Course Overview

We all have a story to tell, but we don’t always make the time to tell it, let alone write it. Perhaps it’s because we don’t value our stories, or think others will find value in them. Perhaps we don’t know where to start, or we feel we don’t have the skills. Perhaps we just need a coach, someone to point us in the right direction and cheer us on from the sidelines.

In this class, you will have the opportunity to share some of your stories, and to document them in writing in the form of short stories, personal essays, or a novella. Not only will you be given the structure, and the basic skills, but you will also get the coaching from your teacher to help motivate you to write about your experiences. Before we wrap up, we will talk about publishing and self-publishing your work.

All students who successfully complete the course will receive a Certificate of Completion and have the opportunity to request a Syracuse University noncredit transcript.

Course Topics

  • Learn about the Fourth Genre: Creative Nonfiction
  • Understand the differences and similarities between fiction and creative nonfiction
  • Learn how to apply the narrative conventions of fiction to the act of telling life stories 
  • Read a variety of examples of memoir and creative nonfiction for inspiration and modeling
  • Understand and explore the limits and possibilities of autobiographical memory and how it applies to storytelling.
  • Practice writing memoir and creative nonfiction

Course Information

Course Prefix and Number: SCN 104

Format: Online

Eligibility: Students must be of rising high school sophomore, junior, or senior status – or a 2024 high school graduate. 

Credit: Noncredit

Grading: Pass/Fail

Cost: $1,995
Program rates are subject to change and will be approved by the board of trustees. Discounts and scholarships are also available.

Program Information

Summer College – Online: Explore college life before stepping foot on campus! High school students can enroll in a college-level course, pursue their academic interests, and meet likeminded students in daily virtual events and activities.

“Syracuse University Summer College – Online was a way to experience what taking classes at Syracuse would be like. I was able to interact with other possible classmates and get to know professors and former students which gave me a greater understanding of what kinds of people I would be interacting with.”

—Aiden J., Summer College – Online Student, 2020

Course Dates and Details

ProgramCourse DatesSynchronous Class Time (Eastern Time)Credit/NoncreditStatus
Summer College – Online3-Week Online Session I: Monday, July 8 – Thursday, July 25, 2024TTh;
7 – 8 p.m.

Course Requirements

Technology Requirements

  • Laptop or desktop computer with a webcam and mouse
  • Reliable internet access
  • A space conducive to taking an online class (without distractions)

Required Supplies


  • “Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft” by Janet Burrowways

Instructions on how to order the textbook can be found here.

Expectation of Students

Students are expected to engage in class wholeheartedly, to maintain an open mind and welcome new ideas, and to be courageous in their exploration of self. Since this is an academically rigorous, college-level program, students are expected to follow weekly instructions, manage their time in order to meet all deadlines, participate in asynchronous activities, such as discussion forums, readings and informal writing exercises, as well as show up on time for synchronous activities, such as virtual field trips, virtual guest speakers, workshops, etc.

Typical Day

Tentative Schedule

Students are required to attend a live synchronous class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 7 to 8 p.m.

A typical day will involve a synchronous session in which we will be discussing a reading, learning about the craft, doing writing exercises and/or sharing drafts in a writing workshop format.

When class is over, and on weekends, students can look forward to various Summer College virtual activities to meet and connect with other students across the world. Check out our Virtual Campus Experience page for more information!

Faculty Bios

Nicole Moss Underwood

Nicole Moss Underwood is a Professional Writing Instructor in the Department of Writing Studies, Rhetoric and Composition at Syracuse University. She is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Communications and Humanities at the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute, and a freelance writer for Advance Media New York which publishes the Post-Standard, Central New York Magazine,, and the Visitor’s Guide. She earned her B.A. in Television and Radio Production and Broadcast Management from Michigan State University in 1990 and her M.F.A. in creative writing, specializing in creative nonfiction, writing therapy, and storytelling and identity from Syracuse University in 2001. Her interest in using writing as a tool for self-discovery began when she was serving in the U.S. Peace Corps. She taught English as a Second Language in a rural village in Rwanda, Africa for two years. During this time, she discovered the power of writing to shape our lives, and she has continued to explore how this works by studying inhibition/confession theory, narrative identity theory, autobiographical memory, and learned optimism. With training in outdoor adventure education, she is an advocate for adventure-based experiential learning. She facilitates an interactive, collaborative, hands-on learning environment, and she believes in integrating “play with purpose” into the classroom – and having fun!