The Barbara Abercrombie Creative Writing Scholarship, Phyllis Gebauer Scholarship in Writing, and the Claire Carmichael Scholarship in Novel Writing provide access and opportunities for promising writers to study their craft in a supportive educational environment.  Click to expand for more details below.

Barbara Abercrombie Creative Writing Scholarship

“Have I told you lately how much I love my students? Maybe I just love people who have the guts to write. We live in a world full of acquisition, fear, lies, bad behavior, second guessing ourselves, et al. but when good writers sit down with pen in hand, they have the courage to reveal who they really are, cop to all the fear and bad behavior. And sometimes (best of all), to make humor out of the whole mess.

I taught a class once and as my students did a writing exercise, we stopped and listened to the sound of pens and pencils scratching across paper. It was magical.

One of the great blessings of my life is that I get to experience that magic every time I teach.” 

 –Barbara Abercrombie

Barbara Abercrombie taught in the Writers’ Program for thirty-one years. During that time, she was a tireless champion for her students’ talent and promise, encouraging them to write the hard truth while offering them a soft place to land. She received the Department of the Arts Outstanding Instructor award and the UCLA Extension Distinguished Instructor Award during her teaching career. Her death—and she would want us to use that word, “death,” calling the thing exactly what it is—in August 2022 was a tremendous loss for our writing community. Barbara helped hundreds of writers find their voice and get their start in her decades of teaching here and around the Los Angeles area.

Barbara was a fearless iconoclast whose life story is as rich as anything she ever wrote. From a career acting on Broadway, Barbara settled in California and began her long career as a writer. She began teaching in the Writers’ Program in 1991, and shared with students her passion for stories, her dedication to capturing the lived experience with unflinching honesty, and her belief that everyone could be a writer if only they’d let themselves try. She changed many students’ lives with her encouragement, helping countless people discover the writer within. For more details on Barbara, see the note at the end of this description.

Barbara made it clear to her loved ones that she wanted to endow a scholarship at the Writers’ Program to continue helping writers find their path. She felt great respect and gratitude for this community and its impact on her own life. We are proud to offer the Barbara Abercrombie Memorial Scholarship in Creative Writing to honor her legacy of profound impact.

Barbara felt strongly that there was no single definition of “success” for a writer. Her teaching priority was always to help the writer trust their own voice, discover their most urgent stories, get words on the page, and learn to make those words have the greatest impact on the reader. For that reason, this scholarship will honor and support a variety of writing goals as defined by each individual recipient.

At least four students each year will receive a complimentary enrollment in a Writers’ Program creative writing course of their choosing. Recipients will be selected quarterly. An application and brief essay are required for review. Recipients are selected by current instructors and/or staff in the Writers’ Program.


  • Successful applicants will demonstrate a high level of investment in furthering their writing, no matter where they may be starting from.
  • Successful applicants will provide clear, concise, and persuasive responses to the application essay questions.
  • Priority consideration will be given to applicants whose voice, experience, or writing style deserves greater exposure and support, as determined by the application evaluator(s).


  • Anyone with a desire to write is eligible to apply. No prior enrollments in the Writers’ Program or in any other creative program are required for application.
  • Applications must be received by the deadline shown and ONLY via Google Form
  • Eligibility criteria for all final candidates will be checked and confirmed by UCLA Extension.
  • UCLA and UCLA Extension employees and family members or dependents are not eligible to apply.
  • Applicants who have been previously awarded a Barbara Abercrombie Memorial Scholarship may not re-apply for a period of one year.
  • Awards can be used toward Creative Writing courses only—Screenwriting courses are not eligible.

To Apply

  1. Complete the Barbara Abercrombie Creative Writing Scholarship Application Form here:
  2. Respond to the following essay prompts:
    1. What is your writing goal? What would you like to accomplish with your writing in the next year, and in the next five years?
    2. What challenge(s) do you face in making progress toward your writing goals?
    3. Why do you want to write? What motivates you to do this work?

Applications for Winter Quarter 2024 are due no later than 11:59 pm on November 7, 2023. Applications will become available on October 7, 2023. Future deadlines will be announced each quarter. One student will receive a complimentary enrollment in a Writers’ Program course. Enrollment dates can be found on the UCLA Academic Calendar at

Give to the Barbara Abercrombie Scholarship Fund

The Barbara Abercrombie Scholarship Fund is fully endowed, thanks to the generosity of Barbara’s loved ones, and will fund students in perpetuity. Additional gifts to the fund will, over time, increase the number of awards we can make each year.

Visit to add your gift.


About Barbara Abercrombie


“Since we’re writers we all get to be in The Writers Club – and this quite frankly is the coolest club of all. The only condition of membership is that you have to write. Once you stop writing you get kicked out of The Writers Club.”


UCLA Extension’s beloved Instructor, Barbara Abercrombie, had one wish: that students be afforded the opportunity to write.


As a thirty-two-year UCLA instructor, receiving both the Outstanding Instructor Prize and the Distinguished Instructor Award, Barbara was known for creating a classroom environment where students wrote freely, knowing they were safe and encouraged, but where hard work and a butt-in-chair/no-writer’s-block mentality enabled students to pursue a rigorous, daily writing practice that often lasted for the rest of their writing careers.


Before she died, Barbara left a spoken wish with her daughters that a UCLA Extension Writer’s Program scholarship in her name – an endowment – be established so that students who otherwise might not have financial means to take classes in the nonfiction writing program, would have an opportunity to study writing.


As Barbara wrote, “I love writers. I love their stories. I love their honesty and courage and generosity. This is my tribe.”


Barbara’s love and hope for writers has long been reciprocated as her students followed her from class-to-class, year-after-year, until it became nearly impossible to score a seat around her UCLA writers’ table.


Now through this endowment, UCLA Extension is thrilled to honor her enduring legacy by allowing succeeding generations membership in Barbara Abercrombie’s (now) ever expanding community.

Phyllis Gebauer Scholarship in Writing

The application for 2023-2024 Phyllis Gebauer Scholarship in Writing is now open.

Full directions, eligibility, and information about the application process can be found here: APPLY NOW!

The deadline to submit applications has been extended to 5 pm PT Friday, June 30, 2023. Applications must be completed on Submittable here:

Phyllis Gebauer, a beloved Writers’ Program instructor who taught for the Writers’ Program since 1994, was passionate about providing learning opportunities for those who lack access. When she passed away in 2011, she left the Writers’ Program a generous gift with which to fund this needs-based scholarship program. The Phyllis Gebauer Scholarship in Writing acknowledges and fosters the talent of promising writers from diverse backgrounds and cultures who might otherwise not have the opportunity to study their craft in a supportive educational environment. Up to six scholars are named annually, and each recipient is given the opportunity to enroll in three 10-week Writers’ Program courses in creative writing or screenwriting during a one-year period (master classes, Writers Studio workshops, editing, and publishing courses, and 20-week courses are excluded). Courses may be taken either onsite or online but cannot be deferred for any reason.


In order to be considered eligible for the Phyllis Gebauer Scholarship in Writing, applicants must:

  • Have a gross income not to exceed the HUD Very Low-Income level, $41,700 in 2021 for a single-person household or $59,550 for a family of four in 2022. See for details.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen with a green card.

You are ineligible to apply if you are:

  • A UCLA employee or a family member or dependent of a UCLA employee
  • An MA, MFA, or Ph.D. graduate in creative writing, screenwriting, journalism, or playwriting
  • Pursuing a degree in any field
  • An international student
  • A former Writers’ Program Scholarship recipient
  • A former PEN Emerging Voices Fellow
  • Eligibility criteria will be reviewed and confirmed for all scholarship recipients.

For questions about the Phyllis Gebauer Scholarship in Writing, please contact Jennie Seidewand at

Claire Carmichael Scholarship in Novel Writing (currently on hiatus)

Claire Carmichael

Please note:  The Claire Carmichael Scholarship in Novel Writing is on hiatus until further notice.  

This scholarship is named for Claire Carmichael, a UCLA Extension Distinguished Instructor who has taught more than 90 courses and mentorships for the Writers’ Program since 1994, and who has helped numerous students get their work published. Ms. Carmichael created this scholarship to acknowledge promising novelists and to provide an opportunity for them to study their craft and work on their novels-in-progress in a supportive educational environment. Up to 6 scholars are named based on the strength of their writing, and each scholar selects 3 full-length Writers’ Program courses to be taken during a 1-year period.

At the close of the year-long program, the 6 scholars are given the opportunity to submit their best 75-100 pages for judging.  Ms. Carmichael and two additional judges will select one manuscript from the entries, based on the quality of the writing and its potential for completion and ultimate publication. The winner receives a two-month, one-on-one mentorship* with Lynn Hightower, a Writers’ Program instructor who has mentored more than 100 Writers’ Program students since 2012.   The winner will also be featured in an article on the Writers’ Program website, along with an excerpt of his or her novel-in-progress.  Ms. Carmichael will stay closely connected to the project as a consultant.

Applicants must have completed at least one course in novel writing or at least one session of the Mentorship Program in the Writers’ Program within 18 months of the submission due date, and have at least 10 pages of a novel-in-progress (young adult, genre, and literary fiction is included), in order to be eligible.

*The two mentorships are valued at $2,590. Mentorships do not have to be taken in two consecutive months but they must be completed in the same calendar year in which they are awarded.

Click here for a list of former recipients of the competition. 

For questions about the Claire Carmichael Scholarship in Novel Writing, contact


“My instructor’s generosity, enthusiasm and seriousness of purpose were infectious and helped convince me that a writing life was the one for me.”

Marisa Silver, New York Times best-selling author

Pin It on Pinterest