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Poetry School, Course and Degree Program Information

Aspiring poets learn to use meter, rhythm and structure to create poetry in many different forms and styles, including lyrical, narrative and dramatic. Across the U.S., colleges and universities offer certificates and degrees in English, creative writing and poetry.

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Undergraduate study of poetry is available through certificate, associate's degree and bachelor's degree programs. Those who have already earned a bachelor's degree may continue their poetry education through master's and doctoral degree programs.

Top 10 English Schools

These schools offer English degrees and similar programs at varying degree levels, and many include concentrations in different areas of writing.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered* Tuition and Fees 2015-2016**
University of California - Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Doctoral $13,431 in-state, $38,139 out-of-state (undergraduate), $13,431 in-state, $28,533 out-of-state (graduate)
Harvard University Cambridge, MA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $45,278 (undergraduate), $42,872 (graduate)
Stanford University Stanford, CA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $46,320 (undergraduate), $46,320 (graduate)
Columbia College Chicago, IL 4-year, Private Master's $25,388 (graduate)
Princeton University Princeton, NJ 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Doctoral $43,450 (undergraduate), $45,530 (graduate)
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $49,536 (undergraduate), $34,268 (graduate)
Yale University New Haven, CT 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $47,600 (undergraduate), $38,700 (graduate)
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $49,116 (undergraduate), $29,581 (graduate)
University of Chicago Chicago, IL 4-year, Private Master's $52,713 (graduate)
Duke University Durham, NC 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $49,241 (undergraduate), $48,656 (graduate)

Sources: *School websites, **National Center for Educational Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Students choosing a poetry school may want to keep the following considerations in mind:

  • Students looking to focus more directly on producing poetry and developing their creative process may prefer programs in poetry or creative writing.
  • A degree program which offers a broad study spectrum can help prepare aspiring poets for other roles outside of poetry writing; this may be an important consideration since many poets and authors have other jobs to supplement their incomes while working on their writing.
  • Students who are interested in teaching may pursue a graduate program that offers the opportunity for students to teach first-year courses.
  • Schools that produce literary magazines may offer an early opportunity for students to be published or work behind the scenes.

Associate of Arts in Creative Writing

An associate's degree program features courses designed to provide a general introduction to writing in various forms. Some associate's degrees may be designed to transfer into a bachelor's degree program in creative writing or English upon completion.

Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing

To foster a well-rounded appreciation for the craft, creative writing programs combine writing workshops with traditional literature courses. Workshops develop students' critical eye and may encourage experimentation in various forms. These programs may be offered with a poetry concentration that allows students to further focus on their particular field of interest.

Master of Fine Arts in Poetry

Students enrolled in Master of Fine Arts in Poetry degree programs create poetry theses before graduating. Prospective students can find programs with professional poets as faculty, who can provide students with real-world writing advice.

Doctor of Philosophy in Creative Writing

For doctoral candidates in creative writing programs, their dissertations may consist of poetry collections, short stories, essays or a novel. Students craft a curriculum which includes literature courses and reading lists. Many doctoral programs also require students to learn a foreign language.

Students who wish to become poets may pursue a degree in creative writing, poetry or English, at varying degree levels. These programs may also help students work in writing fields other than poetry.

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