Professional Writer Colleges and Schools in the U.S.

Students interested in a writing career can enroll in a variety of programs that cover different subject areas, such as creative writing, script writing, article writing, and professional writing for television, radio, journalism, magazines, and business. Students seeking an editing career can also attend writing schools.

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Relevant majors for aspiring professional writers include English, communications, and journalism. Students can study these subjects at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Top 10 English Programs in the U.S.

The following ten schools provide programs that can meet the needs of aspiring writers:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition (2015-2016)*
University of California - Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $13,431 (in-state), $38,139 (out-of-state)
Harvard University Cambridge, Master's 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $45,278
Stanford University Stanford, CA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $46,320
Columbia University New York, NY 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $53,000
Princeton University Princeton, NJ 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $43,450
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $49,536
Yale University New Haven, CT 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $47,600
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $49,116
University of Chicago Chicago, IL 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $51,351
Duke University Durham, NC 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $49,241

Source: *NCES

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Creative Writing, General
  • Writing

School Selection Criteria

Some prospective professional writers may prefer a career in freelance writing, while others may aspire to obtain a position with a newspaper or magazine, so it is important to choose a program that best fits a student's career goals. Other considerations that prospective students may want to keep in mind include:

  • Students who want to prepare for specific occupations, such as work as a journalist or a poet, may want to find a program that emphasizes training for that career.
  • When considering graduate programs, students must make sure that they have fulfilled the minimum admissions requirement, which may include an undergraduate degree in a relevant field, such as English or communication.
  • For students who want to pursue certain jobs in the field, it can be helpful to find out whether there are internship opportunities available in their area of interest.
  • Prospective students may want to find out if there are student-run newspapers or literary journals where they can share their work while in school.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

Many aspiring writers pursue a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in English. In these general programs, students are introduced to literature from a wide range of cultures and historical time periods, and they can hone their skills in several different types of writing, including analytical, research and persuasive writing. There are some schools where students can pursue a minor in creative writing. Another option at the undergraduate level is a Bachelor of Science (BS), BA or professional Bachelor of Journalism program. In these programs, the training emphasizes writing for news reports and digital media.

Master's Degree Programs

There are several distinct degree offerings for professional writers at the master's degree level. One option is a Master of Arts (MA) in English, which builds on the bachelor's degree with more advanced coursework and expository writing requirements. At some schools, students may also have the opportunity to write a thesis in a particular area of interest. Master's degrees in journalism focus more heavily on career preparation so that graduates are well-prepared for writing jobs in the media industry. A third possibility is a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing program. These highly selective programs give aspiring fiction writers and poets the chance to develop their craft through intensive writing workshops and supplementary seminars.

Doctoral Degree Programs

Individuals who want to apply their writing skills in academia can enroll in a Ph.D. program. Over the course of these programs, students take courses in literary theory and history, which can help inform their own writing practices. They also conduct advanced research and write a final dissertation in a subject of interest within the field.

Relevant educational opportunities for aspiring writers are available at many four-year colleges and universities. Students with an interest in a professional writing career may want to choose a program tailored to their career goals, whether they're interested in creative writing, journalism or technical writing.

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