Online Master’s in Creative Writing Programs 2021

October 6, 2021

reviewed by ACO Rankings Team
Online Master’s in Creative Writing Programs 2021

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A creative writing degree prepares learners to communicate clearly, effectively, and creatively. Students in creative writing programs strengthen their writing, editing, and collaboration skills. Graduates with an online creative writing degree work as published authors, content writers, and editors.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), writers earn a median annual salary of $63,200. Most writing jobs require a bachelor's degree in English, journalism, or communication. Although the BLS projects a 2% decline in creative writing jobs between 2019 and 2029, writers can distinguish themselves by maintaining cutting-edge skills.

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Featured Online Programs

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Top 10 Programs for Creative Writing

#1 The University of Texas at El Paso El Paso, TX
#2 University of Arkansas at Monticello Monticello, AR
#3 Lesley University Cambridge, MA
#4 Emerson College Boston, MA
#5 Bay Path University Longmeadow, MA

Creative Writing Frequently Asked Questions by Students

Q. How do I start a career in creative writing?

Creative writers launch their careers by writing and publishing. Many employers offering entry-level creative writing degree jobs request writing samples.

Q. Is a master's degree in creative writing worth it?

A master's degree in creative writing appeals most to writers who want to gain more advanced writing and editing skills. Master's degree-holders may also qualify to teach creative writing.

Q. What kind of jobs can I get with a creative writing degree?

Because effective communication is an essential skill in the workplace, creative writers work in many professions. The most common creative writing jobs include content writer, author, and copywriter.

Q. Do creative writers make good money?

Salaries for creative writing jobs vary depending on job type and location. For example, successful Hollywood screenwriters generally earn more than corporate copywriters.

Why Get a Degree in Creative Writing?

Companies, nonprofits, and other organizations value creative thinkers. A creative writing degree allows students to master important communication skills. Enrollees also learn how to put those skills into practice in the workplace. Learners who pursue a master's degree in creative writing may qualify to teach other writers in a K-12 or university setting.

Many schools offer online creative writing degrees. These programs offer students maximum flexibility for shaping their education according to their individual needs. Online degrees often cost less than in-person programs. Students in an online creative writing program also benefit from accelerated course options.

How Much Does a Creative Writing Degree Cost?

Costs for creative writing degrees vary by school type and location. Public universities charge less for tuition than private colleges, but both types require students to pay technology, activity, and other fees. Many schools host online or low-residency creative writing programs. These programs often cost less than traditional programs.

Some public colleges extend in-state tuition to all online students. Applicants should check with each school under consideration about the tuition cost for online programs. Online creative writing programs reduce programmatic operating costs, so learners generally pay less as a result. The flexibility of online instruction enables some students to work while attending school.

Students in online creative writing programs need a working computer and access to a reliable internet connection. Creative writing programs do not charge lab fees.

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How Much Do Creative Writing Majors Make?

Creative writers work in both corporate and nonprofit settings as copywriters, editors, and content marketers. Graduates with a degree in creative writing also teach, publish creative works, and serve as speechwriters for executives. Writers earn around $63,000 per year, according to the BLS. However, salaries vary depending on writers' role and location.

For example, writers who work in the performing arts and spectator sports typically earn higher salaries than other writers. Technical writers who possess scientific knowledge and skills also earn more on average. Writers who want to work in the nonprofit sector may seek certification from the American Grant Writers' Association.

As creative thinkers who adapt easily to workplace changes, writers often advance quickly in the corporate sector. Individuals who start their careers as copywriters may transition into positions such as creative director or content strategist.

Courses in Creative Writing

Creative writing programs feature courses that prepare students to communicate effectively across genres and media. Enrollees learn how to write and edit written works. They also collaborate with other writers on larger projects.

A typical creative writing program hosts genre-based courses and workshops on fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and screenwriting. Students may also take specialized courses on topics like contemporary world literature, professional writing, and the publishing industry.

Most creative writing students complete a thesis to graduate. This project serves as the culmination of a student's learning experience. The project involves writing a longer creative work in one of several genres. The list below highlights five sample courses from creative writing programs.

[tabs] [tab-item title="Fiction Writing"]

This course introduces students to the craft of fiction. Learners write short stories and receive feedback from peers during workshops. The class may also cover important works of contemporary fiction. Students may write based on prompts or craft pieces that reflect their own ideas.

[/tab-item] [tab-item title="Professional Writing"]

This class covers the basics of professional writing. Students learn how to write for various target audiences. The course may also explore content writing, technical writing, and grant writing. Learners gain the skills needed to begin successful writing careers in business and nonprofit organizations.

[/tab-item] [tab-item title="The Publishing Industry"]

Enrollees explore all aspects of the publishing industry. The class covers topics like acquiring a literary agent, pitching a book, and negotiating contracts. Learners examine the process of publication from initial submission to production. The course may also investigate publishing careers.

[/tab-item] [tab-item title="Editing"]

This class introduces students to editing for different genres and media. Students collaborate on editorial projects and learn how to give constructive feedback to writers. The course examines common revision methods and teaches learners to apply those methods to their own work. Other topics include strategies for starting an editing business and working with clients.

[/tab-item] [tab-item title="Poetry"]

Poetry writing courses provide students with opportunities to master their poetic craft. Learners participate in poetry workshops and read the works of their peers. The class may also feature poetry readings. Students encounter both classic and contemporary poetic works.

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Scholarships for Creative Writing

Creative writing students may qualify for many scholarships and writing awards. These opportunities help learners pay for tuition and fees. State and federal financial aid programs provide degree-seekers with other options for funding their education. See below for scholarships available for creative writing students at all levels.

Mary Shelley Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Horror Writers Association sponsors an annual scholarship for creative writing students interested in the horror genre. Applicants must submit an online application form and an education plan outlining their educational and career goals.

Amount: $2,500

Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship

Who Can Apply: The Poetry Foundation sponsors this annual award for poets between the ages of 21 and 31 to pursue further education. Application requirements include an online form, a personal statement, and 10 poems.

Amount: Varies

NYFWA Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The New York Financial Writers' Association sponsors annual awards for undergraduate and graduate students interested in business writing. Applicants must submit a personal essay, writing samples, and a current resume.

Amount: Varies

Online Master's in Creative Writing Programs 2021


The University of Texas at El Paso View School Profile El Paso, TX $7720

A major public college in West Texas, UTEP offers one of the state's top master's in creative writing programs. The school's creative writing MFA combines intensive workshop practice with a strong background in literary forms and theory. MFA candidates complete all courses online, with no campus visits required.

The 42-credit program curriculum includes classes in literature, form and technique, writing workshops, and electives. Workshop courses enable candidates to explore major literary forms including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, playwriting, and screenwriting. UTEP emphasizes Spanish-language writing, and students can submit creative assignments in Spanish.

In their final year, all MFA candidates complete a significant creative thesis, occurring over two semesters. Students submit a book-length work of fiction or poetry with a critical preface demonstrating understanding of literary forms and traditions.

University of Arkansas at Monticello View School Profile Monticello, AR $10867

Located about 90 miles south of Little Rock, UAM features one of the best online creative writing master's degrees in the South. Building critical thinking, literary analysis, and creative writing skills, the MFA offers concentrations in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. UAM encourages cross-genre work, and all students complete workshops in each genre.

The 48-credit program curriculum comprises workshop courses, literary craft courses, and a wide selection of electives. Candidates can explore topics in publishing, preparing them for careers in the literary establishment. UAM offers a highly flexible enrollment format, letting candidates complete between 3-12 credits each semester.

For qualified candidates, UAM offers a limited number of graduate assistantships. These students teach freshmen-level writing and composition courses online and receive a teaching stipend. The school typically awards graduate assistantships to candidates with prior teaching experience.

Lesley University View School Profile Cambridge, MA Unconfirmed

A private college in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Lesley offers a low-residency master's in creative writing, combining online courses with intensive campus sessions. The program offers six concentration tracks: fiction, poetry, nonfiction, graphic novels and comics, stage and screenwriting, and young adult writing. Lesley offers start dates in the summer and winter, and candidates typically graduate in two years.

All MFA candidates complete 49 credits, with courses highlighting craft and reflection, creative writing and revision, and interdisciplinary study. All students complete a culminating graduate seminar and thesis, resulting in the production of a book-length creative work.

While most coursework occurs online, enrollees complete five residency sessions at the Lesley campus in Cambridge. Two, nine-day residencies occur each year, along with an exit residency held at the program's conclusion. Residency sessions bring students together for workshops, lectures, and socialization with peers and faculty.

Emerson College View School Profile Boston, MA Unconfirmed

Boston-based Emerson offers a unique MFA in popular fiction writing and publishing, emphasizing genres including romance, horror, and mystery. Focusing on plot- and character-driven stories, the program welcomes writers of any popular genre, with cross-genre work also accepted.

Emerson's MFA uses a fully online, asynchronous delivery format, letting students complete coursework anywhere at any time. Candidates complete 36 credits total. They take one workshop and one course in either literature or publishing each semester. Literature courses explore the history of popular fiction forms, ensuring that students understand their genre's literary tradition.

All candidates complete a four-credit master's thesis, producing a book-length work of genre fiction fit for publication. Emerson's focus on the publishing industry can help students identify publication opportunities both before and after graduation.

Bay Path University View School Profile Longmeadow, MA Unconfirmed

A women's college in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, Bay Path also offers co-educational graduate programs, including a creative nonfiction writing MFA. The unique degree emphasizes varied creative nonfiction forms, including memoir, journalism, food and travel writing, and spiritual writing. MFA students choose from three professional tracks in publishing, teaching, or narrative medicine.

Bay Path's online creative writing degree comprises 39 credits total. Candidates in all concentrations complete core courses, specialized courses, and electives. Typical classes shared across concentrations include creative nonfiction form and theory, writing contemporary women's stories, and generational histories: writing about family.

While Bay Path offers all coursework online, MFA students can attend an optional summer writing seminar in Ireland. Hosted on Ireland's famous Dingle Peninsula, the weeklong seminar includes readings, workshops, meetings with faculty, and opportunities to socialize.

Amy Mallory-Kani

Dr. Amy Mallory-Kani has nearly 15 years of experience as a professor, writer, and student advocate in higher education. Her work has appeared in a number of online publications and scholarly journals. She lives with her family in Indianapolis.

Reese Lopez

Reese Lopez is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience in the education field. After earning his BA in English from Evergreen State College, he worked as an English language instructor and tutor before joining Affordable Colleges Online. Reese lives in Portland, Oregon, where he also writes fiction and performs in the local music scene.

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