Most Affordable Online MFAs in Creative Writing Degrees
| Staff Writers
Are you ready to find your fit?
Sharpen your writing skills and learn to navigate the world of publishing with one of the most affordable online MFAs in creative writing.
If you have a love of literature and a way with words, you’re perfectly suited for an MFA in creative writing. And if you think that such a degree is useless, think again. These programs can prepare you to publish your writing, teach at the university level, or work in a publishing house.
In creative writing MFA programs, students work closely with published faculty to hone their craft. They read extensively, write prolifically, and receive constructive critiques. Most programs also teach students the ins and outs of getting their work published.
What kind of affordable online MFA in creative writing should you get?
It depends on your career goals. Some programs are geared toward those who want to become published writers, while others are intended for future professors. Still others offer tracks in both areas.
If you aren’t interested in teaching, you may want to pursue an MA in English. These programs are typically shorter than creative writing MFA programs. However, students develop similar skills and knowledge related to professional writing. You can explore other online options by reading our guide to the Most Affordable Online Graduate Schools.
Another important note is that some online creative writing MFAs require brief residencies. These are in-person components typically lasting about a week. Generally, these occur once or twice annually throughout the program. If this is not possible, choose a no residency program.
Winter Classes Enrolling Now
These schools are accepting applicants for programs starting soon. Learn about upcoming start dates below.
How much money do people make with an online MFA in creative writing?
The income of a published writer varies widely. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary of writers and authors is $61,820. However, the lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,520. The highest 10 percent earned over $118,760.
These numbers also take into account writers outside of creative professions, such as copywriters. Expected job growth for writers and authors is 8 percent, which is as fast as average.
Postsecondary teachers earn a median salary of $76,000. Anticipated job growth is 15 percent, which is much faster than average. Editors earn a median annual wage of $58,770, but little to no job growth is expected.
What can you do with an online MFA in creative writing?
An online MFA in creative writing can lead you down many paths. You may publish novels, poetry, short story collections, or screenplays. You can also become a creative writing professor at a university or teach writing and/or English at a high school.
An MFA in creative writing can also prepare you to work for a magazine or a publishing house. You might become a content strategist or copywriter for a creative brand looking for talented writers. The choice is yours.
What are the requirements for an online MFA in creative writing?
A bachelor’s degree is required, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be in a related field. In most cases, you will be asked to submit a portfolio or creative writing sample. Some programs ask for GRE scores, letters of recommendations, and/or a resume.
To earn the MFA in creative writing, you will typically need to submit a creative thesis. This is a completed publishable manuscript. You’ll work with a faculty advisor to plan and develop the thesis.
You will likely complete writing workshops, and in some cases you will need to attend a few in-person residencies. These consist of seminars, workshops, and other literary events. Some programs also require you to read and respond to a certain number of books.
What are the best affordable online MFAs in creative writing?
Our data is pulled from trusted sources including:
U.S. News and World Report
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Official college/university websites
The 35 schools listed here offer flexible, quality education at the most affordable rates. These degrees are organized by the average price it will cost you to earn the whole degree, fees and financial aid included. Whatever your goals in the literacy field, these programs can help you achieve them without breaking the bank.
OverviewFounded in 1884, Northwestern State University of Louisiana has established itself as a student-oriented university. To accommodate busy students, the university offers a wide variety of online courses and programs. It boasts Louisiana’s first and largest electronic campus, known as eNSU. The university offers 40 online degree programs, including an online MA in English with concentrations in Writing and Literature. Program FeaturesThe 30-hour Master of Arts in English program requires students to select one of five concentrations. Students in the Writing and Linguistics concentration can study and practice a wide range of written and spoken texts, including creative writing and film and television writing. The curriculum is customizable, but course options include:
Creative Writing Workshop (Poetry)
Literature of the Southern Renaissance
Advanced Studies in Language and Society
Creative Writing Workshop (Nonfiction)
Fundamentals of Linguistics
NotablesGRE scores and two letters of recommendation are required for admission. To complete the program, students must write a thesis OR write two papers and take an additional elective course.
OverviewLouisiana Tech University is a public research university in Ruston, Louisiana. Enrollment totals 12,873. According to The Wall Street Journal, LTU is ranked fifth among public universities for Best Return on Investment. Forbes also counts the university among the nation’s best for ROI. Louisiana Tech offers rigorous, relevant academic programs in a variety of areas. The university has a fully online MA in English. Program FeaturesLTU’s Master of Arts in English is intended to be culturally broad, highly comprehensive, and thorough. The 33-credit program offers concentrations including Literature. Through close analysis of literary works, candidates hone their own writing talents. Courses include:
Literary Research and Bibliography
Theories of Composition
Teaching College Composition
Advanced Creative Writing
18th Century English Literature
NotablesApplicants are required to submit a 15-page portfolio writing sample. The MA in English program offers both thesis and non-thesis plans. On the non-thesis plan, students must pass comprehensive written and oral exams based on a reading list in the student’s area(s) of interest.
OverviewA public co-educational university in Columbus, Mississippi, the Mississippi University for Women is commonly referred to as “The W.” The W consistently ranks as one of the top universities in the Southeast according to U.S. News and World Report. And quality education doesn’t have to be expensive: the school also has the lowest tuition rates in the region. Among its 60 academic programs, MUW offers an online MFA in Creative Writing. Program FeaturesThe W’s 48-hour Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing can be completed in 2-3 years. Students take literature and form courses, as well as workshops in various literary genres. Course topics may include pedagogy, publishing, cinema, theatre, music, and literature. In this program, you can expect to take courses such as:
Forms in Fiction
Forms in Nonfiction
Writing for New Media
Graduate Fiction Workshop
Twentieth-Century American Drama
NotablesThe program does not require GRE scores for admission. The curriculum is highly flexible. Students can choose to emphasize a preferred genre and may take any course as an elective once requirements are completed. A thesis is required; students may submit a mixed genre collection.
OverviewThe University of New Orleans is a public research university in New Orleans, Louisiana. 77 percent of UNO students receive some form of financial aid. The university is ranked top in the state for both lowest student debt and highest early career salaries. Many of UNO’s 40 graduate degree programs are recognized nationally. This includes an online Creative Writing MFA. Program FeaturesUNO’s innovative Creative Writing Master of Fine Arts program consists of 45 required hours. The program can be completed within five semesters. Students are trained through writing workshops and literary studies. Degree requirements include:
Form and Idea
Three hours in nonfiction writing
18 hours of creative writing workshops in the thesis genre (e.g. poetry, fiction, nonfiction, playwriting, screenwriting)
Nine hours outside of the genre
Nine hours in both background courses and elective
NotablesStudents must defend a creative thesis and take a comprehensive exam in their respective genres. A “B” or higher is required in all coursework. Students have the option to participate in month-long summer residencies in Cork, Ireland and Brunnenburg, Italy.
OverviewThe University of Arkansas at Monticello is a liberal arts university founded in 1910. The university holds multiple accreditations, including the Higher Learning Commission. Total enrollment is over 4,000 students. UAM offers over 60 academic programs. Five of the university’s six graduate degree programs are entirely online. One of these online graduate programs is an MFA in Creative Writing. Program FeaturesThe Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a 48-hour program. Each student is accepted into one of three genres: creative nonfiction, fiction, or poetry. A different Faculty Mentor within the student’s genre works with the student each semester. In addition to required workshops and courses in literature and form, students can choose from electives such as:
Simple Art of Murder
Memoirs of the Mind
Magazine Edit and Design
First Books of Poetry
Independent Study in English
NotablesApplication requirements include a manuscript, personal essay, and critical analysis essay. Students must earn a C or better in all courses and maintain a 3.0 GPA. Graduate Assistantships may be awarded to qualified students. They can then teach online sections of freshman-level writing courses.
OverviewThe University of Houston-Victoria is known for offering quality education at an affordable price. Currently, the university is ranked the seventh most affordable in the state of Texas. Founded in 1971, UHV currently has an enrollment of approximately 4,300 students. It offers classes in 70 degree programs, as well as numerous online options. Students can earn an online MFA in Creative Writing.Program FeaturesThe Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a 36-credit hour program. It focuses on the writing, revising, publishing, and critiquing literary works in fiction, nonfiction, and/or poetry. The creative writing core is comprised of 12 hours of writing workshops. Students also complete at least fifteen hours of elective courses, with options such as:
Introduction to Publishing
Studies in Latino Literature
The Business of Books
Literary Theory Genre Studies
NotablesApplicants are required to submit a 20-30 page creative writing sample. Candidates must complete an MFA thesis. The MFA thesis is a book-length work of literary merit. Students must complete at least 24 hours of coursework prior to requesting a thesis director. The thesis course is taken over two semesters for a total of six hours.
OverviewThe University of Nebraska was established in 1869, just two years after the state was founded. Located in Lincoln, Nebraska, the university has an enrollment of over 25,000 students. Among the school’s six key goals are quality, accessibility, and affordability. To that end, the school is home to The University of Nebraska Online, which offers over 125 programs. This includes an MFA in Creative Writing.Program FeaturesThe 60-credit Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is designed for students with a passion for storytelling. Students choose to specialize in Fiction, Poetry, Creative Nonfiction, Young Adult, Playwriting, or Screenwriting. Each student is paired with a faculty mentor. Core courses include:
NotablesThe program combines practical writing techniques, artistic concepts, and literary activities. The University of Nebraska has offered distance education for over 100 years. Online courses are still highly interactive, with faculty and students communicating through e-mail, discussion forums, and chat groups. You will have direct access to the same world-class faculty as students on the school’s physical campus.
OverviewEastern Kentucky University was founded in 1906 on the principles of scholarship, service, and high-quality instruction. Located in Richmond, Kentucky, EKU serves over 14,000 students and provides plentiful program options. EKU’s online degree programs give students the opportunity to take the same courses from the same renowned professors as students on campus. One of these programs is an MFA in Creative Writing.Program FeaturesEKU’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing offers concentrations in Literary Fiction, Popular/Genre Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, and/or Poetry. The 48-hour Bluegrass Writers Studio consists of web-based courses in contemporary literature and interactive online writing workshops. The program is devoted to every student’s professional and creative success. Requirements include:
24 hours of writing workshops; topics will vary
24 hours of writing workshop/mentorship
NotablesApplicants must submit a portfolio of work and a statement of purpose. For graduation, a creative thesis and an exit exam are required. Students complete a brief residency requirement in Lexington, Kentucky or Lisbon, Portugal, depending on the student’s choice.
OverviewNorthern Arizona University is a public university with a main campus located in Flagstaff, Arizona. The university has other campuses throughout the state, in addition to NAU Online. The university offers over 120 undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs. This includes an online Master of Arts in English. Program FeaturesThe Master of Arts in English helps students master techniques to craft and publish reader-driven writing. A minimum of 36 credits is required for completion. The curriculum is flexible, allowing students to choose an area of focus. Course options include:
Rhetoric and Writing in Professional Communities
NotablesDepending on a student’s area of specialty, a thesis may be required. Students can work at their own pace but must complete the degree within six years. All coursework must be finished with a minimum GPA of 3.0.
OverviewOld Dominion University is located in the coastal community of Norfolk, Virginia. The university offers over 120 undergraduate and 130 graduate programs, many of them ranked highly by The Princeton Review. Literary-minded ODU students may earn an online Master of Arts in English. Program FeaturesODU’s Master of Arts in English is a 30-credit hour program. Students learn to analyze texts and enhance their writing skills. Core courses focus on rhetoric, theory, and the impact of technology on writing practices. Students can select courses in topics like:
Professional writing theories and practices
New media theory and practice
NotablesThe degree has the following final exam options: portfolio project and oral exam, comprehensive oral exam only, or thesis and oral exam. This program is ranked sixth among the top online schools for English degrees.
OverviewA public university in northeastern Pennsylvania, East Stroudsburg was founded in 1893. It’s part of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The university’s key principles include collaboration, innovation, and quality. ESU enrolls 6,742 students and offers 79 degree programs. The school provides opportunities for accelerated graduation, alternative-campus learning, and online education. ESU offers an online MA in Writing.Program FeaturesESU’s 30-credit Master of Arts in Writing offers students an innovative master’s program in English. Students first complete 12 credits of core courses, followed by 15 credits of electives. Electives are selected in consultation with an advisor. Courses give candidates the opportunity to examine theory, practice, and style. These courses include:
Theory and Craft of Writing
Studies in Journalistic Literature
Theories of Electronic Writing
Currents in American Journalism
NotablesApplicants must submit three letters of recommendation and a written statement of professional goals. This program can be completed in just four semesters. All students submit a capstone thesis or a major project.
OverviewTexas Tech is a public university in Lubbock, Texas. The university was founded in 1923 and currently serves over 36,500 students. TTU appears on the “Best Value” college list by Forbes and is ranked by PayScale for its high return on investment. It’s also consistently ranked among top public universities by Princeton Review and U.S. News and World Report. Texas Tech offers an online MA in English.Program FeaturesTexas Tech’s Master of Arts in English is a 36-hour program. Students hone their writing and critical thinking skills and increase their knowledge of literature. The program is designed to be rigorous, accessible, and affordable. The curriculum is flexible, but you can expect to take courses like:
Studies in Linguistics: Compositional Semantics
Writing for Publication
Teaching College Literature
Studies in 17th Century British Literature
NotablesApplicants may be required to submit a personal statement, creative portfolio, and letters of recommendation. Online students are enrolled in the same courses as on-campus students and taught by the same professors.
OverviewLocated in Danbury, Connecticut, Western Connecticut State University specializes in high quality fine arts and professional programs. Enrollment totals 5,642 students. Founded in 1903, WCSU is a member of the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities System. WCSU offers roughly 100 degree programs in total. This includes an online MFA in Creative and Professional Writing.Program FeaturesStudents complete online workshops and individual, student-driven mentorships. In each course, students work with a faculty member to design a syllabus, create a reading list, and define the writing workload. Each candidate selects one creative genre and one practical genre. A teaching practicum or internship is required, along with a thesis. Sample courses include:
Reading for Writers I and II (in the two selected genres)
Writing in the Primary Genre I, II, and III
The Individual and Aesthetic Process
Online Multi-Genre Workshops
Thesis (book-length piece of writing in the primary genre)
NotablesThe program offers two-, three-, and four-year schedules, according to student needs and preferences. Students are asked to attend a residency on campus at Western Connecticut twice per year (August and January) for a week of study and planning. These residencies consist of workshops, lectures, meetings with faculty, readings, and other social events.
OverviewLindenwood University is a private liberal arts university in Saint Charles, Missouri. The university was founded in 1827 and is rooted in Judeo-Christian values. These values include dignity, integrity, and citizenship. Lindenwood is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. It serves approximately 10,000 students and offers 131 degree programs. One option is a highly flexible online MFA in Creative Writing.Program FeaturesLindenwood’s Master of Fine Arts in Writing can be taken fully online, fully on campus, or through a combination. The 48-credit program offers craft classes, literature classes, and workshops focused on the study and practice of creative writing. Classes are taught by experienced writers and are available in a wide variety of genres. These classes include:
Fiction Craft & Workshop
Flash Fiction Workshop
Fundamentals of Contemporary Fiction
Publishing Creative Writing
The Art of the Sentence
NotablesApplicants must submit a creative writing sample and a Statement of Purpose. Students are required to submit a graduate thesis. This is a final creative writing project of 70 to 100 pages, depending on the student’s chosen genre.
OverviewFounded in 1897, Bay Path is a private university in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. Although its undergraduate programs are exclusively for women, BPU offers co-educational graduate programs. The university’s goal is to provide students with a practical, affordable, and career-oriented education. BPU has 3,298 enrolled students. The school offers an MFA in Creative Nonfiction.Program FeaturesThe 39-credit Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction Writing is designed to help aspiring writers craft publishable prose. Students workshop with small peer groups online and work closely with award-winning faculty mentors. They may choose between a teaching track or a publishing track. Courses include:
Nature and Environmental Writing
Travel and Food Writing for Publication
Creative Nonfiction Writing: Form and Theory
Generational Histories: Writing About Families
Immersion in Publishing
NotablesBay Path’s MFA program is fully online with no residency requirements. However, students may attend an optional summer creative writing seminar in Ireland. Faculty mentors include renowned magazine editors, newspaper columnists, and a New York Times bestselling memoirist. Students must complete a 150-page creative thesis manuscript.
OverviewA private liberal arts college in Buckhannon, West Virginia, West Virginia Wesleyan College has a proud history spanning over 120 years. The college serves 1,400 students and is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Its mission is to develop students’ intellectual, ethical, spiritual, and leadership potential. Among WVWC’s over 60 academic programs is an online MFA in Creative Writing. Program FeaturesThe two-year Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is focused on working toward a manuscript of publishable quality. Candidates study craft and theory, write extensively, and work closely with faculty mentors. Students are asked to attend ten-day summer and winter residencies over the course of the program. WVWC offers courses such as:
Craft and Theory of Fiction
Craft and Theory of Creative Nonfiction
Semester Project in Fiction, Poetry, or Creative Nonfiction
Thesis Manuscript Preparation
NotablesStudents complete both a Semester Project and a Thesis Manuscript. The Semester Project is a one-on-one course with a faculty mentor involving five exchanged writing packets and the submission of a final portfolio. Another major project is a 20-25 page Critical Essay that analyzes an element of craft central to the student’s own writing.
OverviewOregon State is a public research university in Corvallis, Oregon. OSU continues to advance its 150-year mission to provide access to higher education. Current enrollment is more than 24,000 students. OSU has an additional 6,565 eCampus students. It appears on U.S. News and World Report’s list of both best public universities and “Best Value” colleges. The university offers over 200 degree programs, including an online MFA in Creative Writing.Program FeaturesThe Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a two-year program. Students select a genre, but write and study across genres to broaden their abilities. They also have the option to write cross- or hybrid-genre theses. Candidates complete coursework, self-directed study, and mentorships. They read and write extensively and participate in a variety of online writing workshops. Sample course topics include:
Reading as a Writer
Poetry for Prose Writers
NotablesBy the end of their degree, students are expected to have completed an annotated bibliography of 15-18 books and to have produced a creative thesis (70 pages for prose and 48 pages for poetry). Students are also expected to attend ten-day residencies in the fall and spring.
OverviewConverse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina offers an undergraduate education for women and co-ed programs for graduate study. According to U.S. News and World Report, Converse is the best regional university in South Carolina and among the Top Ten Best Value. Thirty-five academic programs are available to the college’s 1,450 students. One of these programs is an online MFA in Creative Writing. Program FeaturesConverse’s 48-hour Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a two-year program for serious and passionate independent writers. It provides advanced instruction in poetry, fiction, young adult fiction, creative nonfiction, and environmental writing. The program emphasizes the mastery of writing skills and contemporary literature and craft through mentorships, projects, and a customizable curriculum. Required activities for graduation include:
16 credit hours of on-campus residencies (four nine-day residencies)
16 credit hours in chosen genre
16 credit hours in craft topics
Completion of book-length creative thesis
Evidence of broad reading and an annotated bibliography of required reading list
NotablesStudents complete nine-day residencies in the summer and in January. They also submit a creative thesis and an analytical project on literature or craft. Graduates include a Pulitzer Prize winner, Georgia Author of the Year, and numerous other writing award-winners. Alumni have signed book deals with HarperCollins, Little A, Random House, Press 53, and others.
OverviewA San Diego-based nonprofit university, National University was founded by veterans. It aims to provide achievable, accessible higher education for working adults. In addition to 20 campus locations, National University offers over 100 online programs. The school’s alumni network totals 15,000 and counting. NU has a fully online MFA in Creative Writing.Program FeaturesThe Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a studio degree offering workshops that focus on crafting fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and/or screenwriting. Students critique the work of their classmates, read modern texts from the writer’s perspective, and participate in generative writing activities and advanced workshops. In this program, you’ll take courses such as:
Pedagogy of Creative Writing
Writing for Young Adults
NotablesCourses are taught by established writers in the field. Although students are expected to focus on one genre, they take classes in other genres to broaden and deepen knowledge. The program ends with a thesis project, a publishable final project in the student’s chosen specialty.
OverviewQueens University of Charlotte offers all the advantages of a private university with a commitment to making education affordable. The liberal arts university is located in Charlotte, North Carolina. Founded in 1857, Queens provides an innovative education rooted in tradition. It emphasizes a creative synthesis of the liberal arts with the workforce and lifelong education. QUC students have the opportunity to earn an MFA in Creative Writing. Program FeaturesThe two-year Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing provides a highly personalized course of study. Candidates may study fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and writing for stage and screen. The program is designed for students who want to become published writers and/or teach at the university level. Course requirements include:
24 credit hours of Workshop or Tutorial courses
Craft or Gateway seminars
NotablesStudents are asked to attend a week-long residency at the start of each semester. Completion of the degree requires that candidates submit a thesis and teach a seminar to fellow students. Queens offers a Book Development Program that pairs students who have a completed manuscript with an editor from a major publishing house.
OverviewLocated in Winter Park, Florida, Full Sail University is a private university focused on entertainment, media, and arts. Its approach is centered on real-world experience and creative problem-solving. Full Sail’s degree programs are available at an accelerated pace, and the school began offering online programs in 2007. Online students receive high-quality access to industry experts and creative, current curriculum. One of Full Sail’s online programs is an MFA in Creative Writing.Program FeaturesStudents can earn a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Full Sail in just 12 months. Full Sail’s program uniquely teaches students to incorporate visual elements into the writing process. Candidates write across mediums and genres, explore a variety of narrative structures, and learn to build stories and characters that come to life. At Full Sail, you’ll take courses like:
The Art of Visual Storytelling
Character Creation and Development
Episodic and Serial Writing
The Business of Creative Writing
NotablesStudents enrolled in this program submit a creative thesis. They receive feedback from faculty and peers, ultimately completing the program with manuscript that is ready to be pitched. Full Sail offers a wide variety of financial aid and scholarships.
OverviewBased in Evanston, Illinois, Northwestern is one of the nation’s leading private research universities. According to U.S. News and World Report, it is among the top ten universities in the country. The school’s 21,000 students have access to a wide variety of academic programs taught by award-winning faculty. Northwestern offers an online MA in Writing. Program FeaturesThe part-time Master of Arts in Writing provides in-depth knowledge of writing, editing, and publishing. Students experiment with different styles and forms and learn how to evaluate criticism of their work. They’re guided in the creation of a publishable manuscript by award-winning, published faculty. In addition to workshops, courses include:
American Storytellers and the Theological Imagination
20th Century Experimental Fiction
Poetry for Prose Writers
American Novel: Big Books
The Publishing Industry
NotablesStudents are required to complete three workshops in one genre, one cross-genre course, and two graduate-level literature courses. They also take three electives and a thesis course. This program culminates in a creative thesis, an original work of high literary merit. Northwestern also offers an MFA program in Prose and Poetry.
OverviewWilkes University is a private university in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. A total of 4,400 students are enrolled at WU. It’s recognized by both Money magazine and The Economist as one of the best value educations in the nation. Ninety percent of students receive financial aid, and the school’s job placement rate is 96 percent. Wilkes offers an online Creative Writing MFA.Program FeaturesThe Maslow Family Graduate Program in Creative Writing focuses on both the craft and business of writing. Areas of study include fiction, poetry, screenwriting, playwriting, creative nonfiction, publishing, and documentary films. Students are asked to participate in eight-day residencies in January and June. Courses include:
Writing in Education/Publishing
Writing in Fiction (or other selected genre)
Genre and Context in Fiction (or other selected genre)
Drafting Project in Fiction (or other selected genre)
NotablesAll final creative projects are evaluated by an agent, editor, producer, or publisher outside of the program. Graduates include editors, teachers, filmmakers, playwrights, and over 450 published authors.
OverviewApproximately 2,700 students are enrolled at New England College, a private non-profit college in Henniker, New Hampshire. The NEC experience is described as collaborative, supportive, and highly diverse. Over 40 percent of students receive some form of financial aid. Students can choose from 50 degree programs, including a four-semester MFA in Creative Writing.Program FeaturesThe 64-credit Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program offers four tracks: Fiction, Poetry, Nonfiction, and Dual-Genre. Students are individually mentored by talented, award-winning faculty. Each semester begins with a brief on-campus residency. Students both study and produce literary art. Sample courses include:
Craft, Theory, and Practice
Creative and Critical Process
Creative Writing Workshop
Form and Theory
NotablesApplicants must submit a personal essay and two letters of recommendation. Those applying for the fiction track must also submit a manuscript. All students complete a creative thesis. A public reading and thesis defense is required.
OverviewArcadia University is a private university in Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania. U.S. News and World Report ranks it among the top regional universities in the North. Arcadia enrolls 4,000 students. The job placement rate is 98 percent, and 99 percent of full-time students receive need-based or merit-based financial aid. Since 1853, the university has promised to provide personalized, real-world education. Arcadia has an online MFA in Creative Writing and English.Program FeaturesArcadia University’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a two-year program. Students may choose to specialize in fiction or poetry. The program emphasizes online workshops and personal attention from faculty. It prepares students to become published writers and/or teachers at the secondary or university level. The program requires a minimum of 39 credits as follows:
12 workshop credits
12 practicum credits
6 credits of Literature courses
9 residency credits
NotablesApplicants submit a writing sample and are interviewed by the program coordinator. This interview may take place via phone. Each student completes a book-length manuscript in the selected genre and works with a faculty advisor to develop a plan for publication. Students spend one week-long residency in Edinburgh, Scotland.
OverviewBased near Emmitsburg, Maryland, Mount St. Mary’s is a private, liberal arts Catholic university. Nicknamed “The Mount,” the university prides itself on providing both high challenge and high support. It empowers students to think critically, make ethical decisions, and lead others in tackling tough challenges. Total enrollment is 2,131 students. The university offers over 90 academic programs, including an MFA in Creative Writing.Program FeaturesThe Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing guides talented, passionate writers in crafting work of literary merit. It offers a cross-genre curriculum in fiction, nonfiction, screenwriting, poetry and playwriting. Students also take complementary electives in literature, history, and cultural studies. The program can be completed in two years. Courses include:
Religion and History
NotablesThis program can be completed online, at the Los Angeles campus, or both. All students submit a creative thesis and work with a faculty advisor. Bilingual students may take courses in both English and Spanish. Students also have the option to write the culminating thesis in Spanish.
OverviewBennington College is a private liberal arts college in Bennington, Vermont. Founded in 1932, the college emphasizes self-directed learning and hands-on experience. Students work with faculty to design the content, structure, and sequence of their study. Although it’s a small college, Bennington graduates make a big impact. Bennington is the home of one of the nation’s top MFA programs in Creative Writing.Program FeaturesBennington’s two-year Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing was founded in 1994. Students create reading lists to broaden their knowledge, critically analyze literature, and craft works of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Along the way, students are guided by acclaimed authors. The student-faculty ratio is an astounding 1:1. Degree requirements include:
Five packet exchanges per term, with ongoing work and revisions
50-70 books read in total
Responses to half the books read
Two critical essays (one 10-page and one 20-page)
A creative thesis
NotablesStudents are required to attend two ten-day residencies annually, so the program is technically “low residency,” not entirely online. Sixteen graduate credits are given per term upon successful completion of assigned requirements. Several scholarships are offered for this program, including the Emerging Voices Fellowship and The Donald Hall Poetry Scholarship.
OverviewFounded in 1942, Fairfield University is a private Jesuit Catholic college in Fairfield, Connecticut. It’s part of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. The university takes a “liberal humanistic” approach. It emphasizes inquiry, critical thinking, and ethical and religious values. Fairfield has five academic schools and enrolls 5,000 students. One program option is an online MFA in Creative Writing. Program FeaturesFairfield’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a two-year, 60-credit program. Candidates study fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and screenwriting. While studying these genres, they can also pursue concentrations in spiritual writing, publishing/editing, or literary health and healing. Award-winning faculty mentor students one-on-one. Students must complete the following requirements:
Two independent study semesters involving creative writing, reading, and analysis
A critical thesis (critical paper OR semester-long experiential learning opportunity)
Four nine-day residencies
NotablesSemiannual residencies on Enders Island in Connecticut are required. Students who have already written or published work may be eligible for the Prior Learning Assessment option. Those who qualify for the PLA receive a full semester credit and can complete the MFA in three semesters instead of four. The applicant deemed the most promising writer in each application pool receives the $5,000 MFA Fellowship.
OverviewAntioch University has four campuses located in five states, in addition to an online campus. All campuses are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The private non-profit university system is headquartered in Culver City, California. Throughout its 165-year history, Antioch has been passionate about inclusion, equality, and social justice. AU tries to make education accessible to all through its flexible, affordable programs. One of these programs is an online MFA in Creative Writing. Program FeaturesPublished authors attend classes to give one-on-one mentoring sessions to each student. Each semester consists of a ten-day residency and a five-month online project period. Coursework includes:
Arts, Culture, and Society I & II
Genre Writing Workshops
Reading as a Writer
Teaching of Creative Writing
NotablesMFA students choose a genre as their official focus, such as creative nonfiction, poetry, or writing for young people, but are free to explore other genres. A final manuscript and field study are required. The MFA Field Study has students reach into their community and provide a service through their writing.
OverviewEmerson College is located in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. The private college was originally founded in 1880 as a “school of oratory.” Today, Emerson focuses on arts and communication and offers nearly 40 degree programs. It is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. U.S. News and World Report places Emerson in the top ten regional universities in the North. Emerson offers an online MFA in Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing.Program FeaturesThe Master of Fine Arts in Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing consists of online writing workshops and courses in publishing and literature. It is designed for students who want to write science fiction, horror, fantasy, young adult, mystery, or thrillers. Students learn the history of these genres while exploring key fiction markets. This 36-credit hour program requires:
16 credits of writing workshop
8 credits of literature courses
8 credits of publishing courses
4-credit master’s thesis
NotablesEmerson’s Popular Fiction MFA is one of the first of its kind. Applicants must submit a writing sample that reflects their preferred genre. The required thesis is a minimum of 100 pages with a three to four page synopsis. Students work closely with faculty to develop the manuscript and schedule an online thesis defense.
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