The undergraduate Creative Writing Program at UNC-Chapel Hill is—and has long been—one of the best in the country. Its first-rate faculty and students have published widely, won many prizes, and played a major role in shaping the contemporary literature of North Carolina, the South, and the nation.
The fact that other schools in the state university system (UNC-Greensboro, N.C. State University, and UNC-Wilmington) offer graduate writing programs has challenged Carolina to concentrate on excellence for undergraduates. There are over 250 creative writing programs in the United States, mostly for students at the masters' level, but very few offer as much breadth, variety, and professionalism at the college level as UNC-Chapel Hill has for decades.
In the words of Doris Betts, Alumni Distinguished Professor of English emerita and mainstay of the Creative Writing Program for decades:
“When the Harvard faculty was considering hiring Nabokov to teach literature, one professor objected that such an appointment would be like hiring the elephants to teach zoology. Fortunately, Carolina's English Department has embraced its writers and we, like elephants, never forget. The staff of dedicated novelists, poets, and non-fiction writers has had a congenial professional history here, in an atmosphere that has encouraged many young writers and rewarded many readers. During my 35 years on campus, the program has grown larger and more varied, but without losing its selectivity and without weakening its focus on genuine talent.”