Get inspired with our nationally-renowned creative writing program

A wealth of knowledge, accomplished graduates and internationally respected student publications are just some of the reasons UNB’s creative writing program is recognized across the country

Even the smallest program can pack a big punch – something proven year in and year out by UNB’s creative writing program.

The university’s nationally renowned creative writing program continues to shape writing styles, sharpen editing skills and produce strong authors and poets every year. Graduates are known nationally and internationally, which helps attract even more talent, said program director Dr. Ross Leckie.

“Our students have had fabulous successes after they graduate,” he said. “They’ve had excellent careers. So in a sense, people see our graduates doing well, then become interested in UNB and think, ‘Maybe I’d like to go to that school too.’”

Comprehensive programs built for success

The program, which falls under the faculty of arts on UNB’s Fredericton campus, is an intimate yet intense journey. The creative writing program offers students one-on-one consulting with faculty advisors, poetry weekends, guest lecturers, chances to write for prestigious journals, film competitions, community readings and a writer-in-residence.

“It’s a program that’s really professional and intensive and helps writers develop in such a way that they can succeed in their careers after they graduate,” said Dr. Leckie.

Being a small program also means students and faculty are able to have a tight support network that often extends past graduation.

“When students arrive here we’re going to give them full support and really back them up until graduation. It’s something that they find really attractive. There’s also the access to faculty members. Because we’re a smaller program, they get to meet with their faculty both in the classrooms and in social situations.”

Creative writing now offered as PhD

UNB offers creative writing as an undergrad and graduate degree. Students from every department flock to the undergraduate introductory courses and advanced workshops in poetry, drama and film – but those serious about entering a career in creative writing head for the master’s program, or the newly established PhD in creative writing.

Students in their first year of graduate studies take a mix of writing workshops and academic courses focused on various literary styles and periods. In their second year, students work with a supervisor on their thesis while also attempting to complete a full-length book manuscript.

Typically the program only accepts around 15 graduate students, but the number varies from year to year depending on which applicants would be a good fit for UNB, Leckie said.

Writing for journals and getting real-world experience

Students also get the opportunity to run The Fiddlehead, Canada’s longest-running literary journal. The internationally respected publication prints the best of Canadian writing quarterly and being up close and personal with high-quality work is inspiring. There’s also Qwerty, a nationally distributed graduate student journal run entirely by UNB students.

“You get a sense of the kind of standards to meet to be published in journals. It’s also a confidence builder because students see their own stuff is as good as what they’re seeing,” said Leckie.

“I would say almost all our students are published in journals before they graduate and I’d say that’s sort of unusual. There all these opportunities that a lot of schools don’t necessarily have.”

That was one element of the program that attracted Rebecca Salazar. The current UNB English PhD student received her master’s degree from the creative writing program last spring and said she wants to be involved with publishing after her experiences at the university.

“If you’re interested in editing or publishing, The Fiddlehead is amazing because you actually get to see how it works,” she said.

“It means you have a space where you can try out being an editor and taking in peoples’ work and giving them a place to be published. That’s a really interesting thing to do and that was one of my favourite parts of the whole program.”

This real-world experience, combined with the resources and experts available to creative writing students makes this program successful and unique, according to Leckie.

“It’s a really great writing community in Fredericton.”

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