Writing Classes in Massachusetts with Course Descriptions

Massachusetts has more than 15 schools that offer writing courses and programs. Learn about the degree programs, tuition info and program options for the ten largest schools to make an informed education decision.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

Essential Information

In Massachusetts, writing courses are generally offered as part of a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree program in English, creative writing or journalism. Relevant undergraduate and graduate certificate programs and degree program minors are also available. Students study grammar, composition and literature. They may take classes to learn to write children's stories, news entries, technical communications, plays, movie scripts or poetry. They may also participate in on-campus writing clubs or workshops, or they may join the student newspaper.

Although a degree isn't required to become a writer, writing programs can offer valuable training, which may lead to faster development and advancement. After receiving training, students also can pursue related careers in the publishing industry, such as becoming a literary agent or an editor. Following are brief overviews of the ten largest public and private not-for-profit universities in Massachusetts that offer writing programs, as well as a table comparing individual school offerings and tuition information.


Boston University

With a campus in downtown Boston, this 4-year university has programs for aspiring writers, including a Bachelor of Arts in English, a Master of Arts (MA) in English, a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in English. The bachelor's program focuses on literature and literary studies, but students also fulfill reading, writing and research requirements. These include a writing and research seminar, an English grammar and composition course and children's literature class.

The MA in English and the PhD in English both require courses in language and linguistics, literature and creative writing. Some classes that could particularly interest writers include fiction and poetry workshops; creative writing seminars and courses in playwriting and dramaturgy. To earn the MFA, students complete 32 credits of coursework, including a master's thesis in poetry or fiction. Additionally, students can participate in clubs and organizations, such as the Writer's Workshop and the Literary Society, or write for campus publications like Her Campus and The Buzz.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Arts in English,
    Master of Arts in English,
    Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing,
    Doctor of Philosophy in English
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $42,994*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city

Fitchburg State University

At this Fitchburg-based university, undergraduates can pursue a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS) in English Studies with a concentration in professional writing. They can also minor in professional writing. The professional writing concentration includes a writing intensive and the option to select from electives like poetry, fiction, magazine or screenplay writing. Students can also join the English Club.

The 33-credit master's program is designed for individuals who are interested in a career in writing, literature, research or college-level teaching. Students can further refine their educations by pursuing a concentration gender studies. All master's students complete a thesis and exit exam prior to graduating.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Arts in English Studies,
    Bachelor of Science in English Studies,
    Master of Arts in English
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $8,710 in-state; $14,790 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; midsized suburb

Lesley University

Cambridge's Lesley University offers a BA in Creative Writing, a dual BA/MFA in Creative Writing and an MFA in Creative Writing. Through the bachelor's program, students can pursue a concentration in script and screenplay, writing for children and young adults, fiction, non-fiction or poetry. Workshop classes allow students to craft short stories, manuscripts and essays.

MFA concentrations include writing for stage and screen, writing for young people, poetry, nonfiction and fiction. Students in all concentrations can devise personalized independent study plans and gain experience through internships or teaching assistantships. Students can also participate in clubs such as Sigma Tau Delta (English honors society) and the LU Writer's Roundtable.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing,
    Bachelor of Arts/Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing,
    Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $31,575*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private not-for-profit; midsized city

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge students can explore multiple styles and forms of writing through the Writing and Humanistic Studies Program, which covers writing autobiographies, essays and poems. Within this program, undergraduates can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Writing with a concentration in creative writing, science writing or digital media, while graduate students can earn a Master of Science in Science Writing.

Undergraduates can have their writing published in the campus magazine, Angles, and graduate students can have their work published in Scopes. Through the Knight Science Journalism Program, students can pursue yearlong fellowships or weeklong workshops designed to enhance their understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) topics. Aspiring writers can also participate in poetry readings, share and discuss their writing in forums, such as the Purple Blurb, and listen to novelists, poets and essayists read their works as part of the Writers Series.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Science in Writing,
    Master of Science in Science Writing
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $42,050*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private not-for-profit; midsized city

Northeastern University

Boston's Northeastern University offers a range of undergraduate and graduate programs that train students to read and write critically, concisely and strategically. Undergraduate students can pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism or a Bachelor of Arts in English. The journalism program requires courses like journalism history, press laws and journalistic writing, while the English major includes classes covering American and British literature, linguistics and expository prose writing.

Graduate students interested in newswriting can earn a 1-year Master of Arts in Journalism with a concentration in journalism and public policy, professional or research. Those with literary inclinations can pursue a Master of Arts in English, which focuses on literature, but includes studies in writing, or a Doctor of Philosophy in English that includes courses in writing and teaching writing.

Journalism majors can complete a co-op, either locally or internationally, that provides practical, professional experience. Students can also participate in the English Club, the Creative and Visual Arts Leadership Council or the Northeastern Writing Club, and they can write for campus publications that include Woof Magazine, Tastemakers Magazine, Spectrum Literary Arts Magazine and NU Science Magazine.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Arts in Journalism,
    Bachelor of Arts in English,
    Master of Arts in Journalism,
    Master of Arts in English,
    Doctor of Philosophy in English
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $40,086*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city

Salem State University

The College of Arts and Sciences at this state university in Salem, offers an undergraduate English program with a writing focus. Students study language and literature and craft their own works as they explore the writing process and study writing techniques. Bachelor's students can select a concentration in professional writing or creative writing. The professional writing program allows students to hone writing skills for the media, corporations and the educational sector, while the creative writing concentration focuses on crafting fictional and literary pieces.

Aspiring writers can pen stories for The Log, the student newspaper, publish works in the student lit mag, Soundings East, write for the Red Sky e-zine or join the English Society. They can also acquire practical experience by participating in internships.

  • Program Offered: Bachelor of Arts in English
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $8,050 in-state; $14,190 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; large suburb

Suffolk University

At Suffolk University in Boston, students can major or minor in English and choose a creative writing track, which includes a series of writing workshops. Undergraduates can also earn a Bachelor of Science in Journalism. The journalism major allows students to select a concentration in communication studies, broadcast journalism, print journalism, public relations, media or film. Students can participate in campus clubs, such as the Suffolk UChapter of 'To Write Love on Her Arms,' or write for campus publications, such as the annual lit mag, Venture or the student newspaper, The Suffolk Journal.

  • Programs Offered: Minor in English,
    Bachelor of Arts in English,
    Bachelor of Science in Journalism
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $30,792*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city

University of Massachusetts - Amherst

Located in Amherst, this large, public school offers multiple degree programs in writing through the English Department, including a Bachelor of Arts in English, a Master of Arts in English and a Master of Fine Arts for Poets and Writers. Writing specializations for the bachelor's program include professional and technical writing, non-fiction writing and creative writing.

The MFA program provides the opportunity for students to sequester themselves and hone their writing skills through workshops, while gaining experience in teaching or literary publishing. Students in the MA program can select a concentration in rhetoric and composition, which allows them to fine tune their composition skills. Potential writers can participate in the student newspaper, the Massachusetts Daily Collegian, or the UMass Amherst English Society, and graduate students can join the English Graduate Organization. English majors also have the opportunity to study abroad in countries like Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, Egypt, Australia or Canada.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Arts in English,
    Master of Arts in English,
    Master of Fine Arts for Poets and Writers
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $13,415 in-state; $26,830 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; fringe town

University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth

This 4-year school is situated in North Dartmouth and offers an English minor, a Bachelor of Arts in English, a graduate-level certificate program in professional writing and a master's program in professional writing. Undergraduate students can pursue a concentration in writing, rhetoric and communications, which includes courses in creative writing, persuasive writing and professional writing.

In the professional writing master's program, students explore areas like Web design, journalism, public relations, creative writing and/or grant writing. They can complete an internship in business writing, creative writing, editing, journalism, professional writing, technical writing or Web authoring to gain firsthand experience in the field. The 12-credit graduate certificate program includes courses from the professional writing master's program and is designed for business professionals looking to improve their writing skills.

  • Programs Offered: Minor in English,
    Bachelor of Arts in English,
    Professional Writing Certificate Program
    Master of Arts in Professional Writing
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $11,681 in-state; $23,028 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; midsized suburb

University of Massachusetts - Lowell

The English Department at this public institution in Lowell offers a Minor in English and a Bachelor of Arts in English. Students can pursue a concentration in journalism and professional writing or creative writing. Journalism and professional writing courses cover freelance writing, newswriting, community writing, feature writing and technical writing. Creative writing courses include writing about people and places, writing creative fiction, mystery writing and playwriting.

Students can also complete an off-campus writing practicum and apply their writing skills in a business, technical or professional environment. They can also participate in English clubs, such as the Literary Society and Sigma Tau Delta.

  • Programs Offered: Minor in English,
    Bachelor of Arts in English
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $11,847 in-state; $24,896 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; large suburb

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type and Setting Writing Courses Offered Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2012-2013)
Boston University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Arts in English,
Master of Arts in English,
Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing,
Doctor of Philosophy in English
$42,994*
Fitchburg State University 4-year, public; midsized suburb Bachelor of Arts in English Studies,
Bachelor of Science in English Studies,
Master of Arts in English
$8,710 in-state; $14,790 out-of-state*
Lesley University 4-year, private not-for-profit; midsized city Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing,
Bachelor of Arts/Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing,
Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
$31,575*
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 4-year, private not-for-profit; midsized city Bachelor of Science in Writing,
Master of Science in Science Writing
$42,050*
Northeastern University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Arts in Journalism,
Bachelor of Arts in English,
Master of Arts in Journalism,
Master of Arts in English,
Doctor of Philosophy in English
$40,086*
Salem State University 4-year, public; large suburb Bachelor of Arts in English $8,050 in-state; $14,190 out-of-state*
Suffolk University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Minor in English,
Bachelor of Arts in English,
Bachelor of Science in Journalism
$30,792*
University of Massachusetts - Amherst 4-year, public; fringe town Bachelor of Arts in English,
Master of Arts in English,
Master of Fine Arts for Poets and Writers
$13,415 in-state; $26,830 out-of-state*
University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth 4-year, public; midsized suburb Minor in English,
Bachelor of Arts in English,
Professional Writing Certificate Program
Master of Arts in Professional Writing
$11,681 in-state; $23,028 out-of-state*
University of Massachusetts - Lowell 4-year, public; large suburb Minor in English,
Bachelor of Arts in English
$11,847 in-state; $24,896 out-of-state*

Source: *NCES College Navigator.


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