Schools for Aspiring Authors: How to Choose

For aspiring authors seeking an education, colleges and universities across the U.S. offer associate, bachelor's and master's degrees in creative writing and/or English. Read on to learn more about schools that offer relevant programs for aspiring authors, as well as considerations when choosing between schools.

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Aspiring authors can earn a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree in English, creative writing or a closely related field. There are public and private universities around the country that offer relevant programs.

10 Schools with Programs for Aspiring Authors

These schools offer undergraduate and graduate-level programs in English and/or creative writing:

College/University Location Institution Type Programs Offered Tuition and Fees (2016-2017)*
University of Iowa Iowa City, IA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $8,575 in-state, $28,813 out-of-state
University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, PhD $14,402 in-state, $45,410 out-of-state
University of Wisconsin Madison, WI 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, PhD $10,488 in-state, $32,738 out-of-state
Brown University Providence, RI 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, PhD $51,366
Stanford University Stanford, CA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, PhD $47,940
Columbia University New York, NY 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, PhD $55,056
Princeton University Princeton, NJ 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, PhD $45,320
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, PhD $51,464
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, PhD $50,953
University of Chicago Chicago, IL 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, PhD $53,649

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Creative Writing, General
  • Writing

School Selection Criteria

When deciding on a creative writing school, students can consider a number of factors.

  • Prospective students may want to look for a program that offers publishing opportunities, such as through student published literary magazines or campus-wide writing contests.
  • Prospective students may want to look for schools that offer lecture series that bring in published writers, so students can learn about the craft of writing and success in the publishing industry.
  • When considering bachelor's degree programs, prospective students may want to look for English departments that allow undergraduates to pursue a specialization or minor in creative writing.
  • Prospective graduate students who are interested in teaching as well as writing may want to find out if the program includes undergraduate teaching opportunities.

Associate's Degree Programs

Associate degree programs introduce students to the creative writing process and may offer specializations in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction or play writing. Because community colleges do not always offer internships or on-campus literary magazines, students looking to enter the publishing industry may consider transferring to a 4-year degree program.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

Aspiring authors can pursue a bachelor's degree in English or creative writing. Some schools offer creative writing only as a minor. Typically, these programs cover a broad range of topics, within the field, including literature, rhetoric and analytical writing. Creative writing courses may include workshops that help students build their skills in a variety of forms, including novel writing, play writing and creative nonfiction.

Master's Degree Programs

At the master's degree level, aspiring authors can earn a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. MFA in Creative Writing programs typically combine lecture-based coursework with intensive writing workshops in either fiction or poetry, depending on the student's specialization. MA degree candidates may complete a research thesis or a practicum before graduating. While some schools offer terminal master's degrees, others only allow for coterminal master's degrees, which students earn on the way to a PhD in English.

Doctoral Degree Programs

PhD in English programs require students to take advanced courses in a wide range of English topics. From there, they can specialize in a particular area of interest, including creative writing. Prior to graduation, PhD candidates are required to submit and defend a dissertation.

Individuals who want to pursue careers as authors can prepare through English and writing-related programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

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