Bachelor's Degree in Writing: Program Overview

Oct 11, 2019

Essential Information

Bachelor's degree programs in writing can educate students about publishing their works, designing graphics and media ethics. Student can sometimes pick different program fields such as creative writing, journalistic writing, and professional and technical writing. Most programs, especially with a journalistic focus, require students to complete a practicum or internship.

While applicant should verify with the school of their choice, most four-year bachelor's degree programs accept high school graduates. Graduates of these programs who want to further their education can enroll in a master's degree program in a writing discipline. Some of the career options may include roles as editors, copywriters, consultants and technical writers.

Bachelor's Degree in Creative Writing

The most common degrees in creative writing are Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees; B.S. and B.A. degrees in literature and writing or English may offer a creative writing emphasis. Including poetry, fiction, nonfiction, plays or movie scripts, creative writing primarily involves the writer's imagination, ideas and feelings, with only moderate concern about who the audience may be.

However expressive a creative writer may be, those who hope to be published must be able to convey their ideas clearly, based on good grammar and composition. An appropriate bachelor's degree can provide these foundational mechanics skills while encouraging students to develop their creativity.

Coursework in creative writing often includes classes in several genres of American and English literature. Actual writing classes teach students how to write many types of manuscript such as:

  • Biographies and autobiographies
  • Creative nonfiction
  • Novels
  • Plays
  • Poetry
  • Scripts
  • Short stories

Bachelor's Degree in Professional and Technical Writing

Technical writing focuses on the reader and the material, providing instruction or explanation of specialized subjects. The outcome may be an instructional manual for a washing machine, an explanation of a type of surgery or a science grant proposal.

Technical writers may or may not be experts in the fields for which they write. However, they must be able to research topics, analyze the information, understand the audience and write a clear explanation. Technical writers may also simplify information through multimedia formats, and thus they must be able to use the appropriate tools or programs. These skills are gained while earning a bachelor's degree.

Technical writing programs require many of the same English and American literature courses as creative writing programs. They can also include courses in writing fiction or nonfiction. Specialized coursework may include:

  • Graphics and document design
  • Production of publications
  • Science rhetoric
  • Technical writing and editing
  • Writing for interactive media
  • Writing grants and proposals

Bachelor's Degree in Journalistic Writing

Bachelor's degrees in journalistic writing include a major in either journalism or communication with a concentration in print journalism. The foci of these studies are to develop skills in interviewing and research and to improve analytical and critical thinking. Students learn to use these skills in writing news articles for magazines and newspapers.

Because the focus of these bachelor's degrees is journalism rather than English, programs have few literature courses. Often a practicum or internship is required. Specialized courses may include:

  • News reporting, writing and editing
  • Techniques of media research
  • Writing editorials and features
  • Journalism principles
  • Ethics and law for mass media
  • Public relations

Popular Careers

Novelist and poet are not careers advertised in the classifieds. Aside from freelance jobs, few staff positions for employees focus directly on creative writing. Those with a bachelor's degree in creative writing could find these positions:

  • Junior editor
  • Copywriter
  • Greeting card writer
  • Website content writer

Many industries have technical writers. Technical writers' jobs may include writing for the general public or for industry professionals, explains the College Board. Industries that offer technical writing careers include:

  • Computer systems design
  • Electronic manufacturing
  • Software publishing
  • Engineering and architectural services
  • Management consulting services
  • Technical and scientific consulting services

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipated an employment growth of 0% for writers and authors and 8% for technical writers for the decade 2018-2028. In May 2018, the BLS reported that writers and authors made a median annual salary of $62,170. In the same year, technical writers earned $71,850 as a median annual wage.

Continuing Education

Creative writers who are serious about writing professionally may earn a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Rather than many classes, these degrees usually focus on short periods of workshops, intense interaction with faculty or visiting writers and other professional activities. The rest of the students' time is spent in writing, with one or more publishable works as the goal.

To gain an edge in the job market or to specialize in certain technical fields, technical writers could earn master's degrees in English with a technical communication focus or similar degrees. Some universities offer such degrees online.

Graduate programs in journalism are available to further prepare students as print journalists. Both master's and Ph.D. programs may be pursued. The doctoral programs tend to focus on preparing theorists and researchers rather than actively reporting journalists.

There are many different kinds of prose that a student may learn about in over the course of a bachelor's degree program in writing, from poetry to journalistic articles. These programs offer an education in written expression, teaching general writing skills as well as training students in their respective areas of specialty.

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