Alexandria, Virginia, Schools with Writing Classes
In the Alexandria, Virginia, area there are at least nine schools that offer classes in writing. Here, we'll take a closer look at one community college and two 4-year universities with writing classes. The classes cover a variety of styles and types, including academic, professional, technical or scientific writing, as well as critical and creative writing. These courses may be part of an undergraduate major, a minor, a general studies requirement or a specialized graduate degree program. Read about the program options at the individual schools, and examine the comparison table that contains some key school statistics. You can also read about six other school options for the aspiring writer in the Alexandria area.
- Northern Virginia Community College, also known as NOVA, offers 2-year degree programs for Virginia residents at six campus locations, including one in Alexandria. Located less than five miles from the downtown, the college also offers a certificate program in professional writing.
- George Mason University, located in Fairfax, VA, less than 20 miles from downtown Alexandria, is a large public institution offering both undergraduate and graduate programs for aspiring creative writers.
- In the neighboring state of Maryland, the University of Maryland in College Park offers out-of-state tuition rates that compare favorably with private universities in the Washington, D.C. area. The university is located 16.5 miles from the downtown and offers a bachelor's degree in journalism and a master's degree in creative writing.
Comparison of Schools
The table below includes at-a-glance information about campus locations and school sizes. Undergraduates can also compare tuition and financial aid figures, among other key factors.
|Northern Virginia Community College||George Mason University||University of Maryland - College Park|
|School Type||2-year public community college*||4-year public university*||4-year public university*|
|Total Enrollment (2017)||51,190*||35,984*||40,521*|
|Campus Setting||Large suburb||Large suburb||Large suburb|
|Undergraduate Tuition (2017-2018)||$5,498 in-state; $11,505 out-of-state*||$11,924 in-state; $34,370 out-of-state*||$10,399 in-state; $33,606 out-of-state*|
|% of First-Year Students Receiving Any Form of Aid (2016-2017)*||57%*||75%*||68%*|
|Undergraduate Acceptance Rate (2017)||Open admissions*||81%*||45%*|
|Retention Rate (2016-2017) *||73% for full-time students; 52% for part-time students*||88% for full-time students; 74% for part-time students*||96% for full-time students; 88% for part-time students*|
|Graduation Rate||25% (16% transfer out) (for those who began their studies in 2014)*||71% (16% transfer out) (for those who began their studies in 2011)*||85% (5% transfer out) (for those who began their studies in 2011)*|
Source: *NCES College Navigator.
Northern Virginia Community College
The Northern Virginia Community College system, also known as NOVA, features six campus locations. Founded in 1964, this public community college offers associate degree and certificate programs geared to assist students with professional development or preparation for further academic study.
Certificate in Professional Writing
This writing certificate program is offered at all of the NOVA campuses, including the Alexandria campus. Program coursework includes topics such as technical writing and editing, Web writing, writing user manuals and applied grammar. The certificate program provides students with the option of completing a seminar and a writing project, a cooperative education experience or an internship. Students at NOVA may also choose to complete other writing courses in areas such as journalism, advanced composition, creative writing and/or college writing preparation.
George Mason University
A large public institution, George Mason University houses the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the English Department, offering undergraduate and graduate programs for aspiring writers. The undergraduate Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) writing program is one of only thirty such programs in the country.
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
The BFA program at George Mason University features concentration options in poetry, fiction or nonfiction. In addition to workshop and seminar courses within the concentration, students complete courses chosen from a variety of electives, including professional and technical writing, digital creative or ethnographic writing, playwriting and screenwriting, among other topics.
Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
This Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program features competitive admissions based mainly on portfolio quality. Similar to the undergraduate program, students select from a poetry, fiction or nonfiction concentration; each selection includes craft seminars and workshops. Students also choose from graduate elective courses, such as prose style, technical communication, composition theory, narrative writing and Web authoring.
University of Maryland - College Park
Located in College Park, Maryland, the University of Maryland's history dates back to 1856, when it opened as the Maryland Agricultural College. The main campus houses the Department of English and the Phillip Merrill College of Journalism, each offering undergraduate and graduate writing programs.
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism
This undergraduate journalism program features course topics such as news writing, news editing, online journalism and feature writing. Other classes include critical writing, advertising and science writing. Courses covering a variety of specialized topics are also offered. Students can choose a major concentration in broadcasting or multiplatform journalism.
Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
In this MFA program, offered through the Department of English, students select a fiction or poetry concentration. The program features courses and workshops held at the Jimenez-Porter Writers' House. Program coursework includes topics such as narrative form and poetic form. Students also complete a master's thesis, consisting of a book-length manuscript of poetry or prose.
Within 20 miles of Alexandria, roughly six other private, not-for-profit universities offer writing programs or writing courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In the nation's capital, George Washington University and Howard University both offer a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing. At the Catholic University of America, as well as Trinity Washington University, undergraduates can pursue a Bachelor of Arts in English programs that include extensive writing courses. Program-related coursework in critical writing, language and grammar can be found at the University of the District of Columbia, a public institution. For aspiring journalists, a variety of programs, including a Master of Arts in Journalism and Public Affairs, are offered at American University.