The Center for Writers 

The University of Southern Mississippi  


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Welcome to the Center for Writers

The Center for Writers is the creative writing program at The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, 90 miles north of New Orleans. There are forty or more students working toward M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in fiction and poetry with Frederick Barthelme, Angela Ball, Steven Barthelme, Julia Johnson, and visitors such as Lucie Brock-Broido, Francine Prose, Stephen Dobyns, Tim O'Brien, Percival Everett, Matthew Sharpe, Amy Hempel, Dana Gioia, Padgett Powell, Michael Waters, Mary Gaitskill, Julia Slavin, C. Michael Curtis, and others.

The Program

The program was started by Gordon Weaver in 1971 and Frederick Barthelme was named director in 1977. The Center is part of the Department of English and operates out of shared offices on the Hattiesburg campus. Writing students make up more than half of the graduate students in the English Department, and they come from colleges and universities all over the country, recently from Stanford, Vassar, Michigan, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Tulane, Texas, Cornell, Columbia, and others.

The tone of the program is serious but informal. Workshops are offered in fiction, nonfiction prose, and poetry by the Center's distinguished faculty, and there are the usual specialized readings courses and traditional scholarly courses available. There is a student magazine, Product, as well as an ongoing student reading series, and the Center also publishes the Mississippi Review in print and online versions and these Web pages you're reading now.

Degrees and Financial Support

We offer the M.A. degree and the Ph.D. degree. Applications are accepted year-round. Students generally start the program in the fall, though there are openings and occasionally teaching assistantships in the spring. Admission is based on writing sample, Graduate Record scores, GPA, letters of reference, Statement of Purpose, and academic record; considerable weight is given to the writing sample, sometimes advancing a candidacy that might otherwise seem less strong. Teaching assistants teach two courses per semester and receive a $10,000 or $15,000 stipend plus a full waiver of tuition and out-of-state fees. There are several types of financial aid available for those who qualify.

The M.A. in English with creative writing emphasis is a 30-hour degree that ordinarily takes two years to complete and culminates in a thesis that is a collection of poetry or fiction. The Ph.D. is a 54-hour degree almost identical to the literature doctorate and is usually completed in three years. The candidate's major historical period is replaced by creative writing, and the dissertation is a book-length collection of poetry or fiction, or a combination of poetry/fiction with nonfiction literary essays. Doctoral students take up to 24 hours of workshop and associated creative writing courses. Though not strictly required, M.A. and Ph.D. students are strongly encouraged to take a fiction, nonfiction, or poetry workshop every semester.

Award Winners etc.

Recent graduates have won The Whiting Award, The Transatlantic Award, The Playboy Fiction Contest, and The Flannery O’Connor Award and have published widely. We edit and publish Mississippi Review, run workshops, host visitors, and help our students become better writers. We are a small program that gets large results. Recently, U.S. News & World Report ranked the Center among the top 10 percent of graduate programs in creative writing nationally. See our alumni page for books by recent graduates.

We hope these pages will serve as an introduction to the Center for Writers, its students, faculty, and activities. We hope, too, that you'll get the flavor of our program. If you have questions about details that remain untouched here, or just want more information, please contact Rie Fortenberry or use the mailing address below.

Check out the Center for Writers store

Drop the Baby is the Center for Writers store at CafePress. Buy t-shirts, hoodies, woodies, cups and mugs, cards, cap-sleeve goodies -- diverse items in questionable taste.


118 College Dr. #5144, Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001  Tel: 601-266-5600  Fax: 601-266-5757

E-Mail: rief@CENTERFORWRITERS.COM  The University of Southern Mississippi  AA/EOE/ADAI  Last Modified: June 18, 2006