Why This Matters


    Written communication skills are consistently sought-after by employers across all industries. A master’s in creative writing will enhance your ability to communicate effectively in writing.


    The self-publishing industry continues to grow, both for print and e-books, with over 7 million titles in the Kindle Store alone. The ease of self-publishing has created a whole new market for creative writers.


    A master’s in creative writing will also prepare you for employment as an English literature or writing instructor at the post-secondary level. Employment is expected to rise 4 percent by 2028.

Our Research

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. A number of programs are considered low-residency, as most coursework can be completed online, with minimal on-campus or in-person requirements.

The majority of schools on this list have regional accreditation. We also included schools that have national accreditation. Regionally accredited schools are more widely recognized as meeting high standards of quality in post-secondary education.

Once we narrowed our list of programs, we evaluated each of them on the basis of 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.

  • 60 hours to write this article
  • 164 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 409 education programs we compared

The Top 23 Online Master’s in Creative Writing Programs

Best Online Master's in Creative Writing Degree Programs
Intelligent Pick
Lindenwood University
Best Self-Paced Program
University of Arkansas at Monticello
Best Low-Residency Program
Eastern Kentucky University
Best Study Abroad Options
Arcadia University
Best in the West
Antioch University
Best Faculty-to-Student Ratio
Oregon State University - Cascades
Most Renowned Faculty
The University of Texas at El Paso
Best for Poetry
Fairfield University
Best Scholarships
Mississippi University for Women
Best in the South
University of Houston-Victoria
Best Digital Media Writing Focus
East Stroudsburg University Of Pennsylvania
Best in the Northwest
Eastern Oregon University
Best in the Northeast
Wilkes University
Best Mentorship Program
Saint Leo University
Best Literature Focus
Fairleigh Dickinson University
Most Affordable
National University
Best For-Profit University
Full Sail University
Best Specialization Options
Southern New Hampshire University
Best Nonfiction Emphasis
Bay Path University
Most Flexible
Western Connecticut State University
Best Ivy League Program
Harvard University
Best in the Southeast
Queens University of Charlotte
Most Customizable
University of New Orleans

What You Should Know About This Degree

There is no single way to become a published writer. Many individuals pursue a master’s in creative writing because it allows them to sharpen their skills, gain a better understanding of the craft of writing, and make professional connections.

However, these factors do not guarantee publication or success as a writer. Individuals considering a master’s in creative writing should understand that often, this degree is as much about personal and artistic fulfillment as it is about financial return-on-investment. Other options for pursuing education in creative writing include participating in writers groups, residencies, and continuing education programs.

In a creative writing master’s program, students are typically expected to select a genre in which to specialize. Common areas of focus include fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, or screenwriting. Other programs have broader curriculums that do not require specialization. Before applying, consider your career and creative goals so that you can select the program that is right for you.

Many online programs have required or optional residencies. These residencies are a chance for students to connect in person and meet with writers and other publishing professionals. Review the program’s residency options, and confirm that you can accommodate any in-person requirements in your schedule and budget.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Online Master’s in Creative Writing programs:

  • Is there a portfolio requirement for admission? Although many creative writing master’s programs accept students from all educational and professional backgrounds, applicants must usually demonstrate their writing proficiency during the application process by submitting a portfolio of creative writing work. Review the program’s admissions requirements to ensure you have the necessary materials to submit for your application.
  • How are courses delivered? Online courses are typically delivered either synchronously, meaning classes meet remotely at scheduled times each week, or asynchronously, in which students can access lessons and assignments at any time. Since creative writing programs rely heavily on teacher and student interaction for feedback, it’s important to find out how the program delivers classes and conducts reviews.

At this point, you should also be taking the following steps: reviewing application deadlines and admission requirements for programs, gathering application materials, and researching funding resources, including student loans, scholarships, assistantships, and employer tuition benefits. If you have questions or need assistance, you can contact the school’s admissions and financial aid departments.