Don't mistake the rise of video and audio media for the demise of writing. From online articles to scholarly works, there will likely always been a need for people who can transform ideas into the written word. Even videos needs people to write descriptions, and podcasts require writers to complete show notes.
Aspiring writers have several different degree options. Some provide general skills in the field of writing while others are designed for a specific type of work, such as journalism. While English degrees typically take a critical look at literature, writing degree programs are more concerned with the craft itself.
This is a field that lends itself well to distance learning, and there are online creative writing degree programs available. Whether you want to study online or on-campus, keep reading to find out more about the top schools for writing.
Best Colleges for Writing Degree Programs
There are numerous schools offering writing degrees, and this list was created using a methodology considering factors related to program options and student success. Of all the institutions surveyed, these are the best colleges for creative writing degree programs and similar majors.
As a public research institution in Virginia, Old Dominion University offers students a number of learning options. In addition to its main campus in Norfolk, the school operates three extended learning campuses and maintains a robust online program.
The school offers both a bachelor's and master's degree in creative writing on its campus as well as a bachelor's and master's degree in professional writing. For online learners, a professional writing certificate is available, or students can pursue an online bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies with an emphasis on professional writing.
ODU pulled in solid scores for the prominence of its program, flexible scheduling options and strong student support services. It has an enrollment of nearly 25,000 students.
SUNY Potsdam earned a spot among the best colleges for creative writing degree programs by being an affordable educational choice with small class sizes and a prominent program.
Its creative writing major is a pre-professional degree that prepares students to work with a variety of written forms. Students receive intensive training in the areas of poetry, drama, fiction, creative nonfiction and screenplays. Prior to graduation, students must complete a thesis and a writing-related internship. They will also perform their work in a solo reading. Those who don't want to major in creative writing can minor in writing instead.
Known simply as Potsdam to many, the college is part of the State University of New York system. It enrolls nearly 4,000 students and has its campus in Potsdam.
With ten colleges and schools, George Mason University is the largest public research university is Virginia. Bearing the name of one of the founding fathers, the institution enrolls more than 34,000 students from 130 countries on its Fairfax campus.
Mason is one of relatively few schools nationwide with an undergraduate creative writing degree program. Their Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing is offered in three concentrations: fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Along with classes in their concentration, students can study specific forms of writing, such as digital writing. The university recommends all students complete a workplace internship and a senior capstone course.
George Mason University has the best graduation rate among the schools on this list. It also ranks high for its student support services.
Founded in 1910, Bowling Green State University is located about 30 minutes south of Toledo, Ohio. The school enrolls more than 19,000 and has shown a strong commitment to helping first-year students start their college experience successfully.
The creative writing program at BGSU is one of the oldest in the country and offers both bachelor's and master's degree options. The school emphasizes the studio experience, and undergraduate students participate in small, intensive workshops. Graduate students concentrate in either poetry or fiction. Alumni include Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Doerr.
It's not just the quality of its program that helped Bowling Green State University make the cut as one of the best colleges for creative writing degree programs. The school also ranks high for its flexible scheduling options and student support services.
Known as the Institute of American Indian Arts, or IAIA, this school ranks first for having the most prominent writing degree program. At its campus in Santa Fe, the institute focuses exclusively on educating students in the fine arts.
The undergraduate writing program at IAIA is focused on exploring multiple genres while also allowing students the foundation needed to share their own experience with contemporary Native culture. Those looking for an online creative writing degree may find the institute's Master of Fine Arts is the right fit for them. The program is largely online with students and faculty gathering twice a year on campus for workshops, conferences and classes.
IAIA has the lowest tuition rate and the second to lowest student-faculty ratio of the schools on this list.
The Johnstown campus is one of two University of Pittsburgh locations to make this list of top colleges for writing. The school is notable for its prominent writing program as well as its student resources which include academic counseling and career placement services.
Students enrolled in UPJ writing programs can choose from two options. There is a creative writing major for those who want to explore fictional genres as well as a professional writing major for those pursuing a career in technical or nonfiction work. Both majors result in a bachelor's degree.
Pitt-Johnstown was founded in 1927 as the first University of Pittsburgh campus. With 3,000 students enrolled, it is also the largest location in the system.
Texas State University is another school worth considering for writing degree programs. The university offers night, weekend and online classes for those who need a flexible schedule. Tuition payment plans, academic advising and career placement for completers are among the other draws of this school.
Graduate students can earn a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Texas State. The program brings in visiting authors, agents and editors to provide master classes and readings. Two graduates each year are selected to participate in a residency program.
Texas State was authorized by the Texas Legislature in 1899. It enrolls nearly 39,000 students and has its campus in San Marcos.
As a public university in Minnesota's Twin Cities, Metropolitan State University has the second-lowest tuition rate among the schools on this list. Its open admissions policy means students can quickly start their education, and support services such as academic advising are offered to help them succeed.
Its undergraduate creative writing program offers a rich and diverse experience. Students can explore a wide range of genres from humor to children's literature to graphic novels. The program also offers opportunities to learn about the practical of the publishing industry. In addition a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing, Metropolitan State offers a minor in the field.
Metropolitan State University was founded in 1971 and enrolls nearly 11,500 students.
Taking a unique approach to higher education, Marlboro College gives students the freedom to design a learning program that fits their interests. With less than 500 students enrolled and a 4:1 student-faculty ratio, the college says it's an independent college for independent thinkers.
Students take an integrated approach to learning and create a plan of concentration. This allows them to combine various fields into a single education program. For example, writing degree programs may include elements of literature, visual arts or American studies, depending on a student's interests. All students must fulfill the Clear Writing Requirement which results in a portfolio of writing samples that have been approved by faculty.
Marlboro College was founded in 1946. Its campus is in Marlboro, Vermont.
Greensburg is the second University of Pittsburgh location to make this list of best colleges for creative writing degree programs. Among what makes this school notable is that, out of the all institutions surveyed, it ranks fifth for the prominence of its program.
Students at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg can either major or minor in creative and professional writing. Classes are taught by authors and teachers with experience in the field. In addition to honing their own skills, students will explore books and other texts. The university notes their program provides excellent preparation for those planning to attend law school or work in the social services or education fields.
Pitt-Greensburg was founded in 1963 and has nearly 1,500 full-time students.
Writing Degree Programs and Common Career Paths
There are no minimum education requirements to become a writer, but many find a degree program provides an invaluable opportunity to gain foundational skills, learn from published authors and establish connections with the writing community.
Career Outlook for Writing Majors
Graduates from writing degree programs can go on to a number of occupations across industries, but here is the career outlook for some popular choices.
PROJECTED JOB GROWTH(%)
|Interpreters and Translators
|Proofreaders and Copy Markers
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Writing
There are plenty of scholarships and financial aid opportunities for those pursing a degree in writing. Private groups like the Alliance of Young Artists & Writers offer awards to students while many schools have their own scholarships. At the graduate level, creative writing degree programs may provide fellowships, residencies or similar avenues for people to complete their education.
Renewable in some specific cases on the basis of outstanding achievements.
Renewable if recipient must maintain full-time enrollment and a minimum 3.0 GPA.
To be included in these rankings, all schools must meet the following initial criteria for the specific subject being ranked.
- Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor’s) in that subject.
- Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in the most recent year of IPEDS data available.
Based on those criteria, we ranked all 2-year and 4-year schools in IPEDS that reported data for all of the following points. Ratings are calculated on a 10-point scale, using the weights specified.
- In-state undergraduate tuition & fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Accessibility, based on admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Institutional spending, based on two equally weighted factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Instructional and academic support expenses per full-time enrolled student
- Instructional and academic support spending as a percentage of all expenses
- Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Flexibility, based on the following factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Percent of students enrolled fully or partly in distance education
- Whether the school offers programs that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
- Whether the school offers academic and career counseling
- Whether the school offers job placement services for students who complete their programs
- Whether the school offers any alternative tuition plans, such as a payment plan or guaranteed rate
- Size of program, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015