Online Master’s in Creative Writing Programs

A master's in creative writing can lead to new and exciting career opportunities. Here, we list the top online creative writing programs.

February 15, 2022

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

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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

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

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

true 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.

true 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.

true 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.

true 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.

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.

Scholarships for Creative Writing
Scholarship Amount Who Can Apply

Mary Shelley Scholarship

$2,500 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.

Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship

Varies 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.

NYFWA Scholarship

Varies 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.

Online Master's in Creative Writing Programs 2021

  1. The University of Texas at El Paso
    Location

    El Paso, TX

    Tuition

    $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.

  2. University of Arkansas at Monticello
    Location

    Monticello, AR

    Tuition

    $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.

  3. Lesley University
    Location

    Cambridge, MA

    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.

  4. Emerson College
    Location

    Boston, MA

    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.

  5. Bay Path University
    Location

    Longmeadow, MA

    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.

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