Prospective applicants, please read this letter from Lit Rep Program Director Robert Boynton

Read the letter >


About the Program

Journalism schools produce good reporters; MFA programs train beautiful writers. In the Literary Reportage concentration, we combine the best of both. Our students pursue their own long form projects, mentored by veteran writers in reporting classes, literature seminars, writing workshops and master classes taught by working editors.

Reporting is at the center of everything Literary Reportage students do. Whether you want to write a memoir, an expose, a portrait of a person or place, an extended consideration on the subject of your passion, it all starts with reporting. We’ll teach you how to do what Tom Wolfe once termed “stylish reporting.” Many writing programs teach memoir, and that's something you can do in Literary Reportage, as well. The difference here is that we stress reporting – adding value to personal experience by collecting relevant information from the world outside one's head. Did your sister join a cult? Part of your mission would be to learn about the cult, past and present. Are there acquaintances from days gone by who could help set a remembered story in context? Part of your job might be to find them. That way, when you sit down to fashion your narrative, you'll have a richer set of materials to work with.You will then channel that reporting into well-researched, compelling narratives, which you will publish in professional venues while at NYU and, of course, beyond.

How do you apply? Like an aspiring novelist who submits short stories to an MFA program in the hopes of writing a novel, you submit a sample of your existing work (articles, blogs, videos, podcasts, essays--published or not), and a description of what you want to do while at NYU, whether a specific project or a kind of project. Think big, but also think concretely: What particular works or authors have inspired you and your project? What journalistic forms could you imagine it taking? What models do you have in mind?

Projects can be local, national, or international in scope. But since much of your reporting will be done while in residence at NYU, your project should have an NYC dimension. Some students divide their time between their final international or national project and its local iterations. In addition, access is important. You can’t report on a subject if your subject won’t talk to you. We’ll help you as much as we can, but there are some worlds, like Hollywood, that simply can’t be covered by NYC-based reporters.

We don’t care if you change your mind later – experimentation is part of the idea. That goes for form, as well: Some Literary Reportage students want to write books, others want to write articles. Some want to combine podcasts, video, books and articles. We will teach you how to work in all of these forms. We’ll teach you how to use the technology (come visit and see our high tech facilities), whether in semester-long classes or intensive, week-long workshops. (All Literary Reportage students take a month-long, non-credit introductory multimedia course covering video, audio, slideshow and web skills.) But the most important thing we teach is how think in terms of “stories.” Rigorously reported, well-researched, imaginative, artfully written stories.


How does Literary Reportage work?

The courses are divided between journalism seminars and writing workshops. The first semester leans toward the former, while the remaining semesters leans toward the latter. For an overview of the curriculum click here.

Literary Reportage became a full-fledged concentration in 2009, growing out of the Portfolio honors track, in which students learned how to build a coherent body of work over the course of two semesters. It worked well, and we suspected it would work even better if students applied with projects already in mind and had more time to complete their work.

How does Literary Reportage differ from other the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute’s other concentrations and programs? Our applicants must apply with a project in mind and, like the Global program, Literary Reportage students produce a master’s project in their fourth and final semester, during which you need not be in residence.


Final Projects

Here are some of the final projects Literary Reportage students have produced in our first three years:

  • "We Were All Going To Be Queens," a reported memoir about the Catholic cult Regnum Christi
  • "Ballerina 2.0," about dancer Drew Jacoby's use of new media for self-promotion
  • "Mother of Invention,” a reported memoir about a single woman's decision to have a child
  • “On Trails,” a meditation on the twists and turns of human navigation
  • “Alone in America,” a report on Korean students studying abroad
  • “Sikhing for God,” a report on a New Mexican yoga cult
  • “Wrecking the House that Ruth Built,” a proposal, sample chapter and outline for a book about corruption and Yankee Stadium
  • “Christianity 2.0,” a report on home worship and the reaction against the mega-church phenomenon
  • “When the Facts of Life Aren’t Facts,” a report on sex education for students with special needs


Literary Reportage Master Class

The Fall 2014 Literary Reportage Master Class was taught by Sasha Weiss, the literary editor of Before  Before coming to The New Yorker, she was an editor at The New York Review of Books.  Her writing has appeared on the Newyorker.comThe Paris Review, Tablet, and elsewhere.



Upcoming Events

Program News

Congratulations to:

Laura Smith, Literary Reportage
Kristian Jebsen, Magazine

Kristian Jebsen and Laura Smith, graduate students at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, are two of 12 journalism students and young journalists chosen by FASPE (Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics) to participate in a two-week program that will take place this summer in Germany and Poland.

View the Press Release >


Patrick Arden (Lit Rep '09) has won the 2013 Richard J. Margolis Award.

Read More >


The Banff Center Announces Fully Funded Fellowship

The Banff Centre for the Arts and the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute are pleased to announce a fully funded fellowship for students in, and alumni of, the Literary Reportage concentration.  The fellowship offers an opportunity to develop a major essay, memoir, or feature piece during a month-long residency. Writers will work on their manuscript during weekly consultations with faculty editors, and round-table discussions with the other participants. By placing writers in a situation designed to challenge and stimulate their creativity, the program encourages the exploration of new ideas in journalism and experimentation with writing a piece that might otherwise be difficult to complete. The fellowship covers round trip airfare to Banff, and food and lodging during the month at the Banff Centre for the Arts.

Read More >


Portfolio 2007 Alumna Sabine Heinlein wins the 2011 Richard J. Margolis award.

Read More >


Lit Rep 2011 student Robert Moor wins Middlebury College Fellowship in Environmental Journalism.

The program supports intensive, year-long reporting about environmental issues. Moor’s project: Trails — topographical and cognitive — in contemporary society, human culture and the mind.

Read more >


Lit Rep 2011 student Patrick Arden wins multiple awards for his piece on NYC's "fake grass gamble."

Read More >



































My time at the Banff Centre was incredible, and I feel remarkably lucky to have participated in the Literary Journalism Program. This fellowship provided me with the necessary structure, freedom, and support to create a piece that I might not have completed otherwise­—in my case, a piece of challenging, personal writing. Besides room and board, the Centre gives each writer a private cabin in the forested Leighton Artists’ Colony, and plenty of time to write... I did not want to leave.

Cody Upton, recipient of the NYU/Banff Fellowship, Lit Rep '13

Byline - Recent Publications

The New Republic A Modern Woman's Burden March 20, 2015 Natalie Lampert
Literary Reportage 2016
narratively | nyc Secrets of the Brooklyn Basement Domino League March 11, 2015 Meghan White
Lit Rep 2015
KCRW The Voice Teacher March 10, 2015 Nicole Pasulka
Lit Rep '14
Bedford+Bowery Meet the Man Who Risks Life and Limb to Deliver Your Weed March 03, 2015 Hannah McCarthy
Literary Reportage 2016
The New York Times You Say Myanmar, They Say Burma February 28, 2015 Laura Smith
Lit Rep '15
The Atlantic The Attention Machine February 09, 2015 Taylor Beck
Lit Rep 2012
Los Angeles Review of Books You understand it to the point that it almost tears you to pieces: Growing Up with Mary Gaitskill February 03, 2015 Victoria Beale
Lit Rep 2016
The Caravan After the Last Sky February 01, 2015 Nandini Ramachandran
Lit Rep 2014
Bedford+Bowery ‘The Stuff Nightmares Are Made Of’: A Serial-Like Case In Our Own Backyard January 31, 2015 Elizabeth Flock
Lit Rep 2015
The New England Journal of Medicine Death Takes a Weekend January 29, 2015 Professor Perri Klass
The Paris Review The Vast Beast-Whistle of Space January 23, 2015 Laura Smith
Lit Rep '15
Vanity Fair From Gitmo to an American Supermax, the Horrors of Solitary Confinement January 16, 2015 Professor Ted Conover
The Latin Dispatch As World Looks to Paris, Violence Against Journalists Rages on in Mexico January 14, 2015 Cleuci de Oliveira
Lit Rep '16
Astrobiology magazine Potential Signs of Ancient Life in Mars Rover Photos January 05, 2015 Johnny Bontemps
Literary Reportage 2014
Bedford+Bowery Happy 80th Birthday to America’s ‘First Experiment’ in Public Housing January 02, 2015 Lindsey Smith
Literary Reportage 2016
Bedford+Bowery Yellow Fever and Red Scare: the Very Colorful History of Knickerbocker Village December 31, 2014 Giulia Smythies
Literary Reportage 2016