Schools with Creative Writing Programs: How to Choose

Creative writing programs focus on students' written work in areas like fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, plays and screenplays. Programs are most often found at the bachelor's and master's levels, but a few associate degree programs are available at community colleges, and select universities offer the Ph.D. Additionally, some universities offer non-credit courses and certificate programs through continuing education departments.

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Creative writing programs contain general courses in literature as well as writing and usually cover more than one genre, such as fiction and poetry. Depending on the level of study, students will concentrate in a particular genre of writing, such as travel writing or literary journalism, gain some general writing and editing skills, or prepare for teaching positions.

10 Schools with Creative Writing Programs

Creative writing programs are widely available and can be found at several levels of study. Ten schools that offer undergraduate or graduate writing programs are:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered In-state Tuition (2015-2016)*
Boston University Boston, MA 4-year, Private Master's $48,082 (graduate)
Emory University Atlanta, GA 4-year, Private Bachelor's $46,314 (undergrad)
Florida State University Tallahassee, FL 4-year, Public Master's $11,543 (graduate)
George Washington University Washington, DC 4-year, Private Bachelor's $50,435 (undergrad)
Harvard University Cambridge, MA 4-year, Private Master's $42,874 (graduate)
Iowa State University Ames, IA 4-year, Public Master's $9,172 (graduate)
Oregon State University Bend, OR 4-year, Public Master's $13,722 (graduate)
Purdue University West Lafayette, IN 4-year, Public Bachelor's $10,002 (undergrad)
Rutgers University Camden, NJ 4-year, Public Master's $18,505 (graduate)
The University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX 4-year, Public Undergraduate certificate, Master's $9,806 (undergrad); $10,934 (graduate)

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Creative Writing, General
  • Writing

School Selection Criteria

There are many things that students should think about when choosing the right creative writing program, including:

  • Different programs have different areas of focus, so check that the curriculum aligns with your interests and intended area of study.
  • Schools with published faculty or published writers as department members will offer opportunities for mentorship with established writers.
  • Small class sizes can be beneficial for students who want to gain more one-on-one feedback on their work.
  • Schools with an active creative writing publication or literary magazine may appeal to students who want to gain some writing or editing experience.


Non-credit certificate programs in creative writing tend to contain courses in specific types of writing, such as comedy, children's books and technical writing. For the most part, students can pick the courses they want to take, though there may be a few core requirements. These programs don't usually offer foundation courses in literature.

Associate Degrees

Associate degree programs take two years to complete and may be able to transfer to bachelor's degree programs. Programs include general education courses as well as classes in American and British literature.

Bachelor's Degrees

Bachelor's degree programs in creative writing are commonly composed of writing workshops, literature classes and general education courses. Both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts programs are available. Students may have the opportunity to enroll in advanced courses in all areas of creative writing as well as related areas such as editing and publishing. Students may develop a portfolio, write a thesis or complete a senior project for successful completion of the program.

Master's Degrees

Creative writing Master of Arts and Master of Fine Arts programs include advanced courses in subjects such as poetry, narrative and film adaptation. Admission to these programs is sometimes selective, and students must present some creative work. Students often specialize in a genre, such as poetry, fiction or creative non-fiction and leave the program with a publishable work. Some programs offer internship opportunities for students interested in teaching careers.

Creative writing programs teach students how to express their thoughts and opinions in an appealing and literary way. A broad range of writing genres are covered over the course of these programs and students will get the chance to focus their studies on the area of writing that they are most interested in.

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