Best Creative Writing Graduate Programs in the U.S.

Read about the best creative writing graduate programs in the country. Get school rankings, degree options and location info, and compare different programs to find the best educational fit for you.

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School Information

Most graduate-level creative writing programs result in a Master of Fine Arts (MFA). They usually allow students to concentrate in a specific writing field, like poetry or fiction. Creative writing is a form of writing that deals with the expression of internal thoughts and emotions through literature. It can encompass many formats including poems, novels, short stories, and screenplays.

The University of Michigan, Cornell University, and Brown University are three of the top schools in the nation to offer graduate-level creative writing programs. Each school was highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report in 2017.

University of Michigan

The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor was ranked the 4th-best public school in the United States in 2017 by U.S. News & World Report. In the publication's most recent ranking of graduate English programs in 2013, the University of Michigan was tied for #13.

Students can take part in numerous opportunities through the program, such as tutoring high school students, working on the editorial staff of literary anthologies, or organizing poetry slams. The workshop-based program offers concentrations in poetry and fiction. Students must write and defend a creative thesis - either a collection of stories or poems or a novel excerpt - at the end of their second year. The university hosts numerous author readings yearly through its Zell Visiting Writers Series.

Cornell University

The U.S. News & World Report ranked Cornell University the 15th-best school among all national universities in 2017 and #8 among all graduate English programs in 2013. Cornell graduate students can pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, a 2-year program with concentrations in fiction and poetry. Admission to the creative writing graduate program at Cornell is selective, with only four students accepted into each concentration every year. Students in Cornell's MFA program can design their own unique course of study, working closely with faculty advisors.

Brown University

Brown University ranked #16 on U.S. News & World Report's 2017 list of all national universities. Brown University offers a Master of Fine Arts in Literary Studies. In this program, students can focus their work on either electronic arts, poetry, or fiction, and the students' final thesis consists of a compilation or a body of work in the interest area they choose. During each of the four semesters of the program, students take one writing workshop and one elective, so they have lots of time to practice their creative writing skills.

Top Graduate Programs

Let's discuss a few other top-ranked universities with excellent graduate creative writing programs:

College/University Name Location Distinction
Indiana University - Bloomington Bloomington, IN Offers several fellowships for graduate-level creative writing and poetry students
New York University New York, NY MFA students can work out of the Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House on West 10th Street, where many professional writers have lived and worked
University of Iowa Iowa City, IA Hosts a renowned 2-year writing workshop that culminates in an MFA degree
University of Massachusetts - Amherst Amherst, MA Sponsors the Juniper Initiative, which hosts visiting writers series, a literary festival, a summer writing institute, and forums for working writers
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN Students can work on the student-run literary magazine, Dislocate
University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX Graduates have been featured on the New York Times bestseller list and the Sundance Film Festival
University of Wisconsin - Madison Madison, WI In 2017, ranked #10 on U.S. News & World Report's list of top public schools.

Students who want to pursue graduate-level studies in creative writing can hone their artistic skills in MFA programs at top-ranked universities across the country.

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