Why This Matters


    According to Job Outlook 2019, written communication skills are the most sought-after attributes employers seek. More than 80% of employers want applicants to have these skills, placing them higher than problem-solving and teamwork skills.


    The number of self-published print and e-books grew by 40 percent between 2017 and 2018. In 2018, 1.68 million books were self-published, and that doesn’t include traditionally published titles.


    Schools in the United States employ 82,900 postsecondary English teachers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That number is expected to grow by 2% through 2029.

Our Research

We reviewed many Master of Creative Writing programs, including ones offered on-campus, online, and through both modes. Most of these degrees are Master of Fine Arts (MFA), which is considered a terminal degree in the fine arts fields.

The schools listed all have regional accreditation or national accreditation, if not both. Some of the accreditors include the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). Attending an accredited degree program guarantees you’ll receive a quality education and ensures your degree will be recognized by other schools and employers. Recognition is important if you decide to transfer or hope to teach at a school.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 65 hours to write this article
  • 190 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 287 education programs we compared

The Top 40 Master’s in Creative Writing Degree Programs

Best Master's in Creative Writing Degree Programs
loader Image

What You Should Know About This Degree

There isn’t any one path that leads to becoming a published writer, but many people find a Master of Creative Writing degree program helpful. This program gives students a better understanding of the writing process, helps them sharpen skills, and assists them with their initial networking in the publishing industry. However, even the best programs don’t guarantee a successful career as an author.

For many students, a master’s in creative writing is a practical way to land a stable job teaching. Though graduating with a degree isn’t a guarantee of employment, this degree is a qualification for many English and creative writing teaching positions.

Many creative writing programs require students to focus on a specific genre, such as fiction, creative nonfiction, screenwriting, or poetry, but some programs are general and have no such specialization. Consider your career goals before applying, and choose a program that matches your aspirations.

Online programs can mostly be completed remotely, but they might have optional or required residencies. Consider how a residency would fit within your budget and schedule as you evaluate various program options.

What’s Next?

Here are a couple of questions to ask as you research master’s in creative writing programs:

  • Are courses offered synchronously or asynchronously? Coursework for these degree programs may be offered either synchronously or asynchronously. The former means that students attend classes together, while the latter means students can complete work on their own schedule. Think about how each mode would fit into your schedule when you look at programs.
  • What licensing or certifications are required? Writing isn’t a field that requires licensure or certification, but there are some professional organizations that might be worth joining. Organizations tend to be focused on a particular genre, such as the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). Becoming a member of these organizations provides networking opportunities.

When you have a shortlist of programs, find out the application process for each. You can check which application materials are required and the deadlines by contacting the program or visiting its webpage.

Also consider how you’ll cover tuition. Check with programs to see which fellowships, scholarships, and other financial aid might be available.