Show The Graduate Center Menu

M.A. Program in Biography and Memoir

 Our Fall 2019 Open House for Prospective Applicants
is on November 5th at 6 pm in room 5114. 
Please RSVP to
We welcome your interest! 

Watch our M.A. Launch panel on “The Ethics of Biography,” moderated by Program Director Professor Sarah Covington:

Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Kai Bird introduces The Graduate Center’s Master’s Program in Biography & Memoir:

Biography and Memoir straddle the world of scholarship and imagination, revealing the intersection between individuals and the worlds they inhabit. Memoirs have always been a creative endeavor for writers and an essential source for historians. Biographies, long popular, have gained a new academic respectability.

Today is a golden age of these life-writing forms, and the ways in which one recounts a life have extended even further into oral history, social media, podcasting, documentary filmmaking, and new experimental approaches to the narrating of lives.

A Unique and Timely Program

Distinguished People - Collage of faces

The Graduate Center’s M.A. Program in Biography and Memoir is one of the only programs in the world to offer a uniquely rich series of courses to students who wish to study biography and memoir, or to become biographers and memoirs writers themselves. Our affordable program offers academic excellence and serves as an intellectual and cultural hub of activities, talks, and opportunities for mentorship. Many leading publishers focus on biography and memoir, and agents are keen to consider those who write creative and narrative nonfiction. Oral history projects continue to obtain funding and grow exponentially, while radio, podcasting, film, television, and video streaming services are open to new voices and forms of content that center upon life writing in all its forms.

Be at the Epicenter of Publishing, Media, and Academia

Leon Levy Center Event - Jeffrey Stewart on Alain Locke, in conversation with David Levering Lewis

Our location in New York City and affiliation with The Graduate Center’s Leon Levy Center for Biography offer students unparalleled networking and mentorship opportunities. The city remains the center of publishing and media in America, with a strong tech presence, while The Graduate Center provides further opportunities for students to work across disciplines and in the digital humanities. The interdisciplinary degree is an excellent step into a Ph.D. program as well as careers in journalism and media, professional writing and publishing, oral history studies, documentary filmmaking, digital communications, archival work, and other rewarding professions. 

A Scholarly and Creative Approach

The Graduate Center Library

After studying and mastering the art, craft, ethics, and methods of biography, students may then pursue a variety of disciplines through The Graduate Center’s many departments and programs. Students take four foundational courses - Forms of Life Writing, Research and Methodology in Biography and Memoir, Ethical Problems in Biography and Memoir, Writing and Style in Biography and Memoir . Our class sizes are small, and students choose from an array of electives. Options range from English, history, and art history to film studies, urban politics, and psychology. Students develop highly valued research and writing skills culminating in their thesis or capstone project, which can be the foundation for a book proposal or M.A. thesis for further graduate work

Personalized Guidance from Esteemed Writers and Scholars

Faculty Books

Graduate Center faculty are renowned scholars and writers. Many of them have published biographies or memoirs. Their critically acclaimed books have won the Pulitzer Prize and have enjoyed broad popular and academic appeal. Students in our program study and practice the art and craft of biography and memoir with guidance from eminent writers who are well connected in academic and publishing circles. The affiliation with the Leon Levy Center offers even more opportunities for networking with leading biographers and historians.

Tell Me More About GC’s Masters Degrees!
  Entry Year:

Enter security code:
 Security code