Online Master of Fine Arts Degree Program Information

Research online Master of Fine Arts programs. Find out what you can learn in these programs and what you'll need in order to participate in online learning to determine if it's right for you.

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Essential Information

Online master's degree programs in fine arts that focus on creative writing are available, typically as hybrid programs with online coursework and brief on-campus writing workshops. Some schools may offer degree concentrations, including non-fiction or children's literature. A Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is often considered the minimal degree needed to teach at the college or university level. It is also a highly sought-after degree by authors and free-lance writers. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree in English or a related field, as well as acceptable scores on the GRE examination. They must also submit a writing sample.

For prospective graduate students who desire a graduate program that includes no on-campus requirements, a possible alternative is a Master of Arts in English program. These programs tend to be broader, focusing on more general writing and communication skills rather than creative writing for artistic purposes, but they still include studies in literature and culture.

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Online Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing degree program is often considered a terminal degree in the field of creative writing. Students study and analyze literature and poetry, practice the craft of poetry and present new work in workshops for critique.

Program Information and Requirements

A master's degree program usually takes 2-3 years to complete. Because most writing programs require students to participate in workshops on campus, students interested in distance-learning can complete their MFA through a low-residency program, which requires only a few brief trips to campus for lectures and workshops. Often in a master's degree program in creative writing, students pick an area of concentration, such as poetry, fiction or non-fiction.

Communication with instructors and classmates is conducted via e-mail. Distance-learners will need access to a computer with high-speed Internet. Online seminars, online workshops and online elective studies are used to simulate a virtual classroom environment. Since most programs require the writing of academic papers and creative work, word processing and printing capabilities are required.

Common Coursework

Students work at their own pace in a largely self-directed curriculum designed by the student and instructor that includes the reading and independent research of topics of interest usually within the student's own concentration. Workshops meant to strengthen a student's critical abilities and provide feedback on his or her own work are a large part of a master's program in creative writing.

Poetry and the Metaphor

Students look at the metaphor and how it works as a translator or creates a new language in a poem. Extensive reading, presenting of original work, classroom discussion and selective writing exercises are the focus of this course.

Shakespeare and Writing

Extensive reading and study of Shakespeare with attention to how it influences modern and personal writing is the focus of this course. Students work on a course-long writing project using studied sonnets and play excerpts as well as discussions as inspiration.

Poetry and Influence

Students look at their own work in terms of poetic influences, lineage and imitation. It looks at both classic and modern influential trends and encourages students to develop a habit of keeping a finger on the pulse of contemporary poetry.


Career Information

As of 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the highest concentration of writers and authors are found in larger cities that have large media markets, such as New York, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. (www.bls.gov). The same report by the BLS noted that about two-thirds of all writers are self-employed. The median annual salary for writers and authors in 2015 was $60,250, while editors earned a median of $56,010 per year.

A master's degree is usually a prerequisite for teaching at the college or university level, though many tenured professors hold a doctoral degree. The BLS reported a median annual salary of $61,990 for postsecondary language and literature teachers as of 2015.

Online MFA in Creative Writing programs give aspiring writers the opportunity to hone their skills by allowing them to work mostly independently while also receiving feedback from instructors. Focused coursework is also provided in a virtual classroom setting, usually exposing students to relevant literature in their field of interest.

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