Most Affordable Online MFA Creative Writing Degrees

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Every industry needs capable, talented writers.

A Master of Fine Arts degree or MFA in Creative Writing is the perfect degree for experienced writers who want to study a specific field or stay in academia. Considered a terminal degree, it is the highest degree of its kind. Students will practice writing prose while gaining more insight on the history and culture of writing.

The great thing about this degree is the opportunity to engage in one-on-one and group learning with professors and peers. Some students may even get the chance to travel abroad. In addition, as many people will choose to go in to education following this degree, schools generally offer graduate assistantships to help lower the cost of the program. Keep reading to learn more about this degree and how it can help you achieve your future goals!

Top 10 Most Affordable Online MFA Creative Writing Degrees

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What kind of MFA in Creative Writing degree should you get?

MFA programs in Creative Writing are either offered on-campus, online, or a hybrid program. An online program may be preferable for those who are already working and may not have enough time to commute to campus daily. Online degrees are completed using interactive lectures individual projects. Although an online degree will require a good computer, distance learning programs are generally affordable.

Before deciding which program is best, students should look carefully to see if the degree requires a residency or not. Most online programs that do require one are low-residency, meaning students will need to come to campus or a remote location a couple of times per year for an extended time. The residencies consist of intensive workshops with faculty to develop one’s writing skills.

Check out our list of the Best Online MFAs in Creative Writing.

How much do online MFA in Creative Writing degrees make?

It is important to understand that those who graduate from an online program will have the same salary potential as someone who did it on-campus. Based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay of authors and writers as of 2017 is $61,820. Writers who are just starting out will earn significantly less, with the lowest 10 percent only making $28,610 or less. However, the highest 10 percent make $109,440 on average.

Pay for a writer will depend on your field and work situation. For example, someone who freelances may earn less than someone who signs a contract with a publishing company, but several other factors can determine pay. Another option is for people to become college professors, who can earn anywhere from $30,720 to $130,510 depending on the school, if the position is tenured or not, and if graduates have a PhD or not.

What can you do with an online MFA in Creative Writing?

Graduates will be prepared to work in a variety of fields such as magazine, film, television, publishing, or advertising. Many people also choose to go into teaching either at the secondary or college level. Other people may start out as freelance writers and eventually do other types of writing. However, it is important to know that not everyone must be a writer upon graduation of this degree.

While some people choose this degree to level up in their career, others do it for personal fulfillment. An MFA in Creative Writing is also a good opportunity for people to improve in their writing skill, as virtually any job requires some degree of writing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, writer and author positions are expected to increase 8 percent from 2016 to 2026. However, the definition of a writer has expanded more to someone who just publishes books, but also to those who may write online.

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What are the requirements for an online MFA in Creative Writing?

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and a strong GPA. They will also need to submit letters of recommendation, transcripts, and a writing sample. The writing sample must be a substantial length and showcase the student’s writing from within the past few years. Some programs may require a portfolio of several works.

During the program students will take classes in a variety of genres. Some programs may even allow students to specialize in a genre or field. Some common specializations include poetry, nonfiction, or publishing. In addition to completing on-campus residencies (if applicable), there will most likely be a culminating project or thesis before graduation.

  1. Northwestern State University of Louisiana
    Location

    Natchitoches, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Northwestern State University of Louisiana is located in the town of Natchitoches, a place that has kept its historic charm since the school’s founding over 130 years ago. NSULA is student-oriented campus that focuses on teaching, research, and service. If offers degrees across its six campuses as well as online. eNSU, its distance learning platform, is the state’s first and largest online school. Its graduate online programs have been ranked among the most affordable in the nation.

    Program Features

    Offered through the eNSU Global Campus, the MA in English degree with a concentration in Writing and Linguistics prepares students to publish works professionally.

    • Option to write a thesis or two papers + an additional elective course
    • Graduate assistantships available
    • Ability to join several related student organizations

    Notables

    Students can take an internship for credit. This experience will not only be valuable for a future career, but can also assist in writing a thesis.

  2. Louisiana Tech University
    Location

    Ruston, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Become part of the family that uses technology to solve everyday problems at Louisiana Tech University. With career-focused programs and partnerships with local businesses, students at LA Tech will get the skills they need for the future. Through online learning courses, graduate students can continue their busy lives while getting their degree from virtually anywhere. With interactive content and an engaging media platform, students can feel at ease that they are getting the same quality education.

    Program Features

    LA Tech’s online MA in English degree is designed for students with advanced knowledge of British and American literature and writing.

    • Thesis and non-thesis track
    • Technical Writing and Communication graduate certificate available
    • Prepares for doctorate-level programs

    Notables

    In lieu of GRE test scores, applicants must submit a writing sample of at least 15 pages.

  3. Mississippi University for Women
    Location

    Columbus, MS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Mississippi University for Women is the first state-supported college for women in the country. The school was founded during a time where women’s voices were not heard. Today it is a progressive supporter of women’s intellectual growth and leadership. Throughout the years it has been recognized numerous times by the U.S. New & World Report and the Washington Monthly as a top public university in the south and as a top master’s university.

    Program Features

    MUW’s online MFA in Creative Writing degree is a residency program that can be taken either full or part-time.

    • Completion Time: 2-3 years
    • Two 2-hour and two 4-hour residencies
    • One-on-one mentorship

    Notables

    Residencies consist of different level workshops on campus. These workshops will allow students to practice their professional writing skills alone and in a group.

  4. University of New Orleans
    Location

    New Orleans, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    As a nationally ranked research institution with quality teaching, the University of New Orleans is a wonderful campus to continue one’s education. Opening in 1958, UNO has continuously been a major impact on the city, generating an economic impact of over $470 from 2014-2015. UNO is also among the world’s top 1,000 universities and top 200 within the nation. This is thanks to its excellent faculty, financial aid assistance, and career-readiness programs.

    Program Features

    UNO’s online MFA in Creative Writing program gives students that chance to further their writing skills through workshops and opportunities to travel.

    • Summer residency program in specified European destinations
    • Completion Time: five semesters full-time
    • No specific out-of-state tuition

    Notables

    UNO has partnerships with the University College Cork in Ireland and the Ezra Pound Center for Literature in Italy.

  5. University of Arkansas at Monticello
    Location

    Monticello, AR

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Arkansas at Monticello is one of three campuses spread out across more than 1,600 acres. Out of the six graduate degrees offered, five of them are fully online. UAM’s online programs not only fit within a busy professional’s schedule, but give students the chance to interact with several different professors. The MFA in Creative Writing degree is offered through the School of Arts & Humanities, which also houses the university’s Center for Writing and Communication.

    Program Features

    UAM’s program is a highly flexible MFA in Creative Writing program that allows you to take as many credits as you want.

    • 48 credit-hours
    • Ability to take anywhere from 3 to 12 credit hours at a time
    • Three Genres: Fiction, Poetry, Creative Nonfiction

    Notables

    Interested students can apply for graduate assistantships to teach freshman-level writing courses online.

  6. University of Houston-Victoria
    Location

    Victoria, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    An affordable tuition rate, personalized mentorship, and excellence in teaching are some of the few characteristics that make the University of Houston – Victoria stand out. Founded in the small city of Victoria in 1973, the university today has over 70 undergraduate and graduate degrees. Graduate students at UHV can expect small class sizes and several opportunities to pursue hands-on research. Online learning is easy here with its simple program where students can talk with peers and professors.

    Program Features

    Within the MFA in Creative Writing degree offered online at UHV, students can either take courses completely online or partake in the low-residency track.

    • Tracks: Creative Writing or Applied Literary Translation
    • Thesis
    • Sample Courses: Publication Design, Genre Studies, The Business of Books

    Notables

    The School of Arts & Sciences, which offers this degree, was ranked #9 in the nation due to its low tuition.

  7. University of Nebraska Omaha
    Location

    Omaha, NE

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Nebraska, with its main campus located in Omaha, strives to be the best public university within the nation. In order to achieve this goal, UNO works to make its education affordable, spur economic growth, and engage in meaningful community initiatives. In fact, UNO’s tuition rate is 25 percent lower than the state average. All of UNO’s online programs are affordable and designed to fit within the busy adult schedule.

    Program Features

    UNO’s MFA in Writing degree is a hybrid program with in-person residency and online courses.

    • 60 credit-hours
    • Sample Specializations: Young Adult, Playwriting, Fiction
    • Four 16-week only seminars and five 10-day conferences

    Notables

    Those who have already completed relevant graduate coursework may be able to use those credits toward this degree.

  8. Eastern Kentucky University
    Location

    Richmond, KY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Dedicated to providing accessible education to the state’s population, Eastern Kentucky University offers programs throughout its various regional campuses. Non-traditional or busy students should consider what EKU’s online programs have to offer.

    Program Features

    Those who wish to increase their writing abilities in a variety of genres should consider EKU’s online MFA in Creative Writing degree.

    • Emphases: Literary Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Popular/Genre Fiction, Poetry
    • 12 credit-hours of residencies
    • May be used as a terminal degree to be promoted in English-related secondary education positions

    Notables

    The residency program occurs twice a year in January and in June/July.

  9. Northern Arizona University
    Location

    Flagstaff, AZ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Known as the “lumberjacks,” Northern Arizona University has a history of offering top-tier programs, innovative research, and serving the neighboring community. NAU is located in Flagstaff, Arizona, which was ranked the #3 best college town in the nation in 2017. Its online programs have been ranked among the best for its quality in teaching and return on investment. For over 30 years, NAU has offered fully-accredited online degrees where students can continue to pursue their passion in a flexible manner.

    Program Features

    NAU’s online MA in English degree with an emphasis in Professional Writing is perfect for aspiring writers who wish to work in business, government, or documentation.

    • 36 credit-hours
    • No GRE scores required in application
    • Capstone project

    Notables

    Some common positions upon graduation include editor, policy writer, or reporter.

  10. Old Dominion University
    Location

    Norfolk, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Why get an online degree at Old Dominion University? An ODU distance learning degree allows students to live stream courses and/or complete coursework on their own time. Despite being online, students still have access to internships and practicums. In total, ODU has an enrollment of over 24,000 students. Its main campus is located in Norfolk, Virginia. It is estimated that ODU contributes economically to the state about $2.6 billion annually.

    Program Features

    The MA in English degree online at ODU provides a Professional Writing concentration for adults to hone in on their skills.

    • Prepares students for doctoral program
    • 97 percent online student satisfaction rate
    • Sample Topics: Rhetoric, Document Design, Textual Analysis

    Notables

    In 2018, this program was ranked the #6 best online school for English degrees.

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