Top Creative Writing Masters Programs: School List

A master's degree in creative writing is a practical degree that helps students develop advanced writing skills. Get rankings and program details for the top creative writing master's programs in the country.

Master's degree programs in creative writing typically offer students the opportunity to explore various aspects of the creative writing field and hone their skills in a genre of interest.

School Overviews

Three of the best creative writing master's degree programs can be found at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Columbia University and Arizona State University. Each of these schools were ranked among the top schools offering Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2017.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, IL

School Highlight: U.S. News & World Report ranked the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) tied for 4th among all MFA programs in 2017.

SAIC offers a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Writing, where students can tailor the degree to their particular creative writing genre, such as fiction, poetry, screenwriting or creative nonfiction. Coursework may include plot structure, satirical writing and young adult fiction. The 2-year program encourages students to select coursework outside their genre and even in other art forms, such as visual or performance art.

Columbia University in the City of New York

School Highlight: Columbia University, located in the center of the arts scene, was listed as tied for 6th among graduate fine arts programs by U.S. News & World Report in 2017.

The school's MFA in Writing program is held in an intimate, workshop format and emphasizes artistic development in their students. Students select from a concentration in fiction, poetry or literary nonfiction. Classes include the study of plot, narrative, editing and publication.

Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona

School Highlight: The school's Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing offers an 18-month Your Novel Year program during which students can get mentoring and support in writing a novel; students can also network with agents, editors and publishers.

The MFA program at ASU was ranked as tied for 20th in by U.S. News & World Report in 2017. It takes three years to complete and requires 48 hours of coursework, which are evenly divided between writing workshops and literature courses. Students may also take elective courses outside their genre of interest and even outside the English department. Financial aid is available through teaching and research assistantships.

Top Creative Writing Master's Programs

Here are some more universities with strong MFA programs in creative writing:

  • At Indiana University in Bloomington, MFA students receive funding for three years for teaching nine courses in creative writing and first-year composition.
  • New York University in New York City offers a low-residency MFA program in creative writing, in which students pursue intensive study through five, 10-day writing workshops in Paris.
  • At Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, creative writing master's students can get experience as editors of TINGE Magazine, the school's online literary journal.
  • The creative writing MFA program at the University of Georgia in Athens includes a study of creative nonfiction, as well as fiction and poetry.
  • As part of the University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign's program, MFA in Creative Writing students publish Ninth Letter, the university's literature and arts magazine, twice a year.
  • The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor offers the Helen Zell Writer's Program.
  • The University of Southern California in Los Angeles offers a Master of Professional Writing (MPW) program that incorporates stage and screen writing and new media writing studies, in addition to fiction, poetry and nonfiction.
  • At the University of Washington in Seattle, creative writing students can get hands-on experience in publishing by working on the university's literary journal, Seattle Review.
  • The University of Wisconsin at Madison's MFA in Creative Writing program only admits six students yearly; poetry students are only admitted in even-numbered years and fiction students are admitted in odd-numbered years.

By earning an MFA in creative writing from a top university, writers can greatly improve their skills. Many schools also provide outside literary enrichment opportunities, such as involvement in the publication of literary journals and magazines.

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