Each course includes a weekly Zoom session between one and two hours long, typically held at lunchtime or in the evening (PT), and it is always recorded. Students can view all syllabi before registration in order to choose a class section with a Zoom session that meets their needs/schedule.

Who is the right applicant for the Writing Certificates?

Ideal applicants are passionate about writing, familiar with the fundamentals of good prose, and eager to refine their craft in a dedicated cohort. Successful candidates typically have prior workshop experience, demonstrating an ability to thrive in structured learning environments.

The Novel Writing Certificate welcomes writers across genres, including contemporary literary fiction, mysteries and thrillers, sci-fi, historical fiction, YA, and novels-in-stories. We seek applicants committed to crafting beautiful sentences and compelling narratives. Please note, we do not consider writers focusing on middle-grade fiction (ages 8-12) or below.

The Memoir Writing Certificate is tailored for writers ready to delve into their personal narratives. We welcome narrative and lyric memoirists, personal essayists aiming for book-length collections, and "hybrid" memoirists blending personal narrative with thematic research.

How selective are the programs?

In recent years, we have admitted approximately 35% of total applicants to the Novel Writing Certificate. The Memoir Writing Certificate is new this year!  

Do I already need to be working on a novel or memoir when I apply?

We welcome students at various stages of the book-writing journey. Whether you have a compelling idea expressed in your Personal Statement, a few chapters written, or even a complete rough draft that you want help refining and revising, both Writing Certificates aim to equip you with the tools, guidance, and community to craft and complete the best possible book.

Do your students go on to publish their books?

Many of our students have published the books they’ve written while in the program, and our quarterly column, “The Writer’s Spotlight,” often features their success stories. Nothing thrills us more than when we learn of a student getting a publication, winning an award, or finding other forms of recognition for the manuscripts they produced under our guidance. Our students have also sometimes gone on to attend such prestigious MFA programs as the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.