August 24, 2010

Journal gives creative writing program high marks

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale is among the top creative writing universities, according to a recent ranking guide presented by Poets and Writers, a leading journal for professional writers.

The master of fine arts in creative writing program at SIUC ranked 40th out of the top 50 creative writing programs in the nation, a jump of seven spots from last year. In poetry, SIUC ranked 21st, and in fiction 46th.

“Last year we were top 50, so our national reputation is growing -- thanks to alums like Ben Percy, Paul Guest, and Adrian Matejka,” Allison Joseph, director of the creative writing master’s program, said. Percy, Guest and Matejka are all award-winning young writers, each with positions on creative writing faculty and with growing reputations as writers.

Joseph noted, too, the estimated applicant-pool data compiled by Poets and Writers, which indicates increasing interest in the SIUC program.

Other factors indicated by Poets and Writers shows that the SIUC program is one of several successful three-year programs with a studio (as opposed to academic) writing emphasis. This means that the emphasis at SIUC is on workshops, thesis hours, and independent study.

The creative writing program ranks at 37 for selectivity. The program is consistent with the goal of the University as a whole to remain “affordable and accessible.” The program ranks 14th for total funding, and 18th for annual funding. And, according to Poets and Writers, the cost of living in Carbondale is comparatively “very low.”

The ranking, and the special section article describing the ranking methodology, is available in the September/October print edition of Poets and Writers, or online at

To learn more about the creative writing program at SIUC, visit the English department website at