Graduate classes in creative writing to be offered later in day with teachers in mind 

Pittsburg High School English teacher Victoria James wanted a degree in creative writing, and the Pittsburg State University Department of English has made it easier for her to earn one. 

Starting this fall, the department is doubling down on its commitment to offer core classes for the emphasis at 3:45 p.m. or later so that full-time teachers can attend. That commitment will remain for at least two years. 

The program is for new graduate students in English or for those who already have a master’s in English who want to pick up the equivalent of a second emphasis. 

“Given enough advance notice, we will always work with students who want a degree, but right now, we're guaranteeing this for two years, so people should jump on it and enroll now,” said Professor Laura Washburn. "We want to not only help teachers learn about creative writing, we want to help them become authors. Our creative writing students write a publishable thesis and learn about editing and publishing." 

James, who already has a master’s in secondary education and will graduate with her master’s in literature in May, said she is thriving in the creative writing program. 

“I find myself wishing I had class every day, truly,” she said. “The program is so welcoming and challenging in a good way. They are helping me find times during and after school so I can take my courses.” 

James took over teaching creative writing at PHS when Melissa Fite Johnson (BSEd ‘03, MA ‘05) accepted a job teaching in Lawrence, Kansas, and said student interest in the subject has continued to grow. 

“We’re up to three or four sections of it a semester,” James said, and pursuing a creative writing degree is helping her grow as a teacher and as a writer. 

“Associate Professor Lori Martin is the one who truly made me open my eyes more when it came to fiction,” James said. “I am writing so many different stories and pushing myself in many ways as a writer. I have new ideas to bring to my creative writing class, and I would get this degree over and over again if I could. I can’t recommend it enough!” 

Johnson finished the creative writing program as a second emphasis while teaching full time at PHS because of the flexibility offered by the English Department, she said. 

She described enrolling in a creative writing course taught by Washburn as a defining moment in her life: she fell in love with poetry and felt supported by Washburn, who offered courses late in the day so Johnson could be part of them. 

“I’ve always wanted a creative writing degree, so that was my primary motivator,” Johnson said. “Also, I got a raise with every 20 college credits I received. Mostly because of her, I was at a master’s plus 60 hours, the maximum level, by the time I took my job in Lawrence, which means I’m making the most money at my job that I’m able.” 

Johnson also has published two books, one a Kansas Notable Book, since going through the program. 

“Now is a perfect time for a cohort of teachers to apply and enter our program,” Washburn said. “In the future, we'll have graduate creative writing theory, thesis hours, and more workshops in the late afternoon through evening format." 

Learn more:

Graduate degrees in English

Enroll beginning April 10: