The Best Online Master’s in Creative Writing
| TBS Staff
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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 Online Schools
|#1||University of North Alabama Florence, AL|
|#2||Emerson College Boston, MA|
|#3||Wilkes University Wilkes-Barre, PA|
|#4||University of Nebraska at Omaha Omaha, NE|
|#5||Bay Path University Longmeadow, MA|
|#6||Lindenwood University Saint Charles, MO|
|#7||The University of Texas at El Paso El Paso, TX|
|#8||University of Houston-Victoria Victoria, TX|
|#9||University of Arkansas at Monticello Monticello, AR|
|#10||National University La Jolla, CA|
The Best Online Master’s in Creative Writing Programs
Founded in 1830, UNA represents Alabama's oldest four-year public university.
UNA offers both 100% online and hybrid formats for its master of arts in writing program. Students can choose three tracks: technical writing, rhetoric and composition, or creative writing.
Students must complete 36 credits to graduate.
Although any bachelor's degree is sufficient, applicant transcripts must show at least 24 credits earned in English classes at the 200 level or above. Applicants must also earn a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75 and submit GRE or MAT test scores, 3 letters of recommendation, and a writing sample or portfolio.
Founded in 1880, Emerson's roots harken to Boston, Los Angeles, and the Netherlands.
Emerson offers a master of fine arts in popular fiction writing and publishing through 100% online and asynchronous courses. The curriculum combines publishing and literature courses with writing workshops.
Students must complete 36 hours and a thesis to graduate.
Applicants must submit transcripts, a resume, 2 letters of recommendation, an essay, and a separate writing sample.
Established in 1933 as Bucknell University's junior college, Wilkes became an independent institution in 1947.
Wilkes offers both a master of arts and master of fine arts in creative writing in two hybrid formats. In addition to regular online classes, students attend four in-person weekend sessions each term or two 8-day residencies per year.
Students must complete 30 credits to graduate with a master of arts, and 48 credits to graduate with a master of fine arts.
Applicants must submit transcripts, 2 letters of recommendation, a creative writing sample, an essay, and a current resume.
Founded in 1908, UNO currently teaches nearly 16,000 students.
Students enrolled in UNO's hybrid master of fine arts in writing complete courses online and attend 5 residencies. Areas of emphasis include Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, and more.
Applicants must submit transcripts and GRE or GMAT scores, and complete 60 hours to graduate.
Founded in 1897, Bay Path currently teaches over 3,300 students across three campuses.
Bay Path offers a master of fine arts in creative nonfiction writing through fully online courses and no residency. Available tracks include publishing, narrative medicine, and teaching.
Students must complete 39 credits to graduate.
Applicants must submit transcripts showing a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or English and/or writing courses completed with at least a "B" grade, as well as an original essay, writing samples, and two recommendations. Applicants also take part in interviews.
Established in 1827, Lindenwood currently offers more than 100 degree programs.
Lindenwood offers an online master of fine arts in writing program. Students can declare an optional emphasis in fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction.
Students must complete 48 credits - which includes a required thesis course - to graduate.
Applicants must submit a writing sample and statement of purpose.
Founded in 1914, UTEP currently teaches about 25,000 students in 166 degree programs.
UTEP offers an online master of fine arts in creative writing program with no residency requirement. Students may choose to write in Spanish or English.
Students complete 48 credits hours - which includes thesis courses - to graduate.
Applicants must submit a writing sample, transcript, statement of purpose, and three letters of recommendation.
Founded in 1973, UHV currently offers more than 80 degree programs.
UHV offers a fully online master of fine arts in creative writing program with an optional residency. Students engage in numerous writing workshops and complete a thesis in their final semesters.
To graduate, students must complete 36 credits and earn at least a "B" grade in each course.
Applicants must enroll in UHV's graduate program before applying for separate admission into the writing program. The application requires a personal statement, letters of recommendation, a creative writing sample, and GRE score (waiver available).
Founded in 1909, UAM initially served as an agricultural school.
UAM offers a master of fine arts in creative writing taught entirely online with no residency. Focus areas include fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction.
To graduate, students must complete 48 semester hours with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 and at least a "C" grade in all courses.
Applicants must submit transcripts, a manuscript, a personal essay, a critical analysis essay, and three letters of recommendation.
Founded in 1971, National University maintains a unique adult-focused education.
National University offers a 100% online master of fine arts in creative writing program. Elective courses in the program allow students to study multicultural literature, film theory, historical literary periods, and more.
Students must complete 58.5 quarter units to graduate.
Applicants must submit portfolios and transcripts showing completion of a bachelor's degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0. National may require the completion of supplemental coursework based on the strength of an applicant's portfolio or require GMAT or GRE.
Online Master's in Creative Writing Programs Ranking Guidelines
We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Creative Writing Professional Organizations
Creative writing organizations typically host conferences and meetings where members learn new concepts and connect with other professionals. These associations often provide workshops to help writers polish their skills, learn about publication opportunities, and brainstorm story ideas.
Professional organizations may also offer funding opportunities and help members find jobs and internships.
Association of Writers and Writing Programs
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
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
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 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.
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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.
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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.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Most students can earn a master's in writing in around two years.
This degree prepares students for careers as authors, editors, reporters, and public relations specialists. Graduates can also teach creative writing at colleges.
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.
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.
Online MFA in creative writing programs explore brainstorming, writing, and editing practices for different genres. These programs often culminate in a thesis or portfolio.
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