Barbara Abercrombie Creative Writing Scholarship

For Creative Writing students

Supporting Creative Writers

Barbara Abercrombie

“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 further down this page.

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.

Creative Writing Scholarship Award

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.

How to Apply

Application Timeline

Applications for Summer Quarter 2024 awards are due on April 21, 2024, at 11:59 pm.

Apply Now

Applications for each quarter will open with the quarter’s enrollment. Enrollment dates can be found on the UCLA Extension Academic Calendar. Each quarter a final deadline for submissions will be announced.
One student awardee will receive a complimentary enrollment in a Writers’ Program course each quarter.

Application Process

Complete these steps:

1. Complete the Barbara Abercrombie Creative Writing Scholarship application form.

2. Respond to the following essay prompts:

  • What is your writing goal? What would you like to accomplish with your writing in the next year, and in the next five years?
  • What challenge(s) do you face in making progress toward your writing goals?
  • Why do you want to write? What motivates you to do this work?

Scholarship criteria:

  • 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).


Scholarship eligibility:

  • 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 via the application 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.


About Barbara Abercrombie

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.

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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.

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For questions regarding the Barbara Abercrombie Creative Writing Scholarship, please contact the Writers’ Program at or (310) 825-9415.


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