The Creative Writing program at Notre Dame is a 2-year, 36-credit program. Most semesters, a student takes a 3-credit workshop in their genre (poetry or fiction), a 3-credit literature course, and 3 credit hours of thesis advising, for a total of 9 credits each semester. Electives or additional courses may be taken if discussed with the program director; 15 credits per semester is the maximum load allowed by the Graduate School.

Over the course of 2 years, each student must take 3 workshops (9 credit hours total), 4 literature classes (12 credit hours), 4 semesters of thesis direction (12 credit hours), and at least 1 elective (3 credit hours), which adds up to 36 credits and a lot of time to write. Students may take a workshop in a different genre than the one they were admitted in after their first year of residence. Students may also take electives in other fields, although only one undergraduate course is permitted. In addition to the standard courses, 1.5-credit practicum courses are available on publishing and teaching creative writing, with the emphasis on teaching at the university level.

Students generally get quite involved in activities outside of classes. Some students have been highly involved with planning reading series or setting up literary functions. Some have developed writing programs at the local homeless shelter or juvenile detention facility, and others have presented panels at conferences. Still others have put all their emphasis and energy into writing. Dani Rado (2005 alumna) writes, “What I like most about this program is that you can be as involved as you want. Some of us have set up reading series, brought in writers, organized events, gone to conferences—all with the support (including financial support) of the program—and some people have just stayed in their apartments and busted out novels.”