2019 Best Online Colleges for Creative Writing Degrees
Online creative writing degrees are available at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate levels and online classes cover topics like editing, script writing, storytelling, and poetry. A master's degree is suggested for those wishing to pursue a career as a college professor, or those wishing to get the more in-depth feedback offered by a thesis advisor. The best online master's in creative writing programs can be found below, where schools are ranked by tuition costs and salaries of alumni as provided by PayScale.
2019 Best Online Colleges for a Master's in Creative Writing
These five colleges are top-ranked for their online master’s degrees in creative writing, based on affordability and the reported median salary of graduates. With an annual tuition of just $16,464, the University of Denver ranks #1 for its M.A. in creative nonfiction, dramatic writing, fiction, and poetry. Graduates boast a median salary of $103,250. National University is ranked #2 with a tuition rate of $12,900 and a median alumni salary of $79,863.
|Rank||School||Annual Tuition||Median Salary|
|#1||Annual Tuition $16,464||Median Salary $103,250|
|#2||Annual Tuition $12,900||Median Salary $79,863|
|#3||Annual Tuition $15,216||Median Salary $74,200|
|#4||Annual Tuition $15,048||Median Salary $70,212|
|#5||Annual Tuition $10,000||Median Salary $52,700|
Comprehensive List of Accredited Online Schools - Creative Writing Degrees ( 35)
Online Creative Writing Degree Overview & Career Information
Online creative writing degrees are available at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate levels, with most traditional writing careers requiring a bachelor’s degree. Online coursework will equip graduates with critical skills to analyze, interpret, and create written work. A master’s is primarily beneficial for individuals who wish to teach the craft to others at the collegiate level, or desire to further their craft under the intentional direction of trained advisors. For most creative writing careers, building a strong portfolio of writing samples is more important than completing internships or any specialized training.
An online associate degree program in creative writing may be a good option for students who want an introduction to the subject and to strengthen their writing abilities. At this level, students will be given a broad overview of different types of writing, such as fiction, poetry, and screenwriting, as well as a foundation in how to analyze written works. Students will also likely be able to focus on one or two specific types of creative writing based on their personal interests and needs.
Online classes that students will take during their program include general education courses in math, science, and the humanities, as well as extra courses in creative writing and English. Example creative writing classes that a student might take include introduction to literature, fiction writing, poetry writing, American literature, dramatic literature, and advanced composition. Students will spend about two years on their studies and complete 90 quarter credits or 60 semester credits of work.
An online associate degree in creative writing can be pursued at two and four-year colleges. In order to be admitted, an applicant will need to have a high school diploma or GED. Graduates of this type of program typically go on to transfer to a four-year school. They may also use their strengthened writing skills to work on getting their work published. Additionally, the writing and communication skills that creative writing students learn can be valuable in a variety of jobs in various fields.
An online bachelor’s in creative writing requires completion of general education classes in addition to preferred topics of study, which should enhance the student’s ability to analyze and diversify his or her writing. Though there are not many colleges that offer creative writing degrees, many offer a concentration of creative writing to give you the expertise and breadth to be an effective writer in a multimedia culture with practical skills alongside creativity. Topics of study will include scriptwriting, editing, journalism, screenwriting, and poetry.
Standard admissions require a 2.5 GPA or higher, SAT or ACT scores, and a personal essay. Traditionally, the programs require 120 credit hours for completion.
The most common type of online master’s degree is the Master’s of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing. An online MFA program offers workshops, provides more in-depth feedback than bachelor’s programs, and exposes students to a myriad of other writing styles. It also often prepares graduates to teach the craft to others at the collegiate level. The preferred method of learning for this program is “low-residency”, meaning that the majority of the work is completed online, but once or twice a year students convene for a week to attend live intensive seminars.
Many programs take two to three years to complete, require 36 to 70 credit hours, and call for a completed creative writing thesis upon graduation. Traditionally, the programs offer concentrations in poetry and fiction, with select programs now offering coursework in media related fields. For admission, students need to hold a bachelor’s in any area of study—though a degree in a communications or writing-related field is favorable—have a 2.0 to 3.0 minimum GPA, and obtain a satisfactory GRE score. Many individuals that hold this online degree go into publishing, communications, copywriting, teaching, and authoring.
Online creative writing certificates take approximately one year and are usually used to enhance another degree or for career advancement in a field that requires writing like marketing, non-profit fundraising, or content management. Creative writing certificates are available at the undergraduate or graduate level, and those at the graduate level can sometimes be applied to master’s degrees. Online classes include editing, storytelling, and writing for different media. Most programs require a high school diploma and writing samples, and often published work is not required.
Accreditation is a valuable way for students, future employers, and governing entities to know that quality education is being provided. Online programs need to be accredited in order for students to qualify for federal funding such as grants and loans, and graduating from an accredited program is often required to sit for state licensure exams. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is the supreme accreditation board for this country. It is a non-governmental, private organization committed to quality assurance and rigorous standards, and students should check with the Department of Education’s website in order to ensure the school they are considering is accredited.
The Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) is a governing body that evaluates MFA programs to ensure a high level of education and contribution to the written word. The AWP postulates that a valuable writing program offers extensive literary study, strong thesis advisors, accomplished faculty, and a small student-to-teacher ratio, which is something students should consider when evaluating an online MFA program.
An online degree in creative writing can provide a breadth of career opportunities, from editing to marketing communications to grant writing. Depending on career goals and experience, areas of focus can vary greatly within creative writing careers.
Companies often hire individuals based on their “soft skills,” which include critical thinking, situation analysis, communication skills, and their ability to communicate effectively across a multitude of media interfaces. An online bachelor’s degree in creative writing can prepare you for a career path in editing and copywriting, advertising, public relations, and publishing, for example.
A master’s program will prepare graduates to teach at a collegiate level, or further critical skills in authorship, which can be essential to getting work published.
Creative writing is a field that encapsulates many specialities, so there will likely be a variety of online courses offered. Listed below are some common online classes:
- Forms and Techniques of Fiction: This class gives students the tools to analyze and imitate important pieces of fiction in order to gain a historical understanding of the creative process.
- Advanced Poetry Writing: This online course delves into framework and finding your poetic voice through identifying expressive resources and elements.
- Storytelling in Film and Literature: Students will explore narrative techniques and how they transpose to film, examine the role of the reader and the structure of the meaning, and investigate political, social, and aesthetic issues within the narrative.
- Scriptwriting: This online class studies the process and elements of film scriptwriting, including character building, three-act structure, plot points, and formatting.
- Fiction Workshop: This allows students to share their work with peers and receive feedback. It also explores the complexities of fiction writing, from developing characters and plots, to setting a foundation while remaining concise.
- Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing: Students explore the rules of sci-fi and fantasy writing and the tools embedded in these genres. They will utilize poetic language, horror, and alternate realities to create short stories based on prompts.
- Assoication of Writers & Writing Programs: AWP Hallmarks of a Successful MFA Program in Creative Writing. Accessed February 23, 2018. https://www.awpwriter.org/guide/directors_handbook_hallmarks_of_a_successful_mfa_program_in_creative_writing
- Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Accessed February 23, 2018. http://www.chea.org
- Cowley College: Creative Writing. Accessed February 23, 2018. http://www.cowley.edu/departments/humanities/creativewriting.html
- Full Sail University: Creative Writing for Entertainment. Accessed February 23, 2018. http://www.fullsail.edu/degrees/campus/creative-writing-bachelors
- Lancaster University: PhD in Creative Writing. Accessed February 23, 2018. http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/english-and-creative-writing/postgraduate/creative-writing/phd-in-creative-writing/
- Lindenwood University: Course Descriptions. Accessed February 23, 2018. http://www.lindenwood.edu/acceleratedDegreePrograms/writing/courseDescriptions.html
- Poets & Writers: MFA Programs. Accessed February 23, 2018. http://www.pw.org/content/mfa_programs
- Regent University: Admission Expectations. Accessed February 23, 2018. http://www.regent.edu/acad/undergrad/admissions/expectations.cfm
- San Jose State University: Post-Master’s Certificate in Library and Information Science. Accessed February 23, 2018. http://ischool.sjsu.edu/sites/default/files/content_pdf/sjsu_ischool_postmasterscert_brochure.pdf
- Southern New Hampshire University: Master the Art of Captivating Storytelling with an Online Creative Writing Degree. Accessed February 23, 2018. http://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/bachelors/ba-in-creative-writing-and-english
- University College: Creative Writing (Master's). Accessed February 23, 2018. http://universitycollege.du.edu/mals/degree/masters/creative-writing-online/degreeid/429#overview
- University of Illinois. Accessed February 23, 2018. http://www.online.uillinois.edu/catalog/ProgramDetail.asp?ProgramID=571
- University of South Carolina: Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Library and Information Science. Accessed February 23, 2018. https://www.sc.edu/study/colleges_schools/cic/study/advanced_graduate_study/library_information_science_certificate.php