Online Masters Degree in Creative Writing: Program Information

Research online creative writing courses and master's degree programs. Find out what you can learn in these courses 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

While some master's degree programs in creative writing are offered with completely online coursework, many of them require short on-campus residencies. Many also require students to complete teaching practica at an approved facility. After completing the residency requirements, students can participate in online workshops, seminars and class discussions while writing their own work for review. Prospective creative writing graduate students must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university and submit short samples of creative work prior to acceptance.

Graduate students often have the opportunity to focus on one or more creative writing forms, including creative nonfiction, screenwriting, poetry, fiction and playwriting. In addition to an intensive writing component, creative writing programs incorporate literary and critical writing components. Some programs also provide students the opportunity to gain experience in publishing and copy editing.

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

Online Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing programs are typically two years in length and roughly 48 credits. The overwhelming majority of programs are low-residency programs rather than completely online. At the outset of each semester, students spend approximately 8-10 days on campus taking part in creative writing workshops, literature seminars, informal discussions and formal readings. Residencies also allow students to meet with a faculty advisor to develop a plan of study for the semester.

As part of the online component, which lasts the remainder of the semester, students participate in online creative writing workshops, discussion sessions and seminars. Students may be required to complete a teaching practicum in settings such as adult learning centers, community colleges, libraries, high schools or prisons.

Communication tools used for online MFA programs include, bulletin boards, group discussions, streaming audio and video lectures, chat rooms and online classroom interfaces such as Blackboard. Technical requirements for the online portion of the program may include a sound card and speakers, an updated Internet browser, supported browser plug-ins and software such as Microsoft Word. Technical assistance is available for online learners.

Course Topics

Online master's-level creative writing programs include a curriculum covering creative writing, literary analysis and critical writing. As part of the online portion of the programs, students submit original creative work and rewrites on a regular basis.

Introduction to Creative Writing Course

An introductory creative writing course exposes students to fundamental creative writing techniques and the basics of nonfiction creative writing, poetry and fiction writing. Potential topics include character, imagery, dramatic measures, writer collaborations and dialogue.

Fiction Writing Course

This course focuses on the process and discipline behind writing novels and short stories. Fiction writing techniques covered may include narration, point of view, characterization and scene development.

Poetry Writing Course

A poetry writing course requires students write various forms of poetry using techniques such as rhythm and imagery. The course typically covers poetic style, forms of composition, contemporary trends in poetry, standard poetic elements and stylistic devices.

Screenwriting Course

A screenwriting course provides students with knowledge of cinematic styles, dramatic structure, basic film design, dialogue and diverse forms. Students are required to take part in screenwriting workshops and complete length screenplays.


Career Information

Graduates of an online master's degree in creative writing are prepared to work as a professional creative writer in community, academic and other professional settings as a novelist, poet or short story writer. Additional career options may be available in screenwriting, arts administration, publishing or teaching.

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing programs are offered online at many schools, though students typically need to complete on-campus residencies and practica. This program focuses on creative writing, literary analysis, writing techniques and critical writing.

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