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Find details about every creative writing competition—including poetry contests, short story competitions, essay contests, awards for novels, grants for translators, and more—that we’ve published in the Grants & Awards section of Poets & Writers Magazine during the past year. We carefully review the practices and policies of each contest before including it in the Writing Contests database, the most trusted resource for legitimate writing contests available anywhere.

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Find information about more than two hundred full- and low-residency programs in creative writing in our MFA Programs database, which includes details about deadlines, funding, class size, core faculty, and more. Also included is information about more than fifty MA and PhD programs.

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MFA Programs Contact Form

Help us keep this database current. If you have updated information on one of the programs listed in the MFA database, let us know.

MFA Programs Database

  • Help Keep This Database Current

Our MFA database includes essential information about low- and full-residency graduate creative writing programs in the United States and other English-speaking countries to help you decide where to apply.

Adelphi University

Poetry: Jan-Henry Gray, Maya Marshall Prose: Katherine Hill, René Steinke, Igor Webb

Albertus Magnus College

Poetry: Paul Robichaud Fiction: Sarah Harris Wallman Nonfiction: Eric Schoeck

Alma College

Poetry: Leslie Contreras Schwartz, Jim Daniels, Benjamin Garcia Fiction: Karen E. Bender, Shonda Buchanan, Dhonielle Clayton, S. Kirk Walsh Creative Nonfiction: Anna Clark, Matthew Gavin Frank, Donald Quist, Robert Vivian

American University

Poetry: Kyle Dargan, David Keplinger Fiction: Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Stephanie Grant, Patricia Park Nonfiction: Rachel Louise Snyder

Antioch University

Poetry: Victoria Chang Prose: Lisa Locascio

Arcadia University

Poetry: Genevieve Betts, Michelle Reale Fiction: Stephanie Feldman, Joshua Isard, Tracey Levine, Eric Smith Literature: Matthew Heitzman, Christopher Varlack, Elizabeth Vogel, Jo Ann Weiner

Poetry: Genevieve Betts, Michelle Reale Fiction: Stephanie Feldman, Joshua Isard, Tracey Levine, Eric Smith

Arizona State University

Poetry: Sally Ball, Natalie Diaz, Alberto Álvaro Ríos, Safiya Sinclair Fiction: Matt Bell, Jenny Irish, Tara Ison, Mitchell Jackson, T. M. McNally Creative Nonfiction: Sarah Viren

Ashland University

Poetry: Dexter Booth, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Adam Gellings, Tess Taylor, Vanessa Angélica Villareal Fiction: Kirstin Chen, Edan Lepucki, Sarah Monette, Nayomi Munaweera, Vi Khi Nao, Naomi J. Williams, Kyle Winkler Nonfiction: Cass Donish, Kate Hopper, Lauren Markham, Thomas Mira y Lopez, Lisa Nikolidakis, Terese Mailhot

Augsburg University

Poetry: Michael Kleber-Diggs Fiction: Stephan Eirik Clark, Lindsay Starck Nonfiction: Anika Fajardo  Playwriting: Carson Kreitzer, TyLie Shider, Sarah Myers Screenwriting: Stephan Eirik Clark, Andy Froemke

Ball State University

Poetry: Katy Didden, Mark Neely Fiction: Cathy Day, Sean Lovelace Nonfiction: Jill Christman, Silas Hansen Screenwriting: Rani Deighe Crowe, Matt Mullins

Bard College

Jess Arndt, Shiv Kotecha, Mirene Arsanios, Hannah Black, Trisha Low, Christoper Perez, Julian Talamantez Brolaski, Simone White

Bath Spa University

Poetry: Lucy English, Tim Liardet, John Strachan, Samantha Walton, Gerard Woodward Fiction: Gavin James Bower, Celia Brayfield, Alexia Casale, Anne-Marie Crowhurst, Lucy English, Nathan Filer, Aminatta Forna, Samantha Harvey, Philip Hensher, Steve Hollyman, Emma Hooper, Claire Kendal, Natasha Pulley, Kate Pullinger, C.J. Skuse, Gerard Woodward Nonfiction: Celia Brayfield, Lily Dunn, Richard Kerridge Scriptwriting: Robin Mukherjee

Poetry: Lucy English, Tim Liardet, Gerard Woodward Fiction: Gavin James Bower, Celia Brayfield, Anne-Marie Crowhurst, Nathan Filer, Aminatta Forna, Samantha Harvey, Philip Hensher, Claire Kendal, Natasha Pulley, Kate Pullinger, Gerard Woodward Nonfiction: Lily Dunn, Richard Kerridge

Bay Path University

Mel Allen, Leanna James Blackwell, Jennifer Baker, Melanie Brooks, María Luisa Arroyo Cruzado, Shahnaz Habib, Susan Ito, Karol Jackowski, Yi Shun Lai, Anna Mantzaris, Meredith O’Brien, Mick Powell, Suzanne Strempek Shea, Tommy Shea, Kate Whouley

Bennington Writing Seminars at Bennington College

Poetry: Jennifer Chang, Michael Dumanis, Randall Mann, Craig Morgan Teicher, Mark Wunderlich Fiction: Peter Cameron, Jai Chakrabarti, Stacey D’Erasmo, Monica Ferrell, Rebecca Makkai, Stuart Nadler, Téa Obreht, Moriel Rothman-Zecher, Katy Simpson Smith, Taymour Soomro Nonfiction: Garrard Conley, Sabrina Orah Mark, Spencer Reece, Lance Richardson, Shawna Kay Rodenberg, Hugh Ryan, Greg Wrenn

Binghamton University

Poetry: Tina Chang, Joseph Weil Fiction: Amir Ahmdi Arian, Thomas Glave, Leslie L. Heywood, Claire Luchette, Liz Rosenberg, Jaimee Wriston-Colbert, Alexi Zentner Nonfiction: Amir Ahmdi Arian, Leslie L. Heywood

Bluegrass Writers Studio at Eastern Kentucky University

Poetry: Julie Hensley, Young Smith Fiction: Julie Hensley, Robert Dean Johnson Nonfiction: Robert Dean Johnson, Evan J. Massey Playwriting: Young Smith

Boise State University

Poetry: Martin Corless-Smith, Sara Nicholson, Taryn Schwilling Fiction: Mitch Wieland (Director), Anna Caritj Creative Nonfiction: Chris Violet Eaton, Clyde Moneyhun

Boston University

Poetry: Andrea Cohen, Karl Kirchwey, Robert Pinsky Fiction: Leslie Epstein, Jennifer Haigh, Ha Jin

Boston University—MFA in Literary Translation

Odile Cazenave, Yuri Corrigan, Margaret Litvin, Christopher Maurer, Roberta Micaleff, Robert Pinsky (advising), Stephen Scully, Sassan Tabatabai, J. Keith Vincent, William Waters, Dennis Wuerthner, Cathy Yeh, Anna Zielinska-Elliott

Bowling Green State University

Poetry: Abigail Cloud, Amorak Huey, Sharona Muir, F. Dan Rzicznek, Larissa Szporluk, Jessica Zinz-Cheresnick Fiction: Joe Celizic, Lawrence Coates, Reema Rajbanshi, Michael Schulz

Brigham Young University

Poetry: Kimberly Johnson, Lance Larsen, Michael Lavers, John Talbot Fiction: Chris Crowe, Ann Dee Ellis, Spencer Hyde, Stephen Tuttle Nonfiction: Joey Franklin, Patrick Madden

Brooklyn College

Poetry: Julie Agoos, Ben Lerner Fiction: Joshua Henkin, Madeleine Thien Playwriting: Dennis A. Allen II, Elana Greenfield

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Creative Writing and Literature Master’s Degree Program

Unlock your creative potential and hone your unique voice.

Online Courses

11 out of 12 total courses

On-Campus Experience

One 1- or 3-week residency in summer

$3,220 per course

Program Overview

Through the master’s degree in creative writing and literature, you’ll hone your skills as a storyteller — crafting publishable original scripts, novels, and stories.

In small, workshop-style classes, you’ll master key elements of narrative craft, including characterization, story and plot structure, point of view, dialogue, and description. And you’ll learn to approach literary works as both a writer and scholar by developing skills in critical analysis.

Program Benefits

Instructors who are published authors of drama, fiction, and nonfiction

A community of writers who support your growth in live online classes

Writer's residency with agent & editor networking opportunities

Personalized academic and career advising

Thesis or capstone options that lead to publishable creative work

Harvard Alumni Association membership upon graduation

Customizable Course Curriculum

As you work through the program’s courses, you’ll enhance your creative writing skills and knowledge of literary concepts and strategies. You’ll practice the art of revision to hone your voice as a writer in courses like Writing the Short Personal Essay and Writing Flash Fiction.

Within the creative writing and literature program, you will choose between a thesis or capstone track. You’ll also experience the convenience of online learning and the immersive benefits of learning in person.

11 Online Courses

  • Primarily synchronous
  • Fall, spring, January, and summer options

Writers’ Residency

A 1- or 3-week summer master class taught by a notable instructor, followed by an agents-and-editors weekend

Thesis or Capstone Track

  • Thesis: features a 9-month independent creative project with a faculty advisor
  • Capstone: includes crafting a fiction or nonfiction manuscript in a classroom community

The path to your degree begins before you apply to the program.

First, you’ll register for and complete 2 required courses, earning at least a B in each. These foundational courses are investments in your studies and count toward your degree, helping ensure success in the program.

Getting Started

We invite you to explore degree requirements, confirm your initial eligibility, and learn more about our unique “earn your way in” admissions process.

A Faculty of Creative Writing Experts

Studying at Harvard Extension School means learning from the world’s best. Our instructors are renowned academics in literary analysis, storytelling, manuscript writing, and more. They bring a genuine passion for teaching, with students giving our faculty an average rating of 4.7 out of 5.

Bryan Delaney

Playwright and Screenwriter

Talaya Adrienne Delaney

Lecturer in Extension, Harvard University

Elisabeth Sharp McKetta

Our community at a glance.

80% of our creative writing and literature students are enrolled in our master’s degree program for either personal enrichment or to make a career change. Most (74%) are employed full time while pursuing their degree and work across a variety of industries.

Download: Creative Writing & Literature Master's Degree Fact Sheet

Average Age

Course Taken Each Semester

Work Full Time

Would Recommend the Program

Professional Experience in the Field

Pursued for Personal Enrichment

Career Opportunities & Alumni Outcomes

Graduates of our Creative Writing and Literature Master’s Program have writing, research, and communication jobs in the fields of publishing, advertising/marketing, fundraising, secondary and higher education, and more.

Some alumni continue their educational journeys and pursue further studies in other nationally ranked degree programs, including those at Boston University, Brandeis University, University of Pennsylvania, and Cambridge University.

Our alumni hold titles as:

  • Marketing Manager
  • Director of Publishing
  • Senior Research Writer

Our alumni work at a variety of leading organizations, including:

  • Little, Brown & Company
  • New York University (NYU)
  • Bentley Publishers

Career Advising and Mentorship

Whatever your career goals, we’re here to support you. Harvard’s Mignone Center for Career Success offers career advising, employment opportunities, Harvard alumni mentor connections, and career fairs like the annual on-campus Harvard Humanities, Media, Marketing, and Creative Careers Expo.

Your Harvard University Degree

Upon successful completion of the required curriculum, you will earn the Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in Extension Studies, Field: Creative Writing and Literature.

Expand Your Connections: the Harvard Alumni Network

As a graduate, you’ll become a member of the worldwide Harvard Alumni Association (400,000+ members) and Harvard Extension Alumni Association (29,000+ members).

Harvard is closer than one might think. You can be anywhere and still be part of this world.

Tuition & Financial Aid

Affordability is core to our mission. When compared to our continuing education peers, it’s a fraction of the cost.

Our Tuition (2023–24 rate) $3,220 per course
Average Tuition of Peer Institutions $4,330 per course
Average Total Cost $38,640

After admission, you may qualify for financial aid . Typically, eligible students receive grant funds to cover a portion of tuition costs each term, in addition to federal financial aid options.

What can you do with a master’s degree in creative writing and literature?

A master’s degree in creative writing and literature prepares you for a variety of career paths in writing, literature, and communication — it’s up to you to decide where your interests will take you.

You could become a professional writer, editor, literary agent, marketing copywriter, or communications specialist.

You could also go the academic route and bring your knowledge to the classroom to teach creative writing or literature courses.

Is a degree in creative writing and literature worth it?

The value you find in our Creative Writing and Literature Master’s Degree Program will depend on your unique goals, interests, and circumstances.

The curriculum provides a range of courses that allow you to graduate with knowledge and skills transferable to various industries and careers.

How long does completing the creative writing and literature graduate program take?

Program length is ordinarily anywhere between 2 and 5 years. It depends on your preferred pace and the number of courses you want to take each semester.

For an accelerated journey, we offer year round study, where you can take courses in fall, January, spring, and summer.

While we don’t require you to register for a certain number of courses each semester, you cannot take longer than 5 years to complete the degree.

What skills do you need prior to applying for the creative writing and literature degree program?

Harvard Extension School does not require any specific skills prior to applying, but in general, it’s helpful to have solid reading, writing, communication, and critical thinking skills if you are considering a creative writing and literature master’s degree.

Initial eligibility requirements can be found on our creative writing and literature master’s degree requirements page .

Harvard Division of Continuing Education

The Division of Continuing Education (DCE) at Harvard University is dedicated to bringing rigorous academics and innovative teaching capabilities to those seeking to improve their lives through education. We make Harvard education accessible to lifelong learners from high school to retirement.

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MFA in Creative Writing

The MFA in Creative Writing is a small, intensive one-year program that is completed over two to three semesters. The program is designed to help students become better writers of original prose or poetry and to produce readers and critics of the highest quality. Our program also strives to help students improve as creative writing instructors.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the Creative Writing MFA program, all students should be able to:

  • If they are fiction writers: write and revise original fiction that has a compelling and original voice; interesting, well-developed characters; a clear narrative arc; and emotional resonance. It should reflect an awareness of previous and current achievement in fiction.
  • If they are poets: write and revise original poetry that uses language, image, voice, and form in interesting ways that reflect an awareness of previous and current poetic achievement.
  • Provide constructive, insightful, and helpful criticism of their peers’ original fiction or poetry.
  • Closely read and critique literature with a particular eye for the way(s) in which their own creative work can benefit from the work of writers before them.
  • Effectively teach creative writing and literature at the high school and/or college level.
  • Demonstrate an understanding (through the world language requirement, including the option of taking Translation Seminar) of the resources available to their own creative work in the literatures of other countries.
  • Through Global Fellowship travel, explore and reflect upon the cultural, historical, geographical, and linguistic landscapes of a country of their choice outside of the United States for up to three months.

Course Requirements

The MFA is an eight-course, 32-credit degree, including four workshops, four graduate literature courses, and completion of a world language requirement.

At least four of the courses taken must be workshops the genre in which the student is admitted (either fiction or poetry). The four remaining courses are normally graduate-level literature courses, some of which may be completed during the BU summer session(s). Students must receive a grade of at least B– in these courses.

It is possible to take a course (or courses) in a subject or discipline other than literature, provided that these are demonstrably essential to the student’s creative work, and show a strong emphasis in reading literary, as distinct from purely scholarly or academic, texts. Such courses are subject to the approval of the program director.

Language Requirement

Each student who has not previously completed at least two college courses of intermediate study in a non-English world language or is not already multilingual may fulfill the language requirement in one of the following ways:

  • Satisfactory completion of CAS TL 540 (the Translation Seminar) (it should be noted that proficiency in a second language is listed as a prerequisite for the course) and its corequisite CAS TL 542 (Literary Translation). Students who choose this option may first wish to consult the Translation Seminar instructor; they must also choose a mentor from the language department for the source language from which they are working.
  • Satisfactory completion of a BU course in a non-English world language, usually taught in that language (for example, CAS LF 350 Introduction to French Texts), or a 500-level reading course in a world language (texts and instruction usually in that language), subject to approval by the Creative Writing Program Director.
  • Passing GRS LF 621 Reading French, GRS LG 621 Reading German, GRS LI 621 Reading Italian, or GRS LS 621 Reading Spanish. These reading knowledge-only courses are offered Pass/Fail for no academic credit, and enrollment is limited.
  • Passing a Translation Exam proctored by a Creative Writing Department administrator or faculty member and graded by an expert in the language being translated.

Completion of a substantial master’s thesis in fiction or poetry is required for all students. The thesis should consist of a minimum of 95 pages of prose or 35 pages of poetry and must be read and signed by two members of Boston University faculty.

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15 Best Creative Writing MFA Programs in 2024

May 15, 2024

Whether you studied at a top creative writing university or are a high school dropout who will one day become a bestselling author , you may be considering an MFA in Creative Writing. But is a writing MFA genuinely worth the time and potential costs? How do you know which program will best nurture your writing? If you’re considering an MFA, this article walks you through the best full-time, low residency, and online Creative Writing MFA programs in the United States.

What are the best Creative Writing MFA programs?

Before we get into the meat and potatoes of this article, let’s start with the basics. What is an MFA, anyway?

A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is a graduate degree that usually takes from two to three years to complete. Applications typically require a sample portfolio, usually 10-20 pages (and sometimes up to 30-40) of your best writing. Moreover, you can receive an MFA in a particular genre, such as Fiction or Poetry, or more broadly in Creative Writing. However, if you take the latter approach, you often have the opportunity to specialize in a single genre.

Wondering what actually goes on in a creative writing MFA beyond inspiring award-winning books and internet memes ? You enroll in workshops where you get feedback on your creative writing from your peers and a faculty member. You enroll in seminars where you get a foundation of theory and techniques. Then, you finish the degree with a thesis project. Thesis projects are typically a body of polished, publishable-quality creative work in your genre—fiction, nonfiction, or poetry.

Why should I get an MFA in Creative Writing?

You don’t need an MFA to be a writer. Just look at Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison or bestselling novelist Emily St. John Mandel.

Nonetheless, there are plenty of reasons you might still want to get a creative writing MFA. The first is, unfortunately, prestige. An MFA from a top program can help you stand out in a notoriously competitive industry to be published.

The second reason: time. Many MFA programs give you protected writing time, deadlines, and maybe even a (dainty) salary.

Third, an MFA in Creative Writing is a terminal degree. This means that this degree allows you to teach writing at the university level, especially after you publish a book.

Fourth: resources. MFA programs are often staffed by brilliant, award-winning writers; offer lecture series, volunteer opportunities, and teaching positions; and run their own (usually prestigious) literary magazines. Such resources provide you with the knowledge and insight you’ll need to navigate the literary and publishing world on your own post-graduation.

But above all, the biggest reason to pursue an MFA is the community it brings you. You get to meet other writers—and share feedback, advice, and moral support—in relationships that can last for decades.

Types of Creative Writing MFA Programs

Here are the different types of programs to consider, depending on your needs:

Fully-Funded Full-Time Programs

These programs offer full-tuition scholarships and sweeten the deal by actually paying you to attend them.

  • Pros: You’re paid to write (and teach).
  • Cons: Uprooting your entire life to move somewhere possibly very cold.

Full-Time MFA Programs

These programs include attending in-person classes and paying tuition (though many offer need-based and merit scholarships).

  • Pros: Lots of top-notch non-funded programs have more assets to attract world-class faculty and guests.
  • Cons: It’s an investment that might not pay itself back.

Low-Residency MFA Programs

Low-residency programs usually meet biannually for short sessions. They also offer one-on-one support throughout the year. These MFAs are more independent, preparing you for what the writing life is actually like.

  • Pros: No major life changes required. Cons: Less time dedicated to writing and less time to build relationships.

Online MFA Programs

Held 100% online. These programs have high acceptance rates and no residency requirement. That means zero travel or moving expenses.

  • Pros: No major life changes required.
  • Cons: These MFAs have less name recognition.

The Top 15 Creative Writing MFA Programs Ranked by Category

The following programs are selected for their balance of high funding, impressive return on investment, stellar faculty, major journal publications , and impressive alums.


1) johns hopkins university , mfa in fiction/poetry.

This two-year program offers an incredibly generous funding package: $39,000 teaching fellowships each year. Not to mention, it offers that sweet, sweet health insurance, mind-boggling faculty, and the option to apply for a lecture position after graduation. Many grads publish their first book within three years (nice). No nonfiction MFA (boo).

  • Location: Baltimore, MD
  • Incoming class size: 8 students (4 per genre)
  • Admissions rate: 4-8%
  • Alumni: Chimamanda Adichie, Jeffrey Blitz, Wes Craven, Louise Erdrich, Porochista Khakpour, Phillis Levin, ZZ Packer, Tom Sleigh, Elizabeth Spires, Rosanna Warren

2) University of Texas, James Michener Center

The only MFA that offers full and equal funding for every writer. It’s three years long, offers a generous yearly stipend of $30k, and provides full tuition plus a health insurance stipend. Fiction, poetry, playwriting, and screenwriting concentrations are available. The Michener Center is also unique because you study a primary genre and a secondary genre, and also get $4,000 for the summer.

  • Location : Austin, TX
  • Incoming class size : 12 students
  • Acceptance rate: a bone-chilling less-than-1% in fiction; 2-3% in other genres
  • Alumni: Fiona McFarlane, Brian McGreevy, Karan Mahajan, Alix Ohlin, Kevin Powers, Lara Prescott, Roger Reeves, Maria Reva, Domenica Ruta, Sam Sax, Joseph Skibell, Dominic Smith

3) University of Iowa

The Iowa Writers’ Workshop is a 2-year program on a residency model for fiction and poetry. This means there are low requirements, and lots of time to write groundbreaking novels or play pool at the local bar. All students receive full funding, including tuition, a living stipend, and subsidized health insurance. The Translation MFA , co-founded by Gayatri Chakravorti Spivak, is also two years long but with more intensive coursework. The Nonfiction Writing Program is a prestigious three-year MFA program and is also intensive.

  • Incoming class size: 25 each for poetry and fiction; 10-12 for nonfiction and translation.
  • Acceptance rate: 2.7-3.7%
  • Fantastic Alumni: Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Connor, Sandra Cisneros, Joy Harjo, Garth Greenwell, Kiley Reid, Brandon Taylor, Eula Biss, Yiyun Li, Jennifer Croft

Best MFA Creative Writing Programs (Continued) 

4) university of michigan.

Anne Carson famously lives in Ann Arbor, as do the MFA students in UMichigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program. This is a big university town, which is less damaging to your social life. Plus, there’s lots to do when you have a $25,000 stipend, summer funding, and health care.

This is a 2-3-year program in either fiction or poetry, with an impressive reputation. They also have a demonstrated commitment to “ push back against the darkness of intolerance and injustice ” and have outreach programs in the community.

  • Location: Ann Arbor, MI
  • Incoming class size: 18 (9 in each genre)
  • Acceptance rate: 2%
  • Alumni: Brit Bennett, Vievee Francis, Airea D. Matthews, Celeste Ng, Chigozie Obioma, Jia Tolentino, Jesmyn Ward

5) Brown University

Brown offers an edgy, well-funded program in a place that only occasionally dips into arctic temperatures. All students are fully funded for 2 years, which includes tuition remission and a $32k yearly stipend. Students also get summer funding and—you guessed it—that sweet, sweet health insurance.

In the Brown Literary Arts MFA, students take only one workshop and one elective per semester. It’s also the only program in the country to feature a Digital/Cross Disciplinary Track.  Fiction and Poetry Tracks are offered as well.

  • Location: Providence, RI
  • Incoming class size: 12-13
  • Acceptance rate: “highly selective”
  • Alumni: Edwidge Danticat, Jaimy Gordon, Gayl Jones, Ben Lerner, Joanna Scott, Kevin Young, Ottessa Moshfegh

6) University of Arizona

This 3-year program with fiction, poetry, and nonfiction tracks has many attractive qualities. It’s in “ the lushest desert in the world, ” and was recently ranked #4 in creative writing programs, and #2 in Nonfiction. You can take classes in multiple genres, and in fact, are encouraged to do so. Plus, Arizona’s dry heat is good for arthritis.

This notoriously supportive program is fully funded. Moreover, teaching assistantships that provide a salary, health insurance, and tuition waiver are offered to all students. Tucson is home to a hopping literary scene, so it’s also possible to volunteer at multiple literary organizations and even do supported research at the US-Mexico Border.

  • Location: Tucson, AZ
  • Incoming class size: usually 6
  • Acceptance rate: 1.2% (a refreshingly specific number after Brown’s evasiveness)
  • Alumni: Francisco Cantú, Jos Charles, Tony Hoagland, Nancy Mairs, Richard Russo, Richard Siken, Aisha Sabatini Sloan, David Foster Wallace

7) Arizona State University 

With concentrations in fiction and poetry, Arizona State is a three-year funded program in arthritis-friendly dry heat. It offers small class sizes, individual mentorships, and one of the most impressive faculty rosters in the game. Moreover, it encourages cross-genre study.

Funding-wise, everyone has the option to take on a teaching assistantship position, which provides a tuition waiver, health insurance, and a yearly stipend of $25k. Other opportunities for financial support exist as well.

  • Location: Tempe, AZ
  • Incoming class size: 8-10
  • Acceptance rate: 3% (sigh)
  • Alumni: Tayari Jones, Venita Blackburn, Dorothy Chan, Adrienne Celt, Dana Diehl, Matthew Gavin Frank, Caitlin Horrocks, Allegra Hyde, Hugh Martin, Bonnie Nadzam


8) new york university.

This two-year program is in New York City, meaning it comes with close access to literary opportunities and hot dogs. NYU also has one of the most accomplished faculty lists anywhere. Students have large cohorts (more potential friends!) and have a penchant for winning top literary prizes. Concentrations in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction are available.

  • Location: New York, NY
  • Incoming class size: ~60; 20-30 students accepted for each genre
  • Acceptance rate: 6-9%
  • Alumni: Nick Flynn, Nell Freudenberger, Aracelis Girmay, Mitchell S. Jackson, Tyehimba Jess, John Keene, Raven Leilani, Robin Coste Lewis, Ada Limón, Ocean Vuong

9) Columbia University

Another 2-3 year private MFA program with drool-worthy permanent and visiting faculty. Columbia offers courses in fiction, poetry, translation, and nonfiction. Beyond the Ivy League education, Columbia offers close access to agents, and its students have a high record of bestsellers. Finally, teaching positions and fellowships are available to help offset the high tuition.

  • Incoming class size: 110
  • Acceptance rate: not publicized (boo)
  • Alumni: Alexandra Kleeman, Rachel Kushner, Claudia Rankine, Rick Moody, Sigrid Nunez, Tracy K. Smith, Emma Cline, Adam Wilson, Marie Howe, Mary Jo Bang

10) Sarah Lawrence 

Sarah Lawrence offers a concentration in speculative fiction in addition to the average fiction, poetry, and nonfiction choices. Moreover, they encourage cross-genre exploration. With intimate class sizes, this program is unique because it offers biweekly one-on-one conferences with its stunning faculty. It also has a notoriously supportive atmosphere, and many teaching and funding opportunities are available.

  • Location: Bronxville, NY
  • Incoming class size: 30-40
  • Acceptance rate: not publicized
  • Alumni: Cynthia Cruz, Melissa Febos, T Kira Madden, Alex Dimitrov, Moncho Alvarado


11) bennington college.

This two-year program boasts truly stellar faculty, and meets twice a year for ten days in January and June. It’s like a biannual vacation in beautiful Vermont, plus mentorship by a famous writer. The rest of the time, you’ll be spending approximately 25 hours per week on reading and writing assignments. Students have the option to concentrate in fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Uniquely, they can also opt for a dual-genre focus.

The tuition is $23,468 per year, with scholarships available. Additionally, Bennington offers full-immersion teaching fellowships to MFA students, which are extremely rare in low-residency programs.

  • Location: Bennington, VT
  • Acceptance rate: 53%
  • Incoming class: 25-35
  • Alumni: Larissa Pham, Andrew Reiner, Lisa Johnson Mitchell, and others

12)  Institute for American Indian Arts

This two-year program emphasizes Native American and First Nations writing. With truly amazing faculty and visiting writers, they offer a wide range of genres, including screenwriting, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. In addition, each student is matched with a faculty mentor who works with them one-on-one throughout the semester.

Students attend two eight-day residencies each year, in January and July, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. At $12,000 in tuition a year, it boasts being “ one of the most affordable MFA programs in the country .”

  • Location: Santa Fe, NM
  • Incoming class size : 21
  • Alumni: Tommy Orange, Dara Yen Elerath, Kathryn Wilder

13) Vermont College of Fine Arts

VCFA is the only graduate school on this list that focuses exclusively on the fine arts. Their MFA in Writing offers concentrations in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction; they also offer an MFA in Literary Translation and one of the few MFAs in Writing for Children and Young Adults . Students meet twice a year for nine days, in January and July, either in-person or online. Here, they receive one-on-one mentorship that continues for the rest of the semester. You can also do many travel residencies in exciting (and warm) places like Cozumel.

VCFA boasts amazing faculty and visiting writers, with individualized study options and plenty of one-on-one time. Tuition for the full two-year program is approximately $54k.

  • Location : Various; 2024/25 residencies are in Colorado and California
  • Incoming class size: 18-25
  • Acceptance rate: 63%
  • Alumnx: Lauren Markham, Mary-Kim Arnold, Cassie Beasley, Kate Beasley, Julie Berry, Bridget Birdsall, Gwenda Bond, Pablo Cartaya


14) university of texas at el paso.

UTEP is considered the best online MFA program, and features award-winning faculty from across the globe. Accordingly, this program is geared toward serious writers who want to pursue teaching and/or publishing. Intensive workshops allow submissions in Spanish and/or English, and genres include poetry and fiction.

No residencies are required, but an optional opportunity to connect in person is available every year. This three-year program costs about $25-30k total, depending on whether you are an in-state or out-of-state resident.

  • Location: El Paso, TX
  • Acceptance rate: “highly competitive”
  • Alumni: Watch alumni testimonies here

15) Bay Path University

This 2-year online, no-residency program is dedicated entirely to nonfiction. Featuring a supportive, diverse community, Bay Path offers small class sizes, close mentorship, and an optional yearly field trip to Ireland.

There are many tracks, including publishing, narrative medicine, and teaching creative writing. Moreover, core courses include memoir, narrative journalism, food/travel writing, and the personal essay. Tuition is approximately $31,000 for the entire program, with scholarships available.

  • Location: Longmeadow, MA
  • Incoming class size: 20
  • Alumni: Read alumni testimonies here

Best MFA Creative Writing Programs — Final Thoughts

Whether you’re aiming for a fully funded, low residency, or completely online MFA program, there are plenty of incredible options available—all of which will sharpen your craft while immersing you in the vibrant literary arts community.

Hoping to prepare for your MFA in advance? You might consider checking out the following:

  • Best English Programs
  • Best Colleges for Creative Writing
  • Writing Summer Programs
  • Best Writing Competitions for High School Students

Inspired to start writing? Get your pencil ready:

  • 100 Creative Writing Prompts 
  • 1 00 Tone Words to Express Mood in Your Writing
  • 60 Senior Project Ideas
  • Common App Essay Prompts

Best MFA Creative Writing Programs – References:

  • https://www.pw.org/mfa
  • The Creative Writing MFA Handbook: A Guide for Prospective Graduate Students , by Tom Kealey (A&C Black 2005)
  • Graduate School Admissions

Julia Conrad

With a Bachelor of Arts in English and Italian from Wesleyan University as well as MFAs in both Nonfiction Writing and Literary Translation from the University of Iowa, Julia is an experienced writer, editor, educator, and a former Fulbright Fellow. Julia’s work has been featured in  The Millions ,  Asymptote , and  The Massachusetts Review , among other publications. To read more of her work, visit  www.juliaconrad.net

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Best College Rankings

25 Best Graduate Creative Writing Programs

college rank best graduate programs creative writing

Quick Highlights:

  • Our #1 ranked school for a graduate creative writing program is  Western Connecticut State University , followed by  University of Arkansas at Monticello .
  • Programs typically offer low-residency formats , ideal for balancing with professional commitments.
  • They cover various writing genres, providing flexibility and depth in learning and practice.
  • Graduates often pursue careers in writing, publishing, teaching , and other creative fields.

If you’re interested in a creative writing career, this might arguably be one of the best times in history. A glance on the Internet, especially on social media sites, shows a growing demand for content. This means a demand for advanced writing skills, and other creative skills.

​ Are you planning to enhance your creative writing skills? Consider taking one of the best creative writing graduate programs . To get you started on your degree search, we’ve put together this list of best graduate writing programs . In fact, most of these are no- or low-residency creative writing programs. This includes colleges offering an online master’s degree (or hybrid) in Creative Writing.

  • Top Communications PhD Programs
  • Best English PhD Programs

A Creative writer may find themselves with several different career opportunities. Creative writers may write content, go into advertising, be a screenwriter, or go into publishing, to name a few options in this field.

Best MFA Creative Writing Programs

Western new england university, graduation rate, acceptance rate.

Western New England University

One of the best creative writing MFA programs is offered by Western New England University (WNE, est. 1919) is a low-residency program (College of Arts and Sciences). This is a 48-credit, hybrid MFA in Fiction, but enables a comprehensive study of all aspects of fiction. Students at this top creative writing school will undertake a mix of:

  • craft classes
  • individual conferences
  • manuscript consultations
  • special topics courses
  • workshops in creative writing

For the residencies, these immersive, week-long gatherings are comprised of:

  • discussions

Four of these must be taken. The summer ones are held on-campus in Springfield, Massachusetts, with the winter ones either in the Berkshires or Dublin, Ireland. Those applying for the MFA program will need an undergraduate degree (please check with WNE for GPA requirements).

As one of the best creative writing MFAs , WNE’s Creative Writing MFA provides a mentored approach to education. To ensure students get the one-on-one attention they deserve, the program maintains the student-faculty ratio at 5:1. Faculty mentors and visiting writers are all published authors — many award-winning — covering several forms and genres, including:

  • Literary Criticism
  • Literary Fiction
  • Non-Fiction Essays
  • Young Adult and Middle-Grade Literature

The MFA is particularly well-suited to creative writers with a strong interest in craft and who want to master critical elements, such as:

  • sentence craft
  • story shaping
  • voice development

Key courses in the creative writing program include:

  • Fiction Workshop
  • Special Topics in Creative Writing
  • The Craft of Fiction
  • Type: Private, non-profit
  • Location: Springfield, Massachusetts
  • Cost: $44,112
  • #students: 3,673
  • #grads: 1,121
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Has housing?: Yes
  • Programs: Associates through doctorate level, plus certificates

Lesley University

Graduate rate:, acceptance rate:.


Lesley University (LU, est. 1909) offers a unique, low-residency, hybrid MFA in Creative Writing that will be attractive to writers seeking to explore new boundaries in their craft. LU’s best masters in creative writing requires 49 credits for completion, including a thesis and graduating seminar presentation. Students must also complete five residencies — two per year plus an exit one — in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Each nine-day residency involves:

There is also an exciting opportunity for a 12-day residency in Wales at the Dylan Thomas International Summer School. To qualify for admission into the MFA, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree (please check with LU for GPA requirements).

If you’re looking for one of the best poetry MFA or screenwriting MFA programs , this just might be it. Available genres for Lesley’s MFA in Creative Writing are:

  • Graphic Novels and Comics
  • Non-Fiction
  • Writing for Stage and Screen
  • Writing for Young People

While creative writers will select one genre, they will work with award-winning writers across several of these categories. This underlies the unique interdisciplinary aspect of the program. In addition to encouraging students to explore other genres, LU’s MFA allows them to incorporate other disciplines, as well. For example, students can work with faculty in Art and Design or Arts and Social Sciences to examine how their writing combines with such complementary fields as:

  • art therapy
  • visual arts

Graduates of LU’s low-residency Creative Writing program have pursued careers as:

  • playwrights
  • screenwriters

Several creative writers have become teachers in writing programs at prestigious universities. Key courses for this MFA include:

  • Craft and Reflection
  • Creative Writing
  • Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Cost: $40,230
  • #students: 4,200
  • #grads: 2,339
  • Programs: Bachelor’s through doctorate level degrees, plus certificates

Spalding University

Graduation rate:.

masters creative writing reddit

Spalding University (SU, est. 1814) offers one of the best graduate creative writing programs in the country. Their low-residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Writing. This 65-credit hybrid degree provides the choice of six concentrations:

  • Creative Non-Fiction
  • Playwriting
  • Screenwriting
  • Writing for Children and Young Adults

Students must complete five 10-day residencies, which are comprised of:

The residencies in Louisville, Kentucky, take place in spring and fall. The international ones are held in the summer. After each residency, students undertake a semester of independent study that is primarily focused on honing one’s writing abilities and writing process but is supported by reading and critical analysis. A thesis and the Graduation Residency complete the program. To qualify for admission into this creative writing program, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree (please check with SU for GPA requirements).

Spalding’s Writing MFA is a high-value program that offers an intriguing combination of:

  • academic rigor
  • affordability
  • flexibility

As the world’s first certified compassionate university, SU’s promise of a supportive, non-competitive community seems very real. Additionally, SU takes pride in teaching students how to be successful creative writers amidst the other responsibilities of their daily lives and continues to provide support for alumni after graduation. Key courses for the creative writing students include:

  • Advanced Independent Writing and Reading – Emphasizing the Research Project
  • Intermediate Independent Writing and Reading in Creative Writing
  • Introductory Independent Writing and Reading in Creative Writing

Additional: SU also offers a low-residency Master of Arts (MA) in Writing with tracks in: Creative Writing; and Professional Writing. This 35-credit hybrid degree can be completed in a year. Graduates can then pursue career goals or proceed directly into SU’s MFA.

  • Location: Louisville, Kentucky
  • Cost: $39,325
  • Religious affiliation: Roman Catholic (Sisters of Charity of Nazareth)
  • #students: 1,596
  • #grads: 741
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

Queens University of Charlotte

Queens University Charlotte

Queens University of Charlotte (Queens, est. 1857) offers one of the best creative writing masters programs through the College of Arts and Sciences. This hybrid program requires 52 credits for completion and includes a thesis and a capstone project. While this is essentially a Master’s of creative writing focusing on publishing and editing, students can specialize in one of four genres:

  • Creative Nonfiction

They must take four weeks of residencies selected from two track options. On-Campus Residencies are seven-day sessions held in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the start of each semester. International Residences are annual, culturally rich, 14- or 15-day affairs in one of Buenos Aires, Argentina; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; or Santiago, Chile. A final, on-campus Graduating Residency is also required. To qualify for admission into the MFA, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent creative writing experience. (Please check with Queens for GPA requirements.)

The Queens’ Creative Writing MFA is for:

  • published writers
  • those who want to be published
  • those who want to teach at colleges or universities

The creative writing program provides the:

  • inspiration and support of a writing community
  • the personalized attention of a dedicated instructor
  • the private time needed to write and think

Queens also has opportunities to help graduates achieve their career dreams. This includes an Annual Alumni Weekend with craft seminars, publishing panels, and, every other year, top agents and senior editors from major magazines and publishing houses. There’s also Queens’ Book Development Program. It pairs applicants with a senior editor from a major publisher. Key course options for this MFA include:

  • Dramatic Writing Workshop
  • Guided Reading in Creative Writing
  • Poetry Tutorial
  • Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Cost: $38,480
  • Religious affiliation: Presbyterian Church (USA)
  • #students: 2,338
  • #grads: 668
  • Programs: Bachelor’s and master’s level degrees, plus certificates

Harvard University

Harvard University

Through its Harvard Extension School, Harvard University (Harvard, est. 1636) has one of the best Creative Writing masters programs. While Harvard’s is not an online MFA in creative writing, it is partly online and is called the Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in Extension Studies in the field of Creative Writing and Literature. This 48-credit, low-residency, hybrid degree has the choice of a capstone or thesis track. Primarily taken online, the ALM has a single residency requirement comprising three weeks of study. It starts with a week-long masterclass on-campus and a weekend connecting with agents and editors. The additional two weeks of writing classes and final writing assignment can be done either online or on-campus. To qualify for admission into the ALM, students need a Bachelor’s degree and then must take two required graduate courses at Harvard, earning a minimum grade of B in each one.

Harvard’s Creative Writing and Literature ALM focuses on helping students gain a mastery in creative writing and literary analysis. Graduates will be able to write in multiple genres, including:

  • Dramatic Writing

Students gain advanced creative writing skills in:

  • characterization
  • description
  • point of view
  • story and plot structure

They will also be able to assess literature as both creative writers and scholars. In addition to the acknowledged quality of a Harvard education, the ALM provides students with connection, camaraderie, and support. Many graduates in creative writing go on to careers in:

  • advertising
  • fundraising

Key ALM courses and options include:

  • Advanced Fiction – Writing the Short Story
  • Global Environmental Literatures
  • Writing a Nonfiction Book
  • Cost: $35,760
  • #students: 30,391
  • #grads: 21,864

Ashland University

Ashland University

Ashland University (AU, est. 1878) offers a low-residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing. This is a 45-credit, hybrid degree featuring nine credits of in-residence course work and 36 credits of online study (including a full-semester thesis). The in-residence courses take place during a two-week summer workshop (with seminars and readings) held at AU’s Ashland, Ohio, campus. Three separate workshops/ residencies must be completed. Students have the incredible option to do one of their residencies in Paris. The final residency will feature their thesis defense. Students can choose a degree track in one of three genres:

  • Fiction (literary and science fiction/ fantasy)

To qualify for admission, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree with a GPA over 2.75.

Ashland’s approach to its Creative Writing Master’s program is one of mentored learning. No more than five students are assigned to a single faculty mentor, each of whom is a published author. During residencies, students can also build their own dynamic writing communities with fellow students. Other program benefits for a creative writer include creating a full-length manuscript in one’s chosen genre and having the chance to qualify for graduate assistantships in teaching or publishing. Key courses in this creative writing program include a:

  • Summer Residency

Those obtaining a graduate teaching assistantship will undergo a Pedagogy Track with two additional courses — Composition/ Rhetoric Pedagogy and Supervised Teaching — and teach as many as five online undergraduate composition courses.

  • Location: Ashland, Ohio
  • Cost: $35,415
  • Religious affiliation: Brethren Church
  • #students: 4,447
  • #grads: 1,299
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Arcadia University


The top-value Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing at Arcadia University (Arcadia, est. 1853) is a 39-credit, hybrid program. This creative writing program offers two genre choices: Fiction; or Poetry. Students must complete three separate week-long residencies involving:

  • community building
  • discussions with local or visiting writers
  • faculty advisor meetings
  • writing exercises

The first and third residencies are held on-campus in Glenside, Pennsylvania. The second is a study-abroad opportunity in Edinburgh, Scotland, which adds area tours to the activities list. For this MFA’s thesis requirement, students must produce a full-length manuscript in their chosen genre — and work with their advisor to create a plan to get that manuscript published.

Arcadia’s high-quality Creative Writing program is designed to prepare students for a career in:

Potential employment settings for creative writing graduates include:

  • advertising agencies
  • colleges/ universities
  • corporations
  • governments
  • healthcare organizations
  • media outlets
  • non-profits

Among the creative writing program highlights are:

  • award-winning faculty
  • large amounts of online content and connections
  • weekly workshops with asynchronous discussion and reviews from instructors and peers
  • regular, personal contact between students and faculty

Key course options for the MFA include:

  • Craft of Contemporary Fiction
  • Fiction Practicum
  • Poetry Workshops
  • Type: Private, nonprofit
  • Location: Glenside, Pennsylvania
  • Cost: $31,005
  • Religious Affiliation: Presbyterian Church (USA)
  • #students: 3,300
  • #grads: 1,286
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

University of Nebraska Omaha

University of Nebraska

The low-residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Writing from the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO, est. 1908) is a 60-credit, hybrid program. Students can choose from one of six genres:

  • Young Adult

Those wanting to specialize in a second genre can apply for an additional semester of study. In addition to a thesis requirement, students must complete:

  • a craft paper
  • a series of critical essays
  • an internship

As for the residencies, students must complete five of them, including the final one where they will present their thesis and deliver a craft lecture. Held twice a year at a retreat in Nebraska City, Nebraska, each residency features:

  • craft discussions
  • an individual conference with one’s faculty mentor

UNO’s low-residency Creative Writing MFA is designed for writers seeking a literary career. The program allows for a personalized course of study under the guidance of a dedicated mentor, who is an accomplished (often award-winning) writer. That personalized plan will determine the critical development, reading, and writing a student will undertake each semester. During each residency, students form a supportive community with their single-genre workshop group. Then, through Special Topic Workshops and future residencies, they’ll also get to interact with all the other MFA students and study multiple genres. Key course options for the creative writing program include:

  • Fiction Seminar
  • Playwriting or Screenwriting Seminar
  • Poetry Seminar
  • Type: Public
  • Location: Omaha, Nebraska
  • Cost: $30,840
  • Affiliation: University of Nebraska System
  • #students: 15,892
  • #grads: 3,124

Bay Path University

Bay Path

The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Nonfiction Writing from Bay Path University (BPU, est. 1897) is a fully online program. To graduate, students must complete 39 credits, including six for their thesis. In addition to their core courses, creative writing students must choose from one of three tracks:

  • Narrative Medicine

Each track provides for an internship or practicum opportunity. Also, while this MFA is a no-residency program, BPU does have the option for a week-long Summer Writing Seminar in Ireland, which currently features Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon. New students can enter the MFA in January, May, or September. To qualify for admission, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA in their English and Writing classes.

​Students in Bay Path’s online MFA will gain a deeper understanding of creative non-fiction as a unique genre and learn what it takes to write publishable work based on their own experiences or the personal stories of others. Other benefits include:

  • being mentored by award-winning writers
  • gaining real-world experience and connections
  • obtaining peer feedback in writing workshops

Creative writing program graduates can pursue careers in various fields, including:

  • public relations

Popular job titles include:

  • grant writer
  • scriptwriter

Key courses in BPU’s MFA include:

  • Reading and Writing about Culture, Race, and Identity
  • Travel and Food Writing for Publication
  • Writing Contemporary Women’s Stories
  • Location: Longmeadow, Massachusetts
  • Cost: $30,225
  • #students: 3,224
  • #grads: 1,429

Drexel University

Drexel University

The low-residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing at Drexel University (DU, est. 1891) is a 45-credit hybrid program. This MFA focuses on a Fiction concentration with opportunities to gain skills and understanding in other genres. (The program also previously offered a Screenwriting Track. Please check with DU about its availability.) Students must complete three separate five-day residencies. The first and third are at Drexel’s campus in Philadelphia, the second is in New York. Each residency has career development and writing mastery components. However, the second one helps set DU apart. In that Professional Residency, students form connections with:

Those applying for admission into the creative writing program must have a Bachelor’s degree (please check with DU for GPA requirements).

As one of the top MFA creative writing programs in the country, Drexel’s Creative Writing MFA was designed to develop writers who can create work worthy of being published and understand what it takes to be published. Students will be mentored by acclaimed authors, learn from award-winning writers, and get feedback from fellow students. Drexel also provides a rare opportunity to connect one’s creative writing to civic engagement activities. These experiences include:

  • studying how to create grassroots change while in Haiti
  • writing about the natural world while in Equatorial Guinea
  • creating entertainment for terminally ill children
  • telling the stories of hospice patients, incarcerated men and women, and military veterans.

Key courses in this creative writing program include:

  • Fiction Writing Packet Exchange
  • Fiction Writing Workshop
  • Reading as a Writer (Genre Authors)

Tuition is currently at a special rate and may increase in each new semester. We’ve estimated total cost based only this special 50% off per-credit rate, available at time of publication.

  • Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Cost: $30,195
  • #students: 23,589
  • #grads: 8,973

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU, est. 1932) has a fully online Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing. This 48-credit creative writing degree offers the choice of four genre fiction tracks:

  • Contemporary
  • Speculative

SNHU’s program culminates with a three-course thesis where students create a full-length novel or story collection of publishable quality. Prior to that, creative writing students study the craft of writing and incorporate what they learn into their own writing. They also explore the publishing process to better understand the practical side of being a successful author and marketing one’s work. To qualify for admission into the MFA, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA.

SNHU’s Creative Writing MFA is one of the few fully online top creative writing MFA programs and even fewer focused on genre fiction. What gives it even better value is its unique and beneficial career-building components. Specifically, students can choose from one of two built-in certificates: Graduate Certificate in Online Teaching of Writing; or Graduate Certificate in Professional Writing. That means creative writing graduates will be better prepared to teach at the college and university level or be ready to pursue professional writing opportunities in today’s marketing-oriented, project-driven economy. Key courses for the creative writing program include:

  • Advanced Studies in Genre Literature
  • Finding and Reaching an Audience
  • The Business of Writing

Additional: SNHU also offers two other creative writing programs for graduate students. The low-residency Mountainview Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Fiction or Nonfiction is a 60-credit, hybrid degree. Meanwhile, the 36-credit Master of Arts (MA) in English and Creative Writing is a fully online program.

  • Location: Manchester, New Hampshire
  • Cost: $30,096
  • #students: 134,345
  • #grads: 22,746

Converse University

Converse University (CU, est. 1889) — formerly Converse College — offers a low-residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing. This 48-credit hybrid degree comprises five separate nine-day residencies and four mentoring semesters. Residencies incorporate seminars, workshops, and lectures and are held twice a year on CU’s Spartanburg, South Carolina, campus. The Graduating Residency completes the program and features a thesis defense. Students can focus on one of three genres:

Those choosing Fiction can specialize in Young Adult Fiction. Alternatively, students in any genre can specialize in Environmental Writing. Those wanting to further broaden their career horizons can choose the Second Genre Emphasis. This adds 12 credits to their creative writing degree requirements, plus an additional residency and mentoring semester. To apply for admission into the MFA, students must have a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA.

The non-traditional format of CU’s Creative Writing MFA utilizes the mentor-apprentice relationship to help students develop advanced writing skills and a relevant understanding of contemporary literature and craft. This educational style also means students can personalize their course, project, and reading list selections. Additional program benefits include:

  • faculty mentors who are award-winning writers
  • free room and board during residencies for full-time students
  • publishing opportunities through the Clemson-Converse Literature Series

Recent graduates have won numerous writing awards and secured book deals with major and top independent publishers. Key course options in this MFA include:

  • Craft Topics in Environmental Writing
  • Craft Topics in Young Adult Fiction Writing
  • Poetry Writing

NOTE: According to the creative writing program site, room and board is provided included with tuition and fees to enrolled MFA students for both the summer and winter residencies. Summer accommodations are on-campus; winter accommodations are at local hotels.

  • Location: Spartanburg, South Carolina
  • Cost: $29,952
  • #students: 1,377
  • #grads: 640

Eastern Oregon University

Eastern Oregon

Eastern Oregon University (EOU, est. 1929) offers a low-residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing. This 60-credit, hybrid degree has both a thesis and a practicum requirement. While students must select a primary genre for their thesis, they will study several genres, including:

  • Graphic Novels

Students who want to specialize in a second genre can stay an additional year to do another thesis. For the ecologically inclined, EOU’s MFA has a Wilderness, Ecology and Community concentration. Either way, every student will have a unique nature experience through the summer residencies, which split time between a Wallowa Lake retreat and EOU’s campus in La Grande, Oregon. Students must complete three separate two-week residencies comprised of:

  • craft seminars
  • panel presentations
  • writing workshops

The final residency features their thesis presentation.

EOU’s low-residency Creative Writing MFA follows a cohort model to help create a tight-knit, collaborative group of fellow writing students. At the same time, as the program is designed for working professionals, students will be able to study at their own pace to ensure they can balance their commitments. An additional benefit of EOU’s creative writing program is the hands-on experience provided through a variety of experiences during the practicum including:

  • administrative
  • service learning
  • teaching opportunities

Key course options for the creative writing program include:

  • Literary/ Film Themes
  • Special Topics in Writing
  • Themes in Writing/ Rhetoric
  • Location: La Grande, Oregon
  • Cost: $29,880
  • Affiliation: Oregon University System
  • #students: 2,853
  • #grads: 267
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • Programs: Associates through master’s level degrees, plus certificates

West Virginia Wesleyan College

West Virginia Wesleyan

The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing from West Virginia Wesleyan College (WVWC, est. 1890) is a low-residency program. This 49-credit, hybrid degree requires a thesis and a critical essay. Students must also complete five total residencies — comprising craft seminars, readings, and workshops — with the last one centered on their thesis interview and presentation. Summer residencies are on-campus in Buckhannon, West Virginia, with the winter ones in Blackwater Falls State Park. (An Ireland MFA Residency is also an option.) Students must choose from one of three genre tracks:

For those wanting to study a second track, a Cross-Genre Concentration is available. It adds 12 credits, a residency, and a semester to the creative writing program’s original completion requirements.

Wesleyan’s low-residency Creative Writing MFA follows a student-centered model that is designed to replicate the flow of a writer’s life. Program participants can maintain their regular lives while learning to become dedicated writers in balance with those commitments. Students work one-on-one with a variety of accomplished faculty mentors. At the same time, everyone is part of a welcoming, supportive writing community. Study and coursework are focused on mastering craft and technique, along with the development and furtherance of the writer’s mind.

  • Location: Buckhannon, West Virginia
  • Cost: $26,729
  • Religious affiliation: United Methodist Church
  • #students: 1,066
  • Programs: BMDC Bachelor’s through doctorate level degrees, plus certificates

Lindenwood University

Lindenwood University

Lindenwood University (LU, est. 1827) offers a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Writing that can be taken online, on-campus, or in a hybrid format. This 48-credit, creative writing MFA includes a thesis requirement and combines craft and literature classes with writing workshops to help students grow as writers and expand their literary knowledge and analytical abilities. With the fully online option, there are no residency requirements. Additionally, students can customize their degree outline, selecting courses across several genres and literary areas, or choosing an emphasis in:

To apply for admission, students must have a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

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 one of the best creative writing programs MFA in the country.

LU’s MFA in Writing is designed as a fully flexible option that fits the needs, interests, and schedules of all its students. Lindenwood aims to remove the barriers that may be stopping someone from pursuing their educational and career goals. Along with career resources, peer support, and networking connections, an additional benefit of this MFA is the chance to be an editorial assistant with the program’s annual literary journal. Graduates of LU’s MFA can pursue both employed and self-employed positions, achieving such job titles as:

  • marketing writer
  • staff writer
  • technical writer

As this MFA is a terminal degree, graduates can also teach at the college and university level. Key course options for this MFA include Focused Scriptwriting Workshop and The Personal Essay and Memoir.

  • Location: Saint Charles, Missouri
  • Cost: $24,960
  • Affiliation: Lindenwood University System
  • #students: 7,382
  • #grads: 2,660

Wilkes University

Wilkes University

Wilkes University (WU, est. 1933) offers two connected, low-residency creative writing graduate degrees — the Master of Arts (MA) in Creative Writing and the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing. The 30-credit MA offers seven tracks:

  • Documentary Film

Four, eight-day, on-campus residencies are required, including a capstone one. (WU also has a “weekender” option where each residency is broken down into four consecutive weekends during the semester.) The MFA is the continuation of WU’s MA program. It requires an additional 18 credits and one more residency. MFA students will revise their MA thesis for publication or production, or start a new project based on the thesis. They will also complete a full-term internship in teaching or publishing. Those applying for the MA should have a Bachelor’s degree, but it’s not essential. Those applying for the MFA must have completed the MA program and earned a 3.5 GPA in every course.

Wilkes’s low-residency Creative Writing MA and MFA programs focus on writing craft and the business of writing. That real-world integration is what makes it unique. Every MA thesis is read by an agent, editor, publisher, or producer who provides detailed feedback and a personal meeting. Meanwhile, MFA internships give students real-world experience and connections. Also, WU’s MA and MFA teach students how to:

  • live, think, and work as writers
  • connect with audiences
  • pitch ideas to editors, publishers, or producers

The proof? Hundreds of graduates have had their works published or produced. Countless others have become:

  • book reviewers
  • PR directors
  • video game scriptwriters

Key courses and options for the MA include:

  • Drafting Project in Fiction
  • Genre and Context in Publishing
  • Writing Plays

Key courses and options for the MFA program include:

  • Literary Analysis
  • Revision Term
  • Writing in Education/ Publishing Internship
  • Location: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
  • Cost: $24,180
  • #students: 4,680
  • #grads: 2,329
  • Programs: Bachelor’s through doctorate level degrees

University of Texas at El Paso


The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP, est. 1914) offers a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing that can be taken entirely online. The MFA program requires 48 credits for graduation, including six for a thesis. While there are no residency requirements for this degree, adventurous students can select the low-residency option and travel to a different international city every summer. Past host cities have included London, Madrid, and Paris. The program itself is built around a mix of: writing workshops, literature courses, form and theory explorations covering various genres and forms. For their thesis, students will select either: Fiction or Poetry. To qualify for admission into the MFA program, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree and ideally a minimum 3.0 GPA.

UTEP’s MFA program is one of the few fully online Creative Writing MFAs in the United States and the only bilingual one. While classes are taught in English, students have the option to submit assignments in Spanish. Career-wise, the main focus of this high-quality program is preparing graduates for careers as published writers and/ or teaching creative writing at colleges and universities. This MFA program has a strong literary focus and foundation. In addition to academic ability, it favors talented and driven writers with distinct, developing, or new voices, and those with cultural and social awareness. Key course options for the MFA program include:

  • Advanced Screenwriting
  • Forms and Techniques of Fiction
  • Storytelling – Film and Literature
  • Location: El Paso, Texas
  • Cost: $23,520
  • Affiliation: University of Texas System
  • #students: 24,879
  • #grads: 3,762

Saint Leo University

Saint Leo

The low-residency Master of Arts (MA) in Creative Writing at Saint Leo University (SLU, est. 1889) is a 36-credit, hybrid program. Students can choose from one of three degree tracks:

SLU is also said to have the only MA program that offers a track specialization in War Literature and Writing for Veterans — a uniquely relevant and poignant option in today’s world. Overall, the program combines creative writing and literary studies personalized to each student’s goals. The MA’s eight-day residency is held on-campus in St. Leo, Florida, each summer. Students must attend three of these. To be eligible for admission to the MA, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.25 GPA.

SLU’s low-residency MA in Creative Writing is a flexible option for working adults who dream of writing memorable works of fiction or becoming notable essayists, memoirists, or poets. Other students use this MA to advance their professional careers or use it as a foundational step to pursuing terminal degrees in fields such as:

  • creative writing

Whatever one’s goals or dreams, SLU provides a dedicated faculty mentor (a published writer of national recognition) to help guide you. You will also have the regular feedback and community of your fellow writing students. Key courses and options for the MA include Foundations in Fiction and Theory and Practice of Creative Writing.

  • Location: Saint Leo, Florida
  • Cost: $23,400
  • Religious affiliation: Catholic Church (Order of Saint Benedict)
  • #students: 9,832
  • #grads: 2,887

Concordia University-Saint Paul


Concordia University-Saint Paul (CSP, est. 1893) offers a fully online Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing through the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. This 36-credit program features 11 courses plus a thesis. CSP’s MFA program helps students hone their creative writing skills while also developing the ability to read and assess literature across three genres:

Students will develop their creative writing skills through craft and workshop courses while studying different literary forms, genres, and topics via literature and research courses. To qualify for admission, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

CSP’s MFA in Creative Writing is well-suited to the needs of working adults. In addition to being fully online, year-round admission is possible. Classes are held once a week, and each course takes only seven weeks to complete. Students will have the chance to work with several published authors throughout their degree and gain the skills and perspectives needed to produce publishable work. This will allow them to pursue a career as a professional writer in a variety of different fields. As such, CSP’s Creative Writing MFA is suitable for those who want to become writers and those who are already writers but want to expand their career potential. Key courses in this MFA program include:

  • Studies in the Craft of Creative Writing
  • Researching and Writing About Literature
  • The Culture of Writing, Editing, and Publishing
  • Location: Saint Paul, Minnesota
  • Cost: $18,900
  • Affiliation: Concordia University System
  • Religious affiliation: Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod
  • #students: 5,585
  • #grads: 2,007

Central Washington University

Central Washington

Central Washington University (CWU, est. 1891) offers a Master of Arts (MA) in Professional and Creative Writing that can be taken entirely online or in a multi-modal (hybrid) format. This MA requires 45 credits for completion. There is no thesis requirement, but students must complete an end-of-program Portfolio course. There are also no defined degree tracks, allowing students to customize their course of study based on their career goals and interests. Plus, with CWU’s 10-week quarter system, this well-ranked creative writing program can be completed in as little as four quarters. To qualify for admission, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA (check with CWU about its current GRE requirements).

​CWU’s Professional and Creative Writing MA is designed to help graduates successfully navigate a new world economy that emphasizes learning and adapting over knowing. By combining creative and professional writing with critical thinking skills, the program can benefit students seeking several different career outcomes. This includes students who need upgraded writing skills to advance in their careers, professional and creative writers who want to make themselves more marketable and pursue expanded opportunities, and students who need advanced writing abilities to pursue additional graduate programs. Others choose this MA to satisfy a personal dream of becoming a creative writer while continuing their established careers. Key courses and electives include:

  • Advanced Poetry Writing
  • Professional Writing with New Media
  • Studies in Rhetoric
  • Location: Ellensburg, Washington
  • Cost: $17,469.15
  • #students: 11,174
  • #grads: 656

Mississippi University for Women

Mississippi University for Women

The low-residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing from Mississippi University for Women (MUW, est. 1884) is a 48-credit hybrid program. Much of the degree can be completed online, including a thesis, form and literature courses, and writing workshops. Workshops are available in:

  • Translation
  • Writing for New Media

The MFA’s residency requirements comprise two Short Residencies and two Full Residencies. Short Residencies are five-day masterclasses that occur at different times of year but are often scheduled to coincide with major on- and off-campus events, such as the Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium. Full Residencies occur in late May and are nine to 10 days of workshops, seminars, and readings. To be eligible for admission to the MFA program, students must have an undergraduate degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA.

MUW’s Creative Writing MFA program is designed for working adults. It is built to be both affordable and flexible. Students can customize their course of study, selecting classes in as many or few genres as they wish. (Residencies already ensure students gain a broader understanding and perspective by providing cross- and mixed-genre experiences.) Students can also tailor their selections to fit specific career goals, adding Residencies, Internships, and Literary Magazine Production experiences. The Full Residencies offer a strong career focus with professional topics that include:

  • publishing and self-publishing
  • writing for the web
  • working with an agent
  • creative writing pedagogy (teaching strategies for various environments)

Key course options for this MFA program include:

  • Early Women Writers
  • Medieval and Renaissance Narratives
  • The Professional Writer
  • Location: Columbus, Mississippi
  • Cost: $17,343.10
  • #students: 2,704
  • #grads: 286

University of Houston Victoria


The University of Houston-Victoria (UHV, est. 1973) offers a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing that can be taken entirely online or in a low-residency, hybrid format. The degree requires 36 credits for completion, including six for a thesis. Students can choose the regular Creative Writing path or a specialized Concentration in Applied Literary Translation. Students can study any genre for the regular path but must select one for their thesis:

The main focus of the MFA is on developing one’s writing skills and understanding the literary form. However, several electives are available to help tailor the degree towards a student’s interest in literature or publishing. Those applying for the MFA program will need an undergraduate degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA on their last 60 undergraduate credits. (GRE scores may be required for those with a lower GPA; check with UHV to confirm.)

UHV’s online Creative Writing MFA program can be an affordable option that provides graduates with several potential career opportunities. While the program was created to help students pursue their dreams of becoming published authors, it also prepares them for nearly every writing career option. That means graduates can also pursue more practical jobs, including in

  • literary translation

Additionally, since UHV is a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), students can integrate a Latino literature and cultural element into their studies and writing. Key courses and electives for the MFA include:

  • Form and Poetics
  • Graduate Poetry Writing Workshop
  • Publication Design

UHV’s online Creative Writing MFA can be an affordable option that provides graduates with several potential career opportunities. While the program was created to help students pursue their dreams of becoming published authors, it also prepares them for nearly every writing career option. That means graduates can also pursue more practical jobs, including in:

  • Location: Victoria, Texas
  • Cost: $16,840.08
  • Affiliation: University of Houston System
  • #students: 4,922
  • #grads: 1,409
  • Programs: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees

Tiffin University


Tiffin University (TU, est. 1888) offers a fully online Master of Humanities (MH) with a Creative Writing Concentration. It places third in our list of best online creative writing graduate programs.

This 30-credit degree allows students to understand and develop their abilities in several genres and compositional forms, including:

  • Genre and Performance Writing
  • Screenplays
  • Short Stories

The program combines a humanities foundation with hands-on writing experience and an academic study of selected genres and forms. The culmination is a capstone project, which requires each student to research a chosen area of interest and produce either a creative project, a portfolio project, or a thesis. To be eligible for admission to the MH, applicants must have an undergraduate degree with a preferred GPA of 3.0.

Tiffin’s online Master’s in Creative Writing is designed as a flexible, affordable graduate program option. With multiple start dates and a mix of seven- and 15-week courses, students can enter the program when it suits them and finish their degree in just 18 months. The primary focus of the MH is preparing graduates to pursue a variety of creative writing careers. Creative writing majors can become:

  • content writer
  • freelance writer
  • screenwriter
  • video game writer

Some graduates go on to teach at the high school or community college level. Others use the MH as the foundation to pursue advanced graduate degrees. Key courses and options for the MH include:

  • Creative Writing – The Novel
  • Creativity and Its Development
  • Critical Thinking and Reading
  • Location: Tiffin, Ohio
  • Cost: $16,500
  • #students: 2,933
  • #grads: 739

University of Arkansas at Monticello

masters creative writing reddit

The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing at the University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM, est. 1910) is a fully online program. This program, which comes in second in our list of the best writing graduate programs , is the most affordable of the creative nonfiction MFA programs in this review article.

To graduate, students must complete 48 credits, including six for their thesis. The MFA offers three genres to choose from:

The core of the program features workshop courses that foster high-level skills in critical thinking and literary analysis while ensuring a mastery in creative writing. This focus is supplemented with multiple electives to allow students to tailor the program to best suit their interests and goals, including pursuing independent areas of study. To be eligible for admission to the MFA program, applicants must have an undergraduate degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

UAM’s online Creative Writing MFA is meant to be both flexible and affordable. It is designed for talented, self-motivated individuals who appreciate the freedom to follow their own pace and areas of study. To ensure each creative writing student has a fuller understanding of their own genre, they will work with a different faculty mentor each semester. Creative writing majors will also take workshops in the other two genres to help give their writing a broader perspective and more unique outlook and voice. Key courses and options for the MFA include:

  • Advanced Workshop – Form and Craft
  • Magazine Edit and Design
  • Memoirs of the Mind
  • Location: Monticello, Arkansas
  • Cost: $13,262.4
  • #students: 2,855
  • #grads: 293

Western Connecticut State University

masters creative writing reddit

Western Connecticut State University (WCSU, est. 1903) has a MFA in Creative and Professional Writing. This best low-residency master’s in creative writing wins first place in our list of best writing masters programs online.

This hybrid creative writing degree requires approximately 60 credits for completion and includes:

  • an internship or teaching practicum
  • an enrichment project

Students must also complete four separate, week-long residencies comprising discussions, lectures, and workshops. Residencies are held twice a year on the WCSU campus in Danbury, Connecticut. (There is also an optional Dublin, Ireland, residency featuring workshops in Oscar Wilde’s home and events at the Bram Stoker Festival.) For their degree, students must select a primary and secondary genre specialization. One must be creative, such as:

The other must be practical, for example:

  • Advertising Copywriting
  • Historical Biographies
  • Medical Writing
  • Public Relations
  • Technical Writing

WCSU’s low-residency MFA utilizes a student-driven mentorship model. For most courses, graduate students work with a faculty member to develop a personalized course plan. Then, there is WCSU’s practical education approach, which ensures students learn from successful creative writers across several genres and styles and apply what they’ve learned in real-world settings. This combination might be why WCSU has such a high success rate — 87 percent of graduates are full-time professional writers and/ or have published books. Key courses for this MFA program include:

  • Genre History, Criticism, and Theory
  • Reading for Writers
  • The Individual Aesthetic and Process
  • Location: Danbury, Connecticut
  • Cost: $11,344
  • Affiliation: Connecticut State University System
  • #students: 5,246
  • #grads: 606
  • Programs: Associates through doctorate level degrees, plus certificates

Frequently Asked Questions

For the right student, it is! A Master’s in Creative Writing offers a foundation of theory and form through courses and workshops designed to develop your skills and improve your craft. If you’re looking to get published, an MFA or master’s degree can help you find your voice and become a strong writer.

With a Master’s in Creative Writing, you can pursue various career paths, such as becoming a novelist, poet, screenwriter, editor, or writing instructor. You can also find opportunities in content creation, copywriting, and marketing. The degree equips you with skills to excel in diverse writing-related fields.

It takes about two to three years of full-time study to get an MFA in Creative Writing. Part-time or low-residency programs can extend the timeline to three or four years. The length can also depend on specific program requirements and if you complete a thesis.

Pay varies by role. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, writers and authors make $73,150/year, on average. The highest 10% make over $161,260/year. A Master’s in Creative Writing (or MFA) can qualify you for teaching jobs at the college level. Postsecondary teachers make $80,840/year, on average.

Creative writing is a legitimate and respected field, offering opportunities in literature, media, and communication. Many successful authors, poets, and screenwriters contribute greatly to culture and society at large.  

Some students find creative writing challenging for different reasons. From the need to produce original work to workshop critiques, there are many challenges that creative writing students face. Success depends on your openness to feedback, dedication to your stories, and your passion for storytelling.

The choice between an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) and an MA (Master of Arts) in Creative Writing depends on your personal goals. An MFA focuses more on practical writing skills and is suitable for those pursuing careers in writing and publishing. An MFA is also a terminal degree and can qualify you for teaching jobs at the college level. An MA offers a broader academic approach, including literary analysis and critical theory. The “better” option depends on your career objectives and preferred learning style.

You can! Opportunities include authoring books, freelance writing, content creation, scriptwriting, and more. Success requires a combination of talent, skill development, networking, and persistence in a competitive industry. Diversifying income streams can contribute to sustained success.

Creative writing is both a skill and a talent. Skill involves learned techniques, grammar, and storytelling structures. Talent encompasses innate creativity, imagination, and a unique voice. Developing both through practice, study, and feedback is crucial for success in creative writing.

A degree in creative writing can improve your skills and understanding of the craft, but getting a book deal depends on factors such as the quality of your writing, market demand, and perseverance. Successful authors combine talent with networking, persistence, and a unique voice to attract publishers. So, the degree alone won’t get you a book deal, but it can be a launching pad.

A close up of wooden printing blocks

MSt in Creative Writing

  • Entry requirements
  • Funding and Costs

College preference

  • How to Apply

About the course

The MSt in Creative Writing is a two-year, part-time master's degree course offering a unique combination of high contact hours, genre specialisation, and critical and creative breadth.

The emphasis of the course is cross-cultural and cross-genre, pointing up the needs and challenges of the contemporary writer who produces their creative work in the context of a global writerly and critical community.

The MSt offers a clustered learning format of five residences, two guided retreats and one research placement over two years. The research placement, a distinguishing feature of the course, provides between one and two weeks' in-house experience of writing in the real world.

The first year concentrates equally on prose fiction, poetry, dramatic writing and narrative non-fiction. There is a significant critical reading and analysis component, which is linked to the writerly considerations explored in each of the genres. In your second year you will specialise in one of the following:

  • short fiction
  • radio drama
  • screenwriting
  • stage drama
  • narrative non-fiction.

The residences in particular offer an intensive workshop- and seminar-based forum for ideas exchange and for the opening up of creative and critical frameworks within which to develop writerly and analytical skills. There is a strong element of one-to-one tutorial teaching. Tutorials take place within residences and retreats, and relate to the on-going work produced for the course.

You will be assigned a supervisor who will work closely with you throughout the development of the year two final project and extended essay. All assessed work throughout the two years of the course is subject to one-to-one feedback and discussion with a tutor. This intensive, one-to-one input, combined with the highly interactive workshop and seminar sessions, is a distinguishing feature of the course.


The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Department for Continuing Education and this role will usually be performed by the Course Director.

You will be allocated a supervisor to guide and advise you on your creative and critical work throughout the second year.

It is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Department for Continuing Education.

The MSt is assessed by coursework. In the first year, four assignments (two creative, two critical), one creative writing portfolio and one critical essay are submitted. Work is set during each residence and handed in for assessment before the next meeting. Feedback on work submitted is given during tutorials within the residence or retreat. In the second year, submissions comprise one research placement report, one extended critical essay, and a final project – a substantial body of creative work in the genre of choice. 

You will be set specific creative and critical work to be completed between residences and handed in to set deadlines. Creative submissions in the first year must be in more than one genre. In the second year, submitted work focuses around the genre of your choice.

Graduate destinations

Graduate destinations have included publishing creative work in a chosen field, careers in arts/media, and doctoral programmes in creative writing.

Changes to this course and your supervision

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic, epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.

For further information please see our page on changes to courses and the provisions of the student contract regarding changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2024-25

Proven and potential academic excellence.

The requirements described below are specific to this course and apply only in the year of entry that is shown. You can use our interactive tool to help you  evaluate whether your application is likely to be competitive .

Please be aware that any studentships that are linked to this course may have different or additional requirements and you should read any studentship information carefully before applying. 

Degree-level qualifications

As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:

  • a first-class or upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours  in a related field.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA normally sought is 3.6 out of 4.0.

If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.

GRE General Test scores

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience 

  • Assessors are looking for writers with a proven record of commitment to their craft, whose work demonstrates significant creative promise. You should be a keen reader, and bring an open-minded, questioning approach to both reading and writing. You will not necessarily have yet achieved publication, but you will have written regularly and read widely over a sustained period. You will be keen to dedicate time and energy and staying-power to harnessing your talent, enlarging your skills, and aiming your writerly production at consistently professional standards. It is likely you will have a first degree, or equivalent, although in some cases other evidence of suitability may be acceptable.
  • Applicants do not need to be previously published, but the MSt is unlikely to be suitable for those who are just starting out on their writerly and critical development.

English language proficiency

This course requires proficiency in English at the University's  higher level . If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.

Minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level requirement
TestMinimum overall scoreMinimum score per component
IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713) 7.57.0

TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'

(Institution code: 0490)

110Listening: 22
Reading: 24
Speaking: 25
Writing: 24
C1 Advanced*191185
C2 Proficiency 191185

*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) † Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)

Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides  further information about the English language test requirement .

Declaring extenuating circumstances

If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.

You will need to register three referees who can give an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for the course. The  How to apply  section of this page provides details of the types of reference that are required in support of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application. The  How to apply  section of this page provides details of the supporting documents that are required as part of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.  

For those applying by the January deadline, interviews are generally held in February and March. For March applicants, interviews are generally held in March and April.

The decision to call an applicant for interview is based on the University Admission Board's assessment of your portfolio, statement of purpose, academic and professional track record and references. Interviews will be conducted in person or by telephone. All applicants whose paper submissions indicate they are qualified for entry will generally be interviewed, either in person or by telephone/Skype. There are always two interviewers. Interviews usually last up to approximately 30 minutes and provide an opportunity for the candidate to discuss his/her application and to explore the course in more detail.

The interview is designed to ascertain, through a range of questions, the shape and emphasis of the candidate's writing and reading, and general suitability for the demands of the MSt. 

How your application is assessed

Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements described under that heading.

References  and  supporting documents  submitted as part of your application, and your performance at interview (if interviews are held) will be considered as part of the assessment process. Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.

An overview of the shortlisting and selection process is provided below. Our ' After you apply ' pages provide  more information about how applications are assessed . 

Shortlisting and selection

Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, sexual orientation, as well as other relevant circumstances including parental or caring responsibilities or social background. However, please note the following:

  • socio-economic information may be taken into account in the selection of applicants and award of scholarships for courses that are part of  the University’s pilot selection procedure  and for  scholarships aimed at under-represented groups ;
  • country of ordinary residence may be taken into account in the awarding of certain scholarships; and
  • protected characteristics may be taken into account during shortlisting for interview or the award of scholarships where the University has approved a positive action case under the Equality Act 2010.

Processing your data for shortlisting and selection

Information about  processing special category data for the purposes of positive action  and  using your data to assess your eligibility for funding , can be found in our Postgraduate Applicant Privacy Policy.

Admissions panels and assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

Other factors governing whether places can be offered

The following factors will also govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the  About  section of this page;
  • the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
  • minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.

Offer conditions for successful applications

If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our ' After you apply ' pages provide more information about offers and conditions . 

In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also be required to meet the following requirements:

Financial Declaration

If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a  Financial Declaration  in order to meet your financial condition of admission.

Disclosure of criminal convictions

In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any  relevant, unspent criminal convictions  before you can take up a place at Oxford.

The department is committed to supporting you to pursue your academic goals. 

The Rewley House Continuing Education Library , one of the Bodleian Libraries, is situated in Rewley House. The department aims to support the wide variety of subjects covered by departmental courses at many academic levels. The department also has a collection of around 73,000 books together with periodicals. PCs in the library give access to the internet and the full range of electronic resources subscribed to by the University of Oxford. Wi-Fi is also available. The Jessop Reading Room adjoining the library is available for study. You will have access to the Central Bodleian and other Bodleian Libraries.

The department's Graduate School provides a stimulating and enriching learning and research environment for the department's graduate students, fostering intellectual and social interaction between graduates of different disciplines and professions from the UK and around the globe. The Graduate School will help you make the most of the wealth of resources and opportunities available, paying particular regard to the support and guidance needed if you are following a part-time graduate programme. The department’s graduate community comprises over 600 members following taught programmes and more than 70 undertaking doctoral research.

The department provides various IT facilities , including the Student Computing Facility which provides individual PCs for your use. Many of the department's courses are delivered through blended learning or have a website to support face-to-face study. In most cases, online support is delivered through a virtual learning environment. 

Depending on the programme you are taking with the department, you may require accommodation at some point in your student career. Rewley House is ideally located in central Oxford; the city's historic sites, colleges, museums, shops and restaurants are only a few minutes’ walk away. The department has 35 en-suite study bedrooms, all with high quality amenities, including internet access.

The Rewley House dining room has seating for up to 132 people. A full meal service is available daily. The department operates a Common Room with bar for students. 

Department for Continuing Education

The need for new learning opportunities throughout life is now recognised throughout society. An intensive, initial period of higher education is not always enough in times of rapid social, economic and technological change. The Department for Continuing Education is known worldwide as a leading provider of extended learning for professional and personal development.

The department provides high-quality, flexible, part-time graduate education, tailored for adults. Students can undertake graduate-level certificates, diplomas and taught master’s degrees in a wide range of subjects. Increasing numbers of courses are delivered in mixed mode, combining intensive periods of residence in Oxford with tutored online study.

The department recruits adult students of all ages on a regional, national and international level. Many courses are offered jointly with other academic departments around the University. Courses are offered in the following areas:

  • Mathematical, physical and life sciences
  • Medical and health sciences
  • Social sciences .

All postgraduate students on the department's courses are members of its Graduate School. The Graduate School aims to provide a stimulating and enriching environment for learning and research. It also fosters intellectual and social interaction between students coming from different disciplines and professions. Interdisciplinary research seminars, training opportunities and other events are offered by the Graduate School in support of this goal.

All masters' and DPhil applicants are considered for Clarendon Scholarships . The department is committed to seeking scholarship support for other students wherever possible.

View all courses   View taught courses View research courses

The University expects to be able to offer over 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2024-25. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships , if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant December or January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential. 

For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources.

Please ensure that you visit individual college websites for details of any college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages or below:

Please note that not all the colleges listed above may accept students on this course. For details of those which do, please refer to the College preference section of this page.

Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the department's website.

Annual fees for entry in 2024-25


Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.

Information about course fees

Course fees are payable each year, for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on changes to fees and charges .

Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.

Where can I find further information about fees?

The Fees and Funding  section of this website provides further information about course fees , including information about fee status and eligibility  and your length of fee liability .

Additional information

This course has residential sessions (residences and retreats) in Oxford. You will need to meet your travel costs in attending these sessions. The tuition fee includes the cost of board and lodging during the residences and retreats (eg for a four day residence, three nights accommodation will be provided). Further, as part of your course requirements, you will need to complete a research placement in the second year. For this placement you will need to meet your travel and accommodation costs, and any other incidental expenses. You may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses. Further information about departmental funding can be found on the department's website. Please check with your specific college for bursary or other funding possibilities.

Living costs

In addition to your course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2024-25 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,345 and £1,955 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our living costs page. The current economic climate and high national rate of inflation make it very hard to estimate potential changes to the cost of living over the next few years. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2024-25, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of around 5% each year – although this rate may vary depending on the national economic situation. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.

If you are studying part-time your living costs may vary depending on your personal circumstances but you must still ensure that you will have sufficient funding to meet these costs for the duration of your course.

Students enrolled on this course will belong to both a department/faculty and a college. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 43 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as societies and permanent private halls (PPHs). 

If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. Before deciding, we suggest that you read our brief  introduction to the college system at Oxford  and our  advice about expressing a college preference . For some courses, the department may have provided some additional advice below to help you decide.

The following colleges accept students on the MSt in Creative Writing:

  • Blackfriars
  • Brasenose College
  • Campion Hall
  • Harris Manchester College
  • Keble College
  • Kellogg College
  • Lady Margaret Hall
  • Oriel College
  • Regent's Park College
  • St Catherine's College
  • Somerville College
  • Wadham College
  • Wycliffe Hall

Before you apply

Our  guide to getting started  provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. You can use our interactive tool to help you  evaluate whether your application is likely to be competitive .

If it's important for you to have your application considered under a particular deadline – eg under a December or January deadline in order to be considered for Oxford scholarships – we recommend that you aim to complete and submit your application at least two weeks in advance . Check the deadlines on this page and the  information about deadlines and when to apply  in our Application Guide.

Application fee waivers

An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:

  • applicants from low-income countries;
  • refugees and displaced persons; 
  • UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and 
  • applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.

You are encouraged to  check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver  before you apply.

Do I need to contact anyone before I apply?

You do not need to make contact with the department before you apply but you are encouraged to visit the relevant departmental webpages to read any further information about your chosen course.

If you have any questions about the course, these should be directed to the course administrator via the contact details provided on this page.

Completing your application

You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents . 

If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.

Referees: Three overall, academic and/or professional

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

Your references will support your commitment to creative writing and suitability to pursue a course of this nature at graduate level. Both professional and academic references are acceptable.

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.

A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic and writerly achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Statement of purpose: A maximum of 750 words

The statement of purpose should contain sufficient detail to allow it to be assessed against the indicated criteria.

Your statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific areas that interest you and/or in which you intend to specialise.

If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.

This will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying
  • evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
  • the ability to present a reasoned case in English
  • commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
  • capacity for sustained and intense work
  • reasoning ability and quality of written expression
  • capacity to address issues of writerly and critical significance.

Written work: A maximum of 2,000 words of prose fiction or narrative non-fiction or 10 short poems or 15 minutes of dramatic writing (stage, screen, radio or TV)

Your portfolio of creative writing for assessment can be in any of the four genres, or in more than one. It should be clearly indicative of your ability in creative writing.

This will be assessed for excellence in creative writing.

Start or continue your application

You can start or return to an application using the relevant link below. As you complete the form, please  refer to the requirements above  and  consult our Application Guide for advice . You'll find the answers to most common queries in our FAQs.

Application Guide   Apply


Closed to applications for entry in 2024-25

Register to be notified via email when the next application cycle opens (for entry in 2025-26)

12:00 midday UK time on:

Friday 19 January 2024 Latest deadline for most Oxford scholarships

Friday 1 March 2024 Applications may remain open after this deadline if places are still available - see below

A later deadline shown under 'Admission status' If places are still available,  applications may be accepted after 1 March . The 'Admissions status' (above) will provide notice of any later deadline.

Key facts
 Part Time Only
Course codeTS_NV9P1
Expected length2 years
Places in 2024-25c. 30
Expected start
English language

*Three-year average (applications for entry in 2021-22 to 2023-24)

Further information and enquiries

This course is offered by the Department for Continuing Education

  • Course page  and blog on  department website
  • Funding information from the department
  • Academic staff
  • Departmental research
  • Continuing Education Graduate School
  • Postgraduate applicant privacy policy

Course-related enquiries

Advice about contacting the department can be found in the How to apply section of this page

✉ [email protected] ☎ +44 (0)1865 280145

Application-process enquiries

See the application guide

Visa eligibility for part-time study

We are unable to sponsor student visas for part-time study on this course. Part-time students may be able to attend on a visitor visa for short blocks of time only (and leave after each visit) and will need to remain based outside the UK.

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The 10 Best Creative Writing MFA Programs in the US

The talent is there. 

But the next generation of great American writers needs a collegial place to hone their craft. 

They need a place to explore the writer’s role in a wider community. 

They really need guidance about how and when to publish. 

All these things can be found in a solid Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing degree program. This degree offers access to mentors, to colleagues, and to a future in the writing world. 

A good MFA program gives new writers a precious few years to focus completely on their work, an ideal space away from the noise and pressure of the fast-paced modern world. 

We’ve found ten of the best ones, all of which provide the support, the creative stimulation, and the tranquility necessary to foster a mature writer.

We looked at graduate departments from all regions, public and private, all sizes, searching for the ten most inspiring Creative Writing MFA programs. 

Each of these ten institutions has assembled stellar faculties, developed student-focused paths of study, and provide robust support for writers accepted into their degree programs. 

To be considered for inclusion in this list, these MFA programs all must be fully-funded degrees, as recognized by Read The Workshop .

Creative Writing education has broadened and expanded over recent years, and no single method or plan fits for all students. 

Today, MFA programs across the country give budding short story writers and poets a variety of options for study. For future novelists, screenwriters – even viral bloggers – the search for the perfect setting for their next phase of development starts with these outstanding institutions, all of which have developed thoughtful and particular approaches to study.

So where will the next Salinger scribble his stories on the steps of the student center, or the next Angelou reading her poems in the local bookstore’s student-run poetry night? At one of these ten programs.

Here are 10 of the best creative writing MFA programs in the US.

University of Oregon (Eugene, OR)

University of Oregon

Starting off the list is one of the oldest and most venerated Creative Writing programs in the country, the MFA at the University of Oregon. 

Longtime mentor, teacher, and award-winning poet Garrett Hongo directs the program, modeling its studio-based approach to one-on-one instruction in the English college system. 

Oregon’s MFA embraces its reputation for rigor. Besides attending workshops and tutorials, students take classes in more formal poetics and literature.  

A classic college town, Eugene provides an ideal backdrop for the writers’ community within Oregon’s MFA students and faculty.  

Tsunami Books , a local bookseller with national caché, hosts student-run readings featuring writers from the program. 

Graduates garner an impressive range of critical acclaim; Yale Younger Poet winner Brigit Pegeen Kelly, Cave Canem Prize winner and Guggenheim fellow Major Jackson, and PEN-Hemingway Award winner Chang-Rae Lee are noteworthy alumni. 

With its appealing setting and impressive reputation, Oregon’s MFA program attracts top writers as visiting faculty, including recent guests Elizabeth McCracken, David Mura, and Li-young Lee.

The individual approach defines the Oregon MFA experience; a key feature of the program’s first year is the customized reading list each MFA student creates with their faculty guide. 

Weekly meetings focus not only on the student’s writing, but also on the extended discovery of voice through directed reading. 

Accepting only ten new students a year—five in poetry and five in fiction— the University of Oregon’s MFA ensures a close-knit community with plenty of individual coaching and guidance.

Cornell University (Ithaca, NY)

Cornell University

Cornell University’s MFA program takes the long view on life as a writer, incorporating practical editorial training and teaching experience into its two-year program.

Incoming MFA students choose their own faculty committee of at least two faculty members, providing consistent advice as they move through a mixture of workshop and literature classes. 

Students in the program’s first year benefit from editorial training as readers and editors for Epoch , the program’s prestigious literary journal.

Teaching experience grounds the Cornell program. MFA students design and teach writing-centered undergraduate seminars on a variety of topics, and they remain in Ithaca during the summer to teach in programs for undergraduates. 

Cornell even allows MFA graduates to stay on as lecturers at Cornell for a period of time while they are on the job search. Cornell also offers a joint MFA/Ph.D. program through the Creative Writing and English departments.

Endowments fund several acclaimed reading series, drawing internationally known authors to campus for workshops and work sessions with MFA students. 

Recent visiting readers include Salman Rushdie, Sandra Cisneros, Billy Collins, Margaret Atwood, Ada Limón, and others. 

Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ)

Arizona State University

Arizona State’s MFA in Creative Writing spans three years, giving students ample time to practice their craft, develop a voice, and begin to find a place in the post-graduation literary world. 

Coursework balances writing and literature classes equally, with courses in craft and one-on-one mentoring alongside courses in literature, theory, or even electives in topics like fine press printing, bookmaking, or publishing. 

While students follow a path in either poetry or fiction, they are encouraged to take courses across the genres.

Teaching is also a focus in Arizona State’s MFA program, with funding coming from teaching assistantships in the school’s English department. Other exciting teaching opportunities include teaching abroad in locations around the world, funded through grants and internships.

The Virginia C. Piper Center for Creative Writing, affiliated with the program, offers Arizona State MFA students professional development in formal and informal ways. 

The Distinguished Writers Series and Desert Nights, Rising Stars Conference bring world-class writers to campus, allowing students to interact with some of the greatest in the profession. Acclaimed writer and poet Alberto Ríos directs the Piper Center.

Arizona State transitions students to the world after graduation through internships with publishers like Four Way Books. 

Its commitment to the student experience and its history of producing acclaimed writers—recent examples include Tayari Jones (Oprah’s Book Club, 2018; Women’s Prize for Fiction, 2019), Venita Blackburn ( Prairie Schooner Book Prize, 2018), and Hugh Martin ( Iowa Review Jeff Sharlet Award for Veterans)—make Arizona State University’s MFA a consistent leader among degree programs.

University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX)

University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas at Austin’s MFA program, the Michener Center for Writers, maintains one of the most vibrant, exciting, active literary faculties of any MFA program.

Denis Johnson D.A. Powell, Geoff Dyer, Natasha Trethewey, Margot Livesey, Ben Fountain: the list of recent guest faculty boasts some of the biggest names in current literature.

This three-year program fully funds candidates without teaching fellowships or assistantships; the goal is for students to focus entirely on their writing. 

More genre tracks at the Michener Center mean students can choose two focus areas, a primary and secondary, from Fiction, Poetry, Screenwriting, and Playwriting.

The Michener Center for Writers plays a prominent role in contemporary writing of all kinds. 

The hip, student-edited Bat City Review accepts work of all genres, visual art, cross genres, collaborative, and experimental pieces.  

Recent events for illustrious alumni include New Yorker publications, an Oprah Book Club selection, a screenwriting prize, and a 2021 Pulitzer (for visiting faculty member Mitchell Jackson). 

In this program, students are right in the middle of all the action of contemporary American literature.

Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis, MO)

Washington University in St. Louis

The MFA in Creative Writing at Washington University in St. Louis is a program on the move: applicants have almost doubled here in the last five years. 

Maybe this sudden growth of interest comes from recent rising star alumni on the literary scene, like Paul Tran, Miranda Popkey, and National Book Award winner Justin Phillip Reed.

Or maybe it’s the high profile Washington University’s MFA program commands, with its rotating faculty post through the Hurst Visiting Professor program and its active distinguished reader series. 

Superstar figures like Alison Bechdel and George Saunders have recently held visiting professorships, maintaining an energetic atmosphere program-wide.

Washington University’s MFA program sustains a reputation for the quality of the mentorship experience. 

With only five new students in each genre annually, MFA candidates form close cohorts among their peers and enjoy attentive support and mentorship from an engaged and vigorous faculty. 

Three genre tracks are available to students: fiction, poetry, and the increasingly relevant and popular creative nonfiction.

Another attractive feature of this program: first-year students are fully funded, but not expected to take on a teaching role until their second year. 

A generous stipend, coupled with St. Louis’s low cost of living, gives MFA candidates at Washington University the space to develop in a low-stress but stimulating creative environment.

Indiana University (Bloomington, IN)

Indiana University

It’s one of the first and biggest choices students face when choosing an MFA program: two-year or three-year? 

Indiana University makes a compelling case for its three-year program, in which the third year of support allows students an extended period of time to focus on the thesis, usually a novel or book-length collection.

One of the older programs on the list, Indiana’s MFA dates back to 1948. 

Its past instructors and alumni read like the index to an American Literature textbook. 

How many places can you take classes in the same place Robert Frost once taught, not to mention the program that granted its first creative writing Master’s degree to David Wagoner? Even today, the program’s integrity and reputation draw faculty like Ross Gay and Kevin Young.

Indiana’s Creative Writing program houses two more literary institutions, the Indiana Review, and the Indiana University Writers’ Conference. 

Students make up the editorial staff of this lauded literary magazine, in some cases for course credit or a stipend. An MFA candidate serves each year as assistant director of the much-celebrated and highly attended conference . 

These two facets of Indiana’s program give graduate students access to visiting writers, professional experience, and a taste of the writing life beyond academia.

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, MI)

University of Michigan College of Literature, Science, and the Arts

The University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program cultivates its students with a combination of workshop-driven course work and vigorous programming on and off-campus. Inventive new voices in fiction and poetry consistently emerge from this two-year program.

The campus hosts multiple readings, events, and contests, anchored by the Zell Visiting Writers Series. The Hopgood Awards offer annual prize money to Michigan creative writing students . 

The department cultivates relationships with organizations and events around Detroit, so whether it’s introducing writers at Literati bookstore or organizing writing retreats in conjunction with local arts organizations, MFA candidates find opportunities to cultivate a community role and public persona as a writer.

What happens after graduation tells the big story of this program. Michigan produces heavy hitters in the literary world, like Celeste Ng, Jesmyn Ward, Elizabeth Kostova, Nate Marshall, Paisley Rekdal, and Laura Kasischke. 

Their alumni place their works with venerable houses like Penguin and Harper Collins, longtime literary favorites Graywolf and Copper Canyon, and the new vanguard like McSweeney’s, Fence, and Ugly Duckling Presse.

University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN)

University of Minnesota

Structure combined with personal attention and mentorship characterizes the University of Minnesota’s Creative Writing MFA, starting with its unique program requirements. 

In addition to course work and a final thesis, Minnesota’s MFA candidates assemble a book list of personally significant works on literary craft, compose a long-form essay on their writing process, and defend their thesis works with reading in front of an audience.

Literary journal Great River Review and events like the First Book reading series and Mill City Reading series do their part to expand the student experience beyond the focus on the internal. 

The Edelstein-Keller Visiting Writer Series draws exceptional, culturally relevant writers like Chuck Klosterman and Claudia Rankine for readings and student conversations. 

Writer and retired University of Minnesota instructor Charles Baxter established the program’s Hunger Relief benefit , aiding Minnesota’s Second Harvest Heartland organization. 

Emblematic of the program’s vision of the writer in service to humanity, this annual contest and reading bring together distinguished writers, students, faculty, and community members in favor of a greater goal.

Brown University (Providence, RI)

Brown University

One of the top institutions on any list, Brown University features an elegantly-constructed Literary Arts Program, with students choosing one workshop and one elective per semester. 

The electives can be taken from any department at Brown; especially popular choices include Studio Art and other coursework through the affiliated Rhode Island School of Design. The final semester consists of thesis construction under the supervision of the candidate’s faculty advisor.

Brown is the only MFA program to feature, in addition to poetry and fiction tracks, the Digital/Cross Disciplinary track . 

This track attracts multidisciplinary writers who need the support offered by Brown’s collaboration among music, visual art, computer science, theater and performance studies, and other departments. 

The interaction with the Rhode Island School of Design also allows those artists interested in new forms of media to explore and develop their practice, inventing new forms of art and communication.

Brown’s Literary Arts Program focuses on creating an atmosphere where students can refine their artistic visions, supported by like-minded faculty who provide the time and materials necessary to innovate. 

Not only has the program produced trailblazing writers like Percival Everett and Otessa Moshfegh, but works composed by alumni incorporating dance, music, media, and theater have been performed around the world, from the stage at Kennedy Center to National Public Radio.

University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA)

University of Iowa

When most people hear “MFA in Creative Writing,” it’s the Iowa Writers’ Workshop they imagine. 

The informal name of the University of Iowa’s Program in Creative Writing, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop was the first to offer an MFA, back in 1936. 

One of the first diplomas went to renowned writer Wallace Stegner, who later founded the MFA program at Stanford.

 It’s hard to argue with seventeen Pulitzer Prize winners and six U.S. Poets Laureate. The Iowa Writers’ Workshop is the root system of the MFA tree.

The two-year program balances writing courses with coursework in other graduate departments at the university. In addition to the book-length thesis, a written exam is part of the student’s last semester.

Because the program represents the quintessential idea of a writing program, it attracts its faculty positions, reading series, events, and workshops the brightest lights of the literary world. 

The program’s flagship literary magazine, the Iowa Review , is a lofty goal for writers at all stages of their career. 

At the Writers’ Workshop, tracks include not only fiction, poetry, playwriting, and nonfiction, but also Spanish creative writing and literary translation. Their reading series in association with Prairie Lights bookstore streams online and is heard around the world.

Iowa’s program came into being in answer to the central question posed to each one of these schools: can writing be taught? 

The answer for a group of intrepid, creative souls in 1936 was, actually, “maybe not.” 

But they believed it could be cultivated; each one of these institutions proves it can be, in many ways, for those willing to commit the time and imagination.

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Earning A Master’s In Creative Writing: What To Know

Sheryl Grey

Updated: Nov 1, 2023, 1:51pm

Earning A Master’s In Creative Writing: What To Know

Do you want to create written work that ignites a reader’s imagination and even changes their worldview? With a master’s in creative writing, you can develop strong storytelling and character development skills, equipping you to achieve your writing goals.

If you’re ready to strengthen your writing chops and you enjoy writing original works to inspire others, tell interesting stories and share valuable information, earning a master’s in creative writing may be the next step on your career journey.

The skills learned in a creative writing master’s program qualify you to write your own literary works, teach others creative writing principles or pursue various other careers.

This article explores master’s degrees in creative writing, including common courses and concentrations, admission requirements and careers that use creative writing skills. Read on to learn more about earning a master’s degree in creative writing.

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What Is a Master’s in Creative Writing?

A master’s in creative writing is an advanced degree that helps you develop the skills to write your own novel, poetry, screenplay or nonfiction book. This degree can also prepare you for a career in business, publishing, education, marketing or communications.

In a creative writing master’s degree program, you can expect to analyze literature, explore historical contexts of literary works, master techniques for revising and editing, engage in class workshops and peer critiques, and write your own original work.

Creative writing master’s programs usually require a thesis project, which should be well-written, polished and ready to publish. Typical examples of thesis projects include poetry collections, memoirs, essay collections, short story collections and novels.

A master’s in creative writing typically requires about 36 credits and takes two years to complete. Credit requirements and timelines vary by program, so you may be able to finish your degree quicker.

Specializations for a Master’s in Creative Writing

Below are a few common concentrations for creative writing master’s programs. These vary by school, so your program’s offerings may look different.

This concentration helps you develop fiction writing skills, such as plot development, character creation and world-building. A fiction concentration is a good option if you plan to write short stories, novels or other types of fiction.

A nonfiction concentration focuses on the mechanics of writing nonfiction narratives. If you plan to write memoirs, travel pieces, magazine articles, technical documents or nonfiction books, this concentration may suit you.

Explore the imagery, tone, rhythm and structure of poetry with a poetry concentration. With this concentration, you can expect to develop your poetry writing skills and learn to curate poetry for journals and magazines.


Screenwriting is an excellent concentration to explore if you enjoy creating characters and telling stories to make them come alive for television or film. This specialization covers how to write shorts, episodic serials, documentaries and feature-length film scripts.

Admission Requirements for a Master’s in Creative Writing

Below are some typical admission requirements for master’s in creative writing degree programs. These requirements vary, so check with your program to ensure you’ve met the appropriate requirements.

  • Application for admission
  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Transcripts from previous education
  • Writing samples
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement or essay

Common Courses in a Master’s in Creative Writing

Story and concept.

This course focuses on conceptualizing, planning and developing stories on a structural level. Learners study how to generate ideas, develop interesting plots, create outlines, draft plot arcs, engage in world-building and create well-rounded characters who move their stories forward.

Graduate Studies in English Literature

Understanding literature is essential to building a career in creative writing. This course prepares you to teach, study literature or write professionally. Expect to discuss topics such as phonology, semantics, dialects, syntax and the history of the English language.

Workshop in Creative Nonfiction

You’ll study classic and contemporary creative nonfiction in this course. Workshops in creative nonfiction explore how different genres have emerged throughout history and how previous works influence new works. In some programs, this course focuses on a specific theme.

Foundations in Fiction

In this course, you’ll explore how the novel has developed throughout literary history and how the short story emerged as an art form. Coursework includes reading classic and contemporary works, writing response essays and crafting critical analyses.

MA in Creative Writing vs. MFA in Creative Writing: What’s the Difference?

While the degrees are similar, a master of arts in creative writing is different from a master of fine arts in creative writing. An MA in creative writing teaches creative writing competencies, building analytical skills through studying literature, literary theory and related topics. This lets you explore storytelling along with a more profound knowledge of literature and literary theory.

If you want your education to take a more academic perspective so you can build a career in one of many fields related to writing, an MA in creative writing may be right for you.

An MFA prepares you to work as a professional writer or novelist. MFA students graduate with a completed manuscript that is ready for publishing. Coursework highlights subjects related to the business of writing, such as digital publishing, the importance of building a platform on social media , marketing, freelancing and teaching. An MA in creative writing also takes less time and requires fewer credits than an MFA.

If you want to understand the business of writing and work as a professional author or novelist, earning an MFA in creative writing might be your best option.

What Can You Do With a Master’s in Creative Writing?

Below are several careers you can pursue with a master’s in creative writing. We sourced salary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Postsecondary Creative Writing Teacher

Median Annual Salary: $74,280 Minimum Required Education: Ph.D. or another doctoral degree; master’s degree may be accepted at some schools and community colleges Job Overview: Postsecondary teachers, also known as professors or faculty, teach students at the college level. They plan lessons, advise students, serve on committees, conduct research, publish original research, supervise graduate teaching assistants, apply for grants for their research and teach subjects in their areas of expertise.

Median Annual Salary: $73,080 Minimum Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in English or a related field Job Overview: Editors plan, revise and edit written materials for publication. They work for newspapers, magazines, book publishers, advertising agencies, media networks, and motion picture and video production companies. Editors work closely with writers to ensure their written work is accurate, grammatically correct and written in the appropriate style for the medium.

Median Annual Salary: $55,960 Minimum Required Education: Bachelor’s degree in journalism or a related field Job Overview: Journalists research and write stories about local, regional, national and global current events and other newsworthy subjects. Journalists need strong interviewing, editing, analytical and writing skills. Some journalists specialize in a subject, such as sports or politics, and some are generalists. They work for news organizations, magazines and online publications, and some work as freelancers.

Writer or Author

Median Annual Salary: $73,150 Minimum Required Education: None; bachelor’s degree in creative writing or a related field sometimes preferred Job Overview: Writers and authors write fiction or nonfiction content for magazines, plays, blogs, books, television scripts and other forms of media. Novelists, biographers, copywriters, screenwriters and playwrights all fall into this job classification. Writers may work for advertising agencies, news platforms, book publishers and other organizations; some work as freelancers.

Technical Writer

Median Annual Salary: $79,960 Minimum Required Education: Bachelor’s degree Job Overview: Technical writers craft technical documents, such as training manuals and how-to guides. They are adept at simplifying technical information so lay people can easily understand it. Technical writers may work with technical staff, graphic designers, computer support specialists and software developers to create user-friendly finished pieces.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About a Master's in Creative Writing

Is a master’s in creative writing useful.

If your goal is to launch a career as a writer, then yes, a master’s in creative writing is useful. An MA in creative writing is a versatile degree that prepares you for various jobs requiring excellent writing skills.

Is an MFA better than an MA for creative writing?

One is not better than the other; you should choose the one that best equips you for the career you want. An MFA prepares you to build a career as a professional writer or novelist. An MA prepares you for various jobs demanding high-level writing skills.

What kind of jobs can you get with a creative writing degree?

A creative writing degree prepares you for many types of writing jobs. It helps you build your skills and gain expertise to work as an editor, writer, author, technical writer or journalist. This degree is also essential if you plan to teach writing classes at the college level.

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Sheryl Grey is a freelance writer who specializes in creating content related to education, aging and senior living, and real estate. She is also a copywriter who helps businesses grow through expert website copywriting, branding and content creation. Sheryl holds a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Indiana University South Bend, and she received her teacher certification training through Bethel University’s Transition to Teaching program.

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Online MFA in Creative Writing Master of Fine Arts

Clock Icon

Earn an MFA in Creative Writing Online

  • $637/credit (48 credits total)
  • Transfer up to 12 graduate credits
  • 100% online – no residency required
  • Four fiction genres to choose from
  • Career-focused certificate included
  • No application fee or GRE/GMAT scores required

Online MFA in Creative Writing Program Overview

Share your story with the world and let the power of storytelling take your career to new heights with an online Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing . As one of the only programs available that encourages a focus on genre fiction, our online MFA lets you hone your craft in an area specific to your strengths and interests. You'll also learn about the business side of creative writing, preparing you to market your work in the real world.

While most MFA programs require a residency, Southern New Hampshire University's online MFA in Creative Writing can be completed entirely online, with no travel necessary.

“Traditional MFA programs, whether full-time or low residency, are out of reach for many writers,” said Paul Witcover , associate dean of creative writing. “The SNHU online MFA was designed to make the MFA experience accessible to all fiction writers, opening the door to diverse voices excluded for too long from the literary conversation. Our program is dedicated to giving writers the tools to succeed on the page and beyond it.”

Graduates leave the program with a completed and revised novel in one of our four offered genres: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance and Speculative. With the included certificates in either online teaching of writing or professional writing , you'll have the skills to support your writing career, no matter where it takes you.

.st0{fill:#21386D;} What You'll Learn

  • The business and technical sides of professional writing
  • How to navigate the publishing ecosystem, identify agents and editors, and market your work to appeal to decision-makers
  • Using social media to gain a following and build your brand
  • How to teach writing in a classroom setting

.cls-1 { fill: #21386d; } How You'll Learn

At SNHU, you'll get support from day 1 to graduation and beyond. And with no set class times, 24/7 access to the online classroom and helpful learning resources along the way, you'll have everything you need to reach your goals.

Why Emily Chose Online MFA in Creative Writing

The Value of an Online MFA

Emily Jones ’20 embraced a transformational experience through the online MFA in Creative Writing program, which supported her in taking her writing career to the next level. “I can now say, without even a hint of imposter syndrome, that I am a writer,” said Jones. “And that is because of Southern New Hampshire University.”

Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, writers and authors made a median annual salary of $69,510 in 2021, while editors made $63,350. 1

Paul Witcover with the text Paul Witcover

“Our mission is to give students a degree and associated practical skills they can use to forge successful pathways in academia, business, or by blazing their own career trail,” said Paul Witcover , associate dean of creative writing.

Earning one of the included certificates in online teaching of writing or professional writing will also be an invaluable addition to your resume for part-time, full-time and freelance jobs in a variety of fields, including:

  • Higher education. Instruct writing courses in higher education settings. In 2021, postsecondary teachers made a median annual wage of $79,640, and you can expect to see a 12% growth in available positions through 2031, according to the BLS. 1
  • Advertising. Use your storytelling skills in a way that influences consumer action. As a copywriter, you could find yourself doing any number of writing projects from crafting emails and ads to writing entire commercials.
  • Marketing. If you're more comfortable with long-form prose, many businesses have invested in content writers who create quality content such as blog posts, ebooks and podcasts to attract and retain customers.
  • Entertainment. Good at building suspense or setting up punchlines? From movies and plays to comedy and podcasts, being a good storyteller and writer is important to finding success in the entertainment industry.
  • History. Every person's life has a plot, but it takes writers like you to tell their stories in a compelling way. Help readers relive the experiences of historic figures and pop culture icons as a biographer.

Higher Education

Instruct writing courses in higher education at a college or university, either in-person or online.


Influence consumer action through copywriting, from print ads to digital advertising and broadcast commercials.

Create written content such as blog posts, ebooks and podcasts to attract and retain customers.


From movies and plays to comedy and podcasts, writers often find success in the entertainment industry.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts favorable job growth in postsecondary education. And while statistics are not available for all job settings mentioned above, the BLS reports the following:

.cls-1 { fill: #21386d; } Job Growth

The BLS predicts an 8% growth in available postsecondary teaching positions through 2032. 1

.cls-1 { fill: #21386d; } Potential Salary

Writers and authors made a median annual salary of $73,150 in 2022, while editors made $73,080 and postsecondary teachers made $80,840. 1

Understanding the Numbers When reviewing job growth and salary information, it’s important to remember that actual numbers can vary due to many different factors — like years of experience in the role, industry of employment, geographic location, worker skill and economic conditions. Cited projections do not guarantee actual salary or job growth.

Start Your Journey Toward an Online MFA in Creative Writing

If you're looking to earn your Master of Fine Arts online, you've found the right program. Even though there are no residency requirements, you'll still interact frequently with other students and faculty members in asynchronous discussions, critique workshops and within our online writer’s community, where students come together to share industry news, extend writing tips and develop critique partnerships.

Jamilla Geter with the text Jamilla Geter

"I liked MFA-514 (Advanced Studies in Genre Literature) best," said student Jamilla Geter . "It was a great look into the different genres. It really helped me narrow down what genre I wanted to write in."

Felicia Warden with the text Felicia Warden

"Though it was not writing exactly, its connection to it – especially in our digital world – was made clear almost immediately," she said. "Writing is not just providing content of value to your readers, but also creating avenues of access so those readers can find your content. This course helped me to understand that and to learn how I can create those avenues."

Besides allowing you to focus on your own creative interests, part of our 48-credit online MFA curriculum requires you to choose from 2 certificate offerings designed to round out your education and better prepare you for a multitude of writing-related careers.

The first choice is a Graduate Certificate in Online Teaching of Writing , which is tailored to those who see themselves teaching in an online classroom setting as a supplement to their writing careers. Students practice approaches to editing and coaching, learning how to establish a virtual instructor presence and cultivate methods for supporting and engaging students within online writing communities.

Learn more about the online teaching of writing graduate certificate .

Students can also choose the Graduate Certificate in Professional Writing , which highlights the technical and business opportunities available to writers. Students will develop a range of skills, such as copywriting, social media, marketing principles and/or content generation, learning many of the freelancing skills integral to today’s project-driven economy.

Learn more about the professional writing graduate certificate .

All of our courses are taught by accomplished authors and industry professionals who know both the craft and business of creative writing. They will work closely with you to develop both your creative and professional skill set.

"All instructors within my program were extremely knowledgeable and helpful," Warden said. "I learned a lot about the different career paths my instructors chose. ... The course instruction, along with their anecdotal experiences, helped in offering knowledge in different areas of our field.

MFA Program Thesis

The thesis for the Online MFA in Creative Writing is required to be a novel of at least 50,000 words in one of the four genres the program offers: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance, and Speculative.

Every Southern New Hampshire University online MFA student who graduates from the program will do so with a revised novel manuscript in their chosen genre, which is completed in a three-course thesis series. Throughout your tenure in the program, you can either work on a singular idea that you will develop during the three thesis courses, or you can begin a new project for your thesis. You can also combine elements of the four genres offered in the program for your thesis. For example, your thesis might be a YA Speculative Fiction novel.

Kathleen Harris with the text Kathleen Harris

"My three thesis classes for the MFA degree were the most helpful," said Kathleen Harris '21 . "I was actually writing a book as my thesis, so it was both enjoyable and advantageous for the degree. And it was the end of a very long milestone of accomplishments."

Full Course Catalog
List of Courses
MFA in Creative Writing Online
Total Credits: 48

Minimum Hardware Requirements Component Type PC (Windows OS) Apple (Mac OS) Operating System Currently supported operating system from Microsoft. Currently supported operating system from Apple. Memory (RAM) 8GB or higher 8GB or higher Hard Drive 100GB or higher 100GB or higher Antivirus Software Required forcampus students. Strongly recommended for online students. Required forcampus students. Strongly recommended for online students. SNHU Purchase Programs Visit Dell Visit Apple Internet/ Bandwidth 5 Mbps Download, 1 Mbps Upload and less than 100ms Latency 5 Mbps Download, 1 Mbps Upload and less than 100ms Latency Notes:   Laptop or desktop?   Whichever you choose depends on your personal preference and work style, though laptops tend to offer more flexibility.  Note:   Chromebooks (Chrome OS) and iPads (iOS) do not meet the minimum requirements for coursework at SNHU. These offer limited functionality and do not work with some course technologies. They are not acceptable as the only device you use for coursework. While these devices are convenient and may be used for some course functions, they cannot be your primary device. SNHU does, however, have an affordable laptop option that it recommends: Dell Latitude 3301 with Windows 10.  Office 365 Pro Plus  is available free of charge to all SNHU students and faculty. The Office suite will remain free while you are a student at SNHU. Upon graduation you may convert to a paid subscription if you wish. Terms subject to change at Microsoft's discretion. Review system requirements for  Microsoft 365 plans  for business, education and government.  Antivirus software:  Check with your ISP as they may offer antivirus software free of charge to subscribers.  if (typeof accordionGroup === "undefined") { window.accordionGroup = new accordion(); } accordionGroup.init(document.getElementById('f756dce5bd874c61855f6f6e92d88470')); University Accreditation

New England Commission of Higher Education

Tuition & Fees

Tuition rates for SNHU's online degree programs are among the lowest in the nation. We offer a 25% tuition discount for U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty.

Online Graduate Programs Per Course Per Credit Hour Annual Cost for 15 credits 
Degree/Certificates $1,911 $637 $9,555 
(U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty)*
$1,410 $470 $7,050 

Tuition rates are subject to change and are reviewed annually. *Note: students receiving this rate are not eligible for additional discounts.

Additional Costs: Course Materials ($ varies by course). Foundational courses may be required based on your undergraduate course history, which may result in additional cost.

Frequently Asked Questions

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​Why is History Important?​

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Best Master’s in Creative Writing Degree Programs of 2024

Written by Alex Kale

Updated: April 11, 2024

Compare School Options

Most schools have rolling admissions and financial help so you can start your degree in a few weeks!

For creative individuals eager to refine their craft under the guidance of accomplished mentors and dedicate significant time to their writing, pursuing a master’s in creative writing may be the next step in your journey. While these programs don’t guarantee a future as a bestselling novelist or a lauded poet, they offer substantial mentorship and a comprehensive education, setting a solid foundation for success in the literary field.

Most graduates find opportunities in academia, where the demand for college and university professors is expected to grow by 8% in the next decade, offering a median salary of $80,840 . These programs span 18 months to three years, and while costs vary, the average tuition was $19,749 for the 2020-2021 academic year.

How to Choose a Master’s in Creative Writing Program

Choose your area of study.

Selecting an area of study for your master’s in creative writing is an especially important first step for this degree, as many programs offer specialized tracks to better align with student interests.

For some students, deciding between poetry, fiction, nonfiction, or screenwriting may be relatively straightforward, as many come to these programs with existing interests and writing experience. This choice can be more challenging for others, requiring reflection on their interests and career goals.

Understanding your preferred genre or form is crucial. It will direct you to a program that best supports your aspirations, offering workshops, mentorship, and resources to hone your craft.

Research schools and programs

Once you’ve decided on an area of study, it’s time to research potential schools and programs that can support your educational and professional interests. Consider asking the following questions to guide your research:

  • What are the faculty’s backgrounds and areas of expertise?
  • How does the curriculum align with your specific interests?
  • What opportunities exist for workshops, readings, and publishing?
  • Are there assistantships, fellowships, or financial aid options?
  • How does the program support career development post-graduation?

This information can be found on university websites, by contacting admissions counselors or program coordinators, or by connecting with current students and alumni.

Prepare for tests and applications

With your shortlist of programs in hand, you can begin preparing for tests and applications.

Focusing on crafting a solid writing sample is crucial, as this illustrates your skills and potential. However, it’s equally important to dedicate time to writing your personal statement and preparing for the GRE — if your program requires standardized test scores. Consider enrolling in a test prep program to improve your performance and boost your scores.

Remember transcripts and letters of recommendation; you’ll want to request these early, as they often take time to gather. To avoid any last-minute rushes, provide your recommenders with clear deadlines, typically around two months.

Select your program

If you submit multiple applications, you may receive multiple acceptance letters. In these situations, set aside some time to revisit your initial research criteria to ensure you select the right program.

Consider curriculum relevance, faculty experience, and the strength of the alumni network, as mentorship is an essential aspect of these programs. Given their significant role in your development, you’ll want to choose faculty you’re eager to learn from. Lastly, assess the total cost of attendance alongside any financial aid offers, including fellowships and assistantships.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

While financing your degree can feel daunting, many financial aid resources are available to help. Start by exploring scholarships and grants that don’t require repayment. Next, look into assistantships and fellowships offered by your institution, as these provide funding alongside resume-boosting professional experience.

Use federal loans sparingly to cover any remaining financial gaps. Remember that every dollar taken out on a loan will have to be repaid with interest, so minimize your reliance on these to avoid accruing debt.

Best 50 Accredited Master’s in Creative Writing Programs

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intelligent score 99.39

#8 College Factual #8 Best Value Schools #21 College Rank

School Information

Cambridge, MA

Graduation Rate: 98%

Admission Rate: 4%

Urbanicity: City

School Size: Medium

Delivery Format Hybrid

Required Credits to Graduate 36

Estimated Cost per Credit $1,073

accreditation New England Commission of Higher Education

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 617-495-4024

intelligent score 99.12

#5 Best Value Schools #6 College Factual

Seattle, WA

Graduation Rate: 84%

Admission Rate: 53%

School Size: Large

Delivery Format On-Campus

Required Credits to Graduate 40

Estimated Cost per Credit Resident: $834 Non-Resident: $1,494

accreditation Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 206-543-9865

intelligent score 98.56

#3 Best Accredited Colleges #9 Best Value Schools #14 College Factual

Graduation Rate: 88%

Admission Rate: 19%

Required Credits to Graduate 32

Estimated Cost per Credit $2,083

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 617-353-2510

intelligent score 98.52

#4 College Factual #7 Best Accredited Colleges

Iowa City, IA

Graduation Rate: 71%

Admission Rate: 86%

Required Credits to Graduate 48

Estimated Cost per Credit $626

accreditation Higher Learning Commission

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 319-335-3847

intelligent score 98.33

#3 College Factual #14 Best Value Schools

Evanston, IL

Graduation Rate: 95%

Admission Rate: 7%

Estimated Cost per Credit $1,917

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 847-491-5279

intelligent score 98.22

#5 College Factual

Minneapolis, MN

Graduation Rate: 81%

Admission Rate: 73%

Required Credits to Graduate 45

Estimated Cost per Credit Resident: $1,593 Non-Resident: $2,465

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 612-625-6366

intelligent score 97.51

#1 College Rank

Danbury, CT

Graduation Rate: 52%

Admission Rate: 81%

Required Credits to Graduate 60

Estimated Cost per Credit $562

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 203-837-8243

intelligent score 97.05

#4 College Rank

Victoria, TX

Graduation Rate: 51%

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Estimated Cost per Credit Resident: $368 Non-Resident: $788

accreditation Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 877-970-4848

intelligent score 96.63

#5 Best Accredited Colleges #15 College Factual

New York, NY

Admission Rate: 21%

Estimated Cost per Credit $2,157

accreditation Middle States Commission on Higher Education

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 212-998-8816

intelligent score 96.06

#5 College Rank

Columbus, MS

Graduation Rate: 62%

Admission Rate: 99%

Urbanicity: Town

Estimated Cost per Credit $450

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 662-329-7169

intelligent score 94.96

Notre Dame, IN

Graduation Rate: 97%

Admission Rate: 15%

Urbanicity: Suburban

Estimated Cost per Credit $3,576

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 574-631-7226

intelligent score 94.59

Ellensburg, WA

Graduation Rate: 64%

Admission Rate: 88%

Estimated Cost per Credit Resident: $735 Non-Resident: $1,723

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 509-963-1546

intelligent score 94.39

Nashville, TN

Graduation Rate: 94%

Estimated Cost per Credit $1,140

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 615-343-2727

intelligent score 94.22

Graduation Rate: 82%

Admission Rate: 29%

Estimated Cost per Credit Resident: $1,210 Non-Resident: $1,863

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 512-471-4141

intelligent score 93.23

Graduation Rate: 74%

Admission Rate: 91%

Required Credits to Graduate 54

Estimated Cost per Credit Resident: $611 Non-Resident: $1,548

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 515-294-2180

intelligent score 92.70

El Paso, TX

Graduation Rate: 48%

Admission Rate: 100%

Estimated Cost per Credit Resident: $495 Non-Resident: $1,033

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 915-747-5237

intelligent score 91.36

Saint Charles, MO

Graduation Rate: 55%

Admission Rate: 75%

Estimated Cost per Credit $561

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 636-949-2000

intelligent score 91.05

Wilkes-Barre, PA

Admission Rate: 95%

Required Credits to Graduate 30-49

Estimated Cost per Credit $675 - $750

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 570-408-4527

intelligent score 90.14

Fairfax, VA

Estimated Cost per Credit In-State: $572 Out-of-State: $1,486

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 703-993-1180

intelligent score 90.07

Rexburg, ID

Graduation Rate: 65%

Admission Rate: 97%

Estimated Cost per Credit $480 - $960

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 801-422-4938

intelligent score 89.85

Buckhannon, WV

Admission Rate: 84%

School Size: Small

Required Credits to Graduate 49

Estimated Cost per Credit $475

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 304-473-8523

intelligent score 89.28

Raleigh, NC

Admission Rate: 47%

Estimated Cost per Credit In-state: $525 Out-of-state: $1,635

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 919-515-4106

intelligent score 87.26

Admission Rate: 74%

Required Credits to Graduate 39

Estimated Cost per Credit Resident: $1,862 Non-Resident: $3,391

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 734-764-6330

intelligent score 85.56

La Grande, OR

Graduation Rate: 38%

Admission Rate: 98%

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online, Hybrid

Estimated Cost per Credit $520

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 541-962-3393

intelligent score 85.28

Graduation Rate: 80%

Admission Rate: 89%

Estimated Cost per Credit Resident: $495 Non-Resident: $1,417

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 513-529-5221

intelligent score 84.41

San Marcos, TX

Graduation Rate: 61%

Admission Rate: 85%

Estimated Cost per Credit Resident: $357 Non-Resident: $767

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 512-245-2581

intelligent score 82.58

Tallahassee, FL

Admission Rate: 32%

Estimated Cost per Credit In-State: $479 Out-of-State: $1,111

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 850-644-4231

intelligent score 81.36

Spartanburg, SC

Graduation Rate: 56%

Admission Rate: 82%

Estimated Cost per Credit $640

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 864-596-9040

intelligent score 81.18

Bowling Green, OH

Graduation Rate: 58%

Estimated Cost per Credit Resident: $536 Non-Resident: $868

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 419-372-2791

intelligent score 80.53

Mississippi State, MS

Graduation Rate: 60%

Admission Rate: 80%

Required Credits to Graduate 30

Estimated Cost per Credit Resident: $545 Non-Resident: $1,476

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 662-325-7400

intelligent score 79.83

Syracuse, NY

Admission Rate: 59%

Estimated Cost per Credit $1,872

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 315-443-4322

intelligent score 79.53

Philadelphia, PA

Graduation Rate: 68%

Admission Rate: 83%

Estimated Cost per Credit $691

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 215-895-1805

intelligent score 79.21

Gainesville, FL

Graduation Rate: 72%

Admission Rate: 66%

Estimated Cost per Credit In-State: $471 Out-of-State: $1,116

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 352-392-6622

intelligent score 78.90

San Diego, CA

Graduation Rate: 79%

Admission Rate: 38%

Estimated Cost per Credit Resident: $368 Non-Resident: $764

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 619-594-5443

intelligent score 78.66

Graduation Rate: 96%

Admission Rate: 9%

Estimated Cost per Credit $1,093

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 607-255-6800

intelligent score 78.46

Adelphi, MD

Graduation Rate: 30%

Estimated Cost per Credit Resident: $828 Non-Resident: $1,805

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 301-405-3809

intelligent score 78.22

Graduation Rate: 59%

Admission Rate: 92%

Required Credits to Graduate 30-39

Estimated Cost per Credit In-State: $557 Out-of-State: $1,696

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 207-581-3291

intelligent score 78.10

Admission Rate: 87%

Estimated Cost per Credit $514

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 402-554-3857

intelligent score 78.06

Required Credits to Graduate 42

Estimated Cost per Credit Resident: $1,028 Non-Resident: $2,428

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 520-621-9771

intelligent score 77.99

Glenside, PA

Estimated Cost per Credit $840

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 877-272-2342

intelligent score 77.90

Ashland, OH

Graduation Rate: 66%

Admission Rate: 70%

Urbanicity: Rural

Estimated Cost per Credit $860

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 419-289-5098

intelligent score 77.55

Estimated Cost per Credit Resident: $897 Non-Resident: $1,472

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 480-727-9130

intelligent score 74.80

Admission Rate: 41%

Estimated Cost per Credit $1,402

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 617-824-8610

intelligent score 74.51

Huntsville, AL

Graduation Rate: 54%

Admission Rate: 77%

Estimated Cost per Credit Resident: $635 Non-Resident: $1,660

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 205-348-5065

intelligent score 73.95

Flagstaff, AZ

Estimated Cost per Credit Resident: $790 Non-Resident: $1,956

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 928-523-4911

intelligent score 72.63

Charlotte, NC

Admission Rate: 69%

Required Credits to Graduate 52

Estimated Cost per Credit $815

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 704-337-2499

intelligent score 72.15

Champaign, IL

Graduation Rate: 86%

Admission Rate: 60%

Estimated Cost per Credit Resident: $878 Non-Resident: $1,897

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 217-333-2391

intelligent score 72.10

Graduation Rate: 73%

Admission Rate: 72%

Required Credits to Graduate 33

Estimated Cost per Credit In-State: $1,053 Out-of-State: $1,449

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 215-204-1796

intelligent score 71.64

Graduation Rate: 63%

Estimated Cost per Credit $925

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 617-349-8300

intelligent score 71.32

Salt Lake City, UT

Estimated Cost per Credit Resident: $1,272 Non-Resident: $4,517

more program information Email: [email protected] Phone: 801-581-6168

Discover More Options

How we rank schools.

We reviewed many master’s in creative writing programs, including ones offered on-campus, online, and through both modes. Most of these degrees are offered as a Master of Fine Arts (MFA), which is considered a terminal degree in the fine arts field.

The institutions on this list are all approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) or the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). Attending an accredited degree program guarantees you’ll receive a quality education and ensures your degree will be recognized by other schools and employers. Recognition is important if you decide to transfer or hope to teach at a school.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology .

What Can You Expect From a Master’s in Creative Writing Program?

By earning a master’s in creative writing, you’ll enter an immersive program designed to refine your writing craft, critical thinking, and editorial skills across various genres — including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and even screenplay writing.

Spanning 18 months to three years, these programs combine workshops, literature courses, and seminars to strengthen your understanding of narrative structure, character development, and the nuances of language and style. You’ll hone your unique voice and storytelling abilities through intensive writing practice and feedback from peers and seasoned faculty. Critical analysis of literary work complements your creative endeavors, improving your ability to critique and incorporate literary techniques into your writing.

These programs typically culminate in a thesis — a substantial, original piece of creative work (like a novel, a collection of poems, or short stories) that demonstrates mastery and readiness to contribute to the literary world.

Potential courses you’ll take in a master’s in creative writing program

  • Literary Analysis for Writers: Although it may go by a different name, this course is a cornerstone in most programs. Through studying contemporary and classic literature, students learn to dissect and understand the techniques employed by successful authors. This analytical skill enhances critical thinking while informing and improving their creative writing endeavors.
  • Fiction Workshop: Specifically designated for students specializing in fiction, this course encourages learners to write their own material and periodically present it for critique. Students are encouraged to experiment and grow as writers through this collaborative environment.
  • Poetry Workshop: This course, particularly aimed at poets, encourages participants to explore various poetic forms and techniques, from traditional to experimental poetry. Through writing exercises and peer feedback, students learn to create vivid imagery, control rhythm and sound, and convey emotional truths concisely.
  • Creative Nonfiction: This genre-bending course covers memoirs, personal essays, and literary journalism. Students learn to meld factual accuracy with storytelling, developing skills to write engaging narratives that resonate with authenticity.

Master’s in Creative Writing Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do i apply to a master's in creative writing degree program.

To apply for a master’s in creative writing degree program, you’ll need to start by researching the specific requirements of your chosen institution, as they can vary. However, many programs share common application criteria — like the following:

  • Official transcripts from undergraduate studies
  • Letters of recommendation
  • A statement of purpose
  • A writing sample in your intended discipline (such as fiction, poetry, or nonfiction)
  • GRE scores , although these may be optional for some programs

Before applying, be sure to reach out to an admissions counselor. They can provide insights into the program, help answer any questions, and guide you through the application process.

How much does a master's in creative writing degree cost?

The cost of this degree will vary depending on the institution — however, the average graduate tuition for the 2020-2021 academic year was $19,749 . This figure does not account for additional expenses such as housing, commuting, library fees, and textbooks, which can significantly increase the total cost of earning your degree. As a prospective student, you should thoroughly assess these costs to create a comprehensive budget — ensuring that pursuing this degree aligns with your professional and financial goals.

How long does it take to earn a master's in creative writing degree?

Earning your master’s in creative writing usually takes two years of full-time study, though some programs may extend to three years due to additional credit requirements. For this reason, it’s crucial to check each program’s credit prerequisites, as this directly influences completion time.

Part-time students generally have up to five years to fulfill their degree obligations, but some institutions offer more flexibility, allowing for a more extended timeline.

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  • Program Information
  • Degree Requirements
  • MFA Admissions and Recruitment
  • MFA Application Information
  • Publications
  • Fiction Students
  • Poetry Students

The M.F.A. centers around the Graduate Writers' Workshop, a group which meets each quarter in poetry and fiction, in which faculty and students share in criticism and discussion of student writing. There are twelve MFA students in poetry and twelve in fiction, half in their first year and half in their second year in the Writing Program. About two-thirds of the Writing Program student's work consists of participation in the Workshop; the other third is devoted to graduate-level seminars offered by the MFA faculty and other faculty of the Department of English and Comparative Literature and other graduate programs. The aim of the Programs in Writing is the training of accomplished writers who intend to make their writing their life. What we expect of our students is passionate precision, character, and stamina. What we want most for our students is that each will sooner or later write something that lasts. Successful writing, we think, is writing that succeeds itself each time it is read with interest and care by a succession of new readers. To facilitate such writing, the faculty has kept the Writing Program small in order to ensure the high quality of the students as well as to permit much teaching on a one-to-one basis. All students consult frequently with the staff for assistance with their work. In recent years, visiting writers and lecturers have included: Ralph Angel, John Ashbery, Wilton Barnhardt, John Calvin Batchelor, Ethan Canin, Jennifer Clarvoe, Killarney Clary, Gwyneth Cravens, Stuart Dybek, Robert Farnsworth, Amy Gerstler, Louise Glück, Jay Gummerman, Ursula Hegi, Brenda Hillman, Rust Hills, T.R. Hummer, Cynthia Huntington, P.D. James, Brigit Pegeen Kelly, Margot Livesey, Thomas Lux, Lynne McMahon, Heather McHugh, Maile Meloy, Jeredith Merrin, Josephine Miles, Wright Morris, Howard Moss, Carol Muske-Dukes, Robert Olmstead, Ann Patchett, Bette Pesetsky, Martha Rhodes, Mark Richard, Mary Robison, Thomas Sanchez, Sherod Santos, Christine Schutt, Lynn Sharon Schwartz, Alan Shapiro, Jim Shepard, Mona Simpson, Ted Solotaroff, Pamela Stewart, Robert Stone, Mark Strand, Melanie Thernstrom, Lawrence Thornton, Brad Watson, Joy Williams, and William Wiser.

Contact MFA Programs in Writing: Phone 949-824-6718, Email: [email protected] .

MFA Programs in Writing students

Meet Our Students

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Alumni Publications

Graduates of the Programs in Writing have gone on to publish works of fiction, poetry, and nonficiton, and have received distinguished prizes and fellowships such as the Pulitzer Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, Pushcart Prize, PEN/Faulkner Award, Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, National Endowment for the Arts Award, Shelley Memorial Prize, Art Seidenbaum Award, Mary McCarthy Prize, Katharine Bakeless Nason Literary Prize, Kathryn A. Morton Prize, Staige D. Blackford Prize, Tufts Poetry Award,  The Nation  Discovery Award, and the Ken Kesey Award.

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ODU Creative Writing Students Partner with Norfolk SPCA to Help Get Animals Adopted

Photo of a man holding a phone with an image of a dog displayed.

Writers from Old Dominion University’s Master in Fine Arts in Creative Writing program are harnessing the power of language to help adoptable animals at the Norfolk SPCA find forever homes. The effort is part of ODU’s Writers in Community , a non-profit program dedicated to helping the diverse communities of Coastal Virginia by cultivating literacy and creativity. A branch of the Old Dominion University MFA Creative Writing Program, Writers in Community works with local organizations to reach out to children and adults who can benefit from the opportunity to express themselves artistically.

Through a social media campaign that started in May, students wrote bios for the several dogs, bunnies and a cat, who are in need of new homes, including the shelter’s longest resident, Haley, who has been with the SPCA for more than a year. Students have also shared photos of their own literary-minded pets to encourage others to adopt. 

“We’re thrilled to partner with such talented writers to share the stories of these wonderful animals,” said Tammy Lindquist, community engagement manager at the SPCA. “Animals make a profound difference in our lives and we’re so happy these writers are sharing the stories of our beloved animals and their own.”

The novelists, poets and essayists in the MFA program also shared photos of their own pets, with reflections on the impact these best friends have made on their lives. SPCA supporters are encouraged to share photos on social media of the pets they’ve adopted through the SPCA with #findyournewbestfriend.

“Our pets provide endless joy and inspiration,” said Kent Wascom, MFA in Creative Writing program director at ODU and author of “The Great State of West Florida.” “The incredible writers in our program are so excited to help these dogs and cats and rabbits find families who will care for them, and to share the ways their own pets impact their lives.”

The adoptable animals featured in the campaign and others hosted by the SPCA can be met from 1 to 4:30 p.m. each day except Tuesdays at their adoption center on Ballentine Boulevard.

Enhance your college career by gaining relevant experience with the skills and knowledge needed for your future career. Discover our experiential learning opportunities.

Picture yourself in the classroom, speak with professors in your major, and meet current students.

From sports games to concerts and lectures, join the ODU community at a variety of campus events. 

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The Purdue On-Campus Writing Lab and Purdue Online Writing Lab assist clients in their development as writers—no matter what their skill level—with on-campus consultations, online participation, and community engagement. The Purdue Writing Lab serves the Purdue, West Lafayette, campus and coordinates with local literacy initiatives. The Purdue OWL offers global support through online reference materials and services.

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The Purdue OWL® is committed to supporting  students, instructors, and writers by offering a wide range of resources that are developed and revised with them in mind. To do this, the OWL team is always exploring possibilties for a better design, allowing accessibility and user experience to guide our process. As the OWL undergoes some changes, we welcome your feedback and suggestions by email at any time.

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