Our Writers' Workshop, English program, and School of Journalism and Mass Communication combine to make Iowa one of the foremost writing schools in America. Check out these success stories:

Notable Authors

  • Mildred Wirt Benson—Also known as Carolyn Keene, creator of the Nancy Drew mystery story collection. She sold short stories to help pay her Iowa tuition in the 1920s and was the first woman to earn a UI master's degree in journalism. BA, 1925; MA, 1927. She died in 2002.
  • Max A. Collins, Jr.—Author of Road to Perdition, which became a movie starring Tom Hanks in 2002, and writer of the comic strip Dick Tracy (Chester Gould was the creator of the strip and Collins took over in 1977 when Gould retired). BA, 1970; MFA, English, 1972.
  • Gail Godwin—Known for her compassionate and often humorous explorations of traditional Southern women confronting aspects of feminism and contemporary society, Godwin is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and a prominent American novelist. MA, 1968; PhD, 1971.
  • John IrvingNovelist who wrote The World According to GarpA Prayer for Owen Meany, and several other bestsellers. His work often includes characters with UI affiliations, including the 2009 novel, Last Night in Twisted River. MFA, English, 1967.
  • W.P. KinsellaAuthor of critically acclaimed best seller Field of Dreams, which was made into a major motion picture. MFA, English, 1978.
  • (Mary) Flannery O'Connor—Novelist and author of numerous short stories. MFA, English, 1947. She died in 1964.
  • Gordon Prange—Historian who wrote Tora, Tora, ToraAt Dawn We Slept, and Master Spy. MA, History, 1934; PhD, History, 1937. He died in 1980.

Notable Journalists

  • Tom Brokaw—The former anchor of NBC Nightly News attended Iowa in the late 1950s before pursuing a career in broadcast news. He has since created a scholarship fund for Native American students at Iowa. He retired from NBC in 2004.
  • John Cochran—Chief Washington correspondent for ABC News. His broadcast career spans more than 30 years and includes a lengthy stint at NBC News. MA, Journalism and Mass Communication, 1967.
  • David Guttenfelder—National Associated Press photographer and nominee for the Pulitzer Prize. BA, anthropology, 1993; BA, Journalism and Mass Communication, 1993.
  • Carol McKay—Photojournalist who was photo editor for U.S. News & World Report and a former White House staff photo editor. She was inducted into the UI School of Journalism Hall of Fame in 1997. BA, Journalism and Mass Communication, 1971.
  • Herbert Nipson—Award-winning journalist who spent nearly 40 years at Ebony magazine, including 15 years as executive editor (1972 to 1987). MFA, 1948.
  • Brian Ross—Chief investigative correspondent for ABC News. He won Peabody Awards in 1974 and 1992, and Emmy Awards in 1980, 1985, 1988, and 1992. BA, Journalism and Mass Communication, 1971.

Notable Poets

  •  Rita Dove—U.S. Poet Laureate for 1993. MFA, 1977.
  •  Paul Engle—Poet and director of the Iowa Writers' Workshop for 24 years. Engle also founded the International Writing Program. MA, English, 1932. He died in 1991.
  •  Mona Van Duyn—U.S. Poet Laureate for 1992, the first female to win the designation. MA, English, 1943. She died in 2004.

Pulitzer Prize Winners with UI Affiliations

Some 40 Pulitzer Prizes have been awarded to UI faculty members or alumni, including 27 prizes to writers affiliated with the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Other winners have specialized in journalism, editorial cartooning, drama, music, theater, or history.

Editorial cartooning

  • Paul Conrad—Earned Pulitzers in 1964, 1971, and 1984 for his work at the Denver Post and Los Angeles Times. BA, Art, 1950.
  • Richard "Dick" Locher—1983 Pulitzer for his work at the Chicago Tribune. Former UI student, 1948.


  • Tennessee Williams—1948 Pulitzer for A Streetcar Named Desire, 1955 Pulitzer for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. BA, Theatre, 1938.


  • Robert Olen Butler—1993 Pulitzer for A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain. MA, Theatre, 1969.
  • John Cheever—1979 Pulitzer for The Stories of John Cheever. Former faculty member in the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
  • Michael Cunningham—1999 Pulitzer for The Hours. MFA, English, 1980.
  • Paul Harding—2010 Pulitzer for his debut novel Tinkers. MFA 2000 and currently a visiting faculty member at the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
  • James Alan McPherson—1977 Pulitzer for Elbow Room. MFA, 1969. Currently on the faculty in the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
  • Marilynne Robinson—2005 Pulitzer for Gilead. Current faculty member in the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
  • Philip Roth—1998 Pulitzer for American Pastoral. Former faculty member in the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
  • Jane Smiley—1992 Pulitzer for A Thousand Acres. MA, 1975; MFA, English, 1976; PhD, English, 1978.
  • Wallace Stegner—1972 Pulitzer for Angle of Repose. MA, 1932; PhD, English, 1935.


  • Steve Berry—1993 Pulitzer for investigative reporting while at the Orlando Sentinel. Current UI journalism faculty member.
  • John R. Camp—1986 Pulitzer in feature writing for a series on a farming family in the Pioneer Press Dispatch. BA, American Civilization, 1966; MA, Journalism and Mass Communication, 1971.
  • Marquis Childs—1970 Pulitzer for her commentary at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (the first time this category was awarded). MA, Journalism and Mass Communication, 1925.
  • Tracy Kidder—1982 Pulitzer in general nonfiction for Soul of a New Machine. MFA, 1974.
  • Frank Luther Mott—1939 Pulitzer in history for A History of American Magazines. Former director of the UI School of Journalism.
  • Michael F. Toner—1993 Pulitzer for explanatory journalism in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "When Bugs Bite Back." BA, Journalism and Mass Communication, 1966.
  • Don Ultang—1952 Pulitzer for his work in spot news photography at the Des Moines Register & Tribune. BA, Commerce and Science, 1939
  • Sheba R. Wheeler—2000 Pulitzer for her contributions to a team of Denver Post reporters covering the Columbine High School tragedy. BA, 1996.


  •  David Lang—2008 Pulitzer for "The Little Match Girl Passion." MA, Music, 1980.


  • John Berryman—1965 Pulitzer for 77 Dream Songs. Former faculty member in the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
  • Rita Dove—1987 Pulitzer for Thomas and Beulah. MFA, 1977.
  • Louise Glück—1993 Pulitzer for The Wild Iris. Former faculty member in the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
  • Jorie Graham—1996 Pulitzer for The Dream of the Unified Field. MFA, English, 1978. Former faculty member in the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
  • Robert Hass—2008 Pulitzer for Time and Materials. Frequent visiting Writers' Workshop faculty member.
  • Anthony Hecht—1968 Pulitzer for The Hard Hours. Former UI student.
  • Donald R. Justice—1980 Pulitzer for Selected Poems. PhD, English, 1954; former faculty member in the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
  • Carolyn Kizer—1985 Pulitzer for Yin. Former faculty member in the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
  • Philip Levine—1995 Pulitzer for The Simple Truth. MFA, 1957; former faculty member in the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
  • Robert Lowell—1947 Pulitzer for Lord Weary's Castle, 1974 Pulitzer for The Dolphin. Former faculty member in the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
  • Philip Schultz—2008 Pulitzer for Failure. MFA, 1971.
  • W.D. Snodgrass—1960 Pulitzer for Heart's Needle. BA, 1949; MA, 1951; MFA, 1953.
  • Mark Strand—1999 Pulitzer for Blizzard of One. MA, 1962; former faculty member in the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
  • James Tate—1992 Pulitzer for Selected Poems. MFA, 1967.
  • Mona Van Duyn—1991 Pulitzer Prize for Near Changes. MA, English, 1943.
  • Charles Wright—1998 Pulitzer for Black Zodiac. MFA, 1963.
  • Robert Penn Warren—1947 Pulitzer for All the King's Men (in fiction); a 1958 Pulitzer for Poems 1954-56, Now and Then; and a 1980 Pulitzer for Poems 1976-78. Former faculty member in the Iowa Writers' Workshop.