In order to make it in your dream field, the demands for higher education are growing exponentially. This is especially true in more creative fields that don’t necessarily have a particular career path laid out in front of them. Aspiring writers need to find their skill set, develop their techniques, and then on top of that; they must find a steady career that pays the bills and leaves them satisfied. It can be a tricky balance, and not everyone finds it, but there are programs that can help students seeking it along the way. Students can also get creative about how they use online programs, such as through Massive Open Online Courses. In general, though, students need accredited programs that will get them a degree or a certification. Specifically, for people seeking graduate programs in creative writing, there are programs around the world that each offers a unique way of attaining those goals.
In the modern world, people have busy lives that they must balance with an education. This typically means students don’t have the ability to regularly attend a campus program, so they must find something more flexible. Online education and distance learning is usually the answer, and there are endless options out there for anyone willing to look. In fact, a quick search of a database results in over 21,000 online schools that are accredited. To save some time here is a list of 20 of the best graduate-level online creative writing programs. This list was determined based on some factors including price, the length of the program, flexibility of course load, and any fun facts that were discovered along the way.
Penn State University
This first entry is more of an honorable mention than a true ranking. In the English department, the creative writing program is blended well between the graduate and undergraduate segments. This is technically an honorable mention, as Penn State’s graduate program in English is mostly in person, but it offers so much and is worth looking over. This is due to their extremely low student to faculty ratio at 2:1. They walk students through the building of a portfolio and perfecting it. The tuition rate varies by program and the number of credits taken.
You can learn more about Penn State’s graduate program more about the Penn State Creative Writing Program here
Between their main campus in California and several locations throughout Nevada, National University has a large community but still manages to offer personalized programming for all. This best MFA creative writing program is a rare completely online offering of various focuses, such as Fiction, Non-Fiction or Screenwriting. There are accelerated options that consist of month-long workshops to speed up the program. Students can also interact with other students in the comfort of their own home by submitting work online and receiving feedback while helping others.
After completing their MFA in creative writing graduates have found jobs with:
- book publishers
- colleges and universities
- public relations/ marketing firms
- consulting firms
- business and industry
- non-profit organizations
You can learn more about the National University Creative Writing program here
Ashland is an institution in Ohio with multiple campuses and fantastic programs. There is flexibility regarding what focuses they can choose, what courses they take as electives, and what residency they decide to fill that small requirement. This low residency MFA creative writing program specifically requires 6 weeks on campus, over the course of three, two-week sessions that involve workshops, lectures, and peer reviews. This library science degree in Ohio is designed to be completed in 2 years if desired and is 45 credits.
You can learn more about the Ashland University Creative Writing program here.
A consistent standout school in the field of creative writing is Stanford. It is often considered a top school in national rankings completed by well-respected institutions, such as the New York Times and the Princeton Review. Another ranking placed it in the league of top schools in the world. Among their graduates are eight Nobel Prize winners and 114 Rhodes Scholars. In their school of continuing studies, Stanford offers a Certificate Program in Novel Writing which involves seven courses taken over two years. The students participate in varying topics and are given individual attention to harness their craft. This bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in creative writing is a popular one at Stanford.
You can learn more about the Stanford University Creative Writing program here.
University of Nebraska
Though the tuition rate is slightly higher than the previous offerings on this list at $626 per credit, the University of Nebraska Omaha offers a unique program that fits the bill. This program is longer than others, at 60 credit hours to allow for a more in-depth approach. One or two-week residencies allow for a larger connection as well as students work in-depth on their projects in small groups to increase the quality of their work. UNL offers both an M.A .as well as a Ph.D. in Creative Writing. The faculty is cite vetted based on their ability to reach adult learners in the field and to accommodate their education experiences.
Graduates of UNL’s creative writing program have impressive accomplishments including publishing in the New York Times, People Magazine, Wall Street Journal, and Vogue. They have also been recognized by the Pulitzer Prize, National Public Radio (NPR) and The Today Show.
You can learn more about the University of Nebraska Creative Writing program here.
Texas Tech University
This is another program that is rare in that it offers its program entirely online with no residency required. The Master’s in English program at TTU matches the one that is on campus, with course topics covering the broad spectrum of English and creative writing with depth and experience. Concentrations are available, such as Book, History, Film, and Media Studies. For all of its programs, Texas Tech is frequently featured on top national lists, including U.S. News and World Report. The current rate varies per program, amount of credits, and location.
You can learn more about the Texas Tech Creative Writing programs here.
Another school with high regards from national rankings is Lindenwood University, which is located in Saint Charles, Missouri. The main reasons for the high praise are the low student to teacher ratio, at 13:1, and their excellent guest speaker series. With this best low residency MFA creative writing program, the student is working through a 48 credit program that is designed to be flexible regarding the timeline and courses taken. Students can apply at any time of the year and transfer in up to nine credits. Choices of courses include literary fiction, narrative journalism, and poetry, among other options. Students of this top creative writing graduate program are not required to choose one focus and can build their degree as they see fit.
You can learn more about Lindenwood University’s Creative Writing Programs here.
Mississippi University for Women
The name of this school is misleading, as the school became a coeducational program in the early 1980s. During the time in the MFA, creative writing students can expect a 48 credit course with six credits to be completed on campus. The rest of this low residency MFA creative writing program consists of workshops, form, electives, and at the end a six-credit thesis. As with many of the other programs on this list, the school encourages diversifying in courses taken. They also have a low student to teacher ratio and encourage individualized attention to work.
You can learn more about the Mississippi University for Women Creative Writing programs here.
Slippery Rock University
Slippery Rock University (SRU) carries an online Master’s in English that allows students to work practically in their chosen field, such as education, government, or technical writing. This program 30 credits and can be completed in 15 months. It is completely web-based, with additional requirements for collaborative projects and works in their field. They have been featured on quality school lists, such as those produced by U.S. News and World Report.
After completing this best graduate online degree in creative writing you may consider a job as a
- grant writer
- teachnical writer
- web content strategist
You can learn more about the Slippery Rock University Creative Writing degree programs here.
The University of Denver
The University of Denver prides itself on being one of the oldest colleges in the western region of the United States. It is also one of the most well-regarded ones, with frequent rankings in national lists, such as U.S. News, Washington Monthly, and Forbes. Though they are known especially for their business program, they also have an excellent creative writing program. This best MLS in Arts and Culture with a concentration in Creative Writing requires 48 credits in total to complete, with courses in various topics such as Fiction, Literature, and Screenwriting. To increase the speed of the program, courses are ten weeks in length and can be taken both online and in-person as the student wishes.
The University of Denver also offers a Ph.D. in English & Literary Arts with a concentration in Creative Writing. Students will choose either a “poetry” or “prose” track. Poets &Writers ranked the University of Denver as the top creative writing program in the country.
You can learn more about the University of Denver Creative Writing Programs here.
Southern New Hampshire University
This program situated in New England offers one of the largest programs available online, with over 200 programs in operation. The school has grown over its nearly 90 years after starting with only two programs. Regardless of the choice of program, the faculties are experts in their field and experts in the Southern New Hampshire University online teaching methods. Support is also extensive, no matter what time of day. Their MA in English and Creative Writing has concentrations in varying topics, such as Fiction or Screenwriting. Regardless of the choice of concentration, there is then a core of courses to complete and a capstone that completes the program, culminating in a portfolio of their work completed throughout the program. The courses are ten weeks in length and the program can be completed in just over a year.
No GRE or GMAT is required for this MA in creative writing. Graduates of SNHU receive an excellent foundation if they want to go on to to write a novel or screenplay and may go on to jobs such as
- marketing and communications
You can learn more about the Southern New Hampshire Creative Writing programs here.
Ohio Dominican University
Aside from the quality of this program, Ohio Dominican University also rates well due to its affordable rate, entirely online format, and time to completion in as little as 18 months. This program Master’s in English is 33 credits in total that cover topics such as American Literature, Fiction, and Graduate Writing. There is flexibility in the outcome of the program, such as a thesis or non-thesis track. National rankings, such as U.S. News and World Report often include this school on their lists and correctly site the English program for its quality.
You can learn more about the Ohio Dominican Creative Writing Programs here.
Also located in New England is Fairfield University. This is a comparatively smaller program to others here, but there are many programs of study to choose from. They offer an accelerated MFA in Creative Writing program with various concentrations and even the option to take multiple concentrations. Fairfield University offers a unique bi-annual residency at Enders Island in Mystic, CT, which allows students to feel like they are part of a writing community. Graduates of this best MFA in creative writing program have published dozens of books as well as articles, essays poems and stories in recent years.
You can learn more about the Fairfield University Creative Writing program here.
This school has the tiniest population to date on this list, at 1,400 and a student to teacher ratio of 12:1. This is due mostly to the undergraduate program being strictly females. However, the graduate programs are open to all genders. Their MFA consists of 48 credits and a small residency requirement of four, 9-day residencies. The emphasis of the program is for writers of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, or environmental writing and each student must craft a project that is the length of a book. One unique quality that boosts this low residency MFA in creative writing program above others is the individual attention from not only instructors but established writers in the field who provide critiques. Publishers Weekly listed Converse as an “MFA Program To Watch”.
You can learn more about the Converse College Creative Writing Programs here.
Tiffin University has one of the best combinations of qualities on this list. The school offers programs that are entirely online, and the value continues from there. For aspiring writers, they offer a Master of Humanities with a concentration in Creative Writing. With this best creative writing program, the work is not only completely online but can also be completed in just a year and a half if the student wishes. During that time, courses to choose from include topics related to novel writing, writing for film or television, among others. Upon completion, graduates can pursue careers at prominent companies, such as Disney.
You can learn more about the Tiffin University Creative Writing Programs here.
Western New England University
This Massachusetts institution is nearing its centennial and has proven it’s quality over that storied history. Like most of the programs on this list, they pride themselves on the ability to offer a low student to faculty ratio and strive to provide one-on-one attention. This is particularly true in the MFA, with a stunning ratio of 5:1. Their best MFA in Creative Writing (fiction) is 48 credits and is mostly online. The program is crafted to meet the individual’s needs, which are determined by student and adviser discussions, as well as the interest of the student. This low residency MFA consists of a week of meeting with faculty and other writers as well as workshops for current work.
You can learn more about Western New England University Creative Writing programs here.
Liberty is popular in the online education community because they have proven over time that they can provide excellent education across all of their programs. They have extensive resources both online and on-campus and are accommodating to the specific needs of students. This affordable online MA in professional writing will give students practical skills needed in numerous jobs. Three courses are in collaboration with New York Times best-selling novelist Karen Kingsbury, who will provide insight into the writing and publishing process.
You can learn more about the Liberty University Creative Writing programs here.
Adelphi University is another best MFA in Creative Writing program that offers an intimate setting. AU emphasizes creativity while also teaching practical skills, such as how to submit a manuscript or how to apply for writing jobs. They merge historical studies of the writing craft with modern influences, such as social media and technology. The program is 40 credits in total, so it is shorter than other programs, but also carries a higher average tuition rate.
Their Practicum will actively engage students in the writing community by connecting with literary agents, publishers, and literary organizations such as PEN America and Cave Canem Foundation, Inc.
You can learn more about the Adelphi University Creative Writing programs here.
This private institution has several locations around the United States that pairs well with its mission to meet the needs of students. Regardless of location, the student to faculty ratio is a respectively low 14:1. They encourage teamwork and collaboration via forums in which students can share work to be peer-reviewed. Their guest speaker list is impressive as well, boasting names such as Norman Mailer and Bob Woodward. Their MA/MFA in Creative Writing has two options of studies, with a traditional track that includes an eight-day residency, or the other track allows for four-weekend sessions a semester. Students of this best masters in creative writing program can further customize their experience with a choice of seven focuses including:
- Creative Nonfiction
- Documentary Film
You can learn more about the Wilkes University Creative Writing Programs here.
The prestigious Harvard University comes in at the top of this best Masters in Creative Writing ranking. Harvard Extension School offers this ALM in Creative Writing and Literature online, though it requires a 1 or 3 week on campus residency. The degree consists of 12 courses and the completion of a creative writing piece (50 page minimum).
Harvard Extension School has an “Earn Your Way In” policy, which requires prospective students to take 2 courses to qualify for admission. Being supported and connecting with the Harvard community is important, and students will work closely with their advisor as well as be offered opportunities around campus to ensure success in the program. Pursuing this online masters in creative writing from Harvard will allow writers to master their craft and pursue the career they desire.
You can learn more about the Harvard University Extension School’s Masters in Creative Writing and Literature here.