Columbia College Chicago

Nonfiction, BA

Autobiography. Essay. Memoir. Travel writing. The nonfiction genre encompasses a variety of styles and forms—and as a Nonfiction student, you’ll develop effective reading, writing, critical thinking and revision strategies that will prepare you to tackle them. In this experientially based program, which blurs the line between the journalistic and the literary, you’ll be encouraged to ask larger societal questions, delve into social and political issues, and experiment with your personal narrative voice.

By diving into the various nonfiction genres and studying major nonfiction authors, you’ll build a foundation for creating individual, original and effective nonfiction writing. Elective classes in the visual and performing arts, new media and other areas will open your eyes to the many ways in which writing allows you to participate in contemporary conversations on social and cultural change.

What to Expect Your First Year

In your first year as a Nonfiction student, you’ll participate in a series of workshops that will introduce you to the process of generating materials, as well as writing and critiquing them. You’ll also lay the groundwork for successful writing with foundations courses that allow you to experiment with who you may be as a writer. And you’ll concentrate on your craft in a community of writers who share your eagerness to make a mark in nonfiction.  

What to Expect Your Last Year

During your senior year, you’ll look at the body of work you’ve created in the Nonfiction program and explore its connection to the work of published writers. Through this senior forum class, you’ll work with fellow creative writing students and faculty to ultimately discover ways to get your work out there as well. You may also work on student publications or tackle an internship.

For requirements and more information about this program, visit the course catalog.

Real-world Opportunities

What experience will I get outside the classroom?

As a Nonfiction student at an arts and communications institution in a vibrant, world-class city, you’ll be presented with incomparable opportunities for networking and collaboration: 

  • Participate in the Creative Writing Reading Series, which attracts prestigious, award-winning nonfiction writers who perform, engage and educate on a myriad of topics and traditions.
  • Participate in the Writers at Lunch program, which brings together undergraduate students in Fiction, Nonfiction and Poetry for readings, panel discussions, and meetings with professionals in the field.
  • Work on Punctuate magazine, which features writing from a variety of contributors.
Create reading series, journals or presses of your own.
What are my internship options?

Employers in a variety of fields look for experienced, competent and confident employees who are strong communicators. The internship opportunities that Columbia’s Nonfiction Writing program can help you land are vast—newspapers, trade magazines, banks, personnel firms, legal firms, television companies, advertising agencies and more. Companies and organizations get your strong writing skills, and you make professional contacts and create a portfolio of real-world work at places like The Daily Show, Disney, Pitchfork Media and Time Out Chicago.

See the Career Center website for more information.


Ready to Apply?

We’re happy you’re thinking of joining our creative community. We work hard to make our application process as simple and fast as possible, but should you run into any concerns, we're here to help at any time.

Ask Us

Looking for an event near you?

If you can’t make it to campus, don’t worry! We have a full schedule of events all across the U.S. and around the world.