Return to: USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
The Master of Professional Writing Program develops students' mastery of craft across multiple genres and prepares students for writing careers. It is designed for students who want to explore a range of writerly possibilities, and aims to develop writing and writers across genre, including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, new media, and writing for stage and screen. Program faculty are working writers who bring their expertise to seminars, lectures and workshops.
The academic curriculum includes a range of courses that focus on all aspects of the writing life, as well as oneon-one tutorials geared to the completion of a professional quality final project. Although students will ultimately focus in one genre, the degree is specifically intended for writers interested in exploring the connections to be found in literature, entertainment and art. Program graduates include television writers, screenwriters, writers and teachers of literary fiction and poetry, Web content providers and designers, editors, publishers, and technical writers.
Thirty units of work are required to earn the MPW degree. MPW 500 Survey of Professional Writing (3 units) is required and should be taken in the first semester. Fifteen additional units must be earned in the student's major genre (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or writing for stage and screen), including MPW 592a , MPW 592b , MPW 592z or MPW 594a , MPW 594b , MPW 594z Master's Thesis. While taking Professional Writing Project or Master's Thesis, with advisement from their faculty mentors, students will generate their master's professional projects in their respective genres. These projects may be a full length novel, a collection of short stories, a nonfiction manuscript, a collection of essays, a collection of poems, or a full length screenplay or stageplay. The remaining 12 units consist of electives from the MPW curriculum, and students are encouraged to choose widely.
Progressive Degree Program in Master of Professional Writing
The progressive degree program permits exceptional undergraduate students to receive both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Professional Writing within five years. It is intended for students with extraordinary MPW preparation and performance who demonstrate a superior level of overall scholarship.
Awarding of Degrees
Progressive degree program students must fulfill all of the requirements for both the bachelor's degree and the master's degree, including a professional writing project or a master's thesis. The unit requirement for the master's degree can be reduced by as much as one-third. The degrees may be awarded separately, but the master's degree will not be awarded before the undergraduate degree.
The time limit for completing a progressive degree program is 12 semesters.
Further details about progressive degrees can be found on the Requirements for Graduation page.