The Best 15 Creative Writing MFA Programs in 2023

April 7, 2023

mfa creative writing programs

Whether you studied at a top creative writing university , or are a high school dropout who will one day become a bestselling author , you may be considering an MFA in Creative Writing. But is a writing MFA genuinely worth the time and potential costs? How do you know which program will best nurture your writing? This article walks you through the considerations for an MFA program, as well as the best Creative Writing MFA programs in the United States.

First of all, what is an MFA?

A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is a graduate degree that usually takes from two to three years to complete. Applications require a sample portfolio for entry, usually of 10-20 pages of your best writing.

What actually goes on in a creative writing MFA beyond inspiring award-winning books and internet memes ? You enroll in workshops where you get feedback on your creative writing from your peers and a faculty member. You enroll in seminars where you get a foundation of theory and techniques. Then you finish the degree with a thesis project.

Reasons to Get an MFA in Creative Writing

You don’t need an MFA to be a writer. Just look at Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison or bestselling novelist Emily St. John Mandel.

Nonetheless, there are plenty of reasons you might still want to get a creative writing MFA. The first is, unfortunately, prestige. An MFA from a top program can help you stand out in a notoriously competitive industry to be published.

The second reason: time. Many MFA programs give you protected writing time, deadlines, and maybe even a (dainty) salary.

Third, an MFA in Creative Writing is a terminal degree. This means that this degree allows you to teach writing at the university level, especially after you publish a book.

But above all, the biggest reason to pursue an MFA is the community it brings you. You get to meet other writers, and share feedback, advice, and moral support, in relationships that can last for decades.

Types of Creative Writing MFA Programs

Here are the different types of programs to consider, depending on your needs:

Fully-Funded Full-Time Programs

These programs offer full-tuition scholarships and sweeten the deal by actually paying you to attend them.

  • Pros: You’re paid to write (and teach).
  • Cons: Uprooting your entire life to move somewhere possibly very cold.

Full-Time MFA Programs

These programs include attending in-person classes and paying tuition (though many offer need-based and merit scholarships).

  • Pros: Lots of top-notch programs non-funded programs have more assets to attract world-class faculty and guests.
  • Cons: It’s an investment that might not pay itself back.

Low-Residency MFA Programs

Low-residency programs usually meet biannually for short sessions. They also offer one-on-one support throughout the year. These MFAs are more independent, preparing you for what the writing life is actually like.

  • Pros: No major life changes required. Cons: Less time dedicated to writing and less time to build relationships.

Online MFA Programs

Held 100% online. These programs have high acceptance rates and no residency requirement. That means zero travel or moving expenses.

  • Pros: No major life changes required.
  • Cons: These MFAs have less name-recognition

The Top 15 Creative Writing MFA Programs Ranked by Category

The following programs are selected for their balance of high funding, impressive return on investment, stellar faculty, major journal publications , and impressive alums.

Fully Funded MFA Programs

1) johns hopkins university, mfa in fiction/poetry (baltimore, md).

This is a two-year program, with $33,000 teaching fellowships per year. This MFA offers the most generous funding package. Not to mention, it offers that sweet, sweet health insurance, mind-boggling faculty, and a guaranteed lecture position after graduation (nice). No nonfiction MFA (boo).

  • Incoming class size: 8 students
  • Admissions rate: 11.1%
  • Alumni: Chimamanda Adiche, Jeffrey Blitz, Wes Craven, Louise Erdrich, Porochista Khakpour, Phillis Levin, ZZ Packer, Tom Sleigh, Elizabeth Spires, Rosanna Warren

2) University of Texas, James Michener Center (Austin, TX)

A fully-funded 3-year program with a generous stipend of $29,500. The program offers fiction, poetry, playwriting and screenwriting. The Michener Center is also unique because you study a primary genre and a secondary genre, and also get $3,000 for the summer.

  • Incoming class size : 12 students
  • Acceptance rate: a bone-chilling less-than-1% in fiction; 2-3% in other genres
  •   Alumni: Fiona McFarlane, Brian McGreevy, Karan Mahajan, Alix Ohlin, Kevin Powers, Lara Prescott, Roger Reeves, Maria Reva, Domenica Ruta, Sam Sax, Joseph Skibell, Dominic Smith

3) University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA)

The Iowa Writers’ Workshop is a 2-year program on a residency model for fiction and poetry. This means there are low requirements, and lots of time to write groundbreaking novels or play pool at the local bar. Most students are funded, with fellowships worth up to $21,000. The Translation MFA, co-founded by Gayatri Chakravorti Spivak, is also two years, but with more intensive coursework. The Nonfiction Writing Program is a prestigious three-year MFA program and is also intensive.

  • Incoming class size: 25 each for poetry and fiction; 10-12 for nonfiction and translation.
  • Acceptance rate: 3.7%
  • Fantastic Alumni: Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Connor, Sandra Cisneros, Joy Harjo, Garth Greenwell, Kiley Reid, Brandon Taylor, Eula Biss, Yiyun Li, Jennifer Croft

4) University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI)

Anne Carson famously lives in Ann Arbor, as do the MFA students U-Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program. This is a big university town, which is less damaging to your social life. Plus, there’s lots to do when you have a $23,000 stipend, summer funding, and health care.

This is a 2-3-year program, with an impressive reputation. They also have a demonstrated commitment to “ push back against the darkness of intolerance and injustice ” and have outreach programs in the community.

  • Incoming class size: 18
  • Acceptance rate: 4% (which maybe seems high after less-than-1%)
  • Alumni: Brit Bennett, Vievee Francis, Airea D. Matthews, Celeste Ng, Chigozie Obioma, Jia Tolentino, Jesmyn Ward

5) Brown University (Providence, RI)

Brown offers an edgy, well-funded program in a place that doesn’t dip into arctic temperatures. Students are all fully-funded for 2-3 years with $29,926 in 2021-22. Students also get summer funding and—you guessed it—that sweet, sweet health insurance.

In the Brown Literary Arts MFA, students take only one workshop and one elective per semester. It’s also the only program in the country to feature a Digital/Cross Disciplinary Track.

  • Incoming class size: 12-13
  • Acceptance rate: “highly selective”
  • Alumni: Edwidge Danticat, Jaimy Gordon, Gayl Jones, Ben Lerner, Joanna Scott, Kevin Young, Ottessa Moshfegh

Best MFA Creative Writing Programs (Continued) 

6) university of arizona (tucson, az).

This 3-year program has many attractive qualities. It’s in “ the lushest desert in the world ”, and was recently ranked #4 in creative writing programs, and #2 in Nonfiction. You can take classes in multiple genres, and in fact, are encouraged to do so. Plus, Arizona dry heat is good for arthritis.

This notoriously supportive program pays $20,000 a year, and offers the potential to volunteer at multiple literary organizations. You can also do supported research at the US-Mexico Border.

  • Incoming class size: 9
  • Acceptance rate: 4.85% (a refreshingly specific number after Brown’s evasiveness)
  • Alumni: Francisco Cantú, Jos Charles, Tony Hoagland, Nancy Mairs, Richard Russo, Richard Siken, Aisha Sabatini Sloan, David Foster Wallace

7) Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ):

Arizona State is also a three-year funded program in arthritis-friendly dry heat. It offers small class sizes, individual mentorships, and one of the most impressive faculty rosters in the game. Everyone gets a $19,000 stipend, with other opportunities for financial support.

  • Incoming class size: 8-10
  • Acceptance rate: 3% (sigh)
  • Alumni: Tayari Jones, Venita Blackburn, Dorothy Chan, Adrienne Celt, Dana Diehl, Matthew Gavin Frank, Caitlin Horrocks, Allegra Hyde, Hugh Martin, Bonnie Nadzam


8) new york university (new york, ny).

This two-year program is in New York City, meaning it comes with close access to literary opportunities and hot dogs. NYU is private, and has one of the most accomplished faculty lists anywhere. Students have large cohorts (more potential friends!) and have a penchant for winning top literary prizes.

  • Incoming class size: 40-60
  • Acceptance rate: 6%
  • Alumni: Nick Flynn, Nell Freudenberger, Aracelis Girmay, Mitchell S. Jackson, Tyehimba Jess, John Keene, Raven Leilani, Robin Coste Lewis, Ada Limón, Ocean Vuong

9) Columbia University (New York, NY)

Another 2-3 year private MFA program with drool-worthy permanent and visiting faculty. Columbia offers courses in fiction, poetry, translation, and nonfiction. Beyond the Ivy League education, Columbia offers close access to agents, and its students have a high record of bestsellers.

  • Incoming class size: 110
  • Acceptance rate: 21%
  • Alumni: Alexandra Kleeman, Rachel Kushner, Claudia Rankine, Rick Moody, Sigrid Nunez, Tracy K. Smith, Emma Cline, Adam Wilson, Marie Howe, Mary Jo Bang

10) Sarah Lawrence (Bronxville, NY)

Sarah Lawrence offers speculative fiction beyond the average fiction, poetry, and nonfiction course offerings. With intimate class sizes, this program is unique because it offers biweekly one-on-one conferences with its stunning faculty. It also has a notoriously supportive atmosphere.

  • Incoming class size: 30-40
  • Acceptance rate: N/A
  • Alumni: Cynthia Cruz, Melissa Febos, T Kira Madden, Alex Dimitrov, Moncho Alvarado


11 bennington college (bennington, vt).

This two-year program boasts truly stellar faculty, and meets twice a year for ten days in January and June. It’s like a biannual vacation in beautiful Vermont, plus mentorship by a famous writer, and then you get a degree. The tuition is $23,468 per year, with scholarships available.

  • Acceptance rate: 53%
  • Incoming class: 40
  • Alumni: Larissa Pham, Andrew Reiner, Lisa Johnson Mitchell, and others

12)  Institute for American Indian Arts (Santa Fe, NM)

This two-year program emphasizes Native American and First Nations writing. With truly amazing faculty and visiting writers, they offer a wide range of genres offered, in screenwriting, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

Students attend two eight-day residencies each year, in January and July, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. At $12,000 a year, it boasts being “ one of the most affordable MFA programs in the country .”

  • Incoming class size : 22
  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Alumni: Tommy Orange, Dara Yen Elerath, Kathryn Wilder

13) Vermont College of Fine Arts

One of few MFAs where you can study the art of the picture book, middle grade and young adult literature, graphic literature, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry for young people. Students meet twice a year for nine days, in January and July, in Vermont. You can also do many travel residencies in exciting (and warm) places like Cozumel.

VCFA boasts amazing faculty and visiting writers, with individualized study options and plenty of one-on-one time. Tuition is $48,604.

  • Incoming class size: 18-25
  • Acceptance rate: 63%
  • Alumnx: Lauren Markham, Mary-Kim Arnold, Cassie Beasley, Kate Beasley, Julie Berry, Bridget Birdsall, Gwenda Bond, Pablo Cartaya


14) university of texas at el paso (el paso, tx).

The world’s first bilingual and online MFA program in the world. UTEP is considered the best online MFA program, and features award-winning faculty from across the globe. Intensive workshops allow submitting in Spanish and English, and genres include poetry and fiction. This three-year program costs $14,766 a year, with rolling admissions.

  • Alumni: Watch alumni testimonies here

15) Bay Path University (Long Meadow, MA)

This 2-year online program is dedicated entirely to nonfiction. A supportive, diverse community, Bay Path offers small class sizes, close mentorship, and a potential field trip in Ireland.

There are many tracks, including publishing, Narrative Medicine, and teaching. Core courses include memoir, narrative journalism, and the personal essay. The price is $785/credit, for 39 credits, with scholarships available.

  • Incoming class size: 20
  • Acceptance rate: an encouraging 78%
  • Alumni: Read alumni testimonies here

Prepare for your MFA in advance:

  • Best English Programs
  • Best Creative Writing Schools
  • Writing Summer Programs

Best MFA Creative Writing Programs – References:

  • The Creative Writing MFA Handbook: A Guide for Prospective Graduate Students , by Tom Kealey (A&C Black 2005)
  • Graduate School Admissions

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Julia Conrad

With a Bachelor of Arts in English and Italian from Wesleyan University as well as MFAs in both Nonfiction Writing and Literary Translation from the University of Iowa, Julia is an experienced writer, editor, educator, and a former Fulbright Fellow. Julia’s work has been featured in  The Millions ,  Asymptote , and  The Massachusetts Review , among other publications. To read more of her work, visit

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This is an attempt at creating an objective ranking of graduate creative writing programs.

For further and more detailed information on how the scores are generated see the methodology page.

Lists of authors without graduate creative writing degrees or whose degree status is unknown are available. Send questions, comments and corrections to [email protected] .

Disclaimer: No endorsement of these ratings should be implied by the writers and writing programs listed on this site, or by the editors and publishers of Best American Short Stories , Best American Essays , Best American Poetry , The O. Henry Prize Stories and The Pushcart Prize Anthology .

Aspiring Author

15 Best Low Residency MFA Programs

Author: Natalie Harris-Spencer Updated: February 18, 2023

A home office overlooking a university to show the best low residency mfa programs

The best low residency MFA programs offer you a more cost-effective way to complete a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. The difference between a low residency and a fully remote program is that you’ll be expected to stay on campus for short periods throughout the year, giving you greater flexibility than if you’d have either been living on campus, or full-time in front of a computer screen.

What can you expect from the best low residency MFA programs?

These programs will force you to juggle your writing time around your day job , family, and cats, while still plunging you into that writers’ life you so crave. In many ways, they’re harder than the traditional brick-and-mortar school program, in that they give you a truer flavor of what it’s like to pursue a writing career with a million other things going on in your life. They’re also far more immersive than an online-only program.

You’ll be hit with a combination of remote and in-person learning. A typical school year comprises two semesters, of which there is usually a 10-day intensive residency on campus per semester (so, two residencies per year, for two years). The time in between residencies is remote i.e. spent from your writing desk at home, where you will be paired with a mentor or smaller groups of writers. In fact, the 1:1 mentorship is a huge benefit of a low residency MFA program ; you’ll get closer attention than you would if you were in a traditional college class.

The best low residency MFA programs will offer a variety of genres , including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, popular fiction, scriptwriting, literary translation, graphic novels and comics, and writing for young people, while some allow for a dual-genre path.

While MFAs are not cheap, low residency programs are certainly on the more affordable side. Read on for 15 best low residency MFA programs, listed in alphabetical order.

1. Antioch University

Offered by AU Los Angeles, Antioch University’s low-residency MFA in Creative Writing program is dedicated to the education of literary and dramatic artists, community engagement, and the pursuit of social justice. It offers two, 10-day residencies in June and December.

2. Bard College

Bard College offers MFAs for artists in a variety of disciplines, not just writing. Each summer session runs for eight intensive weeks (there is no winter residency), and does not follow the traditional semester schedule. Most students receive some amount of financial aid, making it an attractive option for candidates.

3. Bennington College

Bennington College is widely regarded as one of the best low residency MFA programs in the United States. Residencies take place in picturesque Vermont, and their prestigious faculty includes many multi-published authors and literary prizewinners. You can elect to pursue a dual-genre path. Bennington’s residencies take place in January and June.

4. Cedar Crest College

This pan-European MFA offers a single 15-day residency at the beginning of July that rotates between Dublin, Ireland, Barcelona, Spain, and Vienna, Austria, with new locations coming soon. Unlike other programs, you’ll only attend three residencies in total, and you won’t go to the university campus in Allentown, Pennsylvania. But…you get to travel to Europe.

5. Goucher College

The only program dedicated solely to nonfiction writing, this low residency MFA attracts applicants and faculty interested in pursuing narrative, memoir, personal essay, and literary journalism. Literary agents and editors attend the two 10-day residencies in Baltimore, Maryland, and there are sponsored trips to New York to meet top publishing professionals.

6. Institute of American Indian Arts

Now in its tenth year, the emphasis with this particular Creative Writing MFA is on Native writers, voices, texts, and experience, although applications are open to all. Based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, it offer two 8-day residencies in January and July.

7. Lesley University

While the nine-day residencies take place in the “literary mecca” of Cambridge, Massachusetts, there’s also the opportunity for students to study abroad at a 12-day residency in rural Wales. Lesley has relationships with literary agencies and presses , so that you get a fast-track into publishing on submitting your thesis when you graduate.

8. Lindenwood University

Located in St. Charles, Missouri, Lindenwood University is unique in that there is no formal residency requirement: you can take classes fully on campus, online, or choose the low residency model. The program is more affordable than others due to its flexibility, and offers financial aid to teachers and candidates over the age of sixty.

9. New York University

Based on NYU’s campus in Paris, France, there are five, 10-day residencies held in January and July. This is one of the more expensive programs, with limited funding available. However, its faculty line-up is always incredible, and you’re paying for the prestige of Paris.

10. Pacific University

Based in Portland, Oregon, Pacific University’s MFA program places a strong emphasis on craft . It offers multiple full and partial merit-based scholarships to qualifying candidates. Residencies are in January and June.

11. Sewanee School of Letters

The model at Sewanee School of Letters in Tennessee is slightly different: you complete a single, six-week residency over the summer , which in turn is spread over the course of three to five summers, making it more affordable than other low residency programs.

12. University of New Orleans

Despite positioning itself as online MFA, the University of New Orleans is actually low residency, in that it offers a month-long residency every summer at various international locations, including Ireland and Italy.

13. University of Southern Maine (Stonecoast)

My alma mater . Stonecoast at USM offers two 10-day residencies in January and July, alongside a concurrent writers’ conference, in the picturesque town of Freeport, Maine. Its popular fiction program is especially popular with writers of horror, fantasy, and sci-fi, and its WISE program (writing for inclusivity and social equity) is at the heart of its ethos. In my humble opinion, it will always be one of the best low residency MFA programs.

14. Vermont College of Fine Arts

Another Vermont entry: proof that this beautiful state inspires creativity. Residencies are nine days and take place in December and July, with past residencies going further afield: Slovenia, Puerto Rico, Cozumel, Mexico, Rome, and Asheville, North Carolina. Literary translation and dual-genre paths are available.

15. Warren Wilson College

Established in 1976, Warren Wilson is the original low residency MFA program, introducing the format to North America and the rest of the world. Consequently, it’s on the pricier end, but there are multiple grants and financial aid available. It offers two, 10-day residencies in January and July near the wonderful town of Asheville, North Carolina, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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25 Best Online Creative Writing MFAs for 2021

An online MFA in creative writing serves multiple purposes. MFA stands for a Master of Fine Arts and is a type of degree geared toward creative professions such as writing, graphic arts, and fashion design. For MFA in creative writing online programs, interested students typically have a background in literature, creative writing, professional writing, or journalism. However, an online MFA in creative writing major may permit applications from those who have a bachelor’s degree in a non-related discipline.

Due to the nature of the career, professionals should choose creative writing MFA online programs. With an online option, there’s no need to attend classes in person. Notably, many students might have a hard time finding local colleges that offer the major. Moreover, an MFA in creative writing online can be done on a person’s timeframe. Online programs provide more flexibility with class scheduling and how many courses must be taken per semester. Students enrolled in online creative writing MFA programs can continue working while still attending classes. Many individuals from creative writing MFA online programs still have full-time jobs. Additionally, any type of familial obligations won’t be disrupted while courses are completed.

Methodology: Ranking the Best Online Creative Writing MFA Programs

To rank the best online MFA Creative Writing programs, the editors of Best Masters Programs compiled fully online, hybrid, and low-residency programs from across the nation. Programs are ranked according to cost, potential salary, and student satisfaction, using data from IPEDS and Niche.

1. Northwestern University

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Founded as a private school in the early 1850s, Northwestern University is one of the founding member schools in the Big Ten Conference. Northwestern’s urban campus is home to nearly 22,000 students studying for academic degrees from eleven colleges/schools. Northwestern University is located only minutes from downtown Chicago and sits along the shores of Lake Michigan.

Degree : MFA – Prose and Poetry

2. University of Georgia

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Established in 1785, the University of Georgia is considered among the oldest public higher learning institutions in the nation, which makes it one of the colonial colleges. Additionally, this public ivy is a four designation school with a student enrollment of approximately 38,650 students. Highlight –UGA owns more than 40,000 acres in the state but also several international centers in England, Italy, and Costa Rica.

Degree : MFA – Narrative Media Writing

3. Fairfield University

Established by the Jesuits in the early 1940s, Fairfield University is now organized into five colleges/schools that serve more than 5,050 students online and from its suburban campus in Fairfield, Connecticut. The school offers more than four majors and other 19 minors through its programming.

Degree : MFA – Creative Writing

4. Seton Hall University

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Established in the mid-1880s as an all-women’s school, Seton Hill University is a private university that is now coeducation and serves approximately 1,550 students on its suburban campus and online. Seton Hall University is home to the National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education. Famous alumni include a state Supreme Court justice, a first lady of Pennsylvania, several CEOs include the CEO of Denver health.

Degree : MFA – Writing Popular Fiction

5. Oregon State University – Cascades

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Oregon State University – Cascades campus was established in 2001 in Bend, Oregon. OSU Cascades is home to approximately 1,150 students. The Cascades campus of Oregon State University is the only higher learning institution in the central area of the state that offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

6. Drexel University

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Established in the 1890s by financier Anthony Drexel, Drexel University is now a full-fledged institution of higher education with a student enrollment of approximately 24,050 students. Drexel University is well-known globally for its cooperative education, which allows for students to earn while they learn.

7. University of Nebraska Omaha

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Established in 1908 as a private school by seminary faculty, the University of Nebraska in Omaha now operates as a space-grant institution of higher education with a student enrollment of approximately 15,350 students. Highlight –The school became a public university in 1930 when it moved campuses across town.

Degree : MFA – Writing

8. National University

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Established in the early to mid-1970s by a retired United States Navy Captain, National University was developed to provide affordable education to working adults throughout the country. The university serves more than 23,850 students on its campuses and online. National University is considered a pioneer in distance learning, has been offering programs for more than two decades.

9. University of Texas at El Paso

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Established in 1914, the University of Texas (Texas -El Paso) is a member school of the state’s university system and home to the Sun Bowl every year. the University of Texas – El Paso holds the distinction of being the second largest of schools with a student enrollment that is a majority of Mexican American.

10. Concordia University St Paul

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Established in the mid-1890s, Concordia University St Paul (CSP) is a member school of the Concordia system with a student enrollment of approximately 5,350 students. The school maintains an urban campus in St Paul that covers more than 40 acres. Concordia University St Paul holds the distinction of having the largest student enrollment of any Lutheran church body in the nation.

Degree : MFA in Creative Writing

11. University of New Orleans

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Established in the mid-1950s as a research school, the University of New Orleans is now a member of the Louisiana state university system. As a space grant institution of higher education, The University of New Orleans serves approximately 7,750 students. The University of New Orleans is home to more than 100 clubs, which includes more than two dozen sororities and fraternities.

12. University of Houston-Victoria

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Established in the mid-1970s as a public school, the University of Houston-Victoria is a multiple campus school that serves approximately 4,350 students. The University of Houston is organized into three colleges/schools in education, business, and arts/sciences.

13. Wilkes University

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Established as a private junior college in the early 1930s, Wilkes University received its university states about six decades later. More than 2,050 students attend classes online or on-campus from the University’s seven colleges/schools. Wilkes University offers its students an impressive fourteen to one student to faculty ratio.

14. Eastern Kentucky University

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Founded in the mid-1870s as Central University, Eastern Kentucky University is a multiple campus school with branch facilities in Manchester, Lancaster, Corbin, and Hazard. Eastern Kentucky University‘s student enrollment (both on-campus and online) is approximately 15,650 students.

15. Albertus Magnus College

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Established in the mid-1920s by the Dominican Sisters of Peace, Albertus Magnus College is now home to more than 1,000 students studying online and on the school’s fifty-acre campus near Yale University. Alumni of Albertus Magnus College include a state representative and a federal judge.

16. Bay Path University

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Established in the late 189s, Bay Path University offers all-women’s undergraduate programs and coeducational programs to its approximate student body of 3,100 students. Bay Path University is also a member school of the eight college consortium in the Greater Springfield area. Bay Path University maintains several campuses in the area and has been honored to have women speakers that include Cokie Roberts and Maya Angelou.

Degree : MFA – Creative Nonfiction

17. Eastern Oregon University

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Founded as a public institution of higher learning for educating teachers, Eastern Oregon University now operates as a member school of the state of Oregon’s university system. The school’s campus in La Grande is home to approximately 3,550 students and is located in the Blue Mountain Range. The graduate degree programs allow for up to 15 credits to be transferred if eligible.

18. Mississippi University for Women

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

The Mississippi University for Women was established in 1884 but now operates as a coeducational institution. The Mississippi University for Women is a space-grant school with a rural campus that serves approximately 2,550 students. The Mississippi University for Women holds the distinction of being the first public institution of higher education that was opened exclusively for women in the country.

19. Lindenwood University

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Established as a school for girls in the mid-1820s, Lindenwood University now serves approximately 7150 students from its 500 acre urban campus about 25 miles to the north and west of St Louis. Lindenwood University’s campus is situated on an elevated ground that overlooks the Missouri River and downtown Saint Charles.

20. Queens University of Charlotte

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Established in the mid-1850s, and affiliated with the Presbyterian Church USA, Queens University of Charlotte’s urban campus is home to more than 2,050 students vying for graduate and undergraduate degree programs from the university’s five colleges/schools. Students at QU ail from more than 40 states and 42 foreign countries.

21. Arcadia University

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

The Arts & Sciences College at Arcadia University offers one of New Hampshire’s best online MFA creative writing programs with its Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree program in Creative Writing. Students enrolled in Arcadia University’s best online creative writing MFA degree program have the option of studying abroad (for instance, in Scotland) to gain a global perspective on writing. Graduates are required to complete 39 semester credits to graduate from the master’s program.

Founded as Beaver College in the mid-1850s, Arcadia University is a private higher learning institution with a student enrollment of more than 3,950 undergraduate and graduate degree students vying for degrees on the university’s 70+ acre campus in Glenside, a suburb of the greater Philadelphia area. The school’s Tower Castle is officially listed as a United States National Historic Landmark.

22. Southern New Hampshire University

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Founded as a business school in the early-1930s, Southern New Hampshire University is now considered one of the fastest-growing nonprofit schools in the nation. The school’s campus serves approximately 4,000 students, with another 85,000+ students studying online through the school’s robust distance learning program. University (Southern NH) offers one of New Hampshire’s best online MFA creative offers an honors program for those students who meet the requirements of this business degree option.

23. Full Sail University

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Full Sail University was founded in the late 1970s as a for-profit professional school and recording studio. At present Full Sail University has a student enrollment that is approximately 19,050 students who study both online and the school’s central Florida campus. Full Sail University’s beginnings are sourced to a radio school in Ohio.

24. Converse College

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Established as a private college in the late-1880s, Converse College’s urban campus in Spartanburg (and online) is home to approximately 1,150 students. Parts of the college are listed in the US National Register of Historic Places. The first class at Converse College began with about 165 students and sixteen members of the faculty.

25. Emerson College

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Established in the 1880s as an oratory and dramatic art school, Emerson College now offers more than 35 academic degree programs and professional training options as a member of the Pro Arts School Consortium in the Boston vicinity. Emerson College has moved several times since its inception but is currently located in Boston’s theater district near the Boston Common.

Degree : MFA – Writing for Film and Television, Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing

Why Should I Get My Creative Writing MFA Online?

Online creative writing MFA programs act as workshops for those who want to pursue a professional career in the industry. Examples of courses within the major include Poetry Writing, Writing in a Second Language, Grammar and Syntax, Teaching Writing, and Framing a Story. Many programs permit students to choose a variety of seminar and workshop topics as a way to design the major to meet their career goals. Each workshop and seminar will be assigned a credit value with students earning credits throughout each semester until they have enough for graduation.

Most programs end with a capstone project that allows the student to workshop his or her novel, short story, or poetry collection. By the end of the MFA in creative writing online program, the student may be ready to submit the work for publication to agents and publishing houses.

What’s the Difference Between an Online and a Low-Residency Creative Writing MFA?

A newer program now found at colleges around the world is the low residency MFA in creative writing major. The low residency program will take a similar amount of time as a traditional MFA program, but campus requirements are reduced. To receive a low residency creative writing MFA degree, a student almost follows a hybrid schedule. On average, when a student enrolls in this type of program, he or she will have to meet on campus for a limited number of visits. Some colleges require residencies twice a year or once per semester. Other schools may only ask that residences occur on an annual basis. The residences are short-term, high-intensity sessions with fellow students, faculty members, and guest speakers. A low residency MFA in creative writing workshop will typically last from one to two weeks. During the residency, a daily schedule is provided with a selection of lectures and workshops that student can attend to fulfill degree requirements. The rest of the coursework outside the residency will be done virtually.

Both a low residency creative writing MFA and an online creative writing MFA will not require students to live on campus. However, an online MFA program doesn’t include any on-campus visits for graduation. All workshops, lectures, courses, and seminars will be done virtually. Both an online and low residency creative writing MFA will award the same Master of Fine Arts degree. The only difference is the minimal residency requirement for the latter type.

How Much Can I Make with an MFA in Creative Writing?

An MFA creative writing salary has a substantial range. Most writers and authors will have advanced degrees in the field. These writers and authors have the potential to earn more because they have taken the time to hone their crafts. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for authors and writers is $63,200 per year. However, the highest earners in the field can make more than $122,000 annually. Writers and authors have a lot of flexibility when it comes to earning a living. They can work part-time, full-time, or on a per-project basis. Those with an MFA in creative writing won’t only submit their work for book publication. They also have the skill set to work for magazines, playhouses, and film and tv production houses. In addition to writing creatively, the graduate can supplement his or her income by writing for websites, blogs, and advertisers.

An MFA creative writing salary is slightly higher if the graduate chooses to work in the field as a technical writer. Technical writers earn an average of $72,850, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many skills taught in creative writing programs such as grammar, syntax, and structure, can be applied to non-fiction pieces. Technical writing jobs are also open to those who wish to remain self-employed.

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The 25 Best Graduate Creative Writing Programs

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

If you’re interested in a creative writing career, this might arguably be one of the best times in history. A glance on the Internet, especially on social media sites, shows a growing demand for content. This means a demand for advanced writing skills, and other creative skills.

​ Are you planning to enhance your creative writing skills? Consider taking one of the best creative writing graduate programs . To get you started on your degree search, we’ve put together this list of best graduate writing programs . In fact, most of these are no- or low-residency creative writing programs. This includes colleges offering an online master’s degree (or hybrid) in Creative Writing.

A creative writer ay find themselves with a number of different career opportunities. Creative writers may write content, go into advertising, be a screen writer or go into publishing just to name a few options in this field.

Best MFA Creative Writing Programs

Western new england university, graduation rate, acceptance rate.

Western New England University

One of the best creative writing MFA programs is offered by Western New England University (WNE, est. 1919) is a low-residency program (College of Arts and Sciences). This is a 48-credit, hybrid MFA in Fiction, but enables a comprehensive study of all aspects of fiction. Students at this top creative writing school will undertake a mix of:

  • craft classes
  • individual conferences
  • manuscript consultations
  • special topics courses
  • workshops in creative writing

For the residencies, these immersive, week-long gatherings are comprised of:

  • discussions

Four of these must be taken. The summer ones are held on-campus in Springfield, Massachusetts, with the winter ones either in the Berkshires or Dublin, Ireland. Those applying for the MFA program will need an undergraduate degree (please check with WNE for GPA requirements).

As one of the best creative writing MFAs , WNE’s Creative Writing MFA provides a mentored approach to education. To ensure students get the one-on-one attention they deserve, the program maintains the student-faculty ratio at 5:1. Faculty mentors and visiting writers are all published authors — many award-winning — covering several forms and genres, including:

  • Literary Criticism
  • Literary Fiction
  • Non-Fiction Essays
  • Young Adult and Middle-Grade Literature

The MFA is particularly well-suited to creative writers with a strong interest in craft and who want to master critical elements, such as:

  • sentence craft
  • story shaping
  • voice development

Key courses in the creative writing program include:

  • Fiction Workshop
  • Special Topics in Creative Writing
  • The Craft of Fiction
  • Type: Private, non-profit
  • Location: Springfield, Massachusetts
  • Cost: $44,112
  • #students: 3,673
  • #grads: 1,121
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Has housing?: Yes
  • Programs: Associates through doctorate level, plus certificates

Lesley University

Graduate rate:, acceptance rate:.


Lesley University (LU, est. 1909) offers a unique, low-residency, hybrid MFA in Creative Writing that will be attractive to writers seeking to explore new boundaries in their craft. LU’s best masters in creative writing requires 49 credits for completion, including a thesis and graduating seminar presentation. Students must also complete five residencies — two per year plus an exit one — in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Each nine-day residency involves:

There is also an exciting opportunity for a 12-day residency in Wales at the Dylan Thomas International Summer School. To qualify for admission into the MFA, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree (please check with LU for GPA requirements).

If you’re looking for one of the best poetry MFA or screenwriting MFA programs , this just might be it. Available genres for Lesley’s MFA in Creative Writing are:

  • Graphic Novels and Comics
  • Non-Fiction
  • Writing for Stage and Screen
  • Writing for Young People

While creative writers will select one genre, they will work with award-winning writers across several of these categories. This underlies the unique interdisciplinary aspect of the program. In addition to encouraging students to explore other genres, LU’s MFA allows them to incorporate other disciplines, as well. For example, students can work with faculty in Art and Design or Arts and Social Sciences to examine how their writing combines with such complementary fields as:

  • art therapy
  • visual arts

Graduates of LU’s low-residency Creative Writing program have pursued careers as:

  • playwrights
  • screenwriters

Several creative writers have become teachers in writing programs at prestigious universities. Key courses for this MFA include:

  • Craft and Reflection
  • Creative Writing
  • Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Cost: $40,230
  • #students: 4,200
  • #grads: 2,339
  • Programs: Bachelor’s through doctorate level degrees, plus certificates

Spalding University

Graduation rate:.

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Spalding University (SU, est. 1814) offers one of the best graduate creative writing programs in the country. Their low-residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Writing. This 65-credit hybrid degree provides the choice of six concentrations:

  • Creative Non-Fiction
  • Playwriting
  • Screenwriting
  • Writing for Children and Young Adults

Students must complete five 10-day residencies, which are comprised of:

The residencies in Louisville, Kentucky, take place in spring and fall. The international ones are held in the summer. After each residency, students undertake a semester of independent study that is primarily focused on honing one’s writing abilities and writing process but is supported by reading and critical analysis. A thesis and the Graduation Residency complete the program. To qualify for admission into this creative writing program, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree (please check with SU for GPA requirements).

Spalding’s Writing MFA is a high-value program that offers an intriguing combination of:

  • academic rigor
  • affordability
  • flexibility

As the world’s first certified compassionate university, SU’s promise of a supportive, non-competitive community seems very real. Additionally, SU takes pride in teaching students how to be successful creative writers amidst the other responsibilities of their daily lives and continues to provide support for alumni after graduation. Key courses for the creative writing students include:

  • Advanced Independent Writing and Reading – Emphasizing the Research Project
  • Intermediate Independent Writing and Reading in Creative Writing
  • Introductory Independent Writing and Reading in Creative Writing

Additional: SU also offers a low-residency Master of Arts (MA) in Writing with tracks in: Creative Writing; and Professional Writing. This 35-credit hybrid degree can be completed in a year. Graduates can then pursue career goals or proceed directly into SU’s MFA.

  • Location: Louisville, Kentucky
  • Cost: $39,325
  • Religious affiliation: Roman Catholic (Sisters of Charity of Nazareth)
  • #students: 1,596
  • #grads: 741
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

Queens University of Charlotte

Queens University Charlotte

Queens University of Charlotte (Queens, est. 1857) offers one of the best creative writing masters programs through the College of Arts and Sciences. This hybrid program requires 52 credits for completion and includes a thesis and a capstone project. While this is essentially a Master’s of creative writing focusing on publishing and editing, students can specialize in one of four genres:

  • Creative Nonfiction

They must take four weeks of residencies selected from two track options. On-Campus Residencies are seven-day sessions held in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the start of each semester. International Residences are annual, culturally rich, 14- or 15-day affairs in one of Buenos Aires, Argentina; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; or Santiago, Chile. A final, on-campus Graduating Residency is also required. To qualify for admission into the MFA, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent creative writing experience. (Please check with Queens for GPA requirements.)

The Queens’ Creative Writing MFA is for:

  • published writers
  • those who want to be published
  • those who want to teach at colleges or universities

The creative writing program provides the:

  • inspiration and support of a writing community
  • the personalized attention of a dedicated instructor
  • the private time needed to write and think

Queens also has opportunities to help graduates achieve their career dreams. This includes an Annual Alumni Weekend with craft seminars, publishing panels, and, every other year, top agents and senior editors from major magazines and publishing houses. There’s also Queens’ Book Development Program. It pairs applicants with a senior editor from a major publisher. Key course options for this MFA include:

  • Dramatic Writing Workshop
  • Guided Reading in Creative Writing
  • Poetry Tutorial
  • Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Cost: $38,480
  • Religious affiliation: Presbyterian Church (USA)
  • #students: 2,338
  • #grads: 668
  • Programs: Bachelor’s and master’s level degrees, plus certificates

Harvard University

Harvard University

Through its Harvard Extension School, Harvard University (Harvard, est. 1636) has one of the best Creative Writing masters programs. While Harvard’s is not an online MFA in creative writing, it is partly online and is called the Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in Extension Studies in the field of Creative Writing and Literature. This 48-credit, low-residency, hybrid degree has the choice of a capstone or thesis track. Primarily taken online, the ALM has a single residency requirement comprising three weeks of study. It starts with a week-long masterclass on-campus and a weekend connecting with agents and editors. The additional two weeks of writing classes and final writing assignment can be done either online or on-campus. To qualify for admission into the ALM, students need a Bachelor’s degree and then must take two required graduate courses at Harvard, earning a minimum grade of B in each one.

Harvard’s Creative Writing and Literature ALM focuses on helping students gain a mastery in creative writing and literary analysis. Graduates will be able to write in multiple genres, including:

  • Dramatic Writing

Students gain advanced creative writing skills in:

  • characterization
  • description
  • point of view
  • story and plot structure

They will also be able to assess literature as both creative writers and scholars. In addition to the acknowledged quality of a Harvard education, the ALM provides students with connection, camaraderie, and support. Many graduates in creative writing go on to careers in:

  • advertising
  • fundraising

Key ALM courses and options include:

  • Advanced Fiction – Writing the Short Story
  • Global Environmental Literatures
  • Writing a Nonfiction Book
  • Cost: $35,760
  • #students: 30,391
  • #grads: 21,864

Ashland University

Ashland University

Ashland University (AU, est. 1878) offers a low-residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing. This is a 45-credit, hybrid degree featuring nine credits of in-residence course work and 36 credits of online study (including a full-semester thesis). The in-residence courses take place during a two-week summer workshop (with seminars and readings) held at AU’s Ashland, Ohio, campus. Three separate workshops/ residencies must be completed. Students have the incredible option to do one of their residencies in Paris. The final residency will feature their thesis defense. Students can choose a degree track in one of three genres:

  • Fiction (literary and science fiction/ fantasy)

To qualify for admission, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree with a GPA over 2.75.

Ashland’s approach to its Creative Writing Master’s program is one of mentored learning. No more than five students are assigned to a single faculty mentor, each of whom is a published author. During residencies, students can also build their own dynamic writing communities with fellow students. Other program benefits for a creative writer include creating a full-length manuscript in one’s chosen genre and having the chance to qualify for graduate assistantships in teaching or publishing. Key courses in this creative writing program include a:

  • Summer Residency

Those obtaining a graduate teaching assistantship will undergo a Pedagogy Track with two additional courses — Composition/ Rhetoric Pedagogy and Supervised Teaching — and teach as many as five online undergraduate composition courses.

  • Location: Ashland, Ohio
  • Cost: $35,415
  • Religious affiliation: Brethren Church
  • #students: 4,447
  • #grads: 1,299
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Arcadia University


The top-value Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing at Arcadia University (Arcadia, est. 1853) is a 39-credit, hybrid program. This creative writing program offers two genre choices: Fiction; or Poetry. Students must complete three separate week-long residencies involving:

  • community building
  • discussions with local or visiting writers
  • faculty advisor meetings
  • writing exercises

The first and third residencies are held on-campus in Glenside, Pennsylvania. The second is a study-abroad opportunity in Edinburgh, Scotland, which adds area tours to the activities list. For this MFA’s thesis requirement, students must produce a full-length manuscript in their chosen genre — and work with their advisor to create a plan to get that manuscript published.

Arcadia’s high-quality Creative Writing program is designed to prepare students for a career in:

Potential employment settings for creative writing graduates include:

  • advertising agencies
  • colleges/ universities
  • corporations
  • governments
  • healthcare organizations
  • media outlets
  • non-profits

Among the creative writing program highlights are:

  • award-winning faculty
  • large amounts of online content and connections
  • weekly workshops with asynchronous discussion and reviews from instructors and peers
  • regular, personal contact between students and faculty

Key course options for the MFA include:

  • Craft of Contemporary Fiction
  • Fiction Practicum
  • Poetry Workshops
  • Type: Private, nonprofit
  • Location: Glenside, Pennsylvania
  • Cost: $31,005
  • Religious Affiliation: Presbyterian Church (USA)
  • #students: 3,300
  • #grads: 1,286
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

University of Nebraska Omaha

University of Nebraska

The low-residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Writing from the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO, est. 1908) is a 60-credit, hybrid program. Students can choose from one of six genres:

  • Young Adult

Those wanting to specialize in a second genre can apply for an additional semester of study. In addition to a thesis requirement, students must complete:

  • a craft paper
  • a series of critical essays
  • an internship

As for the residencies, students must complete five of them, including the final one where they will present their thesis and deliver a craft lecture. Held twice a year at a retreat in Nebraska City, Nebraska, each residency features:

  • craft discussions
  • an individual conference with one’s faculty mentor

UNO’s low-residency Creative Writing MFA is designed for writers seeking a literary career. The program allows for a personalized course of study under the guidance of a dedicated mentor, who is an accomplished (often award-winning) writer. That personalized plan will determine the critical development, reading, and writing a student will undertake each semester. During each residency, students form a supportive community with their single-genre workshop group. Then, through Special Topic Workshops and future residencies, they’ll also get to interact with all the other MFA students and study multiple genres. Key course options for the creative writing program include:

  • Fiction Seminar
  • Playwriting or Screenwriting Seminar
  • Poetry Seminar
  • Type: Public
  • Location: Omaha, Nebraska
  • Cost: $30,840
  • Affiliation: University of Nebraska System
  • #students: 15,892
  • #grads: 3,124

Bay Path University

Bay Path

The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Nonfiction Writing from Bay Path University (BPU, est. 1897) is a fully online program. To graduate, students must complete 39 credits, including six for their thesis. In addition to their core courses, creative writing students must choose from one of three tracks:

  • Narrative Medicine

Each track provides for an internship or practicum opportunity. Also, while this MFA is a no-residency program, BPU does have the option for a week-long Summer Writing Seminar in Ireland, which currently features Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon. New students can enter the MFA in January, May, or September. To qualify for admission, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA in their English and Writing classes.

​Students in Bay Path’s online MFA will gain a deeper understanding of creative non-fiction as a unique genre and learn what it takes to write publishable work based on their own experiences or the personal stories of others. Other benefits include:

  • being mentored by award-winning writers
  • gaining real-world experience and connections
  • obtaining peer feedback in writing workshops

Creative writing program graduates can pursue careers in various fields, including:

  • public relations

Popular job titles include:

  • grant writer
  • scriptwriter

Key courses in BPU’s MFA include:

  • Reading and Writing about Culture, Race, and Identity
  • Travel and Food Writing for Publication
  • Writing Contemporary Women’s Stories
  • Location: Longmeadow, Massachusetts
  • Cost: $30,225
  • #students: 3,224
  • #grads: 1,429

Drexel University

Drexel University

The low-residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing at Drexel University (DU, est. 1891) is a 45-credit hybrid program. This MFA focuses on a Fiction concentration with opportunities to gain skills and understanding in other genres. (The program also previously offered a Screenwriting Track. Please check with DU about its availability.) Students must complete three separate five-day residencies. The first and third are at Drexel’s campus in Philadelphia, the second is in New York. Each residency has career development and writing mastery components. However, the second one helps set DU apart. In that Professional Residency, students form connections with:

Those applying for admission into the creative writing program must have a Bachelor’s degree (please check with DU for GPA requirements).

As one of the top MFA creative writing programs in the country, Drexel’s Creative Writing MFA was designed to develop writers who can create work worthy of being published and understand what it takes to be published. Students will be mentored by acclaimed authors, learn from award-winning writers, and get feedback from fellow students. Drexel also provides a rare opportunity to connect one’s creative writing to civic engagement activities. These experiences include:

  • studying how to create grassroots change while in Haiti
  • writing about the natural world while in Equatorial Guinea
  • creating entertainment for terminally ill children
  • telling the stories of hospice patients, incarcerated men and women, and military veterans.

Key courses in this creative writing program include:

  • Fiction Writing Packet Exchange
  • Fiction Writing Workshop
  • Reading as a Writer (Genre Authors)

Tuition is currently at a special rate and may increase in each new semester. We’ve estimated total cost based only this special 50% off per-credit rate, available at time of publication.

  • Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Cost: $30,195
  • #students: 23,589
  • #grads: 8,973

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU, est. 1932) has a fully online Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing. This 48-credit creative writing degree offers the choice of four genre fiction tracks:

  • Contemporary
  • Speculative

SNHU’s program culminates with a three-course thesis where students create a full-length novel or story collection of publishable quality. Prior to that, creative writing students study the craft of writing and incorporate what they learn into their own writing. They also explore the publishing process to better understand the practical side of being a successful author and marketing one’s work. To qualify for admission into the MFA, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA.

SNHU’s Creative Writing MFA is one of the few fully online top creative writing MFA programs and even fewer focused on genre fiction. What gives it even better value is its unique and beneficial career-building components. Specifically, students can choose from one of two built-in certificates: Graduate Certificate in Online Teaching of Writing; or Graduate Certificate in Professional Writing. That means creative writing graduates will be better prepared to teach at the college and university level or be ready to pursue professional writing opportunities in today’s marketing-oriented, project-driven economy. Key courses for the creative writing program include:

  • Advanced Studies in Genre Literature
  • Finding and Reaching an Audience
  • The Business of Writing

Additional: SNHU also offers two other creative writing programs for graduate students. The low-residency Mountainview Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Fiction or Nonfiction is a 60-credit, hybrid degree. Meanwhile, the 36-credit Master of Arts (MA) in English and Creative Writing is a fully online program.

  • Location: Manchester, New Hampshire
  • Cost: $30,096
  • #students: 134,345
  • #grads: 22,746

Converse University

Converse University (CU, est. 1889) — formerly Converse College — offers a low-residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing. This 48-credit hybrid degree comprises five separate nine-day residencies and four mentoring semesters. Residencies incorporate seminars, workshops, and lectures and are held twice a year on CU’s Spartanburg, South Carolina, campus. The Graduating Residency completes the program and features a thesis defense. Students can focus on one of three genres:

Those choosing Fiction can specialize in Young Adult Fiction. Alternatively, students in any genre can specialize in Environmental Writing. Those wanting to further broaden their career horizons can choose the Second Genre Emphasis. This adds 12 credits to their creative writing degree requirements, plus an additional residency and mentoring semester. To apply for admission into the MFA, students must have a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA.

The non-traditional format of CU’s Creative Writing MFA utilizes the mentor-apprentice relationship to help students develop advanced writing skills and a relevant understanding of contemporary literature and craft. This educational style also means students can personalize their course, project, and reading list selections. Additional program benefits include:

  • faculty mentors who are award-winning writers
  • free room and board during residencies for full-time students
  • publishing opportunities through the Clemson-Converse Literature Series

Recent graduates have won numerous writing awards and secured book deals with major and top independent publishers. Key course options in this MFA include:

  • Craft Topics in Environmental Writing
  • Craft Topics in Young Adult Fiction Writing
  • Poetry Writing

NOTE: According to the creative writing program site, room and board is provided included with tuition and fees to enrolled MFA students for both the summer and winter residencies. Summer accommodations are on-campus; winter accommodations are at local hotels.

  • Location: Spartanburg, South Carolina
  • Cost: $29,952
  • #students: 1,377
  • #grads: 640

Eastern Oregon University

Eastern Oregon

Eastern Oregon University (EOU, est. 1929) offers a low-residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing. This 60-credit, hybrid degree has both a thesis and a practicum requirement. While students must select a primary genre for their thesis, they will study several genres, including:

  • Graphic Novels

Students who want to specialize in a second genre can stay an additional year to do another thesis. For the ecologically inclined, EOU’s MFA has a Wilderness, Ecology and Community concentration. Either way, every student will have a unique nature experience through the summer residencies, which split time between a Wallowa Lake retreat and EOU’s campus in La Grande, Oregon. Students must complete three separate two-week residencies comprised of:

  • craft seminars
  • panel presentations
  • writing workshops

The final residency features their thesis presentation.

EOU’s low-residency Creative Writing MFA follows a cohort model to help create a tight-knit, collaborative group of fellow writing students. At the same time, as the program is designed for working professionals, students will be able to study at their own pace to ensure they can balance their commitments. An additional benefit of EOU’s creative writing program is the hands-on experience provided through a variety of experiences during the practicum including:

  • administrative
  • service learning
  • teaching opportunities

Key course options for the creative writing program include:

  • Literary/ Film Themes
  • Special Topics in Writing
  • Themes in Writing/ Rhetoric
  • Location: La Grande, Oregon
  • Cost: $29,880
  • Affiliation: Oregon University System
  • #students: 2,853
  • #grads: 267
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • Programs: Associates through master’s level degrees, plus certificates

West Virginia Wesleyan College

West Virginia Wesleyan

The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing from West Virginia Wesleyan College (WVWC, est. 1890) is a low-residency program. This 49-credit, hybrid degree requires a thesis and a critical essay. Students must also complete five total residencies — comprising craft seminars, readings, and workshops — with the last one centered on their thesis interview and presentation. Summer residencies are on-campus in Buckhannon, West Virginia, with the winter ones in Blackwater Falls State Park. (An Ireland MFA Residency is also an option.) Students must choose from one of three genre tracks:

For those wanting to study a second track, a Cross-Genre Concentration is available. It adds 12 credits, a residency, and a semester to the creative writing program’s original completion requirements.

Wesleyan’s low-residency Creative Writing MFA follows a student-centered model that is designed to replicate the flow of a writer’s life. Program participants can maintain their regular lives while learning to become dedicated writers in balance with those commitments. Students work one-on-one with a variety of accomplished faculty mentors. At the same time, everyone is part of a welcoming, supportive writing community. Study and coursework are focused on mastering craft and technique, along with the development and furtherance of the writer’s mind.

  • Location: Buckhannon, West Virginia
  • Cost: $26,729
  • Religious affiliation: United Methodist Church
  • #students: 1,066
  • Programs: BMDC Bachelor’s through doctorate level degrees, plus certificates

Lindenwood University

Lindenwood University

Lindenwood University (LU, est. 1827) offers a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Writing that can be taken online, on-campus, or in a hybrid format. This 48-credit, creative writing MFA includes a thesis requirement and combines craft and literature classes with writing workshops to help students grow as writers and expand their literary knowledge and analytical abilities. With the fully online option, there are no residency requirements. Additionally, students can customize their degree outline, selecting courses across several genres and literary areas, or choosing an emphasis in:

To apply for admission, students must have a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

The University of Denver also offers a Ph.D. in English & Literary Arts with a concentration in Creative Writing.  Students will choose either a “poetry” or “prose” track.  Poets &Writers ranked the University of Denver as one of the best creative writing programs MFA in the country.

LU’s MFA in Writing is designed as a fully flexible option that fits the needs, interests, and schedules of all its students. Lindenwood aims to remove the barriers that may be stopping someone from pursuing their educational and career goals. Along with career resources, peer support, and networking connections, an additional benefit of this MFA is the chance to be an editorial assistant with the program’s annual literary journal. Graduates of LU’s MFA can pursue both employed and self-employed positions, achieving such job titles as:

  • marketing writer
  • staff writer
  • technical writer

As this MFA is a terminal degree, graduates can also teach at the college and university level. Key course options for this MFA include Focused Scriptwriting Workshop and The Personal Essay and Memoir.

  • Location: Saint Charles, Missouri
  • Cost: $24,960
  • Affiliation: Lindenwood University System
  • #students: 7,382
  • #grads: 2,660

Wilkes University

Wilkes University

Wilkes University (WU, est. 1933) offers two connected, low-residency creative writing graduate degrees — the Master of Arts (MA) in Creative Writing and the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing. The 30-credit MA offers seven tracks:

  • Documentary Film

Four, eight-day, on-campus residencies are required, including a capstone one. (WU also has a “weekender” option where each residency is broken down into four consecutive weekends during the semester.) The MFA is the continuation of WU’s MA program. It requires an additional 18 credits and one more residency. MFA students will revise their MA thesis for publication or production, or start a new project based on the thesis. They will also complete a full-term internship in teaching or publishing. Those applying for the MA should have a Bachelor’s degree, but it’s not essential. Those applying for the MFA must have completed the MA program and earned a 3.5 GPA in every course.

Wilkes’s low-residency Creative Writing MA and MFA programs focus on writing craft and the business of writing. That real-world integration is what makes it unique. Every MA thesis is read by an agent, editor, publisher, or producer who provides detailed feedback and a personal meeting. Meanwhile, MFA internships give students real-world experience and connections. Also, WU’s MA and MFA teach students how to:

  • live, think, and work as writers
  • connect with audiences
  • pitch ideas to editors, publishers, or producers

The proof? Hundreds of graduates have had their works published or produced. Countless others have become:

  • book reviewers
  • PR directors
  • video game scriptwriters

Key courses and options for the MA include:

  • Drafting Project in Fiction
  • Genre and Context in Publishing
  • Writing Plays

Key courses and options for the MFA program include:

  • Literary Analysis
  • Revision Term
  • Writing in Education/ Publishing Internship
  • Location: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
  • Cost: $24,180
  • #students: 4,680
  • #grads: 2,329
  • Programs: Bachelor’s through doctorate level degrees

University of Texas at El Paso


The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP, est. 1914) offers a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing that can be taken entirely online. The MFA program requires 48 credits for graduation, including six for a thesis. While there are no residency requirements for this degree, adventurous students can select the low-residency option and travel to a different international city every summer. Past host cities have included London, Madrid, and Paris. The program itself is built around a mix of: writing workshops, literature courses, form and theory explorations covering various genres and forms. For their thesis, students will select either: Fiction or Poetry. To qualify for admission into the MFA program, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree and ideally a minimum 3.0 GPA.

UTEP’s MFA program is one of the few fully online Creative Writing MFAs in the United States and the only bilingual one. While classes are taught in English, students have the option to submit assignments in Spanish. Career-wise, the main focus of this high-quality program is preparing graduates for careers as published writers and/ or teaching creative writing at colleges and universities. This MFA program has a strong literary focus and foundation. In addition to academic ability, it favors talented and driven writers with distinct, developing, or new voices, and those with cultural and social awareness. Key course options for the MFA program include:

  • Advanced Screenwriting
  • Forms and Techniques of Fiction
  • Storytelling – Film and Literature
  • Location: El Paso, Texas
  • Cost: $23,520
  • Affiliation: University of Texas System
  • #students: 24,879
  • #grads: 3,762

Saint Leo University

Saint Leo

The low-residency Master of Arts (MA) in Creative Writing at Saint Leo University (SLU, est. 1889) is a 36-credit, hybrid program. Students can choose from one of three degree tracks:

SLU is also said to have the only MA program that offers a track specialization in War Literature and Writing for Veterans — a uniquely relevant and poignant option in today’s world. Overall, the program combines creative writing and literary studies personalized to each student’s goals. The MA’s eight-day residency is held on-campus in St. Leo, Florida, each summer. Students must attend three of these. To be eligible for admission to the MA, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.25 GPA.

SLU’s low-residency MA in Creative Writing is a flexible option for working adults who dream of writing memorable works of fiction or becoming notable essayists, memoirists, or poets. Other students use this MA to advance their professional careers or use it as a foundational step to pursuing terminal degrees in fields such as:

  • creative writing

Whatever one’s goals or dreams, SLU provides a dedicated faculty mentor (a published writer of national recognition) to help guide you. You will also have the regular feedback and community of your fellow writing students. Key courses and options for the MA include Foundations in Fiction and Theory and Practice of Creative Writing.

  • Location: Saint Leo, Florida
  • Cost: $23,400
  • Religious affiliation: Catholic Church (Order of Saint Benedict)
  • #students: 9,832
  • #grads: 2,887

Concordia University-Saint Paul


Concordia University-Saint Paul (CSP, est. 1893) offers a fully online Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing through the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. This 36-credit program features 11 courses plus a thesis. CSP’s MFA program helps students hone their creative writing skills while also developing the ability to read and assess literature across three genres:

Students will develop their creative writing skills through craft and workshop courses while studying different literary forms, genres, and topics via literature and research courses. To qualify for admission, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

CSP’s MFA in Creative Writing is well-suited to the needs of working adults. In addition to being fully online, year-round admission is possible. Classes are held once a week, and each course takes only seven weeks to complete. Students will have the chance to work with several published authors throughout their degree and gain the skills and perspectives needed to produce publishable work. This will allow them to pursue a career as a professional writer in a variety of different fields. As such, CSP’s Creative Writing MFA is suitable for those who want to become writers and those who are already writers but want to expand their career potential. Key courses in this MFA program include:

  • Studies in the Craft of Creative Writing
  • Researching and Writing About Literature
  • The Culture of Writing, Editing, and Publishing
  • Location: Saint Paul, Minnesota
  • Cost: $18,900
  • Affiliation: Concordia University System
  • Religious affiliation: Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod
  • #students: 5,585
  • #grads: 2,007

Central Washington University

Central Washington

Central Washington University (CWU, est. 1891) offers a Master of Arts (MA) in Professional and Creative Writing that can be taken entirely online or in a multi-modal (hybrid) format. This MA requires 45 credits for completion. There is no thesis requirement, but students must complete an end-of-program Portfolio course. There are also no defined degree tracks, allowing students to customize their course of study based on their career goals and interests. Plus, with CWU’s 10-week quarter system, this well-ranked creative writing program can be completed in as little as four quarters. To qualify for admission, applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA (check with CWU about its current GRE requirements).

​CWU’s Professional and Creative Writing MA is designed to help graduates successfully navigate a new world economy that emphasizes learning and adapting over knowing. By combining creative and professional writing with critical thinking skills, the program can benefit students seeking several different career outcomes. This includes students who need upgraded writing skills to advance in their careers, professional and creative writers who want to make themselves more marketable and pursue expanded opportunities, and students who need advanced writing abilities to pursue additional graduate programs. Others choose this MA to satisfy a personal dream of becoming a creative writer while continuing their established careers. Key courses and electives include:

  • Advanced Poetry Writing
  • Professional Writing with New Media
  • Studies in Rhetoric
  • Location: Ellensburg, Washington
  • Cost: $17,469.15
  • #students: 11,174
  • #grads: 656

Mississippi University for Women

Mississippi University for Women

The low-residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing from Mississippi University for Women (MUW, est. 1884) is a 48-credit hybrid program. Much of the degree can be completed online, including a thesis, form and literature courses, and writing workshops. Workshops are available in:

  • Translation
  • Writing for New Media

The MFA’s residency requirements comprise two Short Residencies and two Full Residencies. Short Residencies are five-day masterclasses that occur at different times of year but are often scheduled to coincide with major on- and off-campus events, such as the Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium. Full Residencies occur in late May and are nine to 10 days of workshops, seminars, and readings. To be eligible for admission to the MFA program, students must have an undergraduate degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA.

MUW’s Creative Writing MFA program is designed for working adults. It is built to be both affordable and flexible. Students can customize their course of study, selecting classes in as many or few genres as they wish. (Residencies already ensure students gain a broader understanding and perspective by providing cross- and mixed-genre experiences.) Students can also tailor their selections to fit specific career goals, adding Residencies, Internships, and Literary Magazine Production experiences. The Full Residencies offer a strong career focus with professional topics that include:

  • publishing and self-publishing
  • writing for the web
  • working with an agent
  • creative writing pedagogy (teaching strategies for various environments)

Key course options for this MFA program include:

  • Early Women Writers
  • Medieval and Renaissance Narratives
  • The Professional Writer
  • Location: Columbus, Mississippi
  • Cost: $17,343.10
  • #students: 2,704
  • #grads: 286

University of Houston Victoria


The University of Houston-Victoria (UHV, est. 1973) offers a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing that can be taken entirely online or in a low-residency, hybrid format. The degree requires 36 credits for completion, including six for a thesis. Students can choose the regular Creative Writing path or a specialized Concentration in Applied Literary Translation. Students can study any genre for the regular path but must select one for their thesis:

The main focus of the MFA is on developing one’s writing skills and understanding the literary form. However, several electives are available to help tailor the degree towards a student’s interest in literature or publishing. Those applying for the MFA program will need an undergraduate degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA on their last 60 undergraduate credits. (GRE scores may be required for those with a lower GPA; check with UHV to confirm.)

UHV’s online Creative Writing MFA program can be an affordable option that provides graduates with several potential career opportunities. While the program was created to help students pursue their dreams of becoming published authors, it also prepares them for nearly every writing career option. That means graduates can also pursue more practical jobs, including in

  • literary translation

Additionally, since UHV is a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), students can integrate a Latino literature and cultural element into their studies and writing. Key courses and electives for the MFA include:

  • Form and Poetics
  • Graduate Poetry Writing Workshop
  • Publication Design

UHV’s online Creative Writing MFA can be an affordable option that provides graduates with several potential career opportunities. While the program was created to help students pursue their dreams of becoming published authors, it also prepares them for nearly every writing career option. That means graduates can also pursue more practical jobs, including in:

  • Location: Victoria, Texas
  • Cost: $16,840.08
  • Affiliation: University of Houston System
  • #students: 4,922
  • #grads: 1,409
  • Programs: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees

Tiffin University


Tiffin University (TU, est. 1888) offers a fully online Master of Humanities (MH) with a Creative Writing Concentration. It places third in our list of best online creative writing graduate programs.

This 30-credit degree allows students to understand and develop their abilities in several genres and compositional forms, including:

  • Genre and Performance Writing
  • Screenplays
  • Short Stories

The program combines a humanities foundation with hands-on writing experience and an academic study of selected genres and forms. The culmination is a capstone project, which requires each student to research a chosen area of interest and produce either a creative project, a portfolio project, or a thesis. To be eligible for admission to the MH, applicants must have an undergraduate degree with a preferred GPA of 3.0.

Tiffin’s online Master’s in Creative Writing is designed as a flexible, affordable graduate program option. With multiple start dates and a mix of seven- and 15-week courses, students can enter the program when it suits them and finish their degree in just 18 months. The primary focus of the MH is preparing graduates to pursue a variety of creative writing careers. Creative writing majors can become:

  • content writer
  • freelance writer
  • screenwriter
  • video game writer

Some graduates go on to teach at the high school or community college level. Others use the MH as the foundation to pursue advanced graduate degrees. Key courses and options for the MH include:

  • Creative Writing – The Novel
  • Creativity and Its Development
  • Critical Thinking and Reading
  • Location: Tiffin, Ohio
  • Cost: $16,500
  • #students: 2,933
  • #grads: 739

University of Arkansas at Monticello

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing at the University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM, est. 1910) is a fully online program. This program, which comes in second in our list of the best writing graduate programs , is the most affordable of the creative nonfiction MFA programs in this review article.

To graduate, students must complete 48 credits, including six for their thesis. The MFA offers three genres to choose from:

The core of the program features workshop courses that foster high-level skills in critical thinking and literary analysis while ensuring a mastery in creative writing. This focus is supplemented with multiple electives to allow students to tailor the program to best suit their interests and goals, including pursuing independent areas of study. To be eligible for admission to the MFA program, applicants must have an undergraduate degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

UAM’s online Creative Writing MFA is meant to be both flexible and affordable. It is designed for talented, self-motivated individuals who appreciate the freedom to follow their own pace and areas of study. To ensure each creative writing student has a fuller understanding of their own genre, they will work with a different faculty mentor each semester. Creative writing majors will also take workshops in the other two genres to help give their writing a broader perspective and more unique outlook and voice. Key courses and options for the MFA include:

  • Advanced Workshop – Form and Craft
  • Magazine Edit and Design
  • Memoirs of the Mind
  • Location: Monticello, Arkansas
  • Cost: $13,262.4
  • #students: 2,855
  • #grads: 293

Western Connecticut State University

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Western Connecticut State University (WCSU, est. 1903) has a MFA in Creative and Professional Writing. This best low-residency master’s in creative writing wins first place in our list of best writing masters programs online.

This hybrid creative writing degree requires approximately 60 credits for completion and includes:

  • an internship or teaching practicum
  • an enrichment project

Students must also complete four separate, week-long residencies comprising discussions, lectures, and workshops. Residencies are held twice a year on the WCSU campus in Danbury, Connecticut. (There is also an optional Dublin, Ireland, residency featuring workshops in Oscar Wilde’s home and events at the Bram Stoker Festival.) For their degree, students must select a primary and secondary genre specialization. One must be creative, such as:

The other must be practical, for example:

  • Advertising Copywriting
  • Historical Biographies
  • Medical Writing
  • Public Relations
  • Technical Writing

WCSU’s low-residency MFA utilizes a student-driven mentorship model. For most courses, graduate students work with a faculty member to develop a personalized course plan. Then, there is WCSU’s practical education approach, which ensures students learn from successful creative writers across several genres and styles and apply what they’ve learned in real-world settings. This combination might be why WCSU has such a high success rate — 87 percent of graduates are full-time professional writers and/ or have published books. Key courses for this MFA program include:

  • Genre History, Criticism, and Theory
  • Reading for Writers
  • The Individual Aesthetic and Process
  • Location: Danbury, Connecticut
  • Cost: $11,344
  • Affiliation: Connecticut State University System
  • #students: 5,246
  • #grads: 606
  • Programs: Associates through doctorate level degrees, plus certificates

What can I do with a master’s in creative writing?

Creative writing programs open up a lot of potential professional opportunities including, but not limited to, the following, listed below. Note that some of these opportunities may be available without having taken a top creative writing graduate program.

  • Advertising manager
  • Arts administrator
  • Blogger – general
  • College lecturer – lower division
  • Communications director
  • Community college lecturer
  • Content writer (Web or otherwise)
  • Customer service representative (CSR)
  • Editorial assistant
  • Educator – general
  • Email marketing specialist
  • Film and television
  • Ghostwriter
  • Grant or funding proposal writer
  • Human resources
  • Instructional coordinator
  • Lexicographer
  • Market researcher
  • Marketing communications
  • Public relations specialist
  • Sales agent
  • Screenwriter
  • Social media specialist
  • Talent agent
  • Technical writer
  • Travel blogger
  • Web content manager
  • Writing consultant
  • Writing instructor

Creative writing majors who combine their master’s degree with a minor specialization or other degree can also increase their career opportunities. There are also numerous other career opportunities, particularly in arts and education, in which it can be useful to have an MFA or MA in creative writing.

How long does it take to complete and online MFA in creative writing?

Of the online creative writing degrees that are mentioned in this college review article, they range from 30 to 65 credits. How long you take depends on whether you’re enrolled full- or part-time, how many semesters a college has in an AY (Academic Year), etc. Some creative writing programs could be completed in as little as one year, plus time for creating and defending a thesis, if necessary. Longer creative writing programs might take 2-3 years.

How do I apply for an online MFA in creative writing program?

So you’re ready to apply to graduate creative writing programs! You’ll want to consider the best creative writing MFA programs. The steps you’ll take are approximately in this order:

  • Confirm that a specific graduate school is of interest to you. Call the college admission’s department if you cannot find all the details of their writing programs on their Web site or email them a message.
  • Determine the requirements for admission to the creative writing degree program and confirm that you are eligible.
  • File a FAFSA, if you plan to enroll full time and are interested in federal student loans for graduate programs.
  • Check the program application deadline(s), application fees, etc., and prepare your application.
  • Send out requests and fees for necessary transcripts.
  • Send out requests for necessary references, with instructions on where they should send their typed, signed, dated reference.
  • Complete and submit your application.
  • Wait for a response.

How much can I make with an online MFA in creative writing?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook has the role “Writers and Authors” listed as having $69,510 as the median yearly pay for 2021. However, that does not indicate potential earnings, only median actual earnings as reported by American creative writers/ authors.

When you revist the list of potential careers, above, you’ll see the possibility for earning more as a creative writer. Factor in the possibility of writing content for yourself, on your own Web site (or scripted for your YouTube channel), monetized in one or more of multiple ways including affiliate marketing. Maybe you can set up the latter in addition to having a professional creative writing career (salaried or freelance). All of these combined will potentially exceed the aforementioned median salary.

How do I start a career in creative writing?

Begin by identifying the kind of creative writing career you want. The list of job titles above can help you get started. Once you know where you want to go to get a quality education, creating the plan and steps needed to get there becomes easier.

Next, focus on the foundational steps for the creative writing process listed below. These can help every writer build the career they want:

  • Seek feedback

Create your opportunity

  • Study marketing

Stay social

  • Be bold and innovative

Practice creative writing

Do your daily creative writing practice. You always hear athletes talk about staying ready. Practice helps you stay ready for when your opportunity arrives. Plus, when you get into the habit of writing purposefully every day, the quality of your work improves, and so does your productivity and efficiency. You will also learn to be more succinct with your writing while still conveying what you want to communicate.

Build your network and be active within it. Let your contacts know when you’re looking for work, and what types of writing work you’re suited for. Your network can’t help if they don’t know that you need help.

Seek feedback on your creative writing

Create a MasterMind Group (an advisory board) to provide feedback on your writing and marketing efforts. Depending on your current network and comfort level, the group can be comprised of other writers and/or people from different industries and professions.

Volunteer your creative writing talents

Volunteering is a great way to gain creative writing experience and expand your network, all while giving something back. Most non-profits need help in many areas, including a variety of writing-related tasks. Plus, if they hold charity events, you might meet key figures in your community. And, what better way to introduce yourself and your work to local luminaries than by helping promote their favorite cause. While some experienced writers say not to give your work away free, when it comes to non-profit group opportunities, think of your effort as an investment both for yourself and the non-profit.

If you’re not getting the opportunities you want — make your own! With all the DIY tools and platforms available, don’t wait for someone to give you a chance. You can:

  • launch your own blog
  • create a YouTube channel to showcase your scripts
  • publish your own collection of poetry
  • pen a series of essays on the latest hot-button topic
  • write your own sports analysis or celebrity gossip column

Beyond these DIY methods, user-generated content platforms like Medium or Quora are also great options. They allow you to reach large audiences and gain valuable feedback. Some of them also have earning opportunities for writers, sometimes based on the response of readers.

Study marketing to boost your creative writing

Even authors with publishing contracts have to know how to self-promote. Learning basic marketing skills can help you launch and grow your career. At a minimum, create your own website and online portfolio, and make sure the content there is optimized for search engine rankings.

Learn how to use social media. It’s a critical way to:

  • promote your name
  • build a following
  • garner attention for your work

You can also network there. It’s not always the best creative writer that gets hired; it’s often the one people know about and whose work they are familiar with.

Be bold and innovative in your creative writing

Leverage past experiences. This includes writing about what you know. If you’ve had another career or have experience in other fields, write about that or pitch this as an article idea to an industry publication.

While being bold, don’t limit yourself to just one opportunity or path. The Internet has made it much “easier” for creative writers to make a living online, and that includes aforementioned self-starter opportunities. Find and/or create multiple opportunities for yourself, and always come up with new ideas to pitch while waiting for a response to a previous pitch.

This concludes our creative writing mfa programs.

Other Articles of Interest:

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  • 20 Best Bachelor’s in Media Communication
  • 20 Best Bachelor’s in Journalism
  • 35 Best Bachelor’s in Writing
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top mfa creative writing programs 2021

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The 10 Best Creative Writing MFA Programs in the US

The talent is there. 

But the next generation of great American writers needs a collegial place to hone their craft. 

They need a place to explore the writer’s role in a wider community. 

They really need guidance about how and when to publish. 

All these things can be found in a solid Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing degree program. This degree offers access to mentors, to colleagues, and to a future in the writing world. 

A good MFA program gives new writers a precious few years to focus completely on their work, an ideal space away from the noise and pressure of the fast-paced modern world. 

We’ve found ten of the best ones, all of which provide the support, the creative stimulation, and the tranquility necessary to foster a mature writer.

We looked at graduate departments from all regions, public and private, all sizes, searching for the ten most inspiring Creative Writing MFA programs. 

Each of these ten institutions has assembled stellar faculties, developed student-focused paths of study, and provide robust support for writers accepted into their degree programs. 

To be considered for inclusion in this list, these MFA programs all must be fully-funded degrees, as recognized by Read The Workshop .

Creative Writing education has broadened and expanded over recent years, and no single method or plan fits for all students. 

Today, MFA programs across the country give budding short story writers and poets a variety of options for study. For future novelists, screenwriters – even viral bloggers – the search for the perfect setting for their next phase of development starts with these outstanding institutions, all of which have developed thoughtful and particular approaches to study.

So where will the next Salinger scribble his stories on the steps of the student center, or the next Angelou reading her poems in the local bookstore’s student-run poetry night? At one of these ten programs.

Here are 10 of the best creative writing MFA programs in the US.

University of Oregon (Eugene, OR)

University of Oregon

Starting off the list is one of the oldest and most venerated Creative Writing programs in the country, the MFA at the University of Oregon. 

Longtime mentor, teacher, and award-winning poet Garrett Hongo directs the program, modeling its studio-based approach to one-on-one instruction in the English college system. 

Oregon’s MFA embraces its reputation for rigor. Besides attending workshops and tutorials, students take classes in more formal poetics and literature.  

A classic college town, Eugene provides an ideal backdrop for the writers’ community within Oregon’s MFA students and faculty.  

Tsunami Books , a local bookseller with national caché, hosts student-run readings featuring writers from the program. 

Graduates garner an impressive range of critical acclaim; Yale Younger Poet winner Brigit Pegeen Kelly, Cave Canem Prize winner and Guggenheim fellow Major Jackson, and PEN-Hemingway Award winner Chang-Rae Lee are noteworthy alumni. 

With its appealing setting and impressive reputation, Oregon’s MFA program attracts top writers as visiting faculty, including recent guests Elizabeth McCracken, David Mura, and Li-young Lee.

The individual approach defines the Oregon MFA experience; a key feature of the program’s first year is the customized reading list each MFA student creates with their faculty guide. 

Weekly meetings focus not only on the student’s writing, but also on the extended discovery of voice through directed reading. 

Accepting only ten new students a year—five in poetry and five in fiction— the University of Oregon’s MFA ensures a close-knit community with plenty of individual coaching and guidance.

Cornell University (Ithaca, NY)

Cornell University

Cornell University’s MFA program takes the long view on life as a writer, incorporating practical editorial training and teaching experience into its two-year program.

Incoming MFA students choose their own faculty committee of at least two faculty members, providing consistent advice as they move through a mixture of workshop and literature classes. 

Students in the program’s first year benefit from editorial training as readers and editors for Epoch , the program’s prestigious literary journal.

Teaching experience grounds the Cornell program. MFA students design and teach writing-centered undergraduate seminars on a variety of topics, and they remain in Ithaca during the summer to teach in programs for undergraduates. 

Cornell even allows MFA graduates to stay on as lecturers at Cornell for a period of time while they are on the job search. Cornell also offers a joint MFA/Ph.D. program through the Creative Writing and English departments.

Endowments fund several acclaimed reading series, drawing internationally known authors to campus for workshops and work sessions with MFA students. 

Recent visiting readers include Salman Rushdie, Sandra Cisneros, Billy Collins, Margaret Atwood, Ada Limón, and others. 

Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ)

Arizona State University

Arizona State’s MFA in Creative Writing spans three years, giving students ample time to practice their craft, develop a voice, and begin to find a place in the post-graduation literary world. 

Coursework balances writing and literature classes equally, with courses in craft and one-on-one mentoring alongside courses in literature, theory, or even electives in topics like fine press printing, bookmaking, or publishing. 

While students follow a path in either poetry or fiction, they are encouraged to take courses across the genres.

Teaching is also a focus in Arizona State’s MFA program, with funding coming from teaching assistantships in the school’s English department. Other exciting teaching opportunities include teaching abroad in locations around the world, funded through grants and internships.

The Virginia C. Piper Center for Creative Writing, affiliated with the program, offers Arizona State MFA students professional development in formal and informal ways. 

The Distinguished Writers Series and Desert Nights, Rising Stars Conference bring world-class writers to campus, allowing students to interact with some of the greatest in the profession. Acclaimed writer and poet Alberto Ríos directs the Piper Center.

Arizona State transitions students to the world after graduation through internships with publishers like Four Way Books. 

Its commitment to the student experience and its history of producing acclaimed writers—recent examples include Tayari Jones (Oprah’s Book Club, 2018; Women’s Prize for Fiction, 2019), Venita Blackburn ( Prairie Schooner Book Prize, 2018), and Hugh Martin ( Iowa Review Jeff Sharlet Award for Veterans)—make Arizona State University’s MFA a consistent leader among degree programs.

University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX)

University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas at Austin’s MFA program, the Michener Center for Writers, maintains one of the most vibrant, exciting, active literary faculties of any MFA program.

Denis Johnson D.A. Powell, Geoff Dyer, Natasha Trethewey, Margot Livesey, Ben Fountain: the list of recent guest faculty boasts some of the biggest names in current literature.

This three-year program fully funds candidates without teaching fellowships or assistantships; the goal is for students to focus entirely on their writing. 

More genre tracks at the Michener Center mean students can choose two focus areas, a primary and secondary, from Fiction, Poetry, Screenwriting, and Playwriting.

The Michener Center for Writers plays a prominent role in contemporary writing of all kinds. 

The hip, student-edited Bat City Review accepts work of all genres, visual art, cross genres, collaborative, and experimental pieces.  

Recent events for illustrious alumni include New Yorker publications, an Oprah Book Club selection, a screenwriting prize, and a 2021 Pulitzer (for visiting faculty member Mitchell Jackson). 

In this program, students are right in the middle of all the action of contemporary American literature.

Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis, MO)

Washington University in St. Louis

The MFA in Creative Writing at Washington University in St. Louis is a program on the move: applicants have almost doubled here in the last five years. 

Maybe this sudden growth of interest comes from recent rising star alumni on the literary scene, like Paul Tran, Miranda Popkey, and National Book Award winner Justin Phillip Reed.

Or maybe it’s the high profile Washington University’s MFA program commands, with its rotating faculty post through the Hurst Visiting Professor program and its active distinguished reader series. 

Superstar figures like Alison Bechdel and George Saunders have recently held visiting professorships, maintaining an energetic atmosphere program-wide.

Washington University’s MFA program sustains a reputation for the quality of the mentorship experience. 

With only five new students in each genre annually, MFA candidates form close cohorts among their peers and enjoy attentive support and mentorship from an engaged and vigorous faculty. 

Three genre tracks are available to students: fiction, poetry, and the increasingly relevant and popular creative nonfiction.

Another attractive feature of this program: first-year students are fully funded, but not expected to take on a teaching role until their second year. 

A generous stipend, coupled with St. Louis’s low cost of living, gives MFA candidates at Washington University the space to develop in a low-stress but stimulating creative environment.

Indiana University (Bloomington, IN)

Indiana University

It’s one of the first and biggest choices students face when choosing an MFA program: two-year or three-year? 

Indiana University makes a compelling case for its three-year program, in which the third year of support allows students an extended period of time to focus on the thesis, usually a novel or book-length collection.

One of the older programs on the list, Indiana’s MFA dates back to 1948. 

Its past instructors and alumni read like the index to an American Literature textbook. 

How many places can you take classes in the same place Robert Frost once taught, not to mention the program that granted its first creative writing Master’s degree to David Wagoner? Even today, the program’s integrity and reputation draw faculty like Ross Gay and Kevin Young.

Indiana’s Creative Writing program houses two more literary institutions, the Indiana Review, and the Indiana University Writers’ Conference. 

Students make up the editorial staff of this lauded literary magazine, in some cases for course credit or a stipend. An MFA candidate serves each year as assistant director of the much-celebrated and highly attended conference . 

These two facets of Indiana’s program give graduate students access to visiting writers, professional experience, and a taste of the writing life beyond academia.

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, MI)

University of Michigan College of Literature, Science, and the Arts

The University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program cultivates its students with a combination of workshop-driven course work and vigorous programming on and off-campus. Inventive new voices in fiction and poetry consistently emerge from this two-year program.

The campus hosts multiple readings, events, and contests, anchored by the Zell Visiting Writers Series. The Hopgood Awards offer annual prize money to Michigan creative writing students . 

The department cultivates relationships with organizations and events around Detroit, so whether it’s introducing writers at Literati bookstore or organizing writing retreats in conjunction with local arts organizations, MFA candidates find opportunities to cultivate a community role and public persona as a writer.

What happens after graduation tells the big story of this program. Michigan produces heavy hitters in the literary world, like Celeste Ng, Jesmyn Ward, Elizabeth Kostova, Nate Marshall, Paisley Rekdal, and Laura Kasischke. 

Their alumni place their works with venerable houses like Penguin and Harper Collins, longtime literary favorites Graywolf and Copper Canyon, and the new vanguard like McSweeney’s, Fence, and Ugly Duckling Presse.

University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN)

University of Minnesota

Structure combined with personal attention and mentorship characterizes the University of Minnesota’s Creative Writing MFA, starting with its unique program requirements. 

In addition to course work and a final thesis, Minnesota’s MFA candidates assemble a book list of personally significant works on literary craft, compose a long-form essay on their writing process, and defend their thesis works with reading in front of an audience.

Literary journal Great River Review and events like the First Book reading series and Mill City Reading series do their part to expand the student experience beyond the focus on the internal. 

The Edelstein-Keller Visiting Writer Series draws exceptional, culturally relevant writers like Chuck Klosterman and Claudia Rankine for readings and student conversations. 

Writer and retired University of Minnesota instructor Charles Baxter established the program’s Hunger Relief benefit , aiding Minnesota’s Second Harvest Heartland organization. 

Emblematic of the program’s vision of the writer in service to humanity, this annual contest and reading bring together distinguished writers, students, faculty, and community members in favor of a greater goal.

Brown University (Providence, RI)

Brown University

One of the top institutions on any list, Brown University features an elegantly-constructed Literary Arts Program, with students choosing one workshop and one elective per semester. 

The electives can be taken from any department at Brown; especially popular choices include Studio Art and other coursework through the affiliated Rhode Island School of Design. The final semester consists of thesis construction under the supervision of the candidate’s faculty advisor.

Brown is the only MFA program to feature, in addition to poetry and fiction tracks, the Digital/Cross Disciplinary track . 

This track attracts multidisciplinary writers who need the support offered by Brown’s collaboration among music, visual art, computer science, theater and performance studies, and other departments. 

The interaction with the Rhode Island School of Design also allows those artists interested in new forms of media to explore and develop their practice, inventing new forms of art and communication.

Brown’s Literary Arts Program focuses on creating an atmosphere where students can refine their artistic visions, supported by like-minded faculty who provide the time and materials necessary to innovate. 

Not only has the program produced trailblazing writers like Percival Everett and Otessa Moshfegh, but works composed by alumni incorporating dance, music, media, and theater have been performed around the world, from the stage at Kennedy Center to National Public Radio.

University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA)

University of Iowa

When most people hear “MFA in Creative Writing,” it’s the Iowa Writers’ Workshop they imagine. 

The informal name of the University of Iowa’s Program in Creative Writing, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop was the first to offer an MFA, back in 1936. 

One of the first diplomas went to renowned writer Wallace Stegner, who later founded the MFA program at Stanford.

 It’s hard to argue with seventeen Pulitzer Prize winners and six U.S. Poets Laureate. The Iowa Writers’ Workshop is the root system of the MFA tree.

The two-year program balances writing courses with coursework in other graduate departments at the university. In addition to the book-length thesis, a written exam is part of the student’s last semester.

Because the program represents the quintessential idea of a writing program, it attracts its faculty positions, reading series, events, and workshops the brightest lights of the literary world. 

The program’s flagship literary magazine, the Iowa Review , is a lofty goal for writers at all stages of their career. 

At the Writers’ Workshop, tracks include not only fiction, poetry, playwriting, and nonfiction, but also Spanish creative writing and literary translation. Their reading series in association with Prairie Lights bookstore streams online and is heard around the world.

Iowa’s program came into being in answer to the central question posed to each one of these schools: can writing be taught? 

The answer for a group of intrepid, creative souls in 1936 was, actually, “maybe not.” 

But they believed it could be cultivated; each one of these institutions proves it can be, in many ways, for those willing to commit the time and imagination.

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Best Online MFA in Creative Writing Programs of 2023

portrait of Thomas Broderick

Thomas Broderick

Contributing Writer

Learn about our editorial process .

BCR Rankings Team

Updated June 12, 2023

Margaret Weinhold

Contributing Editor is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Writers and authors play a significant role in creating your favorite popular media.

Preparing for this fulfilling career requires more than a healthy imagination. You need a developed skill set — one an online master of fine arts in creative writing can help you build.

Plus, the best online MFA in creative writing programs feature the same rigor as on-campus programs while providing you with academic flexibility.

Featured Online Programs

Best online mfa in creative writing degrees of 2023.

Read About Our Methodology

These rankings include is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site. from our partners. We use publicly available provisional datasets from Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) to inform the data for these schools. All data is current as of the date this article was published. Program-specific information may vary.

#1 Best Online MFA in Creative Writing Programs of 2023

Albertus Magnus College

  • New Haven, CT
  • Online + Campus

Avg. Cost per Credit: In-State | $849 Out-of-State | $849

Credits to Graduate: 36

In Albertus Magnus College's MFA in creative writing program, you can choose between a fully online master's program or a blended learning environment. This program can be completed full- or part-time. In addition to completing your coursework, you'll also build a portfolio of publishable work under the guidance of a mentor. 

To apply, you need a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and to submit a 10-15 page writing sample. You need a valid ID to apply for an online degree.

#2 Best Online MFA in Creative Writing Programs of 2023

Bay Path University

  • Longmeadow, MA

Avg. Cost per Credit: In-State | $785 Out-of-State | $785

Credits to Graduate: 39

If you're an aspiring writer who hopes to apply your craft in professional settings, Bay Path University offers a no-residency MFA in creative nonfiction. The program occurs fully online, with three track requirements for you to choose from: publishing, teaching creative writing, and narrative medicine. These tracks allow for small classes and a career-focused degree program. 

You must hold a bachelor's degree, but standardized test scores are not required. Bay Path accepts applications year-round.

#3 Best Online MFA in Creative Writing Programs of 2023

Central Washington University

  • Ellensburg, WA

Avg. Cost per Credit: In-State | $223.28 Out-of-State | $533.53

Credits to Graduate: 45

Central Washington University's MA in professional and creative writing can be completed fully online or in person. You can choose a concentration in fiction, nonfiction, or poetry, in which you'll also complete a final portfolio. You can also take electives, including career-focused courses on subjects like grant writing and workplace research. You need to get accepted to CWU's graduate school before you're accepted into the program.

In addition to a 7-10 page writing sample and a college transcript showing a 3.0 GPA or higher, you need three letters of recommendation to apply.

#4 Best Online MFA in Creative Writing Programs of 2023

Concordia University-Saint Paul

  • Saint Paul, MN

Avg. Cost per Credit: In-State | $525 Out-of-State | $525

Interested in the theory and practice of writing? The two-year master's of fine arts in creative writing at Concordia University, St. Paul , is divided into five parts: learning literary research and craft, studying literature, workshopping with your peers, and writing a supervised thesis.

Applicants must apply online and submit a writing sample and their official college transcripts.

#5 Best Online MFA in Creative Writing Programs of 2023

Lindenwood University

  • Saint Charles, MO

Avg. Cost per Credit: In-State | $561 Out-of-State | $561

Credits to Graduate: 48

If you're not sure what format you want your MFA to take, Lindenwood University has you covered. Lindenwood's MFA in writing is available online, on-campus, or in a hybrid format. You'll learn from published writers in small class settings and have the opportunity to work on the campus literary review, the Lindenwood Review .

You must submit a 7-10 page writing sample and a statement of purpose along with your application. Applications are considered on a rolling basis.

#6 Best Online MFA in Creative Writing Programs of 2023

Saint Leo University

  • Saint Leo, FL

Avg. Cost per Credit: In-State | $675 Out-of-State | $675

If you're interested in fiction writing and poetry, the MA in creative writing at Saint Leo University may be for you. This program is low-residence, meaning you'll spend only five days on campus per year. Saint Leo's program design is especially geared towards parents, active-duty military, and others who find relocating to campus challenging.

The most important part of your application is your creative writing sample. Applications are considered on a rolling basis.

#7 Best Online MFA in Creative Writing Programs of 2023

Southern New Hampshire University

  • Manchester, NH

Avg. Cost per Credit: In-State | $627 Out-of-State | $627

Southern New Hampshire University offers a fully online MA in creative writing with 24/7 access to their virtual classrooms and a schedule you set yourself. You choose one of four specially focused concentrations within your degree: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or screenwriting. 

Classes start year-round, so you may apply whenever is most convenient. To apply, you must complete a free online application and submit your undergraduate transcripts.

#8 Best Online MFA in Creative Writing Programs of 2023

The University of Texas at El Paso

  • El Paso, TX

Avg. Cost per Credit: In-State | $359.44 Out-of-State | $884.67

Credits to Graduate: 33

The online MFA in creative writing from the University of Texas at El Paso offers courses in literature and the opportunity to complete an original thesis. It also has a distinct focus on workshops, so you can share ideas and get feedback from your peers while studying online. 

Applicants with a background in English are preferred, but all undergrad majors are considered. You must submit 8-10 poems or 20 pages of fiction along with your online application. Deadlines are firm.

#9 Best Online MFA in Creative Writing Programs of 2023

University of Arkansas at Monticello

  • Monticello, AR

Avg. Cost per Credit: In-State | $276.30 Out-of-State | $276.30

Whether you're most interested in fiction, nonfiction, or poetry, the MFA in creative writing at the University of Arkansas at Monticello has course options for you. This self-paced, fully-online program encourages you to work through all three forms of writing with the help of dedicated faculty mentors.

You need to have earned an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher to be considered for admittance. With your application, you must submit a writing sample, a critical analysis essay, and a personal statement.

#10 Best Online MFA in Creative Writing Programs of 2023

University of Denver

Avg. Cost per Credit: In-State | $806 Out-of-State | $806

If you're looking to hone your craft as a writer and also learn more about the business side of writing, consider the master's in professional writing program at the University of Denver . You choose between an asynchronous, fully online program or a hybrid option. During your master's, you take core courses on the craft and business of writing, concentration courses, and electives. 

You can apply by submitting your undergraduate transcripts and a personal statement. The application fee is currently waived.

MFA in Creative Writing: Program Expectations

MFA in creative writing programs' expectations vary by school. However, you can expect to take many classes in genre and nonfiction writing. Other activities include critiquing your peers' work and using their feedback to become a better writer.

  • Application requirements may include a writing sample, a statement of purpose, and recommendation letters.
  • You can graduate in two years if you enroll full time.
  • Graduation requirements may include maintaining a 3.0 GPA, a comprehensive exam, and a creative writing thesis.
  • Your program may involve an on-campus seminar or writing intensive.

Common Courses in Creative Writing

In your online MFA in creative writing, you'll develop advanced skills in writing and literary analysis. Many students focus on poetry or fiction, but some programs offer more options, such as screenwriting, creative nonfiction, and travel writing.

Some MFA programs feature traditional literature courses, while other programs use a studio model and focus on the study of literary craft.

MFA in creative writing programs commonly include the following courses. Keep in mind that course titles and content vary by program.

Writing Workshop

Most MFA programs feature courses with a workshop model, in which you share your work for critique and receive feedback on your writing. You also build critical skills by critiquing other students' work. In most MFA programs, you can expect to complete a workshop course almost every semester.

Forms of Fiction

This course introduces a craft-specific approach to literary writing. Fiction writers explore topics such as narrative structure, pacing, and plot. You may also take specialized courses that focus on your particular literary topics or forms, such as dialogue or the novella.

American Literature After 1945

Many MFA curricula include traditional literature classes. You gain specialized knowledge in certain areas or periods of literary study and develop critical perspectives. You examine major developments in American literature after World War II, such as postmodernism and multiculturalism.

Studies in Women's Literature

This class explores the impact of women's literature on world culture. It requires you to analyze how examples of women's literature relate to the times and places in which the authors lived. Learning outcomes include appreciating diverse voices and better understanding how authors' backgrounds impact their writing.

Advanced Topics in Rhetoric and Composition

Online MFA in creative writing programs offer this class to help you become a better persuasive writer. Coursework includes analyzing different cultures' rhetorical styles.

Your program may offer advanced topics in rhetoric and composition as an upper-division elective. Work with your academic counselors to choose the electives that best align with your career goals.

How Much Does a Creative Writing Degree Cost?

There's no denying that college can be costly — so you want to make sure it pays off. And while tuition rates can vary widely among online MFA programs in creative writing, you can help make it more affordable by applying for scholarships and teaching assistantships.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics , the average cost of tuition and fees for graduate programs in the 2020-21 academic year was $19,749.

Choosing to earn your MFA in creative writing degree online can also help you cut down on costs. Because online programs offer more flexibility, you can better balance work with school.

Plus, many online creative writing programs feature lower tuition rates than on-campus options.

Career and Salary Outlook for Creative Writing Graduates

Online creative writing master's programs can help you qualify for many careers, such as author, proofreader, and technical writer.

All media you consume starts with an idea — and oftentimes that idea comes from an author. These professionals use their creative writing skills to write scripts, novels, biographies, and other material.

Authors must know how to network with publishers and editors. And the majority of authors work for themselves. Other top employers include professional services companies.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021) $69,510

Job Outlook 6% increase from 2021-2031


Proofreaders do much more than just catch grammatical mistakes. They also use computer software to format documents and add simple graphics. Top employers for proofreaders include online and print publications.

An online master's in creative writing's emphasis on feedback can help you develop the attention to detail proofreading jobs require.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021) $45,410

Job Outlook N/A

Technical Writer

Technical writers produce the how-to guides and instructional manuals you encounter when buying a new product. Their ability to turn technical language into something anyone can understand makes them valuable for many industries. Major employers include professional, scientific, and technical services companies.

Keep in mind: Some technical writing jobs require more than a background in creative writing. You may also need education or experience in a technical field.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021) $78,060

Like proofreaders, editors correct the grammar mistakes other writers miss. Their responsibilities also include verifying information, improving texts' readability, and following their employer's style guide. Newspaper and book publishers employ a large percentage of editors.

An academic background in English, such as an online MFA in creative writing, can help you build the interpersonal and writing skills necessary for this job.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021) $63,350

Job Outlook 5% decrease from 2021-2031

Copywriters perform many roles, such as creating and editing content on different topics. Other responsibilities may include interviewing people and performing original research. Their work appears in print, on websites, and on social media.

An online master's in creative writing, attention to detail, and familiarity with content management systems can make you an attractive applicant for copywriter positions.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021) $57,000

Frequently Asked Questions About Creative Writing

Is an mfa in creative writing worth it.

The answer depends on your career goals and the stage of your writing journey. An online MFA in creative writing can offer you a structured environment to improve your writing, networking opportunities, and the chance to build a professional writing portfolio.

Which MFA programs have no residency requirement?

You can select from many fully online MFA in creative writing programs. While other online MFAs require a few on-campus residencies, usually over the summer. Check requirements closely before applying.

What's the difference between an MFA and an MA?

Although similar in many ways, MFAs and MAs differ in their academic focus. A typical MA offers a broad curriculum, while an MFA features instruction in one discipline.

Do creative writing grads make good money?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, writers and authors earned a median annual salary of $69,510 in 2021, which is above the national median for all occupations.

How long does it take to earn an MFA in creative writing?

A typical program takes full-time students two years. You may need an extra 1-2 years if you attend part time.

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Our MFA database includes essential information about low- and full-residency graduate creative writing programs in the United States and other English-speaking countries to help you decide where to apply.

Adelphi University

Poetry: Jan-Henry Gray, Maya Marshall Prose: Katherine Hill, Igor Webb

Albertus Magnus College

Poetry: Charles Rafferty, Paul Robichaud Fiction: Sarah Harris Wallman Nonfiction: Eric Schoeck

American University

Poetry: Kyle Dargan, David Keplinger Fiction: Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Stephanie Grant, Patricia Park Nonfiction: Rachel Louise Snyder

Antioch University

Poetry: Victoria Chang Prose: Lisa Locascio

Arcadia University

Poetry: Genevieve Betts, Michelle Reale Fiction: Stephanie Feldman, Joshua Isard, Tracey Levine, Eric Smith Literature: Matthew Heitzman, Christopher Varlack, Elizabeth Vogel, Jo Ann Weiner

Poetry: Genevieve Betts, Michelle Reale Fiction: Stephanie Feldman, Joshua Isard, Tracey Levine, Eric Smith

Arizona State University

Poetry: Sally Ball, Natalie Diaz, Eunsong Kim, Alberto Álvaro Ríos, Safiya Sinclair Fiction: Matt Bell, Jenny Irish, Tara Ison, Mitchell Jackson, T. M. McNally Creative Nonfiction: Sarah Viren

Ashland University

Poetry: Aria Aber, Dexter Booth, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Adam Gellings, Tess Taylor, Vanessa Angélica Villareal

Fiction: Kirstin Chen, Brian Conn, Edan Lepucki, Sarah Monette, Nayomi Munaweera, Vi Khi Nao, Naomi J. Williams, Kyle Winkler

Nonfiction: Cass Donish, Kate Hopper, Lauren Markham, Thomas Mira y Lopez, Lisa Nikolidakis, Terese Mailhot, Kelly Sundberg

Augsburg University

Poetry: Jim Cihlar, Michael Kleber-Diggs Fiction: Stephan Eirik Clark, Lindsay Starck Nonfiction: Anika Fajardo, Kathryn Savage Playwriting: Alice Eve Cohen, Carson Kreitzer, TyLie Shider Screenwriting: Stephan Eirik Clark, Andy Froemke

Ball State University

Poetry: Katy Didden, Mark Neely Fiction: Cathy Day, Sean Lovelace Nonfiction: Jill Christman, Silas Hansen Screenwriting: Rani Deighe Crowe, Matt Mullins

Bard College

Mirene Arsanios, CA Conrad, Hoa Nguyen, Christopher Perez, Cedar Sigo, Julian Talamantez Brolaski, Roberto Tejada, Monica de la Torre, Simone White

Bath Spa University

Poetry: Lucy English, Carrie Etter, Tim Liardet, John Strachan, Samantha Walton, Gerard Woodward Fiction: Gavin James Bower, Celia Brayfield, Alexia Casale, Lucy English, Nathan Filer, Aminatta Forna, Maggie Gee, Samantha Harvey, Philip Hensher, Steve Hollyman, Emma Hooper, Claire Kendal, Kate Pullinger, C.J. Skuse, Gerard Woodward Nonfiction: Celia Brayfield, Richard Kerridge, Stephen Moss Scriptwriting: Robin Mukherjee

Poetry: Lucy English, Carrie Etter, Tim Liardet, Gerard Woodward Fiction: Gavin James Bower, Celia Brayfield, Nathan Filer, Aminatta Forna, Maggie Gee, Samantha Harvey, Philip Hensher, Claire Kendal, Kate Pullinger, Gerard Woodward Nonfiction: Richard Kerridge, Stephen Moss

Bay Path University

Mel Allen, Leanna James Blackwell, Jennifer Baker, Sari Botton, Melanie Brooks, María Luisa Arroyo Cruzado, Áine Greaney, Shahnaz Habib, Jessica Handler, Ann Hood, Susan Ito, Karol Jackowski, Yi Shun Lai, Anna Mantzaris, Meredith O’Brien, Lisa Romeo, Kate Whouley

Bennington Writing Seminars at Bennington College

Current Faculty: Poetry: April Bernard, Michael Dumanis, Randall Mann, Craig Morgan Teicher, Mark Wunderlich Fiction: Monica Ferrell, David Gates, Manuel Gonzales, Amy Hempel, Jill McCorkle, Elizabeth McCracken, Deirdre McNamer, Stuart Nadler, Katy Simpson Smith, Taymour Soomro Nonfiction: Eula Biss, Jenny Boully, Hugh Ryan, Clifford Thompson, Peter Trachtenberg

Binghamton University

Poetry: Tina Chang, Joseph Weil Fiction: Thomas Glave, Leslie L. Heywood, Liz Rosenberg, Jaimee Wriston-Colbert, Alexi Zentner Nonfiction: Leslie L. Heywood

Bluegrass Writers Studio at Eastern Kentucky University

Poetry: Julie Hensley, Young Smith Fiction: Julie Hensley, Nancy Jensen, Robert D. Johnson Nonfiction: Nancy Jensen, Robert D. Johnson, Evan J. Massey

Boise State University

Poetry: Martin Corless-Smith, Sara Nicholson, Taryn Schwilling Fiction: Mitch Wieland (Director), Anna Caritj Creative Nonfiction: Clyde Moneyhun

Boston University

Poetry: Andrea Cohen, Karl Kirchwey, Robert Pinsky Fiction: Leslie Epstein, Jennifer Haigh, Ha Jin

Boston University—MFA in Literary Translation

Odile Cazenave, Margaret Litvin, Petrus Liu, Christopher Maurer, Roberta Micaleff, Robert Pinsky (advising), Stephen Scully, Sassan Tabatabai, J. Keith Vincent, William Waters, Anna Zielinska-Elliott

Bowling Green State University

Poetry: Abigail Cloud, Sharona Muir, F. Dan Rzicznek, Larissa Szporluk, Jessica Zinz-Cheresnick Fiction: Joe Celizic, Lawrence Coates, Reema Rajbanshi, Michael Schulz

Brigham Young University

Poetry: Kimberly Johnson, Lance Larsen, Michael Lavers, John Talbot Fiction: Chris Crowe, Ann Dee Ellis, Spencer Hyde, Stephen Tuttle Nonfiction: Joey Franklin, Patrick Madden

Brooklyn College

Poetry: Julie Agoos, Ben Lerner Fiction: Joshua Henkin, Madeleine Thien Playwriting: Dennis A. Allen II, Elana Greenfield

Brown University

Poetry: Sawako Nakayasu, Matthew Shenoda, Eleni Sikelianos, Cole Swensen Fiction: Colin Channer, Laird Hunt, Karan Mahajan, Jacinda Townsend Cross Disciplinary & Digital Language Arts: John Cayley, Thalia Field, Sawako Nakayasu

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top mfa creative writing programs 2021

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4 fully funded Creative Writing MFA programs in the US worth exploring

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

With fluctuating costs and other economic uncertainties piling up around us, one might think it outlandish to pursue a Creative Writing degree. But those who are enthusiastic about honing their creative grasp of the English language—whether to develop themselves as a poet or fiction writer or to finish a novel/longform nonfiction project in a conducive environment—take the idea of a Master of Fine Arts seriously despite the potential glares from stunned eyes. That is because they are well-informed and passionate about the career prospects that come with an MFA—which mostly involves the prospect of academic jobs for creative writers. 

If you are one of them, read on to discover some of the most popular MFA programs available in the US, where the MFA in Creative Writing was first conceived at the University of Iowa. While Canada, and now some programs in the UK, have also started offering the degree, it is in the United States that it is most common and rigorous. 

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top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Unpacking the craft of creative writing

A word of caution here: an MFA degree is typically considered a terminal degree (the highest academic degree that can be awarded in a particular field) in the field of Creative Writing in most US universities; however, there are PhDs for Creative Writing available in the UK and a very small number of US universities. The American programs are more generous with funding, and they include coursework as part of the first two years of the PhD programs. 

The British programs have funding packages that are more complicated and less generous than US-based MFA programs.

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Admitting only 12 writers per year, the MCW, part of The University of Texas at Austin, is a highly competitive program. Their mission is to provide all its students fully funded residency and support for three years so they can channel all their energy towards the craft and production of creative projects. During this time, candidates also get to study a secondary genre alongside a primary one (fiction, poetry, screenwriting, and playwriting). Former students include: Sindya Bhanoo, who won the 2022 New American Voices Award for her debut short story collection, Seeking Fortune Elsewhere: Stories , Catapult, 2022); Rachel Heng, author of The Great Reclamation: A Novel (Random House 2023) and Nathaniel Harries, author of The Sweetness of Water (Little Brown, 2021), longlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize. Other writers from the program have been finalists of the Pulitzer Prize, International Dylan Thomas Prize, and National Book Award.

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Accepting only six poetry and six fiction writers per year, the MFA at Syracuse University is another competitive program. While the students at MCW are not required to take up teaching duties to fund their program, students at Syracuse University are required to do so via teaching assistantships. They are also given the chance to teach in their Writing Program and the Living Writers course, which often invite some of the most prominent contemporary writers. The work requirement makes it possible for them to fund their tuition fully. Other expenses are covered by the annual stipend of USD 17,500. Their faculty members include 2017's Booker Prize winner George Saunders, author of books like Lincoln in the Bardo (Random House, 2017). Saunders graduated from the same program in 1988.

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

Matthew Salesses demystifies the craft of writing

Brown's MFA program is known as "Literary Arts" as it involves poets, fiction writers, and cross-disciplinary writers. Highly selective and fully-funded, the program prides itself on admitting around 10 to 30 percent of its students from abroad. Unlike the previous two, this program spans for two years. They vow to give writers the time and resources to explore their creative and critical potentials fully, and faculty members include the National Book Award finalist Karan Mahajan, critic, essayist, and books such as The Association of Small Bombs (Penguin Books, 2016).

The University of Iowa

The University of Iowa's MFA program in fiction and poetry is better known as the Iowa Writers' Workshop—the first creative writing program in the world, launched in 1936. Their graduates include eminent, award-winning writers such as Tennessee Williams, Kurt Vonnegut ( Slaughterhouse-Five ), Marilynn Robinson ( Gilead ), Yaa Gyaasi ( Homegoing ), Nobel laureate Louise Glück, and Bangladeshi writer and translator Shabnam Nadiya. 

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

You are what you eat in Mashiul Alam's "The Meat Market" (trans. Shabnam Nadiya)

UIowa is a pioneer and a hub for creative programs, and the famed Iowa Writers' Workshop was soon joined by the equally prestigious MFA in Nonfiction Writing Program, also the nation's first, with acclaimed writer and critic Melissa Febos among its current faculty members. 

Both these programs are fully funded throughout its three years, which usually includes a full tuition scholarship in addition to teaching stipends for Graduate Assistantship positions and grants provided through arts fellowships. 

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

The MFA programs at UIowa have produced writers that have been up for major recognitions such as the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, MacArthur Foundation Fellowships, and the Booker Prize. Internationally acclaimed writers such as Yiyun Li, Rebecca Makkai, Carmen Maria Machado, Karen Russell, and V V Ganeshananthan have been some of the teachers at the program.

Meanwhile, their prestigious International Writing Program, which hosts writers from around the world in the Fall semester, has included Bangladeshi writers such as Humayun Ahmed, Shihab Sarkar, Mohammad Rafiq, Ruby Rahman, Anisul Hoque, and most recently Mashiul Alam . IWP's summer writing program, called  Between the Lines , is currently accepting applications from Bangladeshi creative writers aged 15-18. 

top mfa creative writing programs 2021

In defense of brevity

There are many other prestigious creative writing programs in the US, among them the MFA programs at Columbia University, New York University, Bennington College, and others, but funding, if available, is partial and difficult to get by. 

If you have completed graduation or will be doing it by the end of this year, and are interested in creative writing programs, you should look up these program websites and start preparing accordingly. Interested candidates should focus on their writing samples and recommendation letters. Most of their admission windows open in September and run up to December. They allow students to apply without their final semester grades in cases where the students' universities delay in publishing the results. While none of these programs makes GRE scores mandatory, English language proficiency tests like the IELTS or TOEFL are an essential requirement for international students who have not completed formal schooling in an English speaking country.


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‘আমার আমিত্ব বলে কিছু নেই, নিজেকে উৎসর্গ করেছি এদেশের মানুষের কল্যাণে’

‘মানুষের প্রতি আকাঙ্ক্ষা থাকবে স্বাধীন দেশের নাগরিক হিসেবে তারা যেন আত্মমর্যাদা নিয়ে চলেন। যারা অগ্নিসন্ত্রাসী তাদেরকে প্রত্যাখ্যান করবেন। সেটাই চাই।'

আগারগাঁও থেকে মতিঝিল: মেট্রোরেল উদ্বোধন করলেন প্রধানমন্ত্রী

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  1. Top 5 Best MFA in Creative Writing Programs (in 2023)

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    top mfa creative writing programs 2021

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