Writing Classes in New York with Course and Degree Program Info

There are more than 30 schools in New York that have writing programs. Read an overview of the 10 largest schools' programs, requirements, and tuition info to find out which school is the right one for you.

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Essential Information

Writing classes are available through undergraduate and graduate degree programs at numerous schools in New York State, ranging from bachelor's to doctoral degrees. Additionally, a few schools offer minors in creative writing and at least one offers an advanced certificate at the graduate level. The production of a number of original works is included in such creative writing programs and graduate students may be required to produce a thesis or dissertation. Some individual classes in creative writing are available to students who have not declared a writing major, depending on the school.

The 10 colleges profiled below, three of which are part of the City University of New York (CUNY) system, are the largest schools in New York that offer writing programs and classes. Continue reading for more information about each of these schools and to find a comparison table with institutions' settings and tuition costs.


Columbia University in the City of New York

New York City's prestigious Ivy League school offers writing programs at the bachelor's and graduate levels. Undergraduates majoring in creative writing complete workshops in fiction, poetry, and/or non-fiction, along with seminars in craft and practice, history and context, and special topics. Workshops are also available in film writing, playwriting, and literary publishing. Some courses are also open to non-majors.

The Master of Fine Arts in Writing program offers concentrations in creative non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. Students complete 60 credit hours that include workshops, seminars, and electives. MFA students also produce a thesis.

Cornell University

Another Ivy League school, Cornell University in Ithaca provides undergraduate and graduate programs in writing. The university has a host of creative writing, critical writing, and creative non-fiction courses for English majors concentrating in creative writing. Topics range from essay writing and science fiction to personal and verse writing. Certain courses are open to students in other majors.

The university also administers an MFA program in creative writing with concentrations in poetry and fiction. This program is very selective, enrolling only eight students per year, and all students receive full funding for two years in the form of fellowships and teaching assistantships. First-year MFA students also work as editorial assistants for Epoch, Cornell's literary magazine, and they can participate in a reading series held every other week. MFA students must complete a book-length manuscript in the form of a novel or a collection of short stories or poems.

The university also offers a joint MFA in Creative Writing and Ph.D. in English Language and Literature. Students in this program must submit an MFA thesis and a dissertation.

CUNY Brooklyn College

Brooklyn College in Brooklyn is part of the City University of New York system and has opportunities for writers at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program in creative writing take courses in English and creative writing, and they may choose from additional courses in areas such as Renaissance English, 18th or 19th century English, American literature and culture, and postmodernism.

MFA creative writing students may concentrate their studies in fiction, playwriting, or poetry in this 36-credit hour program. To graduate, playwriting students must complete a full-length play or a number of one-act plays, and poetry and fiction students must pen a manuscript consisting of a novel or a collection of shorter works. Some fellowships and prizes are available, and MFA students have the opportunity to give public readings in and around Brooklyn and Manhattan. They can also work for the college's literary journal, The Brooklyn Review.

CUNY Hunter College

The English department at New York City's Hunter College features a 30-credit hour undergraduate creative writing concentration that offers coursework in poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. Students take writing workshops, as well as courses in the history and structure of the English language, American prose and poetry, and world literature.

The 2-year MFA creative writing program requires participants to enroll in three courses per semester that include a workshop, followed by a successive craft course. In the first year, students take advanced literature courses. The third semester features an independent study directed by a faculty member, and the fourth semester culminates in a thesis. The school also offers a 2-year MFA in Playwriting that incorporates writing and production courses.

CUNY Queens College

Queens College in Flushing offers an MFA in Creative Writing and Literary Translation. Students enrolled in this 2-year program choose between a creative writing track and a translation track. Students in both tracks complete four creative writing workshops, one literary theory class, two craft classes, and three electives. During the final semester, all students complete a thesis and take an MFA exam based on a comprehensive reading list.

Courses take place in the late afternoons and evenings. The program partners with The Actors Company Theater and the Poetry Society of America. Residencies are available for students at the Louis Armstrong House Museum, and students can participate in a university-wide reading series and a national literary journal. Participants can enroll in an optional third year of coursework to obtain a certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language.

New York University

Undergraduates at NYU in New York City can pursue a minor in creative writing consisting of 16 credits of creative writing classes and workshops. Students in the minor can study fiction, poetry, or creative non-fiction and have the option to spend a summer living and writing in Paris, Florence, or New York.

Graduate students at NYU can pursue one of two master's degrees in creative writing: the Master of Arts in English with a creative writing concentration or the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Students in both graduate programs complete creative writing workshops and craft courses, as well as a creative thesis.

All students in the graduate creative writing program receive fellowships ranging from half-tuition remission to full funding (including stipends). Second-year graduate students also receive paid teaching positions. Participants have access to literary seminars taught by master teachers. They also have the opportunity to participate in public readings and submit their writing to an on-campus literary journal.

Rochester Institute of Technology

This Rochester school offers a minor in creative writing in which students take workshops in poetry, fiction, and/or creative non-fiction. They also choose from electives in science fiction, experimental writing, modern poetry, and advanced creative writing. Hands-on experience and credit are available to students who edit the school's literary magazine.

St. John's University - New York

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at this private, Roman Catholic college in Queens offers an undergraduate minor in creative writing for English majors. Along with fulfilling major requirements, students complete nine credits in creative writing classes and a senior seminar.

The university also offers a Master of Arts program in English with a focus in creative writing and composition studies. This program has a thesis and a non-thesis option. Students at St. John's have the opportunity to work on two literary journals and as paid tutors at the writing center.

Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University is part of the State University of New York system and is located in Stony Brook. The college offers two undergraduate minors and two graduate programs in writing. The creative writing and literature minor consists of 21 credits in classes like science writing, scriptwriting, creative non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. Students also take a literature course, complete a senior project, and are required to take an intensive, 10-week residency at the Southampton campus. The 18-credit undergraduate minor in writing offers courses in style and grammar, penning global literature, personal essay writing, and writing for a profession.

Graduate students can earn a 15-credit Advanced Certificate in Teaching Writing, which is designed to complement graduate work or provide professional development for teachers of academic writing. Course topics include the structure and history of English, problems when teaching writing, and composition theory.

The college also offers a 42-credit Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at its Southampton campus. The program includes areas of focus in poetry, fiction, and scriptwriting and is taught by full-time faculty and visiting writers. Students are required to complete a book-length, publishable thesis.

Syracuse University

This private non-profit school in Syracuse has a Bachelor of Arts in Writing and Rhetoric. The 27-credit major includes a class in advanced argumentative writing and requires participants to create an electronic writing portfolio. Students can choose from classes in digital writing, research writing, or studies in creative non-fiction; internships are also available.

The curriculum for the 48-credit hour Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing includes an essay seminar and a thesis consisting of a collection of short stories or poetry. The college's Raymond Carver Reading Series hosts visiting writers. All students receive full funding; some scholarships require teaching responsibilities. The school also offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Composition and Cultural Rhetoric.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Writing Programs Offered Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)*
Columbia University in the City of New York 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing,
Master of Fine Arts in Writing
$53,000 (undergraduate); $44,176 (graduate)
Cornell University 4-year, private not-for-profit; small city Bachelor of Arts in English,
Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing,
Joint Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing/Doctor of Philosophy in English Language and Literature
$49,116 (undergraduate); $29,581 (graduate)
CUNY Brooklyn College 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing,
Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
$6,838 in-state, $13,948 out-of-state (undergraduate); $10,562 in-state, $19,152 out-of-state (graduate)
CUNY Hunter College 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Arts in English,
Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing,
Master of Fine Arts in Playwriting
$6,782 in-state, $13,892 out-of-state (undergraduate); $10,438 in-state, $19,028 out-of-state (graduate)
CUNY Queens College 4-year, public; large city Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Literary Translation $10,652 in-state; $19,242 out-of-state (graduate)
New York University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Minor in Creative Writing,
Master of Arts in English and American Literature,
Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
$47,750 (undergraduate); $40,984 (graduate)
Rochester Institute of Technology 4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb Minor in Creative Writing $37,124 (undergraduate)
St. John's University - New York 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Minor in Creative Writing,
Minor in English,
Master of Arts in English
$38,680 (undergraduate); $24,264 (graduate)
Stony Brook University 4-year, public; large suburb Minor in Creative Writing and Literature,
Minor in Writing,
Advanced Certificate in Teaching Writing,
Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Literature
$8,855 in-state; $23,935 out-of-state (undergraduate); $12,421 in-state, $23,761 out-of-state (graduate)
Syracuse University 4-year, private not-for-profit; midsize city Bachelor of Arts in Writing and Rhetoric,
Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing,
Doctor of Philosophy in Composition and Cultural Rhetoric
$43,318 (undergraduate); $34,500 (graduate)

Source: *NCES College Navigator.

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