Online Graduate Degrees in Writing: Program Options

Get info about online graduate programs in writing. Read about program requirements, course descriptions and degree levels, and check out career and continuing education options.

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Essential Information

Individuals can complete online degree programs in writing at the master's degree level. Programs are typically focused on creative writing or professional writing. Creative writing degree programs may allow students to choose a specialization among areas like fiction, poetry or screenwriting. Professional writing programs often include training in business communications, technical writing and grant writing.

Online master's degree programs in writing can usually be completed entirely through distance learning. However, some programs require short campus visits for workshops and seminars; internships may be required as well. Graduation requirements may include a full-length piece of writing in the writing genre of a student's choice or a research project.

A bachelor's degree is a prerequisite in pursuing online master's degree in writing. Students are required to install Microsoft Office Suite and Adobe Flash in their computers.

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Master of Arts in Writing

Students completing this program learn to read and write at an advanced level through courses in fiction, professional writing, technical writing, grant writing and business writing. The courses cover topics in many different genres to familiarize students with the literature common to each genre and the process for writing in it. Students learn techniques to strengthen their writing abilities and communicate more clearly. In order to be eligible for this degree program, applicants must have at least a bachelor's degree.

Information and Requirements

The online master's degree program in writing can take part-time students as much as two years to complete or full-time students as little as one year. The program is available entirely online through methods that allow students to participate in video chats and receive critiques from teachers, authors and other students. Some universities require that students complete internships or on-campus residencies.

Typically, to complete lessons and courses, students access Web-based applications where they interact with professors and other students, view pre-recorded or live video lectures and turn in assignments. They may also have to attend campus for a few weeks at a time to fulfill residency requirements.

To be able to take an online program, students must have a working computer, reliable Internet access and a valid e-mail address. Required computer software programs include Microsoft Office Suite and Adobe Flash.

Course Topics

With the exception of the on-campus residencies required by some schools, the online writing program allows students to complete courses at their own convenience, without attending regularly-scheduled classes.

Technical Writing

Through this course, students study concepts in writing business and technical documents. They learn to read and incorporate charts and diagrams used to explain technical processes or scientific discoveries.

Editing and Writing for Newspaper and Magazine Writing

Students taking this course learn to write newspaper and magazine-style articles by examining techniques in researching and reporting news and feature articles. They explore journalism ethics and ways to fact check for accuracy. The program covers what journalists write and how they write it.

Genre Readings

This course allows students the opportunity to read literature in the field they want to write in. Students read books in literary genres such as science fiction, horror, romance, mystery or fantasy fiction.

Fundamentals of Fiction

What makes fiction sell? Through this course, students study the basic elements of fiction writing, including identifying a book's audience. The course covers fiction writing mechanics such as plot, dialogue and characterization.


Career Information

With a master's degree in writing, students can pursue careers in journalism, technical writing, novel writing, magazine writing and editing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May of 2015, the median annual salary for reporters was $36,360, and for technical writers the median annual salary was $70,240. Writers and authors with salaried positions made a median of $60,250 in 2015, although freelancers' salaries varied greatly. In that same year editors earned a median annual salary of $56,010 (www.bls.gov).

Continuing Education Information

Although there are some post-master's certificates and doctoral degree programs available in writing, these are not usually offered online. Some schools may offer some aspects of a post-master's program online, but the majority of these programs must be completed on-campus.

Online graduate degrees in writing may be completed entirely online although some schools require students to attend workshops and seminars in the campus. Full-time students may complete online master's degree in writing within a year; students studying part time may need two years to complete this program.

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