Best Creative Writing Programs

TBS Staff Writers
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Updated September 21, 2023
Creative Writing Degree Overview — Creative writing degrees teach students advanced skills in story structure, research, and literary devices. This knowledge helps

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Best Creative Writing Programs in the World

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.

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The Best Creative Writing Programs

#1 Best Creative Writing Programs

University of Florida

  • Location-markerGainesville, FL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$4,477
  • Out-of-state$25,694
  • Retention Rate97%
  • Acceptance Rate30%
  • Students Enrolled55,781
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment57%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Best Creative Writing Programs

University of Central Florida

  • Location-markerOrlando, FL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$6,368
  • Out-of-state$19,810
  • Retention Rate93%
  • Acceptance Rate41%
  • Students Enrolled67,959
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment9%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Best Creative Writing Programs

Florida State University

  • Location-markerTallahassee, FL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$5,616
  • Out-of-state$18,746
  • Retention Rate94%
  • Acceptance Rate25%
  • Students Enrolled44,161
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment58%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 Best Creative Writing Programs

The University of Texas at Austin

  • Location-markerAustin, TX
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$13,576
  • Out-of-state$46,498
  • Retention Rate95%
  • Acceptance Rate31%
  • Students Enrolled52,384
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment46%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 Best Creative Writing Programs

Brigham Young University

  • Location-markerProvo, UT
  • 4 year
  • Campus
Average Tuition
  • In-State$6,120
  • Out-of-state$6,120
  • Retention Rate90%
  • Acceptance Rate67%
  • Students Enrolled34,454
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment37%
  • AccreditationYes
#6 Best Creative Writing Programs

University of Washington-Seattle Campus

  • Location-markerSeattle, WA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$10,927
  • Out-of-state$38,757
  • Retention Rate94%
  • Acceptance Rate48%
  • Students Enrolled53,083
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment19%
  • AccreditationYes
#7 Best Creative Writing Programs

Arizona State University Campus Immersion

  • Location-markerTempe, AZ
  • 4 year
  • Campus
Average Tuition
  • In-State$10,978
  • Out-of-state$29,952
  • Retention Rate85%
  • Acceptance Rate90%
  • Students Enrolled80,065
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment54%
  • AccreditationYes
#8 Best Creative Writing Programs

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

  • Location-markerChampaign, IL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$12,254
  • Out-of-state$29,704
  • Retention Rate93%
  • Acceptance Rate45%
  • Students Enrolled57,006
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment84%
  • AccreditationYes
#9 Best Creative Writing Programs

University of South Florida

  • Location-markerTampa, FL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$4,559
  • Out-of-state$15,473
  • Retention Rate90%
  • Acceptance Rate49%
  • Students Enrolled49,708
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment66%
  • AccreditationYes
#10 Best Creative Writing Programs

Florida International University

  • Location-markerMiami, FL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$6,168
  • Out-of-state$18,566
  • Retention Rate91%
  • Acceptance Rate64%
  • Students Enrolled55,687
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment65%
  • AccreditationYes

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.

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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