Most Affordable Online MFAs in Creative Writing Degrees

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Sharpen your writing skills and learn to navigate the world of publishing with one of the most affordable online MFAs in creative writing.

Most Affordable Online MFAs in Creative Writing Degrees Badge

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.

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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.

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
  • PayScale
  • Princeton Review
  • 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.

Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Northwestern State University of Louisiana
    Location

    Natchitoches, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  2. Louisiana Tech University
    Location

    Ruston, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  3. Mississippi University for Women
    Location

    Columbus, MS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  4. University of New Orleans
    Location

    New Orleans, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  5. University of Arkansas at Monticello
    Location

    Monticello, AR

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  6. University of Houston-Victoria
    Location

    Victoria, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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
    • Digital Publishing
    • 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.

  7. University of Nebraska Omaha
    Location

    Omaha, NE

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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:

    • Fiction Seminar
    • Nonfiction Seminar
    • Poetry Seminar
    • Playwriting Seminar
    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.

  8. Eastern Kentucky University
    Location

    Richmond, KY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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
    • Creative thesis
    • Exit examination
    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.

  9. Northern Arizona University
    Location

    Flagstaff, AZ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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
    • Independent Study
    • Thesis
    • Professional Editing
    • Proposal Writing
    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.

  10. Old Dominion University
    Location

    Norfolk, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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
    • Visual rhetoric
    • Digital writing
    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.

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