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Most schools have rolling admissions and financial help so you can start your degree in a few weeks!

Students who participate in an online master’s in creative writing program 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 full-time students can usually earn their degree within two years. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average annual tuition for graduate degree programs is $20,513.

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

Choose your area of study

Typically, creative writing master’s programs award a Master of Fine Arts (MFA), which is a terminal degree in fine arts-related fields. Many programs will allow you to select a concentration and focus your studies on a particular niche in this field, such as fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, or screenplay writing. If you already know what you would like to do after you graduate, look for programs that closely match these career goals.

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.

You should only apply to institutions that have been approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. These organizations evaluate schools to ensure they provide students with a high-quality education. Those who attend a school that isn’t regionally accredited may be unable to access financial aid or transfer credits to another institution if needed.

Students can immediately eliminate any schools that are not accredited and should strongly consider eliminating those that are too expensive for their budget. While such schools may offer a good education, it’s 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.

To learn more about any schools that you’re interested in, you can visit the school’s website, contact an admissions counselor, follow the school on social media, or attend an in-person or virtual open house.

Prepare for tests and applications

Application requirements vary by school and program. While many online master’s in creative writing 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, which may include undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation, writing samples, and a personal statement. Before submitting an application, always contact an admissions counselor to ensure you have the most accurate information regarding requirements and deadlines.

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. 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.

Before making your final decision, review your needs and goals again. Do you plan to attend school full-time or part-time? Do you want your program to be as online as possible, or are you fine with a hybrid program that has a fair amount of in-person requirements? Some programs offer asynchronous courses, which can be completed at your own pace, while others only offer synchronous courses, which involve remotely attending lectures and completing assignments at the same time as other students — which of these two online learning formats do you prefer? Your school should accommodate your scheduling needs and learning preferences.

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 may be able to 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. Those who already work in the field should see if their employer offers tuition assistance benefits as well.

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

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

All of the institutions on this list are regionally accredited schools, which are widely recognized as meeting high standards for postsecondary education.

Once we narrowed our list of programs, we evaluated each based on reputation, flexibility, cost, 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 it.
  • Technical Seminar in Fiction: 3D Character Builder. This course teaches aspiring writers how 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

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:

  • Writer or author — Develop novels, screenplays, advertisements, and other pieces of writing.
    • Median annual salary: $73,690
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 4%
    • New job openings projected: 15,500 annually
  • News analyst, reporter, or journalist — Research topics, conduct interviews, and write stories to keep the public updated on noteworthy information.
    • Median annual salary: $57,500
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): -3%
    • New job openings projected: 6,000 annually
  • Advertising, promotions, or marketing manager — Plan promotional campaigns and supervise marketing staff.
    • Median annual salary: $156,580
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 6%
    • New job openings projected: 34,000 annually

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 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, the average tuition for graduate degree programs is $20,513 per year.

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 certainly lead to fulfilling and financially rewarding opportunities in the world of words.

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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