Best Creative Writing Schools in the U.S.

Discover some of the best schools for creative writing, including those that offer Master of Fine Arts programs. Find detailed overviews of the programs at four noteworthy universities, as well as a handy table that lists other schools in the United States that offer formal training in creative writing.

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School Information

Formal studies in creative writing can typically be found through Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs in fiction or poetry. Instruction usually takes place in the form of writer's workshops, where students interact with each other and professors to hone their craft. The three schools profiled below have been recognized by Poets and Writers, the Princeton Review and/or The Atlantic magazine. All three schools offer MFA programs in creative writing or English; students at the University of Iowa can also earn a specialized undergraduate degree in English literature.

1. University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA

School Highlight: Alumni of the Iowa Writer's Workshop have won virtually every major literary award over the course of the workshop's history.

Ranked as a 2011 'Best Midwestern College' by The Princeton Review, this public university was the first school in the U.S. to offer a creative writing program. In 2011, Poets and Writers magazine ranked the university's MFA programs as the best in the U.S. for fiction, poetry and nonfiction ( Additionally, the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop has trained some of the nation's poet laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners.

Students can pursue a Bachelor of English Literature with a concentration in creative writing, as well as an MFA in Creative Writing. Admission to both programs is selective and contingent on submission of a manuscript or selection of poems. The university also hosts the annual Iowa Summer Writing Festival, where writers travel across the country to take weekend and weeklong writing courses and workshops.

2. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

School Highlight: Second-year students can gain teaching experience by designing and teaching their own undergraduate courses at the introductory level.

In 2011, the University of Michigan's creative writing program placed second in the Poets and Writers list of top MFA programs in fiction and poetry. It was also included in The Atlantic's top-ten list of creative writing programs in 2007. The 2-year MFA program is comprised mostly of writing workshops and culminates in a master's thesis. Students also have the opportunity to teach undergraduate courses in English or composition. Between the first and second years of the program, all students can take advantage of a $6,000 stipend, which allows them to spend a summer semester writing and honing their skills.

3. University of Texas at Austin

School Highlight: MFA students have access to teaching assistantships, which both provide them with a stipend and develop their teaching skills.

The University of Texas at Austin is a large public university with a creative writing program that was ranked third in the nation by Poets and Writers in 2011. Students can either pursue an MFA in English with an emphasis on writing fiction or poetry or an MFA in Writing, which allows for a more extensive curriculum. The MFA in Writing program is located in the Michener Center for Writers and takes three years to complete. Students are required to select two genres to study; areas of specialization include fiction, poetry, screenwriting and playwriting. All MFA students receive financial support from the James A. Michener Fellowship for all three years they are enrolled in the program.

List of 10 Good Creative Writing Schools in the U.S.

School Name Distinction Location
University of Texas at Austin James A. Michener Fellowship Austin, TX
New York University Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House New York, NY
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor $6,000 summer stipend Ann Arbor, MI
University of Wisconsin - Madison Offers a Minor in Creative Writing to Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) students Madison, WI
Florida State University Only school in the 2007 edition of The Atlantic Monthly to make both best MFA and Ph.D. in Creative Writing lists Tallahassee, FL
Boston University Creative writing global fellowships Boston, MA
University of Iowa Hosts the Iowa Summer Writing Festival Iowa City, IA
University of California - Irvine Has Pulitzer Prize-winning alumni, including Michael Chabon and Richard Ford Irvine, CA
University of Virginia Highly selective program with an approximately one percent acceptance rate in 2009 Charlottesville, VA
Cornell University The Creative Writing Program Reading Series Ithaca, NY
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