Creative Writing

The PhD in Creative Writing offers deeply committed and exceptionally talented writers the opportunity to study Creative Writing at the highest level.


Supported by an expert supervisor, you will work independently towards the production of a substantial piece of creative writing, accompanied by a sustained exercise in critical study.

Places are limited and acceptance is based on the excellence of the application. In addition, the Department will only accept candidates for whom a suitable supervisor, with expertise in the proposed project, is available.

The degree is undertaken over a minimum period of two years. It comprises two parts:

  • A creative project that may take the form of a novel or collection of stories; a memoir; a work of creative nonfiction or collection of nonfiction essays or articles; a collection of poetry; a play or film script. It should display originality, a critical understanding of genre, and make a significant contribution to the practice.
  • A dissertation of approximately 30 000 words that accompanies the creative project and illuminates it in one of multiple possible ways. It should demonstrate expert understanding of the discipline, reflect critically on practice, and/or locate the work in relation to current theory and criticism.

Possible approaches may include (1) a reflection on an issue inherent to creative writing practice, such as the processes or techniques within a genre or within the creative project; or (2) an examination of the contexts and conditions of the candidate’s creative writing or the critical, political, or historical issues relevant to the project; or (3) an exploration of a specific issue of genre, theory, representation, or themes in other creative works of relevance to the candidate’s creative project.

These two parts of the PhD will constitute the thesis and be examined as a whole.

The scope of the PhD should be outlined in the research proposal for approval by Faculty and submitted for assessment six months after the candidate has registered.

Career Opportunities

Graduates of the programme have gone on to publish books, as well as to work in a wide range of fields, including publishing, television, theatre and journalism.

Entry Requirements

  • An MA in Literature or Creative Writing.
  • At least one book of writing (in addition to the work produced for an MA), in a creative-writing genre (fiction or nonfiction) published through a reputable publisher; or a substantial body of work (short stories, essays etc) in reputable journals or anthologies.
  • A work/several works that demonstrate competency to conduct the research and writing for the dissertation (nonfiction essays, academic papers), and that show ability to conduct a scholarly argument and to make use of other texts in the construction of this argument. These works should be of a standard consonant with entry to a PhD programme as rated by peer review (newspaper and/or journal reviews and/or expert opinion solicited by the coordinator of the PhD in Creative Writing).
  • Candidates should submit work that demonstrates competency, as mentioned above, and other examples of their published writing to Stacy Hardy at email
  • This portfolio of published work must be of such a standard as to justify admission to a PhD programme in which a creative writing project, and a scholarly dissertation, of a PhD standard, will be required from the candidate.
  • Along with the portfolio, the candidate must submit a full curriculum vitae and a considered outline of the project they wish to undertake, including the creative work and the dissertation.
  • Only once a candidate has been accepted by the Department will they be allowed to register for this degree.
  • A supervisor will be identified once the application has been submitted. The Department will only accept candidates for whom a suitable supervisor with expertise in the proposed project is available.

Course Application Process

Should you be accepted into the programme, you will be notified to complete your registration and submit a University application. This is only a formality and, once completed, we will accept your application and you will officially be admitted.

  • Applications are handled centrally by the Student Enrolment Centre (SEnC).
  • Click here to see an overview of the Wits applications process.
  • Please apply online.
  • Upload the supporting documents required by the University at the time of application, or via the Self Service Portal.
  • Applicants can monitor the progress of their application via the Self Service Portal.

International students, please check this section.

For more information, contact the Student Call Centre +27 (0)11 717 1888, or log a query at

University Fees and Funding

Click here to see the current average tuition fees. The Fees site also provides information about the payment of fees and closing dates for fees payments. Once you have applied you will be able to access the fees estimator on the student self-service portal.

For information about postgraduate funding opportunities, including the postgraduate merit award, click here. Please also check your School website for bursary opportunities. NRF bursaries: The National Research Foundation (NRF) offers a wide range of opportunities in terms of bursaries and fellowships to students pursuing postgraduate studies. External bursaries portal: The Bursaries South Africa website provides a comprehensive list of bursaries in South Africa.