The Best Creative Writing Programs

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A creative writing program gives students expert guidance in sharpening their artistic talents.

Bachelor's programs teach the basics, while master of fine arts (MFA) and master of arts (MA) in creative writing programs train students advanced skills in story structure, research, and literary devices. This knowledge helps learners excel in writing-related positions.

Writers can work in any industry that relies on written communication. Graduates with creative writing degrees may work in roles like grant writer, author, journalist, scriptwriter, and public relations specialist. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that 61% of writers and authors are self-employed.

This guide ranks the best MFA in creative writing programs in the country. This page also covers important information for prospective students, such as common courses and potential careers and salaries for graduates.

Top 10 Online Creative Writing Programs 2020

#1 Harvard University Cambridge, MA
#2 Columbia University in the City of New York New York, NY
#3 University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI
#4 New York University New York, NY
#5 Cornell University Ithaca, NY
#6 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
#7 University of Wisconsin - Madison Madison, WI
#8 Northwestern University Evanston, IL
#9 University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN
#10 Brown University Providence, RI

Table of Contents

This guide includes everything you need to know about the best online Creative Writing programs. Click on a topic to learn more.

The Best Creative Writing Programs

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4

New York University 

New York, NY

About this school

Established in 1832, New York University boasts a 94% freshman retention rate and an 87% six-month employment rate for graduates. Notable alumni include authors Judy Blume, Suzanne Collins, Warren Adler, and Elizabeth Gilbert.

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at NYU offers one of the best MFA in creative writing programs in the country. The program offers poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction specializations. Students examine writing, literary analysis, and the publication process through coursework and related events. The creative writing degree includes seminars with guest authors and reading series for authors and students.

Applicants must provide transcripts, recommendation letters, a statement of purpose, and a resume or CV. MFA candidates must also deliver a writing sample. For poetry students, this sample should include 10 pages of poems; fiction and creative nonfiction applicants should submit around 25 pages of a writing project.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
85%
Percent Receiving Loans
31%
5

Cornell University 

Ithaca, NY

About this school

Founded in 1865, Cornell University is a private institution that comprises 15 schools and colleges. The school hosts around 24,000 students each year and holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

The Department of English at Cornell delivers a master of fine arts in creative writing that admits just eight students per year. The creative writing degree includes six required courses and offers fiction and poetry concentrations. Students work with faculty members to choose courses aligned with their goals. Learners also complete a workshop every semester.

Students gain practical experience working as Epoch editorial assistants and university teaching assistants during the program. Learners culminate the degree by completing a novel or a compilation of poems or short stories.

The department provides funding, including health insurance, for every MFA student. Application materials include recommendation letters, a statement of purpose, and a writing sample that reflects the candidate's intended concentration.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
95%
Percent Receiving Loans
32%
6

Johns Hopkins University 

Baltimore, MD

About this school

Renowned for research, Johns Hopkins University dates back to 1876 and boasts alumni like President Woodrow Wilson, writer Jeffrey Blitz, and journalist Joanne Silberner. The school holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

Johns Hopkins offers a master of arts in writing that students can complete online or on campus. The program offers fiction and nonfiction concentrations. Nonfiction learners study memoir and journalistic writing, while fiction majors learn to write novels and short stories. Both concentrations incorporate workshops and require a publication course and a thesis.

Students can choose from electives on topics like screenwriting, poetry, personal essays, and literary voice. Candidates can also attend The Hopkins Conference on Craft/Writing Residency for course credit. Learners can earn this creative writing degree in under two years, and the maximum program length is five years.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit recommendation letters, a statement of purpose, and writing samples. Students can also pursue a graduate certificate or master's in science writing at Johns Hopkins.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
93%
Percent Receiving Loans
34%
7

University of Wisconsin - Madison 

Madison, WI

About this school

Founded in 1848, the University of Wisconsin Madison hosts more than 45,000 students each year. The institution boasts Carnegie Classification and accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Notable alumni include playwright Lorraine Hansberry, children's writer Kevin Henkes, and gothic writer Peter Straub.

The school offers a master of fine arts in creative writing that accepts six applicants per year, maintaining a two-to-one student-to-faculty ratio. The program includes poetry and fiction concentrations and 15 credits of electives, allowing students to choose from courses like playwriting, screenwriting, and creative nonfiction.

All students culminate the degree with a thesis. The department encourages networking among students, faculty, and professionals through literature readings and informal dinners.

The university's Institute for Creative Writing provides six fellowships for fiction and poetry students. Recipients gain teaching experience and participate in a public reading. Applicants must provide a writing sample that does not exceed 30 pages. This sample may include a portion of a novel or short stories. Admission also requires a statement of purpose, a resume or CV, and recommendations.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
87%
Percent Receiving Loans
34%
8

Northwestern University 

Evanston, IL

About this school

Northwestern University educates more than 21,000 learners each year and boasts a six-to-one student-to-faculty ratio. Notable alumni include author George R.R. Martin, comedian and writer Stephen Colbert, and sports writer Michael Wilbon. The school holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Northwestern students can earn both a master of arts in English and a master of fine arts in creative writing through one program. This combination builds both critical analysis and writing skills. Candidates can focus on creative nonfiction, fiction, or poetry, but they must complete at least one workshop in a genre outside their concentration.

Learners can fulfill most MA+MFA requirements in two years, including all coursework, a fellowship, an MA capstone essay, and an editorial practicum. During the third year of the program, students also complete a thesis.

Applicants must submit transcripts, two recommendations, a statement of purpose, and GRE scores. Required writing samples include creative works in the student's concentration and an analytical essay.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
95%
Percent Receiving Loans
17%
9

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities 

Minneapolis, MN

About this school

The University of Minnesota Twin Cities holds Carnegie Classification, and its faculty includes Nobel Prize and MacArthur Fellowship winners. The institution holds accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

The school's master of fine arts in creative writing is built around writing workshops that cover various genres and mediums. Students learn to examine and interpret literature before completing a creative writing thesis. Prose theses must reach 120 pages in length, while poetry selections must total at least 50 pages. These projects may represent more than one genre and must be defended through oral presentations.

Other graduation requirements for the creative writing degree include a 10-15-page essay on a literary topic. Students must compile a list of 20 books from different eras and genres to use as sources for this essay.

Applicants must submit a statement of purpose, transcripts, recommendations, and a CV or resume. Candidates must also supply prose or poetry writing samples.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
80%
Percent Receiving Loans
46%
10

Brown University 

Providence, RI

About this school

Established in 1764, Brown University offers 33 master's and 51 doctoral programs. Students enjoy a six-to-one student-to-faculty ratio and have study abroad opportunities in over 75 countries. The school holds accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

The school's master of fine arts offers poetry, fiction, and digital/cross-disciplinary writing concentrations. The digital/cross-disciplinary writing concentration incorporates other fields, such as theater, computer science, and visual arts.

All learners complete a workshop and elective every term until they begin their theses. A thesis can incorporate poems, short stories, novels, or interdisciplinary works. Some students may also teach writing workshops.

Admission calls for writing samples that reflect the applicant's concentration. Learners may choose more than one concentration, but they need to submit an application for each area.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
95%
Percent Receiving Loans
25%
11

Boston University 

Boston, MA

About this school

Founded in 1839, Boston University hosts students through 10 colleges and schools and offers a 10-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Around 90% of BU's faculty members hold a doctorate. The university participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program and holds accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

The school's master of fine arts in creative writing offers concentrations in fiction and poetry. All learners complete four workshops related to their chosen mediums, and they also take four classes on literature and a language.

This creative writing degree also requires a thesis. Prose theses must comprise at least 90 pages and poetry submissions must include no fewer than 30 pages. Learners can graduate in one year of full-time study. Creative writing graduates may choose to participate in global fellowships in locations like Cuba, Brazil, Russia, and Greenland. These fellowships usually last three months.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
88%
Percent Receiving Loans
32%
12

The University of Texas at Austin 

Austin, TX

About this school

Founded in 1883, the University of Texas at Austin offers nearly 300 undergraduate and graduate degrees through 18 schools and colleges. The school holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Learners can earn a master of fine arts through the school's New Writers Project (NWP). This program provides writing mentorship for fiction and poetry writers and prioritizes editing skills. Degree-seekers can earn this creative writing degree in three years. Creative writing students can also earn an MFA through the school's Michener Center for Writers.

Faculty for these MFA programs include authors like Elizabeth McCracken, Peter LaSalle, and Lisa Olstein. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and submit transcripts, a writing sample, a statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
83%
Percent Receiving Loans
43%
13

University of Virginia 

Charlottesville, VA

About this school

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia's notable alumni include writer Edgar Allan Poe, Poet Laureate Claudia Emerson, and journalist Katie Couric. The university holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

The school offers a 48-credit master of fine arts in creative writing with fiction and poetry concentrations. Students complete writing workshops, literature courses, and a pedagogy seminar. Learners also complete a teaching experience during their second year. Learners culminate the degree with a thesis and an oral exam.

The department also offers the Rea Visiting Writers and Lecturers program, which allows students to participate in public readings and get feedback from professionals. Degree-seekers can also visit with international authors through the Kapnick Distinguished Writer-in-Residence Program.

Applicants must submit writing samples, such as novel excerpts or short stories, that are no more than 25 pages in length.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
94%
Percent Receiving Loans
29%
14

University of Washington 

Seattle, WA

About this school

Founded in 1861, the University of Washington conferred over 13,000 degrees in 2017-2018. The institution holds Carnegie Classification and accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

UW offers a master of fine arts in creative writing with both prose and poetry concentrations. This 55-credit creative writing degree requires 20 credits of workshops, with most relating to the student's concentration. Learners also examine literary styles and eras, and they can optionally complete an internship.

Learners culminate the degree with a thesis, which may incorporate poems, short stories, personal essays, or novel excerpts. Students must orally defend their theses before a faculty committee.

The creative writing degree admits up to 12 applicants per year. Applications should include critical and creative writing samples, recommendation letters, a statement of purpose, and transcripts. Students may receive fellowships and assistantships for tuition assistance.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
84%
Percent Receiving Loans
26%
15

University of Iowa 

Iowa City, IA

About this school

Founded in 1847, the University of Iowa is affiliated with the Association of American Universities and holds Carnegie Classification. More than 40 UI graduates and faculty have won Pulitzer Prizes. UI participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program and holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

The master's in creative writing program at UI targets fiction and poetry writers and requires 48 credits, including writing workshops and seminars that build literary knowledge and writing skills. This two-year creative writing degree culminates in a thesis. For this project, students may submit a novel or a collection of poems or short stories. Learners must also pass a written assessment.

UI also offers the International Writing Program (IWP), which encourages global interaction among writers through local events, cultural exchange programs, and international conferences. Applicants must submit a writing sample, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and optional GRE scores.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
73%
Percent Receiving Loans
47%
16

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

Champaign, IL

About this school

Founded in 1867, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign boasts alumni like novelist Richard Powers, political columnist Robert Novak, Pulitzer-Prize-winning biographer Carl Van Doren, and journalist Joseph Allan Nevins. This land-grant school holds accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

The university offers a master of fine arts in creative writing that students can earn in three years. Among the nation's best MFA in creative writing programs, this program offers poetry and fiction concentrations. Students culminate the degree with a book-length writing piece that is ready for publication.

In addition to completing coursework, students in this program teach creative writing classes. They may also help with publishing and reviewing the school's magazine, Ninth Letter.

The department offers assistantships and fellowships to help with tuition costs. Applicants must provide a statement of purpose, GRE scores, and a poetry or fiction writing sample.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
84%
Percent Receiving Loans
40%
17

Syracuse University 

Syracuse, NY

About this school

Established in 1870, Syracuse University is a private institution that offers a 15-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Alumni represent over 170 countries and include more than 90 published authors, including Jane Mead, Adam Levin, Carol Frost, and Kevin Keck. Syracuse participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program and holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

Syracuse's 48-credit master of fine arts in creative writing includes workshops and courses that build editing skills and encourage style development. Students learn to assess literary pieces for meaning and apply feedback to their own works. The program also emphasizes the impact of reading on writing skills.

Candidates can take electives in fields that relate to their genres, such as history or science. Students must complete a thesis comprising a variety of poems or short stories. Learners also complete an essay seminar.

Students can earn fellowships for first-year funding, and they may qualify for teaching assistantships during their second and third years. Applicants must submit creative writing samples, a personal statement, and letters of recommendation.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
83%
Percent Receiving Loans
46%
18

CUNY City College 

New York, NY

About this school

Founded in 1847, The City College of New York hosts over 16,000 learners from over 150 countries every year. The university comprises over 20 research institutes that explore areas such as nanoscience and energy. This military-friendly institution holds Carnegie Classification and is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

CCNY's master of fine arts in creative writing helps students refine writing styles in mediums like screenwriting, nonfiction, and poetry. The department also trains students to teach and pursue scholarly careers through literature courses and writing workshops. Candidates can pursue this 42-credit creative writing degree part time or full time.

Previous MFA graduates from this program have earned Pulitzer Prizes, Fulbright Awards, and Guggenheim Fellowships. Alumni have also become best-selling authors and obtained publishing deals through Lyons Press, Simon & Schuster, and Ampersand. Past creative writing faculty include authors Kurt Vonnegut, Gwendolyn Brooks, and William Matthews.

Applicants must provide letters of recommendation, a resume or CV, and a personal statement. Candidates must also provide a fiction, nonfiction, or poetry writing sample.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
55%
Percent Receiving Loans
8%
19

The New School 

New York, NY

About this school

Established in 1919, The New School offers 134 diploma and degree options. Notable alumni include playwright Tennessee Williams, novelist James Baldwin, and screenwriter Mario Puzo. The institution holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

The 36-credit master of fine arts in creative writing offers concentrations in poetry, nonfiction, fiction, and writing for children and young adults. All concentrations include writing workshops and literature seminars. Learners must also earn one credit per term by attending writing-related events, such as readings and forums. Learners can optionally take a seminar in teaching creative writing.

Candidates culminate the degree with a thesis that reflects their concentration. For instance, nonfiction learners can submit memoirs or reflective essays, while fiction writers can submit novellas and short stories. Graduation also requires a literature project, such as collections of reviews, essays, or interviews based on other writers' works.

Both in- and out-of-state learners pay equal tuition. Students can complete teaching or research fellowships and assistantships to help with tuition costs.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
72%
Percent Receiving Loans
39%
20

University of Florida 

Gainesville, FL

About this school

Founded in 1858, the University of Florida is affiliated with the Association of American Universities and boasts an 88% six-year graduation rate and a 96% freshman retention rate. The school holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

UF's 54-credit master of fine arts in creative writing examines literary and writing concepts. Students complete workshops, seminars, electives, and required courses. Electives may cover topics like Victorian literature, verse writing, and publication.

Candidates can also earn credit for supervised teaching, supervised research, and individual study classes. Degree-seekers must complete a reading tutorial that requires them to read at least six books and converse with faculty about the works. Students culminate the degree with a thesis.

Applicants must submit undergraduate transcripts, recommendation letters, and GRE scores. Candidates must also provide writing samples that include poems, novel portions, or short stories. The institution offers tuition assistance through waivers, fellowships, and assistantships.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
90%
Percent Receiving Loans
19%
21

University of Arizona 

Tucson, AZ

About this school

Established in 1885, the University of Arizona is a land-grant institution that hosts more than 45,000 students each year. The university participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program and holds accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

The institution's master of fine arts in creative writing offers nonfiction, fiction, and poetry concentrations. The curriculum hones students' writing skills, training them to examine literature as authors, noticing writing structure and mechanisms.

The 42-credit MFA program also includes workshops, craft seminars, and electives. Some seminars and electives may explore a genre other than the learner's concentration. Electives may also come from different departments. Students can optionally earn credit through internships with companies like Fairy Tale Review, New Michigan Press, and the UA Poetry Center. Learners culminate the degree with a thesis.

MFA candidates can obtain assistantships, which can offer tuition waivers, health insurance, and salaries. The department does not admit applicants who have previously earned an MFA.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
64%
Percent Receiving Loans
36%
22

University of Utah 

Salt Lake City, UT

About this school

Established in 1850, the University of Utah hosts nearly 32,000 students annually through 17 schools and colleges. The university holds accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

The master of fine arts in creative writing examines literature, the writing craft, and the publication process. The MFA program also emphasizes writer interaction by hosting reading events and the Guest Writers Series. Students may study nonfiction, fiction, poetry, or digital writing.

The curriculum includes four workshops, a theory and practice course, and electives. Learners must also submit and defend thesis project in the form of a book or a compilation of poems or short stories. Students may also choose the MFA modular track, which examines book arts, the history of the American West, and environmental humanities. Modular track learners can focus on nonfiction, fiction, or poetry.

Students can also gain practical experience by editing publications and participating in the Working Dog reading series while enrolled in the MFA program. The university also offers a Ph.D. in creative writing.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
70%
Percent Receiving Loans
30%
23

University of Maryland - College Park 

College Park, MD

About this school

Established in 1856, the University of Maryland, College Park, hosts around 41,000 students through 250 undergraduate and graduate programs every year. Notable alumni include Pulitzer Prize winner Jon D. Franklin and children's author Munro Leaf. The school holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

The 36-credit master of fine arts in creative writing offers poetry and fiction concentrations. In this program, students develop their writing styles and skills while learning to assess literature and offer critiques. The MFA program includes both workshops and courses, including a composition class and literature seminars. Learners culminate the degree with a poetry or prose thesis.

Applicants must submit creative writing samples, recommendation letters, and a statement of goals. MFA students can also engage with visiting authors through UMD's Writers Here and Now program.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
86%
Percent Receiving Loans
31%
24

University of Notre Dame 

Notre Dame, IN

About this school

Chartered in 1844, the University of Notre Dame is a Catholic institution that hosts more than 3,800 students each year. Notable alumni include authors Nicholas Sparks and Michael Collins. The institution holds Carnegie Classification and is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Notre Dame's 36-credit master of fine arts in creative writing offers poetry and fiction concentrations. Students complete workshops in cohorts and can choose from electives in art history, theater, and film. Candidates also study literature and submit a thesis. The MFA program's 4-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio allows for personalized learning experiences.

MFA learners receive health insurance, a paid fellowship, and a full tuition scholarship. Students can gain practical experience through teaching and public readings and by participating in outreach programs. Degree-seekers can also help create or edit publications like the Notre Dame Review.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
97%
Percent Receiving Loans
33%
25

University of Oregon 

Eugene, OR

About this school

Established in 1859, the University of Oregon hosts more than 22,000 learners every year and offers a 16-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Over 240,000 students have graduated from this university, including eight U.S. Senators and 20 U.S. Representatives. UO holds Carnegie Classification and is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

UO's two-year master of fine arts in creative writing offers concentrations in fiction and poetry. Students participate in reading tutorials and craft seminars and hone their writing skills through workshops, which include no more than 10 learners. Degree-seekers must also participate in writing and conference tutorials. To graduate, candidates must submit a thesis and pass an exam.

Applicants must submit recommendation letters, creative writing samples, and a personal statement. MFA students can earn a tuition waiver, health insurance, and a regular salary by agreeing to teach creative writing and composition courses during the program.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
73%
Percent Receiving Loans
40%
👏

End of list, bravo!

Ranking Methodology
Best Online Programs

Online Creative Writing Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

What Is a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Degree?

The best MFA in creative writing programs often include specializations, such as nonfiction, television, or poetry, which allow students to tailor the degree to their interests and career goals. Nonfiction students, for instance, explore memoir and biography writing, while poetry degree-seekers learn about diction and meter.

Creative writing degrees often require students to complete writing projects and receive feedback from professors and peers. These critiques help candidates develop and improve their writing styles.

Choosing a Program

Prospective students should consider factors like cost, transfer policies, and on-campus requirements when researching the best MFA in creative writing programs. Below, we explore these considerations for prospective students.

  • Program Cost: Students should make sure school costs, like tuition and fees, fit into their budgets. Choosing a program that's within your budget can lead to fewer student loans and a more comfortable learning experience. Typically, in-state students at public schools pay the lowest tuition rates, though some schools offer in-state tuition for all online students regardless of residency.
  • Transfer Policies: Degree-seekers with related experience should consider MFA programs that accept transfer credits. Schools may offer transfer credits for prior coursework or professional experience, which can reduce the length and cost of a degree.
  • School Size and Type: A school's size and type affects the learning experience. For instance, small schools typically offer more personalized attention from faculty but fewer program options than larger schools.
  • Program Length: The length of a program varies with credit requirements, enrollment status, and learning format. Students should choose a program with a timeline that's aligned with their needs and goals.
  • On-Campus Requirements: Some online programs have on-campus requirements, like orientations or seminars, or even whole classes. Students should ensure they can meet all on-campus requirements before committing to a program.
  • Thesis, Fellowship, and Work Requirements: MFA in creative writing programs often have thesis, work, or capstone requirements that need significant time investments. Prospective learners should choose a program with requirements that align with their goals and interests.

What Else Can I Expect From a Creative Writing Program?

Creative writing curricula vary by program and often include specializations. Required classes can also vary by degree type, with MFA in creative writing programs focusing heavily on practical writing courses and MA programs focusing more on literature reviews and critiques. These degrees also lead to different careers; for example, an MA prepares students for teaching careers, while an MFA prepares students to work as authors.

The following sections outline common courses found in these programs and factors that can affect the length of a creative writing degree.

Online Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Curriculum

Poetry

In this course, learners study poetic elements and tools, like rhyme, rhythm, and metaphor. Students learn how to analyze poems for meaning and complete original works that help them develop their writing styles. Students may also learn about the characteristics of different poetry types, such as sonnets and haikus.

Book Publishing

his course covers various aspects of the publishing industry, including traditional publishing and self-publishing. Students explore legal, technical, and economic publishing factors and learn to build marketing plans and edit book drafts. Students may also learn how to write query letters and book proposals for publishers.

Contemporary World Literature

Students in this class learn about literary movements in modern history, such as postmodernism and magic realism. They also analyze pieces for meaning while considering how factors like gender can impact interpretation. This course may also address how writing genres have developed over time.

How Long Does It Take to Complete a Creative Writing Program?

Full-time students often complete MFA programs within two years, but many factors can alter the length of a degree. For example, some schools may offer courses in eight- or 10-week terms rather than traditional 16-week terms. This format often allows students to expedite graduation.

Additionally, creative writing degrees with more credit requirements typically take longer to complete. However, some programs permit students to take course loads that exceed full-time, which can expedite graduation times.

Fully online programs may use synchronous or asynchronous formats for coursework. Synchronous courses require students to log on at set meeting times, while asynchronous courses let students complete coursework at their convenience within set deadlines. Often, the flexibility of asynchronous programs allows students to graduate faster than they would in synchronous programs.

Creative Writing Careers

MFA programs prepare students to write and edit for various industries and media. For instance, graduates may report news as newspaper journalists or create stories as science fiction authors. They may also write press releases, speeches, or how-to manuals for careers in public relations, politics, or computer science. Any organization that uses written communication can benefit from hiring employees with creative writing degrees.

Professional options for graduates also go beyond writing careers. For instance, master's program graduates may work as higher education teachers. However, many schools require professors to hold a doctoral degree. MFA programs provide a solid foundation for doctoral programs.

Writers

Writers may write nonfiction or fiction pieces for different purposes and industries. For instance, they may write advertisements for companies, publish recipes on a blog, or write fictional stories for books and movies. Writers often need to conduct research for topic accuracy and must be able to shape written pieces to fit client needs. Professional writers may work for one company or they may freelance for several organizations. Ideal traits for writers include creativity and flexibility. Writers should also be detail-oriented and excel at time management.

Median Annual Salary

$63,200

Projected Growth Rate

0%

College Professors

College professors teach classes for postsecondary students. Their responsibilities include building syllabi, delivering lectures, and administering and grading coursework. Professors may also suggest textbooks or curriculum changes in their departments to increase program quality. Other responsibilities may include conducting and publishing research, helping students choose courses, and attending field conferences. They must excel in written and oral communication and be comfortable working with technology.

Median Annual Salary

$79,540

Projected Growth Rate

11%

Editors

Editors review documents to ensure factual accuracy, grammar, clarity, and structure. Editors may also make publication and layout choices for companies or offer authors brainstorming guidance. They may work full time in magazine, newspaper, book, or blog publishing or they may freelance with several companies. Typically, organizations require editors to hold a related degree for full-time employment. Editors need strong written communication, organizational, and time management skills.

Median Annual Salary

$61,370

Projected Growth Rate

-3%

Journalists

Journalists write news pieces for newspapers, blogs, and television reports. They often conduct their own research, interview witnesses or experts, brainstorm story ideas, and pitch stories to their managers for approval. Journalists often follow stories for weeks or months to provide updates, and they must ensure pieces adhere to their publisher's standards. They typically need a related degree, like creative writing or journalism, and strong research, writing, and editing skills.

Median Annual Salary

$43,490

Projected Growth Rate

-10%

Frequently Asked Questions

What Can You Do With a Master's in Creative Writing?

Graduates with a creative writing degree can pursue nonfiction and fiction writing careers in various industries. They can also teach writing concepts to higher education students or pursue careers in journalism or business.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Master's Degree in Creative Writing?

Program duration varies based on transfer policies, course structure, and credit requirements. In general, though, candidates can earn an MFA in creative writing with about two years of full-time study.

Is a Master's Degree in Creative Writing Worth It?

Many writing and editing careers only call for a bachelor's. However, a master's verifies advanced knowledge and skills and provides opportunities for networking, which can increase career opportunities. Additionally, college writing professors need at least a master's degree.

What's the Difference Between a Master of Fine Arts and Master of Arts?

An MFA focuses more on practical applications than an MA. Specifically, creative writing MFA programs include more writing-intensive courses, while MA programs focus more on literature reviews and assessments of other writers' work.

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