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Students who participate in an online master’s in creative writing will further their knowledge of existing literature and the composition of new poetry and prose. The collaborative environment helps to perfect the craft of storytelling. These programs typically require 36 credit hours to complete, so they can typically be completed within two years by full-time students.

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that degrees like this cost an average of $19,792, which is appreciably cheaper than the average undergraduate cost of $26,000. When students graduate, they may qualify for a creative writing professor job and expect an annual salary of $79,000.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Creative Writing Program

Choose your area of study

Many online master’s in creative writing programs offer different areas of study for students to choose from, including fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, education, and screenplay writing.

If students know what career they wish to pursue after graduation, they can choose an area of study that aligns with those career goals. For example, an aspiring professor is better off with the education area of study, whereas an aspiring screenwriter is better off focusing on screenplay writing. Regardless of concentration, each program will provide students with the skills necessary to succeed in a writing or writing-adjacent career.

Research schools and programs

Aspiring master’s in creative writing students have many online programs to choose from, so it’s important to narrow down the list of prospective schools as soon as possible.

Students can immediately eliminate any schools that are not accredited and should strongly consider those that are too expensive for their budget. While such schools may offer a good education, it’s also important to minimize the amount of post-graduation debt. It’s also helpful to research which professors will teach the courses online. Professors who are successful writers may offer important insight into skills such as marketing and publication, as well as writing and editing stories.

Prepare for tests and applications

While many online master’s in creative programs do not require students to submit GRE test scores, these scores are still a prerequisite for admission at many schools. Students should carefully consider whether the GRE is required. It can take up to three months to study and 15 days to receive test results, which may make a difference in whether students can meet application deadlines.

It’s also important to carefully review the application for other requirements, including undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation, writing samples, and admissions essays.

Select your program

Most students only have so much time and money and must be selective about which online master’s in creative writing program(s) they apply to. To finalize the list, students should consider which programs are most affordable and which seem to be led by the most prominent writers. Because creative writing is very collaborative, prospective students may favor classes that offer digital writing workshops and other ways to interact with fellow writers regularly.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

To help pay for an online master’s in creative writing program, students should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year. After completion, students can use federal loans to help pay for their educational costs. Filling out the FAFSA may also be required to qualify for additional grants, scholarships, or other aid available through the school or the state.

Because it can be challenging to research all potential aid opportunities, students should contact the Financial Aid offices of schools they are interested in to get the most accurate and up-to-date answers regarding aid.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Creative Writing Programs

Best Online Master's in Creative Writing Degree Programs

Harvard Extension School

Lesley University

National University

Lindenwood University

Bay Path University

Wilkes University

University of Houston at Victoria

Fairleigh Dickinson University

University of Denver

University of Nebraska Omaha

The University of Texas at El Paso

Mount Saint Mary’s University


Bennington College

Fairfield University

University of North Alabama

Emerson College

Queens University of Charlotte

Eastern Kentucky University

Liberty University

Southern New Hampshire University

Saint Leo University

Drexel University

University of West Florida

Savannah College of Art and Design

Central Washington University

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How We Rank Schools

This list focuses on master’s programs in creative writing. Typically, creative writing master’s programs award a Master of Fine Arts (MFA), which is a terminal degree in fine arts-related fields.

We set out to find the best online programs in creative writing to ensure accessibility for all students, regardless of location and availability. Several programs are low-residency, as most coursework can be completed online, with minimal on-campus or in-person requirements.

Most schools on this list have regional accreditation, and we also included schools with national accreditation. Regionally accredited schools are more widely recognized as meeting high-quality standards in post-secondary education.

Once we narrowed our list of programs, we evaluated each based on reputation, flexibility, cost, reputation, faculty, and outcomes. We then calculated an Intelligent Score for each program on a scale of 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out our ranking methodology.

What Can You Expect from an Online Master’s in Creative Writing Program?

Students entering into an online master’s in creative writing program can expect a workshop-based approach that centers around receiving regular writing critiques from both the teacher as well as other students in the class. In addition to various writing and editing exercises in different courses, this graduate degree typically requires students to complete a longer-form writing thesis before graduating. The form of the thesis may vary by area of study. For example, fiction writers may have to complete a short story of 30 pages, whereas poets may need to complete a miniature chapbook consisting of 15 poems.

Because of the workshop-based approach and the need to have enough time to create good work, most master’s in creative writing programs can be completed in two years by full-time students. However, some students might be able to participate in accelerated programs and graduate in as little as one year.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online master’s in creative writing program

  • Technical Seminar in Poetry: Urban Image and Poetic Play. This course helps familiarize students with the literary canon and the historical importance of urban poets throughout history. From the 19th century to the present day, this course reviews the development of urban poetics and how economic and cultural forces have shaped that.
  • Technical Seminar in Fiction: 3D Character Builder. This course primarily teaches writers and aspiring writers to create complex characters that resonate with readers long after they have finished the story. To this end, students will study famous works of literature to identify and understand how authors use conflicts to create the struggles from which great characterization is born.
  • Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: The Trouble With Trauma. This course helps students learn more about psychology and how the human mind is shaped by trauma so that they can write more honestly and authentically about the subject. The goal is to help writers craft stories in which the exploration of trauma leads to personal epiphanies for readers and writers alike.
  • Thesis/Major Projects in Poetry. This course is for students working towards completing a thesis in poetry. Because of this, classes focus on practical strategies for completing a major project, including organizing it, establishing a proper poetic sequence, and actually publishing a chapbook of collected poetry.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Creative Writing?

Career outlook

The career outlook for individuals with online master’s degrees in creative writing is diverse and promising. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for writers and authors is expected to grow by four percent from 2022-2032, driven by the demand for content in various media platforms. The median annual salary for writers and authors is $73,150, according to BLS data. Additionally, creative writing skills are highly transferable, making graduates suitable for a range of professions. Communication skills, creativity, and the ability to craft compelling narratives are valuable in various industries, including marketing, public relations, and content creation.

Career paths

Those with a master’s degree in creative writing have many different industries where they may find work, including publishing, advertising and marketing, journalism, education, and more. In addition, many jobs outside the writing field require individuals with superior communication skills, making it possible for those with this degree to work in just about any industry or business sector.

Here are a few possible career paths a person may take when they earn a master’s degree in creative writing:

  • Author or novelist — writes novels, short stories, or poetry for publication
  • Playwright — writes scripts for theater productions, television shows, or other media
  • Journalist — reports news and features for newspapers, magazines, online publications, or broadcast media
  • Grant writer — writes on behalf of clients looking for funding for their organization or projects
  • Content strategist — plans and develops content strategies for websites and digital marketing campaigns


Earning Potential: $39,610-$161,260+ annually

Education Required: Master’s degree in writing, creative writing, or related field

Copywriters craft written content that persuades and engages readers to take a specific action, often to buy a product, subscribe, or interact with a brand. They work in advertising, marketing, or as freelancers, creating compelling copy for various mediums such as websites, advertisements, brochures, and social media. Copywriters must understand their target audience, product or service benefits, and marketing objectives to write concise, persuasive, and impactful text. They often collaborate with designers and marketing teams to ensure the copy aligns with the overall campaign strategy.


Earning Potential: $38,400-$145,240+ annually

Education Required: Master’s degree in literature, creative writing, or related field

Editors are essential in the publishing and content creation process. They’re responsible for refining and improving written materials for clarity, coherence, and accuracy. They review manuscripts, articles, or documents to correct grammar, punctuation, spelling, and style errors, ensuring the text is polished and error-free. Editors collaborate with writers to enhance the overall quality, structure, and flow of content while adhering to the publication’s guidelines or project requirements. They may also provide feedback, suggest revisions, and fact-check information. Editors work in various industries, including publishing, journalism, marketing, and online content production.

Technical Writer

Earning Potential: $47,460-$128,110+ annually

Education Required: Master’s degree in creative writing, technical writing, or related field

Technical writers translate complex technical information into clear, concise, and user-friendly documentation. They create manuals, guides, and instructional materials for a variety of industries, including technology, engineering, healthcare, and manufacturing. Technical writers work closely with subject matter experts to understand complex concepts and processes, breaking them down into comprehensible content for both experts and non-experts. They use their writing skills to produce technical manuals, user guides, online help systems, and other documentation that aids in understanding and using products or systems effectively. Technical writers also ensure that documentation complies with industry standards and regulations.

Online Master’s in Creative Writing Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online master’s in creative writing degree program?

To apply to an online master’s in creative writing degree program, students must first visit the university website. From there, they can complete the application, and reviewing all the requirements is essential. For example, the application will specify if students must submit GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and/or writing samples or application essays along with their undergraduate transcripts.

Prospective students should consider contacting the admissions counselors for the schools they are interested in to verify the exact application requirements and to receive answers to other questions about the school or program.

How much does an online master’s in creative writing degree cost?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, degrees such as the online master’s in creative writing cost an average of $19,792.

Students may end up paying more or less than that depending on several different factors, including whether they attend a private school or public school and whether they are considered an in-state student or an out-of-state student. Additionally, the number of credits required by the program and how long the student stays enrolled in courses will ultimately impact how much they have to pay for their graduate education.

How long does it take to earn an online master’s in creative writing degree?

In most cases, an online master’s in creative writing program is designed to be completed in two years by full-time students.

While students can complete the required coursework in an accelerated program in as little as one year, many students and professors recommend the traditional approach because it allows for more time to compose stories and poems and receive feedback from others in the workshop. As always, the most important thing for prospective students is to find an online program flexible enough to accommodate their existing schedule, no matter how busy it is.

Is an online master’s in creative writing worth it?

Earning an online master’s in creative writing can be a worthwhile investment for those passionate about writing. It enhances writing skills and opens doors to various writing-related careers. The degree’s value depends on individual goals and aspirations, but it can lead to fulfilling and financially rewarding opportunities in the world of words. A senior content strategist, for example, makes a median salary of $102,381, according to

The adaptability of creative writing skills means graduates can explore opportunities in diverse sectors, leveraging their storytelling abilities to communicate effectively and creatively in various professional contexts. From ghostwriting to video game writing, there are many professional options for a person with a degree in creative writing.

Earning a degree online allows for increased flexibility over on-campus programs, as students can study from anywhere, often at their own pace and at times that are convenient to them. There can be financial benefits since there is no need for on-campus housing or transportation costs. Job candidates with online degrees may also stand out because of their demonstrated time management and networking skills.

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