Colleges for Writing Majors and Undergraduate Writing Programs

Aspiring writers can pursue bachelor's degrees in English or a more specific field of writing, such as journalism, creative writing, or technical writing. Many schools employ published faculty members and offer extra-curricular writing opportunities.

Undergraduate students enrolled in a writing program typically earn a bachelor's degree in English, creative writing, journalism, communications, or technical writing, though some college writing programs lead to an associate's degree. After finishing a bachelor's degree, graduate students interested in a writing career may earn a Master of Arts or Master of Fine Arts in Writing.

10 Schools with Writing Programs

Below are ten U.S. schools that offer a baccalaureate writing degree program. Tuition information is taken from the 2015-2016 school year.

College/University Location Institution Type Tuition (2015-2016)*
Emory University Atlanta, GA 4-year, Private $46,314
Hamilton College Clinton, NY 4-year, Private $49,500
Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD 4-year, Private $48,710
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA 4-year, Private $46,704
New York University New York, NY 4-year, Private $47,750
Washington University in St. Louis St. Louis, MO 4-year, Private $48,093
University of Iowa Iowa City, IA 4-year, Public $8,104 for in-state/$27,890 for out-of-state
Columbia University New York, NY 4-year, Private $53,000
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI 4-year, Public $13,856 for in-state/$43,476 for out-of-state
University of Colorado Denver Denver, CO 4-year, Public $8,692 for in-state/$23,704 for out-of-state

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Consider the following when looking for a school with an undergraduate writing program:

  • Whether students wish to pursue creative writing, publishing, journalism, or technical writing, they can find a school that offers a targeted degree program. For example, aspiring news reporters would do well to apply to a school that has a strong journalism program.
  • Prospective students should research the credentials of the professors who teach within the writing program.
  • Before choosing a college, future writing students need to check if the school offers writing opportunities outside of class. Contributing to literary journals, school newspapers, and other school publications is an excellent way for writing majors to gain additional writing experience.
  • Students enrolled in an associate's degree program may want to find out if the credits are transferrable to a bachelor's degree program in their specialty area of writing.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

The most common undergraduate program for aspiring writers is the Bachelor of Arts (BA) in English. In these programs, students are exposed to literary genres from multiple historical time periods and regions of the world. Students develop their expository writing skills for purposes such as argumentation, persuasion and literary analysis. At some schools, students may also choose a concentration in creative writing.

For students who want to focus specifically on creative writing, some schools offer Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) programs in the subject. Students have the chance to hone their artistic skills and critique the work of other writers through writing workshops. Over the course of the program, students compile a portfolio of their work, which they may use to demonstrate their skills to graduate school admissions officers or potential employers.

Aspiring journalists can find BA and BS in Journalism programs as well as professional Bachelor of Journalism programs. These programs typically cover a broad array of topics related to communications and news media. Students may also have the chance to choose a particular focus area, such as magazine journalism or online journalism. In some programs, students must get hands-on training through an internship program at a media organization prior to graduation.

Associate's Degree Programs

Associate's degree programs in English usually confer an Associate of Arts (AA) degree. Students in these programs take basic literature and writing courses as well as general education classes. Credits earned through these programs may be transferrable to a four-year Bachelor of Arts in English program.

Aspiring writers who want to focus on journalism may enroll in an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Journalism program, in which students can develop their writing skills for the purpose of news dissemination. Other introductory topics in media studies are also covered.

Students pursuing an undergraduate degree in writing have many options, from a specific writing or creative writing degree, to a more general English language degree, to writing-heavy majors focused in particular fields like journalism. Many writing schools offer various out-of-classroom opportunities to enhance and practice skills learned in the classroom, and they may provide support for students who want to advance to higher levels of education upon completion.

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