Frequently Asked Questions

Who are our students?

Our students are former English majors, psychology majors, communications and art majors. They are full time students, middle school math teachers, high school English teachers, and community college journalism teachers. They work in public relations, journalism, freelance writing, and publishing. They vary in age from 23 to 63. Some are long time residents of Philadelphia; others are world travelers. Writing Studies graduate students have one thing in common—they want to write.

Why does Writing Studies apply to so many areas?

Very few “creative” writers make their living from craft alone (Stephen King being the exception!) We believe that our program should address the needs of writers who will write professionally and creatively, who will teach during the school year and write novels during the summer, who will cover news stories by day and write poetry by night.

What are the courses like?

We workshop. We spend a great deal of time in class and outside of class creating opportunities for people to talk with each other about story ideas, rough drafts, and longer projects. We believe that by sharing writing, we all grow as writers. 

We write, draft, brainstorm and revise. Classes provide a supportive environment where you are encouraged to take risks with your writing and try out new techniques—formally and informally. 

We read as writers. From Plato to the present, Writing Studies students read a wide range of texts in order to think about the issues raised by writing in different worldly experiences past and present. In order to write well, we believe that writers must read widely (or wildly, depending on the person) and our courses support this. 

We encourage students to publish. We would like every graduate of our program to be a working writer—whether this is at a pharmaceutical company, for a presidential speech writing team, as a journalist or free-lancer, or in the classroom as a teacher of writing. We spend time in classes thinking about how traditional print publishing works, as well as exploring newer mediums for getting work out to interested readers.

What kinds of writing should I submit?

      You should submit at least one piece of writing in the genre—creative nonfiction, personal essay, poetry, autobiography, journalism, public relations--that you wish to study while you’re here.

      We would like to see a range of writing from the two samples. Often one piece of work-related writing and one piece of “creative” writing work well.

      For professional writers, newsletters, clips, and press releases are acceptable.

      For teachers, a detailed writing assignment, a memo, a series of lesson plans, or a response that you wrote to an assignment you gave students would all work beautifully.

      If you’re new to writing, an undergraduate paper would be acceptable as part of a submission.

      Other possible kinds of writing to submit: a letter to the editor, a sermon, a eulogy, a speech, a grant proposal, a brochure or pamphlet, web pages that you created, samples of comments on students papers (typed), letters to congress people, etc.

      The two writing samples should not exceed twenty pages.

        For additional questions, please contact the Writing Studies Director, Tenaya Darlington, at 610-660-3271 or

        How long will it take to complete the program?


        All courses will be scheduled after 6:00 p.m. to accommodate part-time students who are employed during the day. Most courses will be offered in the fall, spring and summer.

        Thus, students can accomplish their continuing education goals according to their own time schedule, whether accelerating or taking a more deliberate approach toward attaining a degree. The flexibility of this program accommodates everyone.


        Students who are admitted to the program can take courses at a full load (three courses per semester) and expect to finish the MA in eighteen months (including thesis project work).

        Is financial assistance available?

        Students applying for financial aid administered by Saint Joseph’s University must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In order to be eligible for federal financial assistance, the applicant must be enrolled on a half-time basis (at least 6 credits per semester) and be a citizen of the United States or have permanent resident status. Stafford Loans are available through the University's Financial Assistance Office. Students are encouraged to visit the Office of Financial Assistance Web site at for current information pertaining to applying for aid.

        Are graduate assistantships available?

        A limited number of Graduate Assistantships are available by applying to the Department of English. Graduate Assistants may be assigned to work with the Writing Center, Sports Media Office, University Communications, or diverse editing projects managed by faculty in the department. For more information, please contact the Writing Studies Director, Tenaya Darlington, at 610-660-3271 or