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Penn state behrend creative writing

Creative Writers Reading Series

Celebrated writers of poetry, fiction, and literary non-fiction visit campus several times each year to give lectures, readings, discussions, and book signings. For the Spring 2022 Creative Writers Reading Series, the three visiting writer readings will take place via Zoom, while the other four events will be live in Metzgar Center lobby.

All readings begin at 6:00 p.m.

The Creative Writers Reading Series is produced by Penn State Behrend’s B.F.A. in Creative Writing degree program with support from the Clarence A. and Eugenie Baumann Smith Fund.

For additional information, visit us on Facebook at Penn State Behrend – BFA Creative Writing.

Spring 2022 Readings

Smith Creative Writers Reading Series

January 27 – Rebecca Hazelton

Rebecca Hazelton’s first book, Fair Copy, won the Wheeler Prize from Ohio State University Press. Her second book, Vow, was an editor’s pick from Cleveland State University press. Her most recent book of poetry, Gloss, was published by the University of Wisconsin University Press, and was a New York Times “New and Notable” pick. Her poems have been published in such forums as Poetry, The New Yorker, The Nation, and Boston Review. Widely anthologized, her work can be found in the Pushcart Prize anthology and Best American Poetry. She is currently at work on a new book of poems centered around American masculinity and the role of the “husband” in contemporary marriage. She is also working on experimental essays about rape culture, the #metoo movement, and bisexuality.

February 3 – Paula J. Lambert

Paula J. Lambert has authored several collections of poetry, including The Ghost of Every Feathered Thing (FutureCycle Press 2022) and How to See the World (Bottom Dog Press 2020), a finalist for the 2021 Ohioana Library Book Awards. Lambert has been awarded two Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards, two Greater Columbus Arts Council Resource Grants, and PEN America’s L’Engle-Rahman Prize for Mentorship. She has twice been in residence at Virginia Center for Creative Arts. She also owns Full/Crescent Press, a small publisher of poetry books and broadsides specializing in hand-stitched, art-quality chapbooks. Through the press, she has founded and supported numerous public readings that support the intersection of poetry and science, including Ohio’s annual Sun & Moon Poetry Festival.

March 3 – Michael Wang

Michael X. Wang was born in Fenyang, a coal-mining city in China’s mountainous Shanxi Province. He immigrated to the United States when he was six and holds a Ph.D. in Literature from Florida State University and an M.F.A. in Fiction from Purdue. His story collection, Further News of Defeat, won the 2021 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize and was a finalist for the CLMP Firecracker Award. His debut novel, Lost in the Long March, comes out next summer from The Overlook Press.

March 31 – Behrend Reads

Metzgar Center lobby

Faculty and staff from across campus read from their creative work.

April 7 – George Looney

Metzgar Center lobby

George Looney has published sixteen books of poetry and prose, including his newest collection of poetry, Ode to the Earth in Translation. His The Itinerate Circus: New and Selected Poems 1995–2020 came out in 2020, along with his story collection, The Worst May Be Over, which won the Elixir Press Fiction Award. His next story collection, The Visibility of Things Long Submerged, won the BOA Editions Short Fiction Prize and will be published in spring of 2023. He is Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing here at Penn State Behrend.

Sweet Sorrow Readings

April 14 and April 21 – Graduating B.F.A. Students

Metzgar Center lobby

Graduating students from Behrend’s B.F.A. in Creative Writing program will read from their senior theses.

Creative Writing, B.F.A.

The major allows students to develop their writing skills through craft classes, literature classes, and writing workshops, in preparation for a variety of post-graduation options, from continuing on to M.F.A. degree programs to working in the professional fields of publishing, editing and education. The program recognizes students must understand the relationship between tradition and individual talent, and provides a required sequence of literature courses designed to give students an overview of the historical literary traditions, especially modern and contemporary prose and poetry. It also provides options for sequences of writing workshops, requires a course in creative writing theory, and requires a course that fosters professional development and features live reading by visiting authors. The program culminates in a capstone experience, the senior thesis, a collection of poetry or prose of publishable quality that includes a critical preface demonstrating the students’ ability to analyze and contextually their own writing.

What is Creative Writing?

Creative writing is a liberal arts discipline concerned with the practice of literary art, the life of the imagination, and the capacities of language. Creative writing students analyze masterworks of fiction, poetry, and literary nonfiction from different periods and cultures; compose their own original works; develop editing and communication skills; and explore the world of contemporary publishing.

You Might Like This Program If.

  • Your nose is always in a book.
  • When you’re not reading, you’re writing.
  • You enjoy the editing and revision process.
  • You can see yourself working on the editorial staff of Lake Effect, Penn State Behrend’s international literary journal.

Entrance to Major

In order to be eligible for entrance to this major, a student must:

  1. attain at least a C (2.00) cumulative grade-point average for all courses taken at the University; and
  2. have third-semester classification.

Degree Requirements

For the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing, a minimum of 121 credits is required:

Program Requirements

Requirement Credits
General Education 45
Requirements for the Major 76

Per Senate Policy 83.80.5, the college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of coursework in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned.

Requirements for the Major

A student enrolled in this major must earn at least a grade of C in each 300- and 400-level course.

To graduate, a student enrolled in the major must earn a grade of C or better in each course designated by the major as a C-required course, as specified by Senate Policy 82-44.

Students planning to major in creative writing should enroll in this course every semester (typically 8 semesters). A student is required to take this course a minimum of four times.

In addition to the requirements above, for enrichment, students in the B.F.A. degree program have the opportunity of taking ENGL 209 , Literary Magazine Practicum, and serving as genre editors or assistant editors on the staff of Lake Effect, the national literary journal published by the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. This is a 1-credit course in which students may enroll for up to 8 credits over their time in the degree program.

General Education

Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and to thrive while living in interconnected contexts. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. These are requirements for all baccalaureate students and are often partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. For additional information, see the General Education Requirements section of the Bulletin and consult your academic adviser.

The keystone symbol appears next to the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements may also satisfy General Education requirements and vary for each program.

Foundations (grade of C or better is required.)
  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits
Knowledge Domains
  • Arts (GA): 6 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 6 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 6 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 9 credits
Integrative Studies (may also complete a Knowledge Domain requirement)
  • Inter-Domain or Approved Linked Courses: 6 credits

University Degree Requirements

First Year Engagement

All students enrolled in a college or the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park, and the World Campus are required to take 1 to 3 credits of the First-Year Seminar, as specified by their college First-Year Engagement Plan.

Other Penn State colleges and campuses may require the First-Year Seminar; colleges and campuses that do not require a First-Year Seminar provide students with a first-year engagement experience.

First-year baccalaureate students entering Penn State should consult their academic adviser for these requirements.

Cultures Requirement

6 credits are required and may satisfy other requirements

  • United States Cultures: 3 credits
  • International Cultures: 3 credits
Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits required from the college of graduation and likely prescribed as part of major requirements.

Total Minimum Credits

A minimum of 120 degree credits must be earned for a baccalaureate degree. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Quality of Work

Candidates must complete the degree requirements for their major and earn at least a 2.00 grade-point average for all courses completed within their degree program.

Limitations on Source and Time for Credit Acquisition

The college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. Credit used toward degree programs may need to be earned from a particular source or within time constraints (see Senate Policy 83-80). For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

Program Learning Objectives

  • Demonstrate familiarity with representative literary texts from a significant number of historical, geographical, and cultural contexts, with particular focus on Modernist and contemporary literature.
  • Apply knowledge of critical, theoretical, and technical traditions to the production of original literary works.
  • Articulate the relationship between their own original literary works and the traditions of literature.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with the contemporary literary publishing milieu.
  • Effectively present their own literary work in public forums.

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university’s academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee’s unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.

Tom Noyes, Ph.D.
Professor of English and Creative Writing
141 Kochel
Erie, PA 16563
[email protected]

Suggested Academic Plan

The suggested academic plan(s) listed on this page are the plan(s) that are in effect during the 2022-23 academic year. To access previous years’ suggested academic plans, please visit the archive to view the appropriate Undergraduate Bulletin edition (Note: the archive only contains suggested academic plans beginning with the 2018-19 edition of the Undergraduate Bulletin).

Creative Writing, B.F.A. at Erie Campus

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
Fall Credits Spring Credits
First Year Seminar 1 ENGL 6 1
ENGL 15, 30H, or ESL 15 ‡ 3 General Education 1.5
ENGL 6 1 CAS 100, 100A, 100B, or 100C ‡ 3
General Education 3 ENGL 212 or 213 3
General Education 3 General Education 3
World Language Level 1 4 World Language (Level 2) 4
15 15.5
Second Year
Fall Credits Spring Credits
ENGL 6 1 ENGL 6 1
ENGL 200 3 ENGL 100 3
200-400 level course in ENGL or CMLIT 3 200-400 Level Course in ENGL or CMLIT 3
ENGL 212 or 213 3 CMLIT 10 3
General Education 3 ENGL 202A or 202B †‡ 3
World Language Level 3 4 ENGL 412 or 413 3
17 16
Third Year
Fall Credits Spring Credits
ENGL 6 1 ENGL 6 1
ENGL 312 * 3 ENGL 422 or 423 * 3
ENGL 412 or 413 * 3 ENGL 433 * 3
General Education 3 General Education 3
ENGL 444 or 443 * 3 General Education 3
ENGL 458 * 3 General Education 3
16 16
Fourth Year
Fall Credits Spring Credits
ENGL 6 1 ENGL 6 1
ENGL 401W * 3 ENGL 437 * 3
ENGL 436 * 3 General Education 3
ENGL 494 * 3 ENGL 494 * 3
General Education 3 General Education 3
General Education 1.5 ENGL 420 * 3
14.5 16
Total Credits 126


Course requires a grade of C or better for the major

Course requires a grade of C or better for General Education

Course is an Entrance to Major requirement

Course satisfies General Education and degree requirement

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GHW, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS, and Integrative Studies). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Integrative Studies courses are required for the General Education program. N is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate an Inter-Domain course and Z is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate a Linked course.

Additional Notes

Academic Advising Notes: The course series listed about is only one of many possible ways to move through this curriculum. Please be sure to consult with an adviser about your intended plan.

Career Paths

As a Creative Writing major, you’ll enhance your knowledge and sharpen your skills through a variety of literature courses and writing workshops. Additionally, you’ll interact with established writers who visit campus as part of the Smith Creative Writers Reading Series, and you’ll have the opportunity to help edit Lake Effect, an international literary journal. Penn State Behrend has a comprehensive support system to help you identify and achieve your goals for college and beyond. Meet with your academic adviser often and take advantage of the services offered by the Academic and Career Planning Center beginning in your first semester.


A B.F.A. in Creative Writing can lead to a variety of careers. Graduates of Penn State Behrend’s program publish their writing widely. They also work as technical writers, communications coordinators, copy editors, editors of presses, marketing directors, project managers, media associates, university professors, teachers, lawyers, librarians, and freelance writers and editors.

Opportunities for Graduate Studies

Recent Behrend B.F.A. graduates have earned advanced degrees at the University of Utah, Bowling Green State University, Ohio State University, Indiana University, the University of Minnesota, Wichita State University, George Mason University, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the University of Southern California, Northeastern University, the University of North Dakota, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Northern Michigan University, Duquesne University, and Syracuse University.

Professional Resources


170 Irvin Kochel Center
4951 College Drive
Erie, PA 16563
[email protected]

Creative Writing at Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s B.F.A. in Creative Writing major allows students to develop their writing skills through craft classes, literature classes, and writing workshops, in preparation for a variety of post-graduation options, from continuing on to M.F.A. degree programs to working in the professional fields of publishing, editing, and education.

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