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Best masters programs in creative writing

The 25 Best Graduate Level Creative Writing

If you’re interested in a creative writing career, this might arguably be one of the best times in history. A glance on the Internet, especially on social media sites, shows a growing demand for content. This means a demand for advanced writing skills, and other creative skills.

​ Are you planning to enhance your skills? Consider taking one of the best creative writing graduate programs. To get you started on your degree search, we’ve put together this list of best master’s in creative writing . In fact, most of these programs are no- or low-residency MFA in creative writing. This includes colleges offering an online master’s degree (or hybrid) in Creative Writing.

Western New England University

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The high-value Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing offered by Western New England University (WNE, est. 1919) is a low-residency program (College of Arts and Sciences). This is a 48-credit, hybrid MFA in Fiction, but enables a comprehensive study of all aspects of fiction. Students will undertake a mix of craft classes, individual conferences, manuscript consultations, special topics courses, and workshops, all within their own personalized curriculum. For the residencies, these immersive, week-long gatherings — which comprise discussions, lectures, panels, readings, and workshops — occur at the start of each semester. Four of these must be taken. The summer ones are held on-campus in Springfield, Massachusetts, with the winter ones either in the Berkshires or Dublin, Ireland. Those applying for the MFA will need a Bachelor’s degree (please check with WNE for GPA requirements).

WNE’s top Creative Writing MFA provides a mentored approach to education. To ensure students get the one-on-one attention they deserve, the program maintains the student-faculty ratio at 5:1. Faculty mentors and visiting writers are all published authors — many award-winning — covering several forms and genres, including: Literary Criticism; Literary Fiction; Memoirs; Non-Fiction Essays; Poetry; and Young Adult and Middle-Grade Literature. The MFA is particularly well-suited to writers with a strong interest in craft and who want to master critical elements, such as dialogue, sentence craft, story shaping, and voice development. Key courses in the MFA include: Fiction Workshop; Special Topics in Creative Writing; and The Craft of Fiction.

  • Type: Private, non-profit
  • Location: Springfield, Massachusetts
  • Cost: $44,112
  • #students: 3,801
  • #grads: 1,103
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Has housing?: Yes
  • Programs: Associates through doctorate level, plus certificates

Lesley University

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Lesley University (LU, est. 1909) offers a unique, low-residency, hybrid Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing that will be attractive to writers seeking to explore new boundaries in their craft. LU’s Creative Writing MFA requires 49 credits for completion, including a thesis and graduating seminar presentation. Students must also complete five residencies — two per year plus an exit one — in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Each nine-day residency involves workshops, seminars, and readings. There is also an exciting opportunity for a 12-day residency in Wales at the Dylan Thomas International Summer School. To qualify for admission into the MFA, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree (please check with LU for GPA requirements).

If you’re looking for one of the best poetry MFA or screenwriting MFA programs, this just might be it. Available genres for Lesley’s MFA in Creative Writing are Fiction; Graphic Novels and Comics; Non-Fiction; Poetry; Writing for Stage and Screen; and Writing for Young People. While students will select one genre, they will work with award-winning writers across several of these categories. This underlies the unique interdisciplinary aspect of the program. In addition to encouraging students to explore other genres, LU’s MFA allows them to incorporate other disciplines, as well. For example, students can work with faculty in Art and Design or Arts and Social Sciences to examine how their writing combines with such complementary fields as art therapy, education, psychology, and visual arts. Graduates of LU’s low-residency Creative Writing MFA have pursued careers as authors, playwrights, poets, and screenwriters. Several have become teachers in writing programs at prestigious universities. Key courses for this MFA include: Craft and Reflection; Creative Writing; and Interdisciplinary Studies.

  • Type: Private, non-profit
  • Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Cost: $40,230
  • #students: 4,510
  • #grads: 2,382
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Has housing?: Yes
  • Programs: Bachelor’s through doctorate level degrees, plus certificates

Spalding University

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Spalding University (SU, est. 1814) offers a low-residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Writing. This 65-credit hybrid degree provides the choice of six concentrations: Creative Non-Fiction; Fiction; Playwriting; Poetry; Screenwriting; and Writing for Children and Young Adults. Students must complete five 10-day residencies, which comprise lectures, readings, and workshops. The residencies in Louisville, Kentucky, take place in spring and fall. The international ones are held in the summer. After each residency, students undertake a semester of independent study that is primarily focused on honing one’s writing abilities but is supported by reading and critical analysis. A thesis and the Graduation Residency complete the program. To qualify for admission into the MFA, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree (please check with SU for GPA requirements).

Spalding’s Writing MFA is a high-value program that offers an intriguing combination of academic rigor, affordability, flexibility, and a highly supportive community. As the world’s first certified compassionate university, SU’s promise of a supportive, non-competitive community seems very real. Additionally, SU takes pride in teaching students how to be successful writers amidst the other responsibilities of their daily lives and continues to provide support for alumni after graduation. Key courses for the MFA include: Advanced Independent Writing and Reading – Emphasizing the Research Project; Intermediate Independent Writing and Reading in Creative Writing; and Introductory Independent Writing and Reading in Creative Writing.

Additional: SU also offers a low-residency Master of Arts (MA) in Writing with tracks in: Creative Writing; and Professional Writing. This 35-credit hybrid degree can be completed in a year. Graduates can then pursue career goals or proceed directly into SU’s MFA.

  • Type: Private, non-profit
  • Location: Louisville, Kentucky
  • Cost: $39,325
  • Religious affiliation: Roman Catholic (Sisters of Charity of Nazareth)
  • #students: 1,629
  • #grads: 704
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
  • Has housing?: Yes
  • Programs: Associates through doctorate level, plus certificates

Queens University of Charlotte

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Queens University of Charlotte (Queens, est. 1857) offers a low-residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing, through the College of Arts and Sciences. This hybrid program requires 52 credits for completion and includes a thesis and a capstone project. While this is essentially a Master’s of creative writing focusing on publishing and editing, students can specialize in one of four genres: Creative Nonfiction; Fiction; Poetry; and Writing for Stage and Screen. They must take four weeks of residencies selected from two track options. On-Campus Residencies are seven-day sessions held in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the start of each semester. International Residences are annual, culturally rich, 14- or 15-day affairs in one of Buenos Aires, Argentina; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; or Santiago, Chile. A final, on-campus Graduating Residency is also required. To qualify for admission into the MFA, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent creative writing experience. (Please check with Queens for GPA requirements.)

The Queens’ Creative Writing MFA is for published writers, those who want to be published, and those who want to teach at colleges or universities. The program provides the inspiration and support of a writing community, the personalized attention of a dedicated instructor, and the private time needed to write and think. Queens also has opportunities to help graduates achieve their career dreams. This includes an Annual Alumni Weekend with craft seminars, publishing panels, and, every other year, top agents and senior editors from major magazines and publishing houses. There’s also Queens’ Book Development Program. It pairs applicants with a senior editor from a major publisher. Key course options for this MFA include: Dramatic Writing Workshop; Guided Reading in Creative Writing; and Poetry Tutorial.

  • Type: Private, non-profit
  • Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Cost: $38,480
  • Religious affiliation: Presbyterian Church (USA)
  • #students: 2463
  • #grads: 730
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
  • Has housing?: Yes
  • Programs: Bachelor’s and master’s level degrees, plus certificates

Harvard University

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Through its Harvard Extension School, Harvard University (Harvard, est. 1636) has one of the best Master’s in Creative Writing. While Harvard’s is not an online MFA in creative writing, it is partly online and is called the Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in Extension Studies in the field of Creative Writing and Literature. This 48-credit, low-residency, hybrid degree has the choice of a capstone or thesis track. Primarily taken online, the ALM has a single residency requirement comprising three weeks of study. It starts with a week-long masterclass on-campus and a weekend connecting with agents and editors. The additional two weeks of writing classes and final writing assignment can be done either online or on-campus. To qualify for admission into the ALM, students need a Bachelor’s degree and then must take two required graduate courses at Harvard, earning a minimum grade of B in each one.

Harvard’s Creative Writing and Literature ALM focuses on helping students gain a mastery in creative writing and literary analysis. Graduates will be able to write in multiple genres — including Dramatic Writing; Fiction; and Non-Fiction — and gain advanced skills in characterization, description, dialogue, point of view, and story and plot structure. They will also be able to assess literature as both writers and scholars. In addition to the acknowledged quality of a Harvard education, the ALM provides students with connection, camaraderie, and support. Many graduates go on to careers in advertising, education, fundraising, marketing, and publishing. Key ALM courses and options include: Advanced Fiction – Writing the Short Story; Global Environmental Literatures; and Writing a Nonfiction Book.

  • Type: Private, non-profit
  • Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Cost: $35,760
  • #students: 31,655
  • #grads: 21,592
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Has housing?: Yes
  • Programs: Associates through doctorate level, plus certificates

Ashland University

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Ashland University (AU, est. 1878) offers a low-residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing. This is a 45-credit, hybrid degree featuring nine credits of in-residence course work and 36 credits of online study (including a full-semester thesis). The in-residence courses take place during a two-week summer workshop (with seminars and readings) held at AU’s Ashland, Ohio, campus. Three separate workshops/ residencies must be completed. Students have the incredible option to do one of their residencies in Paris. The final residency will feature their thesis defense. Students can choose a degree track in one of three genres: Poetry; Creative Non-Fiction; or Fiction (literary and science fiction/ fantasy). To qualify for admission, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree with a GPA over 2.75.

Ashland’s approach to its Creative Writing Master’s program is one of mentored learning. No more than five students are assigned to a single faculty mentor, each of whom is a published author. During residencies, students can also build their own dynamic writing communities with fellow students. Other program benefits include creating a full-length manuscript in one’s chosen genre and having the chance to qualify for graduate assistantships in teaching or publishing. Key courses in this MFA include: Summer Residency; Mentorship; and MFA Thesis. Those obtaining a graduate teaching assistantship will undergo a Pedagogy Track with two additional courses — Composition/ Rhetoric Pedagogy and Supervised Teaching — and teach as many as five online undergraduate composition courses.

  • Type: Private, non-profit
  • Location: Ashland, Ohio
  • Cost: $35,415
  • Religious affiliation: Brethren Church
  • #students: 5091
  • #grads: 1438
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Has housing?: Yes
  • Programs: Associates through doctorate level, plus certificates

Arcadia University

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The top-value Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing at Arcadia University (Arcadia, est. 1853) is a 39-credit, hybrid program. This degree offers two genre choices: Fiction; or Poetry. Students must complete three separate week-long residencies involving community building, discussions with local or visiting writers, faculty advisor meetings, workshops, and writing exercises. The first and third residencies are held on-campus in Glenside, Pennsylvania. The second is a study-abroad opportunity in Edinburgh, Scotland, which adds area tours to the activities list. For this MFA’s thesis requirement, students must produce a full-length manuscript in their chosen genre — and work with their advisor to create a plan to get that manuscript published.

Arcadia’s high-quality Creative Writing MFA is designed to prepare students for a career in editing, publishing, teaching, or writing. Potential employment settings for graduates include advertising agencies, colleges/ universities, corporations, governm ents, healthcare organizations, magazines, media outlets, newspapers, non-profits, and publishers. Among the program highlights for Arcadia’s MFA are: award-winning faculty; large amounts of online content and connections; weekly workshops with asynchronous discussion and reviews from instructors and peers; and regular, personal contact between students and faculty. Key course options for the MFA include: Craft of Contemporary Fiction; Fiction Practicum; and Poetry Workshops.

  • Type: Private, nonprofit
  • Location: Glenside, Pennsylvania
  • Cost: $31,005
  • Religious Affiliation: Presbyterian Church (USA)
  • #students: 3,463
  • #grads: 1,314
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Has housing?: Yes
  • Programs: Bachelor’s through doctorate level degrees, plus certificates

University of Nebraska Omaha

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The low-residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Writing from the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO, est. 1908) is a 60-credit, hybrid program. Students can choose from one of six genres: Creative Nonfiction; Fiction; Playwriting; Poetry; Screenwriting; or Young Adult. Those wanting to specialize in a second genre can apply for an additional semester of study. In addition to a thesis requirement, students must complete a craft paper, a series of critical essays, or an internship. As for the residencies, students must complete five of them, including the final one where they will present their thesis and deliver a craft lecture. Held twice a year at a retreat in Nebraska City, Nebraska, each residency features craft discussions, lectures, readings, workshops, and an individual conference with one’s faculty mentor.

UNO’s low-residency Creative Writing MFA is designed for writers seeking a literary career. The program allows for a personalized course of study under the guidance of a dedicated mentor, who is an accomplished (often award-winning) writer. That personalized plan will determine the critical development, reading, and writing a student will undertake each semester. During each residency, students form a supportive community with their single-genre workshop group. Then, through Special Topic Workshops and future residencies, they’ll also get to interact with all the other MFA students and study multiple genres. Key course options for the MFA include: Fiction Seminar; Playwriting or Screenwriting Seminar; and Poetry Seminar.

  • Type: Public
  • Location: Omaha, Nebraska
  • Cost: $30,840
  • Affiliation: University of Nebraska System
  • #students: 15,153
  • #grads: 2,908
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Has housing?: Yes
  • Programs: Bachelor’s through doctorate level degrees, plus certificates

Bay Path University

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The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Nonfiction Writing from Bay Path University (BPU, est. 1897) is a fully online program. To graduate, students must complete 39 credits, including six for their thesis. In addition to their core courses, students must choose from one of three tracks: Publishing; Narrative Medicine; or Teaching. Each track provides for an internship or practicum opportunity. Also, while this MFA is a no-residency program, BPU does have the option for a week-long Summer Writing Seminar in Ireland, which currently features Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon. New students can enter the MFA in January, May, or September. To qualify for admission, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA in their English and Writing classes.

​Students in Bay Path’s online MFA will gain a deeper understanding of creative non-fiction as a unique genre and learn what it takes to write publishable work based on their own experiences or the personal stories of others. Other benefits include being mentored by award-winning writers, gaining real-world experience and connections, and obtaining peer feedback in writing workshops. Graduates can pursue careers in various fields, including advertising, journalism, marketing, publishing, or public relations, with such job titles as author, columnist, copywriter, editor, grant writer, journalist, memoirist, publisher, scriptwriter, or teacher. Key courses in BPU’s MFA include: Reading and Writing about Culture, Race, and Identity; Travel and Food Writing for Publication; and Writing Contemporary Women’s Stories.

  • Type: Private, non-profit
  • Location: Longmeadow, Massachusetts
  • Cost: $30,225
  • #students: 3,324
  • #grads: 1,507
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Has housing?: Yes
  • Programs: Bachelor’s through doctorate level degrees, plus certificates

Drexel University

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The low-residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing at Drexel University (DU, est. 1891) is a 45-credit hybrid program. This MFA focuses on a Fiction concentration with opportunities to gain skills and understanding in other genres. (The program also previously offered a Screenwriting Track. Please check with DU about its availability.) Students must complete three separate five-day residencies. The first and third are at Drexel’s campus in Philadelphia, the second is in New York. Each residency has career development and writing mastery components. However, the second one helps set DU apart. In that Professional Residency, students form connections with agents, editors, and publishers. Those applying for admission into this MFA must have a Bachelor’s degree (please check with DU for GPA requirements).

Drexel’s Creative Writing MFA was designed to develop writers who can create work worthy of being published and understand what it takes to be published. Students will be mentored by acclaimed authors, learn from award-winning writers, and get feedback from fellow students. Drexel also provides a rare opportunity to connect one’s creative writing to civic engagement activities. These experiences include: studying how to create grassroots change while in Haiti; writing about the natural world while in Equatorial Guinea; creating entertainment for terminally ill children; and telling the stories of hospice patients, incarcerated men and women, and military veterans. Key courses in this MFA include: Fiction Writing Packet Exchange; Fiction Writing Workshop; and Reading as a Writer (Genre Authors).

Tuition is currently at a special rate and may increase in each new semester. We’ve estimated total cost based only this special 50% off per-credit rate, available at time of publication.

  • Type: Private, non-profit
  • Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Cost: $30,195
  • #students: 24,205
  • #grads: 8,791
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Has housing?: Yes
  • Programs: Bachelor’s through doctorate level degrees, plus certificates

Southern New Hampshire University

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Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU, est. 1932) has a fully online Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing. This 48-credit degree offers the choice of four genre fiction tracks: Contemporary; Romance; Speculative; or Young Adult. SNHU’s program culminates with a three-course thesis where students create a full-length novel or story collection of publishable quality. Prior to that, students study the craft of writing and incorporate what they learn into their own writing. They also explore the publishing process to better understand the practical side of being a successful author and marketing one’s work. To qualify for admission into the MFA, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA.

SNHU’s Creative Writing MFA is one of the few fully online MFAs and even fewer focused on genre fiction. What gives it even better value is its unique and beneficial career-building components. Specifically, students can choose from one of two built-in certificates: Graduate Certificate in Online Teaching of Writing; or Graduate Certificate in Professional Writing. That means graduates will be better prepared to teach at the college and university level or be ready to pursue professional writing opportunities in today’s marketing-oriented, project-driven economy. Key courses for the MFA include: Advanced Studies in Genre Literature; Finding and Reaching an Audience; and The Business of Writing.

Additional: SNHU also offers two other creative writing graduate programs. The low-residency Mountainview Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Fiction or Nonfiction is a 60-credit, hybrid degree. Meanwhile, the 36-credit Master of Arts (MA) in English and Creative Writing is a fully online program.

  • Type: Private, non-profit
  • Location: Manchester, New Hampshire
  • Cost: $30,096
  • #students: 113,514
  • #grads: 20,612
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Has housing?: Yes
  • Programs: Associates through doctorate level, plus certificates

Converse University

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Converse University (CU, est. 1889) — formerly Converse College — offers a low-residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing. This 48-credit hybrid degree comprises five separate nine-day residencies and four mentoring semesters. Residencies incorporate seminars, workshops, and lectures and are held twice a year on CU’s Spartanburg, South Carolina, campus. The Graduating Residency completes the program and features a thesis defense. Students can focus on one of three genres: Fiction; Non-Fiction; or Poetry. Those choosing Fiction can specialize in Young Adult Fiction. Alternatively, students in any genre can specialize in Environmental Writing. Those wanting to further broaden their career horizons can choose the Second Genre Emphasis. This adds 12 credits to their degree requirements, plus an additional residency and mentoring semester. To apply for admission into the MFA, students must have a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA.

The non-traditional format of CU’s Creative Writing MFA utilizes the mentor-apprentice relationship to help students develop advanced writing skills and a relevant understanding of contemporary literature and craft. This educational style also means students can personalize their course, project, and reading list selections. Additional program benefits include faculty mentors who are award-winning writers, free room and board during residencies for full-time students, and publishing opportunities through the Clemson-Converse Literature Series. Recent graduates have won numerous writing awards and secured book deals with major and top independent publishers. Key course options in this MFA include: Craft Topics in Environmental Writing; Craft Topics in Young Adult Fiction Writing; and Poetry Writing.

NOTE: According to the program site, room and board is provided included with tuition and fees to enrolled MFA students for both the summer and winter residencies. Summer accomodations are on-campus; winter accomodations are at local hotels.

  • Type: Private, non-profit
  • Location: Spartanburg, South Carolina
  • Cost: $29,952
  • #students: 1,455
  • #grads: 647
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
  • Has housing?: Yes
  • Programs: Bachelor’s through doctorate level degrees, plus certificates

Eastern Oregon University

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Eastern Oregon University (EOU, est. 1929) offers a low-residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing. This 60-credit, hybrid degree has both a thesis and a practicum requirement. While students must select a primary genre for their thesis, they will study several genres, including: Fiction; Graphic Novels; Non-Fiction; Poetry; and Screenwriting. Students who want to specialize in a second genre can stay an additional year to do another thesis. For the ecologically inclined, EOU’s MFA has a Wilderness, Ecology and Community concentration. Either way, every student will have a unique nature experience through the summer residencies, which split time between a Wallowa Lake retreat and EOU’s campus in La Grande, Oregon. Students must complete three separate two-week residencies — comprised of craft seminars, panel presentations, and writing workshops — with the final one featuring their thesis presentation.

EOU’s low-residency Creative Writing MFA follows a cohort model to help create a tight-knit, collaborative group of fellow writing students. At the same time, as the program is designed for working professionals, students will be able to study at their own pace to ensure they can balance work, family, and school commitments. An additional benefit of EOU’s MFA is the hands-on experience provided through administrative, editing, publishing, service learning, and/ or teaching opportunities during the practicum. Key course options for the MFA include: Literary/ Film Themes; Special Topics in Writing; and Themes in Writing/ Rhetoric.

  • Type: Public
  • Location: La Grande, Oregon
  • Cost: $29,880
  • Affiliation: Oregon University System
  • #students: 3,067
  • #grads: 180
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • Has housing?: Yes
  • Programs: Associates through master’s level degrees, plus certificates

West Virginia Wesleyan College

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The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing from West Virginia Wesleyan College (WVWC, est. 1890) is a low-residency program. This 49-credit, hybrid degree requires a thesis and a critical essay. Students must also complete five total residencies — comprising craft seminars, readings, and workshops — with the last one centered on their thesis interview and presentation. Summer residencies are on-campus in Buckhannon, West Virginia, with the winter ones in Blackwater Falls State Park. (An Ireland MFA Residency is also an option.) Students must choose from one of three genre tracks: Creative Nonfiction; Fiction; or Poetry. For those wanting to study a second track, a Cross-Genre Concentration is available. It adds 12 credits, a residency, and a semester to the program’s original completion requirements.

Wesleyan’s low-residency Creative Writing MFA follows a student-centered model that is designed to replicate the flow of a writer’s life. Program participants can maintain their regular lives while learning to become dedicated writers in balance with those commitments. Students work one-on-one with a variety of accomplished faculty mentors. At the same time, everyone is part of a welcoming, supportive writing community. Study and coursework are focused on mastering craft and technique, along with the development and furtherance of the writer’s mind. Key course options in the MFA include: Craft and Theory of Fiction; Creative Nonfiction Workshop; and Semester Project in Fiction, Poetry, or Creative Nonfiction.

  • Type: Private, nonprofit
  • Location: Buckhannon, West Viriginia
  • Cost: $26,729
  • Religious affiliation: United Methodist Church
  • #students: 1,226
  • #grads: 95
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Has housing?: Yes
  • Programs: BMDC Bachelor’s through doctorate level degrees, plus certificates

Lindenwood University

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Lindenwood University (LU, est. 1827) offers a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Writing that can be taken online, on-campus, or in a hybrid format. This 48-credit, creative writing MFA includes a thesis requirement and combines craft and literature classes with writing workshops to help students grow as writers and expand their literary knowledge and analytical abilities. With the fully online option, there are no residency requirements. Additionally, students can customize their degree outline, selecting courses across several genres and literary areas, or choosing an emphasis in: Creative Nonfiction; Fiction; or Poetry. To apply for admission, students must have a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

The University of Denver also offers a Ph.D. in English & Literary Arts with a concentration in Creative Writing. Students will choose either a “poetry” or “prose” track. Poets &Writers ranked the University of Denver as the top creative writing program in the country.

LU’s MFA in Writing is designed as a fully flexible option that fits the needs, interests, and schedules of all its students. Lindenwood aims to remove the barriers that may be stopping someone from pursuing their educational and career goals. Along with career resources, peer support, and networking connections, an additional benefit of this MFA is the chance to be an editorial assistant with the program’s annual literary journal. Graduates of LU’s MFA can pursue both employed and self-employed positions, achieving such job titles as author, editor, journalist, marketing writer, reporter, staff writer, and technical writer. As this MFA is a terminal degree, graduates can also teach at the college and university level. Key course options for this MFA include: Creative Nonfiction Craft Foundations; Focused Scriptwriting Workshop; and The Personal Essay and Memoir.

  • Type: Private, non-profit
  • Location: Saint Charles, Missouri
  • Cost: $24,960
  • Affiliation: Lindenwood University System
  • #students: 8,392
  • #grads: 2738
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Has housing?: Yes
  • Programs: Bachelor’s through doctorate level degrees, plus certificates

Wilkes University

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Wilkes University (WU, est. 1933) offers two connected, low-residency creative writing graduate degrees — the Master of Arts (MA) in Creative Writing and the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing. The 30-credit MA offers seven tracks: Creative Nonfiction; Documentary Film; Fiction; Playwriting; Poetry; Publishing; and Screenwriting. Four, eight-day, on-campus residencies are required, including a capstone one. (WU also has a “weekender” option where each residency is broken down into four consecutive weekends during the semester.) The MFA is the continuation of WU’s MA program. It requires an additional 18 credits and one more residency. MFA students will revise their MA thesis for publication or production, or start a new project based on the thesis. They will also complete a full-term internship in teaching or publishing. Those applying for the MA should have a Bachelor’s degree, but it’s not essential. Those applying for the MFA must have completed the MA program and earned a 3.5 GPA in every course.

Wilkes’s low-residency Creative Writing MA and MFA programs focus on writing craft and the business of writing. That real-world integration is what makes it unique. Every MA thesis is read by an agent, editor, publisher, or producer who provides detailed feedback and a personal meeting. Meanwhile, MFA internships give students real-world experience and connections. Also, WU’s MA and MFA teach students how to: live, think, and work as writers; connect with audiences; and pitch ideas to editors, publishers, or producers. The proof? Hundreds of graduates have had their works published or produced. Countless others have become agents, book reviewers, editors, professors, PR directors, and video game scriptwriters.

Key courses and options for the MA include: Drafting Project in Fiction; Genre and Context in Publishing; and Writing Plays. Key courses and options for the MFA include: Literary Analysis; Revision Term; and Writing in Education/ Publishing Internship.

  • Type: Private, non-profit
  • Location: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
  • Cost: $24,180
  • #students: 4,680
  • #grads: 2,329
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Has housing?: Yes
  • Programs: Bachelor’s through doctorate level degrees

University of Texas at El Paso

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The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP, est. 1914) offers a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing that can be taken entirely online. The MFA requires 48 credits for graduation, including six for a thesis. While there are no residency requirements for this degree, adventurous students can select the low-residency option and travel to a different international city every summer. Past host cities have included London, Madrid, and Paris. The program itself is built around a mix of writing workshops, literature courses, and form and theory explorations covering various genres and forms. For their thesis, students will select either: Fiction or Poetry. To qualify for admission into the MFA, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree and ideally a minimum 3.0 GPA.

UTEP’s MFA is one of the few fully online Creative Writing MFAs in the United States and the only bilingual one. While classes are taught in English, students have the option to submit assignments in Spanish. Career-wise, the main focus of this high-quality program is preparing graduates for careers as published writers and/ or teaching creative writing at colleges and universities. This MFA has a strong literary focus and foundation. In addition to academic ability, it favors talented and driven writers with distinct, developing, or new voices, and those with cultural and social awareness. Key course options for the MFA include: Advanced Screenwriting; Forms and Techniques of Fiction; and Storytelling – Film and Literature.

  • Type: Public
  • Location: El Paso, Texas
  • Cost: $23,520
  • Affiliation: University of Texas System
  • #students: 25,177
  • #grads: 3,750
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
  • Has housing?: Yes
  • Programs: Bachelor’s through doctorate level degrees, plus certificates

Saint Leo University

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Acceptance Rate

The low-residency Master of Arts (MA) in Creative Writing at Saint Leo University (SLU, est. 1889) is a 36-credit, hybrid program. Students can choose from one of three degree tracks: Fiction; Non-Fiction; or Poetry. SLU is also said to have the only MA program that offers a track specialization in War Literature and Writing for Veterans — a uniquely relevant and poignant option in today’s world. Overall, the program combines creative writing and literary studies personalized to each student’s goals. The MA’s eight-day residency is held on-campus in St. Leo, Florida, each summer. Students must attend three of these. To be eligible for admission to the MA, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.25 GPA.

SLU’s low-residency MA in Creative Writing is a flexible option for working adults who dream of writing memorable works of fiction or becoming notable essayists, memoirists, or poets. Other students use this MA to advance their professional careers or use it as a foundational step to pursuing terminal degrees in fields such as creative writing, education, English, journalism, or law. Whatever one’s goals or dreams, SLU provides a dedicated faculty mentor (a published writer of national recognition) to help guide you. You will also have the regular feedback and community of your fellow writing students. Key courses and options for the MA include: Foundations in Fiction; Theory and Practice of Creative Writing; and Workshop in Creative Nonfiction.

  • Type: Private, non-profit
  • Location: Saint Leo, Florida
  • Cost: $23,400
  • Religious affiliation: Catholic Church (Order of Saint Benedict)
  • #students: 10,912
  • #grads: 3,069
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
  • Has housing?: Yes
  • Programs: Associates through doctorate level, plus certificates

Concordia University-Saint Paul

Graduation Rate
Acceptance Rate

Concordia University-Saint Paul (CSP, est. 1893) offers a fully online Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing through the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. This 36-credit program features 11 courses plus a thesis. CSP’s MFA helps students hone their creative writing skills while also developing the ability to read and assess literature across three genres: Fiction; Creative Non-Fiction; and Poetry. Students will develop their creative writing skills through craft and workshop courses while studying different literary forms, genres, and topics via literature and research courses. To qualify for admission, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

CSP’s MFA in Creative Writing is well-suited to the needs of working adults. In addition to being fully online, year-round admission is possible. Classes are held once a week, and each course takes only seven weeks to complete. Students will have the chance to work with several published authors throughout their degree and gain the skills and perspectives needed to produce publishable work. This will allow them to pursue a career as a professional writer in a variety of different fields. As such, CSP’s Creative Writing MFA is suitable for those who want to become writers and those who are already writers but want to expand their career potential. Key courses in this MFA include: Studies in the Craft of Creative Writing; Researching and Writing About Literature; and The Culture of Writing, Editing, and Publishing.

  • Type: Private, non-profit
  • Location: Saint Paul, Minnesota
  • Cost: $18,900
  • Affiliation: Concordia University System
  • Religious affiliation: Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod
  • #students: 5,137
  • #grads: 2,012
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Has housing?: Yes
  • Programs: Bachelor’s through doctorate level degrees, plus certificates

Central Washington University

Graduation Rate
Acceptance Rate

Central Washington University (CWU, est. 1891) offers a Master of Arts (MA) in Professional and Creative Writing that can be taken entirely online or in a multi-modal (hybrid) format. This MA requires 45 credits for completion. There is no thesis requirement, but students must complete an end-of-program Portfolio course. There are also no defined degree tracks, allowing students to customize their course of study based on their career goals and interests. Plus, with CWU’s 10-week quarter system, this well-ranked creative writing program can be completed in as little as four quarters. To qualify for admission, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA (check with CWU about its current GRE requirements).

​CWU’s Professional and Creative Writing MA is designed to help graduates successfully navigate a new world economy that emphasizes learning and adapting over knowing. By combining creative and professional writing with critical thinking skills, the program can benefit students seeking several different career outcomes. This includes students who need upgraded writing skills to advance in their careers, professional and creative writers who want to make themselves more marketable and pursue expanded opportunities, and students who need advanced writing abilities to pursue additional graduate programs. Others choose this MA to satisfy a personal dream of becoming a creative writer while continuing their established careers. Key courses and electives include: Advanced Poetry Writing; Professional Writing with New Media; and Studies in Rhetoric.

  • Type: Public
  • Location: Ellensburg, Washington
  • Cost: $17,469.15
  • #students: 11,658
  • #grads: 547
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • Has housing?: Yes
  • Programs: Bachelor’s and master’s level degrees, plus certificates

Mississippi University for Women

Graduation Rate
Acceptance Rate

The low-residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing from Mississippi University for Women (MUW, est. 1884) is a 48-credit hybrid program. Much of the degree can be completed online, including a thesis, form and literature courses, and writing workshops. Workshops are available in: Fiction; Nonfiction; Playwriting; Poetry; Translation; and Writing for New Media. The MFA’s residency requirements comprise two Short Residencies and two Full Residencies. Short Residencies are five-day masterclasses that occur at different times of year but are often scheduled to coincide with major on- and off-campus events, such as the Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium. Full Residencies occur in late May and are nine to 10 days of workshops, seminars, and readings. To be eligible for admission to the MFA, students must have a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA.

MUW’s Creative Writing MFA is designed for working adults. It is built to be both affordable and flexible. Students can customize their course of study, selecting classes in as many or few genres as they wish. (Residencies already ensure students gain a broader understanding and perspective by providing cross- and mixed-genre experiences.) Students can also tailor their selections to fit specific career goals, adding Residencies, Internships, and Literary Magazine Production experiences. The Full Residencies offer a strong career focus with professional topics that include: publishing and self-publishing; writing for the web; working with an agent; and creative writing pedagogy (teaching strategies for various environments). Key course options for this MFA include: Early Women Writers; Medieval and Renaissance Narratives; and The Professional Writer.

  • Type: Private, non-profit
  • Location: Columbus, Mississippi
  • Cost: $17,343.1
  • #students: 2,811
  • #grads: 217
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
  • Has housing?: Yes
  • Programs: Associates through doctorate level, plus certificates

University of Houston-Victoria

Graduation Rate
Acceptance Rate

The University of Houston-Victoria (UHV, est. 1973) offers a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing that can be taken entirely online or in a low-residency, hybrid format. The degree requires 36 credits for completion, including six for a thesis. Students can choose the regular Creative Writing path or a specialized Concentration in Applied Literary Translation. Students can study any genre for the regular path but must select one for their thesis: Creative Nonfiction; Fiction; or Poetry. The main focus of the MFA is on developing one’s writing skills and understanding the literary form. However, several electives are available to help tailor the degree towards a student’s interest in literature or publishing. Those applying for the program will need a Bachelor’s degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA on their last 60 undergraduate credits. (GRE scores may be required for those with a lower GPA; check with UHV to confirm.)

UHV’s online Creative Writing MFA can be an affordable option that provides graduates with several potential career opportunities. While the program was created to help students pursue their dreams of becoming published authors, it also prepares them for nearly every writing career option. That means graduates can also pursue more practical jobs, including in editing, journalism, literary translation, publishing, and teaching. Additionally, since UHV is a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), students can integrate a Latino literature and cultural element into their studies and writing. Key courses and electives for the MFA include: Form and Poetics; Graduate Poetry Writing Workshop; and Publication Design.

UHV’s online Creative Writing MFA can be an affordable option that provides graduates with several potential career opportunities. While the program was created to help students pursue their dreams of becoming published authors, it also prepares them for nearly every writing career option. That means graduates can also pursue more practical jobs, including in editing, journalism, literary translation, publishing, and teaching. Additionally, since UHV is a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), students can integrate a Latino literature and cultural element into their studies and writing. Key courses and electives for the MFA include: Form and Poetics; Graduate Poetry Writing Workshop; and Publication Design.

  • Type: Public
  • Location: Victoria, Texas
  • Cost: $16,840.08
  • Affiliation: University of Houston System
  • #students: 4,506
  • #grads: 1,139
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
  • Has housing?: Yes
  • Programs: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees

Tiffin University

Graduation Rate
Acceptance Rate

Tiffin University (TU, est. 1888) offers a fully online Master of Humanities (MH) with a Creative Writing Concentration. It places third in our list of best online creative writing graduate programs.

This 30-credit degree allows students to understand and develop their abilities in several genres and compositional forms, including: Creative Non-Fiction; Drama; Fiction; Genre and Performance Writing; Novels; Poetry; Screenplays; and Short Stories. The program combines a humanities foundation with hands-on writing experience and an academic study of selected genres and forms. The culmination is a capstone project, which requires each student to research a chosen area of interest and produce either a creative project, a portfolio project, or a thesis. To be eligible for admission to the MH, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree with a preferred GPA of 3.0.

Tiffin’s online Master’s in Creative Writing is designed as a flexible, affordable graduate program option. With multiple start dates and a mix of seven- and 15-week courses, students can enter the program when it suits them and finish their degree in just 18 months. The primary focus of the MH is preparing graduates to pursue a variety of creative writing careers. This can include becoming an author, content writer, copywriter, editor, freelance writer, journalist, publicist, screenwriter, technical writer, or video game writer. Some graduates go on to teach at the high school or community college level. Others use the MH as the foundation to pursue advanced graduate degrees. Key courses and options for the MH include: Creative Writing – The Novel; Creativity and Its Development; Critical Thinking and Reading.

  • Type: Private, non-profit
  • Location: Tiffin, Ohio
  • Cost: $16,500
  • #students: 2,926
  • #grads: 744
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Has housing?: Yes
  • Programs: Associates through doctorate level, plus certificates

University of Arkansas at Monticello

Graduation Rate
Acceptance Rate

The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing at the University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM, est. 1910) is a fully online program. This program, which comes in second in our list, is the most affordable of the creative nonfiction MFA programs in this review article.

To graduate, students must complete 48 credits, including six for their thesis. The MFA offers three genres to choose from: Creative Nonfiction; Fiction; or Poetry. The core of the program features workshop courses that foster high-level skills in critical thinking and literary analysis while ensuring a mastery in creative writing. This focus is supplemented with multiple electives to allow students to tailor the program to best suit their interests and goals, including pursuing independent areas of study. To be eligible for admission to the MFA, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

UAM’s online Creative Writing MFA is meant to be both flexible and affordable. It is designed for talented, self-motivated individuals who appreciate the freedom to follow their own pace and areas of study. To ensure each student has a fuller understanding of their own genre, they will work with a different faculty mentor each semester. They will also take workshops in the other two genres to help give their writing a broader perspective and more unique outlook and voice. Key courses and options for the MFA include: Advanced Workshop – Form and Craft; Magazine Edit and Design; and Memoirs of the Mind.

  • Type: Public
  • Location: Monticello, Arkansas
  • Cost: $13,262.4
  • #students: 2,855
  • #grads: 331
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Has housing?: Yes
  • Programs: Associates through master’s level degrees, plus certificates

Western Connecticut State University

Graduation Rate
Acceptance Rate

Western Connecticut State University (WCSU, est. 1903) has a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative and Professional Writing. This best low-residency master’s in creative writing wins first place in our list of best creative writing programs online.

This hybrid degree requires approximately 60 credits for completion and includes an internship or teaching practicum, an enrichment project, and a thesis. Students must also complete four separate, week-long residencies comprising discussions, lectures, and workshops. Residencies are held twice a year on the WCSU campus in Danbury, Connecticut. (There is also an optional Dublin, Ireland, residency featuring workshops in Oscar Wilde’s home and events at the Bram Stoker Festival.) For their degree, students must select a primary and secondary genre specialization. One must be creative, such as: Creative Nonfiction; Drama: Fiction; Poetry; or Screenwriting. The other must be practical, for example: Advertising Copywriting; Historical Biographies; Journalism; Medical Writing; Public Relations; or Technical Writing.

WCSU’s low-residency MFA utilizes a student-driven mentorship model. For most courses, a student works with a faculty member to develop a personalized course plan. Then, there is WCSU’s practical education approach, which ensures students learn from successful writers across several genres and styles and apply what they’ve learned in real-world settings. This combination might be why WCSU has such a high success rate — 87 percent of graduates are full-time professional writers and/ or have published books. Key courses for this MFA include: Genre History, Criticism, and Theory; Reading for Writers; and The Individual Aesthetic and Process.

  • Type: Public
  • Location: Danbury, Connecticut
  • Cost: $11,344
  • Affiliation: Connecticut State University System
  • #students: 5,631
  • #grads: 649
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Has housing?: Yes
  • Programs: Associates through doctorate level degrees, plus certificates

What can I do with a master’s in creative writing?

A creative writing degree opens up a lot of potential professional opportunities including, but not limited to, the following, listed below. Note that some of these opportunities may be available without having taken a top creative writing graduate program.

  1. Advertising manager
  2. Arts administrator
  3. Author
  4. Blogger – general
  5. College lecturer – lower division
  6. Columnist
  7. Communications director
  8. Commuity college lecturer
  9. Content writer (Web or otherwise)
  10. Copyeditor
  11. Copywriter
  12. Customer service representative (CSR)
  13. Editor
  14. Editorial assistant
  15. Educator – general
  16. Email marketing specialist
  17. Film and television
  18. Ghostwriter
  19. Grant or funding proposal writer
  20. Human resources
  21. Instructional coordinator
  22. Journalist
  23. Lexicographer
  24. Market researcher
  25. Marketing communications
  26. Novelist
  27. Poet
  28. Public relations specialist
  29. Publishing
  30. Sales agent
  31. Screenwriter
  32. Social media specialist
  33. Songwriter
  34. Talent agent
  35. Technical writer
  36. Travel blogger
  37. Tutor
  38. Web content manager
  39. Writing consultant
  40. Writing instructor

Combining a creative writing master’s degree with a minor specialization or other degree can also increase your career opportunities. There are also numerous other career opportunities, particularly in arts and education, in which it can be useful to have an MFA or MA in creative writing.

How long does it take to complete and online MFA in creative writing?

Of the online master’s programs in creative writing that are mentioned in this college review article, they range from 30 to 65 credits. How long you take depends on whether you’re enrolled full- or part-time, how many semesters a college has in an AY (Academic Year), etc. Some programs could be completed in as little as one year, plus time for creating and defending a thesis, if necessary. Longer programs might take 2-3 years.

How do I apply for an online MFA in creative writing program?

So you’re ready to apply to a college’s online master’s in creative writing degree program. The steps you’ll take are approximately in this order:

  • Confirm that a specific program is of interest to you. Call the college admission’s department if you cannot find all the details on their Web site, or email them a message.
  • Determine the requirements for admission to the program and confirm that you are eligible.
  • File a FAFSA, if you plan to enroll full time and are interested in federal student loans for graduate programs.
  • Check the program application deadline(s), application fees, etc., and prepare your application.
  • Send out requests and fees for necessary transcripts.
  • Send out requests for necessary references, with instructions on where they should send their typed, signed, dated reference.
  • Complete and submit your application.
  • Wait for a response.

How much can I make with an online MFA in creative writing?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook has the role “Writers and Authors” listed as having $67,120 as the median yearly pay for 2020. However, that does not indicate potential earnings, only median actual earnings as reported by American writers/ authors.

When you revist the list of potential careers, above, you’ll see the possibility for earning more. Factor in the possibility of writing content for yourself, on your own Web site (or scripted for your YouTube channel), monetized in one or more of multiple ways including affiliate marketing. Maybe you can set up the latter in addition to having a professional writing career (salaried or freelance). All of these combined will potentially exceed the aforementioned median salary.

How do I start a career in creative writing?

Begin by identifying the kind of career you want. The list of job titles above can help you get started. Once you know where you want to go, creating the plan and steps needed to get there becomes easier.

Next, focus on the foundational steps listed below. These can help every writer build the career they want:

  • Practice
  • Network
  • Seek feedback
  • Volunteer
  • Create your opportunity
  • Study marketing
  • Stay social
  • Be bold and innovative
Practice

Do your daily writing practice. You always hear athletes talk about staying ready. Practice helps you stay ready for when your opportunity arrives. Plus, when you get into the habit of writing purposefully every day, the quality of your work improves, and so does your productivity and efficiency. You will also learn to be more succinct with your writing while still conveying what you want to communicate.

Network

Build your network and be active within it. Let your contacts know when you’re looking for work, and what types of writing work you’re suited for. Your network can’t help if they don’t know that you need help.

Seek feedback

Create a MasterMind Group (an advisory board) to provide feedback on your writing and marketing efforts. The group can be comprised of other writers, people from different industries and professions, or both, depending on your current network and comfort level.

Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to gain writing experience and expand your network, all while giving something back. Most non-profits need help in many areas, including a variety of writing-related tasks. Plus, if they hold charity events, you might meet key figures in your community. And, what better way to introduce yourself and your work to local luminaries than by helping promote their favorite cause. While some experienced writers say not to give your work away free, when it comes to non-profit group opportunities, think of your effort as an investment both for yourself and the non-profit.

Create your opportunity

If you’re not getting the opportunities you want — make your own! With all the DIY tools and platforms available, don’t wait for someone to give you a chance. Launch your own blog, create a YouTube channel to showcase your scripts, publish your own collection of poetry, pen a series of essays on the latest hot-button topic, write your own sports analysis or celebrity gossip column.

Beyond these DIY methods, user-generated content platforms like Medium or Quora are also great options. They allow you to reach large audiences and gain valuable feedback. Some of them also have earning opportunities for writers, sometimes based on the response of readers.

Study marketing

Even authors with publishing contracts have to know how to self-promote. Learning basic marketing skills can help you launch and grow your career. At a minimum, create your own website and online portfolio, and make sure the content there is optimized for search engine rankings.

Stay social

Learn how to use social media. It’s a critical way to promote your name, build a following, and garner attention for your work. You can also network there. It’s not always the best writer that gets hired; it’s often the one people know about and whose work they are familiar with.

Be bold and innovative

Leverage past experiences. This includes writing about what you know. If you’ve had another career or have experience in other fields, write about that or pitch this as an article idea to an industry publication.

While being bold, don’t limit yourself to just one opportunity or path. The Internet has made it much “easier” for writers to make a living online, and that includes aforementioned self-starter opportunities. Find and/or create multiple opportunities for yourself, and always come up with new ideas to pitch while waiting for a response to a previous pitch.

Best Online Master’s in Creative Writing (MFA)

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Online MFA Creative Writing

Master’s in creative writing programs are ideal for students who love writing and aspire to make a living through the craft.Creative writers build worlds, develop stories, and create characters that engage and entertain readers. Writers often choose genres and stories that relate to their own interests. For instance, a traveler may write creative nonfiction pieces about tourist locations, and writers who are interested in the American West often write western novels.

Creative writing graduates can also pursue careers in other fields. For example, they may write marketing advertisements, political speeches, or technical pieces for instructional manuals. Over half of writers and authors are self-employed.

These careers require editing, writing, and research skills. Editors must also have an understanding of genre fundamentals. To gain the necessary knowledge, students can earn a master’s in creative writing online.

The following guide provides information about the top online writing programs in the country and what you can do with a creative writing degree after graduation.

Featured MFA Programs

The Best Online Master’s in Creative Writing Programs

What Is an Online Master’s in Creative Writing Degree?

A master’s in writing develops research, writing, and editing skills and explores story elements in different genres. For example, poetry learners study rhyme and meter, while children’s writers explore child psychology and common writing techniques. Required courses often cover character development, setting research, and publishing.

Creative writing programs often include literature courses in which learners analyze famous works for writing insights. Students also create new pieces and critique classmates’ work in writing workshops. These workshops hone writing, editing, and proofreading skills and increase students’ professional networks. Additional requirements may include a thesis, portfolio, or internship.

Admission requirements often include writing samples and personal statements. Ideal applicants have previous writing experience.

Featured MFA Programs

Choosing an Online Program

Prospective students should consider program quality and flexibility when choosing a master’s in writing. Learners may prefer departments with published authors as faculty, or they may prefer a program that offers the flexibility of asynchronous courses. They should also consider concentration options, completion times, and tuition costs.

The following guide provides more tips on finding the right program.

What Else Can I Expect From a Master’s in Creative Writing Program?

Online MFA in creative writing programs usually offer concentrations in poetry, fiction writing, and creative nonfiction. Most programs include workshops and lectures on writing concepts like character building and plot development. These programs also introduce learners to different genres and often require a thesis.

Below are three common courses in online writing programs.

Master’s in Creative Writing Curriculum

Literary Genres for Writers

This course covers fiction and related subgenres, such as fantasy, romance, and historical fiction. Students explore the structures and general expectations of these genres. The course may also focus on a single type of writing, such as poetry, memoir, or nonfiction.

Character Development

This course trains students to create effective, believable characters. Coursework may prioritize character realism, consistency, and psychology within the story’s context. Students examine the necessary traits of major and minor characters and build a portfolio of several character outlines.

Writing a Short Story

Learners in this course study short stories and analyze elements of writing styles. Additional topics may include syntax and short story structures. Students create a short story and undergo peer review to receive feedback. Programs may offer similar classes focused on other forms of writing, like nonfiction, poetry, or television writing.

AWP provides an online tool that allows users to search for writing programs by location, genre, and degree. The association connects website visitors with writing contests, funding, job opportunities, and avenues to publication. Professionals can also attend the annual AWP book fair and conference or browse the online database to find other meetings.

The Authors Guild supports writers by offering panels, book launches, and book expos. Website visitors can browse contests in fiction, poetry, and translations, or they can seek out fellowships and workshops. Members receive legal assistance for book contracts, access to writing resources, and insurance against copyright disputes.

The Writer’s Center offers writing workshops for specific age groups, including adults, teenagers, and children. Members can also attend book launches and an annual poetry reading. This organization offers editing and project advising and maintains a blog that covers industry topics like publication practices, genre word counts, beta readers, and author experiences.

Careers in Creative Writing

Earning a master’s in creative writing online prepares students to craft creative messages for books, articles, advertisements, speeches, scripts, and social media posts. Graduates can pursue any field that involves message creation and delivery.

The best candidates for writing careers are creative and have a strong grasp on writing structure and effective communication. Creative writers should also understand research methods, work well within deadlines, and be able to accept constructive criticism from editors. Below are a few creative writing jobs that graduates can pursue.

Writers and Authors

Writers and Authorsresearch and write pieces for magazines, websites, publishing houses, and blogs, and may also create scripts for television, movies, or plays. They may write books for traditional or self-publishing in genres like fantasy, romance, mystery, and nonfiction.

Authors often polish their works based on editor critiques and may need to market their work as well. Companies usually expect writers to have a college degree and writing experience.

Median Annual Salary

Projected Growth Rate

make publication decisions for companies and help writers develop stories into polished products. These professionals may review small writing issues, like spelling and grammar, or larger issues, like structure, factual accuracy, continuity, and clarity.

Specific job titles include copy editor, publication assistant, and executive editor. Editors often work at newspaper and book publishing companies, or they work freelance.

Earning a master’s in creative writing online gives prospective editors an advantage when competing for jobs.

Median Annual Salary

Projected Growth Rate

help organizations create and uphold a positive image for the public, affecting their relationship with customers and investors. These professionals create press releases, write speeches, and research consumer preferences through social media. Public relations specialists may also review advertisements and communicate with media outlets about publicity opportunities.

These professionals can find work at advertising, educational, business, and government organizations. They need a bachelor’s in a field like English, journalism, or communication. Employers may also require a portfolio and field experience.

Median Annual Salary

Projected Growth Rate

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take to Complete a Master’s in Creative Writing Program?

Most students can earn a master’s in writing in around two years.

What Can I Do With a Master’s in Creative Writing?

This degree prepares students for careers as authors, editors, reporters, and public relations specialists. Graduates can also teach creative writing at colleges.

Is a Master’s in Creative Writing Worth It?

Many writing careers do not require a master’s degree. However, online writing programs help students polish writing skills, which can improve their salary and career prospects.

Can I Teach English With a Creative Writing Degree?

Earning a master’s in writing online qualifies graduates to teach English courses at many colleges, as an MFA is often the minimum qualification for these roles. However, some schools require a doctorate for teaching positions.

What Is a Master’s in Creative Writing?

Online MFA in creative writing programs explore brainstorming, writing, and editing practices for different genres. These programs often culminate in a thesis or portfolio.

7 Best Creative Writing Schools in the World

Creative writers are among the most versatile professionals that transcend time. While not always lucrative, a career in creative writing is rewarding for passionate artists.

Generally speaking, a university’s Creative Writing program is evaluated based on the number of awards their alumni have won or how many award-winning and globally renowned writers are among their faculty members. Some universities also offer interactive workshops, seminars, and immersive summer programs, allowing students to travel to cities recognized as literary hotspots.

To gain a professional advantage, aspiring writers look for universities that provide the best programs for Creative Writing. In the article below, we talk about some of the best creative writing schools in the world.

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Top Creative Writing Schools in the World

1. University of Cambridge

  • Degrees Offered: Master

The University of Cambridge is a culturally diverse institution with almost 40 colleges and schools that host over 20,000 students from more than 150 countries. It is over eight centuries old and has built a solid reputation above numerous universities worldwide.

Recognized as one of the best creative writing schools in the world, the University of Cambridge’s Masters in Creative Writing program lasts two years. It is specially designed to be accessible to working professionals and international students. The degree granted by the university can become a ticket for graduates to pursue a Ph.D. in the same field at other universities in the UK or abroad.

Through the program, students can develop skills in fiction or nonfiction writing. The first year provides them with a background in writing in various genres, while the second year allows them to explore their own writing style with the help of a supervisor.

2. Columbia University

  • Degrees Offered: Bachelor, Master

Columbia University opened in 1754 as the King’s College. It is the oldest higher education institution in New York and one of the oldest in the US. It currently has 17 schools and four affiliate schools with numerous programs ranking among the best nationally and globally.

The School of the Arts at Columbia University offers an undergraduate degree in Creative Writing. The program lasts five semesters, and students have to complete five workshops, four seminars, and three elective courses within such period. Students of this prestigious institution for creative writing may select between the Single-Genre Major and the Cross-Genre Major. The latter one allows them to combine two genres.

Graduates may pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree in the same field. Columbia University’s MFA degree is a top-ranking program that requires students to earn 60 points to graduate.

3. Princeton University

  • Degrees Offered: Bachelor

Princeton University is another one of the world’s best creative writing schools and was founded in the mid-18 th century, making it one of the oldest universities in the US. It also ranks among the top academic institutions in the country, attracting some of the most outstanding individuals who comprise its over 8,000 student population. Among its notable alumni are 18 Nobel Prize awardees, two US presidents, and three US Supreme Court Justices.

The university’s Creative Writing program under the Lewis Center for the Arts offers undergraduate students an opportunity to develop their writing skills under the supervision of some famous and active professional writers. Students can participate in workshop courses to learn poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and more with a small group of students and faculty members.

4. Johns Hopkins University

  • Degrees Offered: Bachelor, Master

Johns Hopkins University was inaugurated in 1876 as the first research university in the US. It takes pride in its outstanding academic programs that produced graduates and alumni who won numerous prestigious awards, including Grammys, Emmys, Pulitzer, and Oscars.

The university offers an undergraduate program major in Writing Seminars where students can take poetry & fiction writing courses and literature courses and participate in seminars on the history and technique of prose and poetry.

The Master of Fine Arts program at Johns Hopkins University is highly selective and grants qualified students full tuition, health insurance, and teaching fellowship worth a rough $30,000. It lasts two years and requires students to take residency in Baltimore.

5. University of Chicago

  • Degrees Offered: Bachelor

The University of Chicago is a research university that opened in the late 19 th century. Over the years, it has been affiliated with over 90 Nobel laureates and has become one of the top ten universities in the US. It is currently home to over 17,000 students across 12 schools and divisions.

The Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing degree at the University of Chicago offers in-depth training in a student’s choice of literary genre: fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Within four years, students must comply with the major requirements, including a fundamental course in Creative Writing Seminar, two technical seminars relevant to their primary genre, three advanced workshops, four literature courses, two research electives, a thesis or project workshop, and a BA thesis.

6. New York University

  • Degrees Offered: Bachelor, Master

New York University (NYU) was founded in 1831 and has always been an innovative academic institution from the get-go. New York is home to many multi-awarded novelists, poets, and creative nonfiction writers, making NYU one of the top creative writing schools across the globe.

NYU offers undergraduate and Master of Fine Arts programs in Creative Writing administered by award-winning writers and outstanding faculty members. Undergraduate students may participate in intensive summer writing programs in Florence, New York, or Paris. They may also join writing competitions in the department and take advantage of internship opportunities.

Meanwhile, the MFA program provides a vibrant environment for students to learn from a gifted group of instructors and participate in exciting and interactive outreach programs, reading series, seminars, and more.

7. University of Pennsylvania

  • Degrees Offered: Certificate, Bachelor

The University of Pennsylvania is yet another excellent creative writing school that thrives on cutting-edge education techniques and technology. It opened in 1740, and its long history has significantly helped improve and expand the university’s culture of innovation.

The university’s School of Arts and Sciences offers a Certificate in Creative Writing, requiring students to take four out of eight courses: Poetry Workshop, Fiction Workshop, Screenwriting, Advanced Nonfiction, Journalism, Craft of Creative Writing, Writing about Place, and Modern & Contemporary US Poetry.

Penn also has a four-year Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (BAAS) degree in Creative Studies, where students can select Creative Writing as their area of concentration.

I hope that you found this article on the best creative writing schools in the world informative and helpful. Make sure to also check out our Scholarships Page for different information on scholarships and universities across the globe!