Certificate in Literary Writing

Certificate in Literary Writing

Get the foundational knowledge, skills, and practical experience required to write successfully and to write well. Regardless of your motivations for writing or your goals for publishing, striving for excellence means learning to write well.

What is Literary Writing?

Literary Writing is distinguished from other kinds of writing by its creative or artistic intent. Literary writing is writing that is highly valued, writing that is considered to be good writing.

Who is this certificate for?

This certificate program is designed for aspiring and beginning writers looking to develop a strong foundation in the craft, working writers who want to review and further develop their skills, and all writers who want to begin or complete a specific writing project. The program provides a foundation for writers who plan to enter careers in teaching, editing, and writing, to apply for graduate study in creative writing, as well as for writers who wish to develop their skills for personal satisfaction and/or for publication.

General Information

The Certificate in Writing is an intensive three-course online program. The certificate is offered as an alternative to, or preparation for, application to an MFA program in writing—for writers who do not need an advanced degree or who are for any reason unable to pursue an MFA, yet still desire to develop themselves further as writers. The program consists of three online, synchronous four-week courses. Courses do not have to be taken in sequence. Certificate awarded for successful completion of the 3 required courses within 2 years (extensions available with prior approval).

Fees: $995 per course

Continuing education credits: 4 CEUs (40 hours) per class are awarded from the UW-Madison for full participation

Cancellation policy: If you are unable to participate, you may obtain a refund minus the $25 administrative fee by contacting our registration department at least 3 business days prior to a course start date. If you cancel 3 business days or fewer before, or do not attend, you are responsible for the entire fee. To cancel, please call 800-725-9692.

Requirements: Complete the following certificate classes within 24 months

  • The Fundamentals of Writing
  • Genres of Writing Workshop
  • The Business of Writing

Learning objectives:

  • To gain awareness of language and an understanding of the process of writing
  • To gain a working understanding of the elements of literary writing
  • To gain proficiency in providing critical, constructive feedback
  • To develop the vocabulary and critical skills necessary for revising creative work
  • To gain an understanding of the full range of options for publication

What are the courses?

Fundamentals of Writing

The Fundamentals of Writing course develops the necessary fundamentals of writing through weekly readings, writing exercises, and opportunities to share your work in a supportive environment. This is an in-depth exploration of the fundamentals of writing, across the genres. The course emphasizes critical reading as an indispensable skill for serious writers, and employs a variety of contemporary and classic works to illustrate the effective use of fundamental writing techniques across the genres to help participants develop their own writing skills toward being accomplished and marketable writers.

Learning objectives:

  • To gain awareness of language as it is used by writers
  • To gain an understanding of the process of writing
  • To gain a working understanding of the elements of literary writing
  • To demonstrate fundamental writing skills including

Genres of Writing and Workshop (coming 2019)

Genres of Writing and Workshop features an introduction and overview to one genre or form of writing each week (poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, screenwriting) and includes a weekly workshop of participants’ original manuscripts. The workshop portion of the course is designed to be an introduction to the concept and practice of the writing workshop and an opportunity for participants to give and receive feedback, from the instructor and each other, in developing their own critical reading and revising skills. The manuscripts submitted for workshop each week can be of any genre.

Learning objectives:

  • To gain proficiency in providing critical, constructive feedback
  • To produce a significant amount of original work
  • To learn through the practice of reading, annotating, and discussing the work of peers
  • To develop the vocabulary and critical skills necessary for revising creative work

Business of Writing (coming 2019)

The Business of Writing course explores the construction of authorship and assists learners in creating their persona as an author and evaluating the commercial potential of their work to better understand publication, marketing, and sales options. This course looks at publishing literary magazines and contests, traditional publishing (the Big Five, independent, and small press), self-publishing, print and online, agents and query letters, legal issues and copyright, tenacity vs. talent, success vs. excellence, social networking, writers conferences, author websites, blogging, the creative process, and the writing life.

Learning objectives:

  • To understand the differences between the various kinds of publication
  • To understand the steps to publication for those different paths
  • To recognize pitfalls and scams associated with publication
  • To build connect with the larger reading and writing community


Successful completion of the certificate program requires completion of the three required courses within two years of first registration.



Have Questions?

Contact Christopher Chambers at christopher.chambers@wisc.edu or 608-262-5095. If you’d like to join our mailing list, please include your name and address.

Register for these classes individually by visiting these class pages.

Fundamentals of Writing

Genres of Writing and Workshop

The Business of Writing