Area Program in Literary Prose

Area Program in Literary Prose

The 2024 online application appears here. See below for details on how to apply and what to send. The application deadline is 5 p.m. on Friday, 15 March 2024.


This area program of the Department of English allows talented undergraduate writers to pursue serious study of the craft of literary prose writing (fiction, nonfiction, and the hybrid forms between) within the context of the English major. The Area Program in Literary Prose (APLP) stresses not only writing but extensive reading and rigorous thinking about the nature of narrative, and it encourages exploration in corollary disciplines engaging strategies of narrative, according to each student’s individual focus.

The APLP is a two-year course of study and admission is competitive. Students typically apply in the spring semester of their second year and declare a major in English with a concentration in literary prose. We do our best to support students who wish to minor or double-major in another discipline. We are also supportive of studying abroad, though the ability to transfer courses from abroad is something we have to address case-by-case.

In addition to taking upper-level English literature courses, students in the APLP will take at least 12 hours of upper-level (ENCW 3000 level and higher) workshops (three in fiction and one in nonfiction), two 3-hour literary prose seminars (ENCW 4550) designed especially for writers in the program (these are offered every term), and, in the second semester of the fourth year, a required thesis class (ENCW 4720), a one-semester project which culminates in the creation of a manuscript of original fiction, nonfiction or hybrid forms between (40 + pages).

Because close reading and creative writing are inextricably linked, the program requires its students to complete:

  • The pre-requisite to the English major (completion of an ENGL 2000-level course with a grade of “C” or completion of two ENGL 3000-level courses, with the average grade between the two courses being a “B”)

As well as 30 hours of upper-level coursework, including:

  • ENGL 3001 and ENGL 3002
  • Four (4) upper-level workshops (12 hours), at least two in fiction and at least one in non-fiction. One workshop should be at the 4000 level or higher.
  • Two (2) Literary Prose Program seminars (ENCW 4550) on various topics of interest to creative writers (students may take more of these classes if they wish)
  • One pre-1800 literature course in English at the 3000-level or above (Medieval, ENGL 3100/4100; Renaissance, ENGL 3200/4200; or 18th-century, ENGL 3300/4300), including any Shakespeare course at the 3000-level or above)
  • The Thesis Course (ENCW 4720)

We do not recommend APLP students take two workshops in one semester unless the workshop classes are in different genres/forms. APLP students may not take three workshops in one semester without written permission from the APLP director.

How to Apply to the APLP:

Students interested in the APLP should apply each spring using this form, where you will provide your basic contact information and the name and email of one faculty or graduate instructor reference. Before your start your application, please have your supporting documents ready and saved as a PDF or Word .doc/.docx:

  • a writing sample (a short story, novel excerpt, creative essay, etc. of fifteen double-spaced pages or fewer, using a standard font in the twelve-point range),
  • a one-to-two-page personal statement where you outline your reasons for applying to the APLP,
  • and an unofficial transcript.

These supporting documents should have filenames that start with your last name and first initial so we can easily identify who they are from, i.e. "SmithJ-WritingSample.doc." 

Applications for admission for the 2024–25 academic year are due online by 5 p.m. on Friday, 15 March 2024.


A few application FAQ's:

Q: I'm mostly interested in writing science fiction or fantasy or romance (or other mass-market genres). Can I write an APLP thesis like that?

A: Probably not. The APLP is about creating literary objects, or prose that tries to capture the human condition. If you're not quite sure what that means, you need to take a little time to read some contemporary literary magazines like The New Yorker or The Paris Review or Virginia Quarterly Review or more locally, Meridian, or many, many others. Stop by Bryan 422 and borrow some magazines from our shelves. This doesn't mean your APLP work must be firmly realist. We do have students write stories and essays with speculative and experimental elements. But our faculty does not specialize in genre writing. The craft techniques you learn in the APLP can help you become a better genre writer, but you won't be able to do genre work for credit while in our undergraduate program. 


Q: I find stories about _________ difficult to read. Can I get a program accommodation to be excused from those assignments?

A: Probably not. You can always talk to your instructors about course content you might find emotionally difficult and see if they are willing to provide alternative assignments, but we leave that decision up to each instructor. We are not required by university policy to make accommodations based on subject matter, and difficult, emotionally challenging material permeates literature. We think our students--and our faculty--are best served by grappling with these challenging topics.


Q: I'm already in the APLP and I thought a workshop-intensive course I took (or am taking) might satisfy one of my workshop requirements, but that course doesn't show up in SIS as fulfilling any requirements for me. Why is that?

A: If a course is not one of our standard ENCW workshop courses (if it is not in our department or the course number ends in 559), it is probably not coded in SIS as automatically satisfying APLP requirements. However, we can make exceptions and manually give credit in SIS. Please email the APLP director with your course details (the course number, title, instructor name, and the semester you took [or are taking] the course) and we'll let you know if we can grant an exception.


Q: I'm not yet enrolled at UVA, but I plan to transfer next year. Can I apply?

A: Not yet. Transfer students must enroll in the UVA College of Arts & Sciences first, and then contact the APLP director about a possible exception to our normal application deadline.


How to Declare for the APLP

If you are admitted to the APLP, you should complete a Declaration of Major form using DocuSign. See the College forms page for the link. Please list Kevin Moffett ([email protected]) as the department major contact. The form should indicate a major in English, Area Program in Literary Prose. You should only list courses that are required as part of the APLP concentration. Please do not list every English course you have taken or will take. The purpose of the declaration form is to demonstrate that you understand the requirements of our concentration and have a curricular plan in place for your future semesters. Your plans can change and you do not need to resubmit a major declaration. The APLP director will review your form, and if they agree with your plan, they will approve the form and route it to the college registrar for coding into SIS. Please ensure that you see the new major appear in your SIS record.

For more information, contact Director Kevin Moffett, [email protected].