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Writing Certificate


Below is a sampling of what some of our students have to say about the Online Certificate Program in Novel Writing:

As a member of the OWC writing community, I met and worked with fascinating and supportive people with varied interests and backgrounds from all over the world. I got know my peers through their posted comments, discussions, and their novel projects, which I enjoyed. It was like reading twenty or more novels in progress. Their success was as important to me as my own. I felt the same in return.

North Carolina

I finished my novel, and it got better in ways I had not before even imagined. OWC teachers are truly extraordinary: attentive, responsive, smart, practical, aware and helpful about sometimes subtle craft issues, full of good suggestions, and encouraging. They are adept at establishing a supportive, positive online class space where students feel comfortable presenting new work. Classmates were engaging and complex; more than a few have become friends. Finally, the administrators are also wonderful and encouraging. This program has made my writing better, helped me make the story into a real novel, and maybe made me a better person too. I miss it already.


OWC provided structure and a framework for what would otherwise be a meandering, lonely pursuit, all the while inspiring artistry, rigorous craft, fun, camaraderie, and damned good writing.  I've made friends and colleagues for life, quit my day job, and written a first draft of a novel; I've worked harder than I've ever worked in my whole life, never been so exhausted and never been so jazzed about the possibilities ahead. Students are serious, teacher-mentors are richly varied in their approaches, the curriculum is intellectual and practical, deep and witty. Spending time in "class" in Canvas is as seriously addicting as any social media, but way, way more stimulating and rewarding. Because, holy cow, I've written a novel!


I found the OWC program by accident but have to say it has been the most successful leap of faith I have taken. Thanks to all the instructors in the program, I have not only evolved as a writer but as a more sympathetic and nuanced reader. I go back and read what I’d written three years ago, and I cringe at my writing, yet not once has any instructor pointed to the flaws in my novel with condescension or discouragement. Thanks to the gentle prodding, directing and sharing of immense knowledge by the instructors and accomplished writers, my characters have a rich life and stand capable to show me the way to the finish line. I can’t say enough about the wonderful friends I have made in the program, without once seeing them in person. They will remain my most intimate and trusted readers and critics.


When people ask about my experience with the Online Certificate Program in Novel Writing, I never hesitate to say it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. During the past two years, it has been my honor and privilege to work with some of the most knowledgeable, experienced and high caliber instructors in the field of Novel Writing. In my cohort, I met amazing writers from across the globe whom I now count as friends. The opportunity to learn, and receive feedback, from both the faculty and students was invaluable.

The Online Certificate Program simultaneously challenged me intellectually while supporting me in achieving my goals and overcoming my obstacles. When I started this program two years ago, I never thought I would be at the point where I am now; I have been able to complete, revise and polish my novel.

The Online Certificate Program is well organized, impeccably designed and perfectly directed, which provides the students with a structured environment to write their novel.


The Online Certificate Program teaches through a grand variety – we are presented with craft questions and exercises, we read and dissect novels, and we learn through critiquing our classmates’ work and from their critiques. It is fascinating to watch the progress of each writer in the cohort. Because we had people writing in nearly every genre, I looked forward to each new submission, excited to see how the author applied to his or her particular work what we were all learning. And the always thoughtful comments of the classmates were invaluable. My novel evolved – was strengthened mightily --throughout this course because of those classmates’ insights.

And, of course, there are the teachers – it is hard to imagine a more enthusiastic and supportive group. Every teacher has already been through the process from conception to delivery; they are eager to help each student succeed.

New York

I entered the Stanford Online Certificate Program to become a better writer. Through a series of courses taught by knowledgeable, committed and encouraging instructors and with the invaluable help of fellow students, I feel I have not only accomplished this goal, but have learned a great deal about the craft in the process. I strongly recommend this program to anyone interested in writing.


There’s a bridge between talent and refined writing that most writers must cross at some point in their careers. The Online Certificate Program in Novel Writing is that bridge, and its insightful and generous instructors are the guides who instilled in me the faith to make the journey across to the other side. The program is not just a journey of learning the essential fundamentals of fiction writing, but also about honing your skills to complete a polished manuscript.


Stanford’s Online Writing Certificate Program provided exceptional instructors who guided me to the right craft solutions for my work. There was no box to fit into, just an intense dialogue that explored the needs of my voice and those of my classmates. The process was dynamic and lively. My assumptions were challenged and I was pushed beyond my comfort zone. But as well, I was encouraged to ‘play’ as I wrote. The craft skills required to complete a novel were generously shared by highly committed instructors and their support remains an inspiration. Participation in Stanford’s writing certificate program was like coming home after a lonely walk in the wilderness. I recommend it to any writer who is starting a novel.


Writing a novel is like building a house. The Online Certificate Program at Stanford gives each writer the knowledge to create a sound plot foundation, develop characters the reader will be invested in, and to write scenes that are infused with tension and conflict, which earn the reader’s trust and keep the story moving forward. Students are mentored by compassionate and caring instructors who are accomplished writers themselves, and who guide each student with individual instruction. Students build a wonderful relationship with a cohort of talented and enthusiastic writers, which lasts long after graduation. I found the program to be as rigorous as when I earned my masters’ degree, and something I didn’t want to end. I will treasure it and use it, all of my life.