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The 12 Best Creative Writing Colleges and Programs

Finding a dedicated creative writing program at a school you’re excited about can be a real challenge, and that’s even before you start worrying about getting in. Nonetheless, there are some great options. In order to help you find the best school for you, this list rounds up some of the best colleges for creative writing in the United States.

The Best Creative Writing Programs: Ranking Criteria

You should never take college rankings as absolute truth—not even the very official-seeming US News ones. Instead, use these kinds of lists as a jumping-off place for your own exploration of colleges. Pay attention not just to what the rankings are but to how the rankings are determined.

To help with that, I’ll explain how I came up with this highly unscientific list of great creative writing colleges. I started by narrowing my search down to schools that offered a specific creative writing major. (If you don’t see a school you were expecting, it’s likely because they only have a minor.)

In ranking the schools, I considered five major criteria:

  • #1: MFA Ranking—If a school has a great graduate creative writing program, it means you’ll be taught by those same professors and the excellent graduate students they attract. Schools with strong MFA programs are also more likely to have solid alumni networks and internship opportunities. However, many schools with great undergrad programs do not offer MFAs, in which case I simply focused on the other four options.
  • #2: General School Reputation—The vast majority of your classes won’t be in creative writing, so it’s important that other parts of the school, especially the English department, are great as well.
  • #3: Extracurricular Opportunities—One of the key advantages of majoring in creative writing is that it can provide access to writing opportunities outside the classroom, so I took what kind of internship programs, author readings, and literary magazines the school offers into consideration.
  • #4: Diversity of Class Options—I gave extra points to schools with a variety of genre options and specific, interesting classes.
  • #5: Alumni/Prestige—This last criterion is a bit more subjective: is the school known for turning out good writers? Certainly it’s less important than what kind of education you’ll actually get, but having a brand-name degree (so to speak) can be helpful.

The Best Creative Writing Schools

Now, let’s get to the good stuff: the list of schools! The exact numbering is always arguable, so look at it as a general trend from absolutely amazing to still super great, rather than fixating on why one school is ranked #3 and another is ranked #4.

#1: Northwestern University

Northwestern’s undergrad creative writing program boasts acclaimed professors and an unparalleled track record of turning out successful writers (including Divergent author Veronica Roth and short-story writer Karen Russell).

Outside the classroom, you can work on the student-run literary journal, intern at a publication in nearby Chicago, or submit to the Department of English’s yearly writing competition. The university is also home to a top journalism program, so if you want to try your hand at nonfiction as well, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to do so.

#2: Columbia University

Like Northwestern, Columbia is home to both a world-class creative writing program and a top journalism school (plus one of the best English departments in the country), so you have a wide range of writing-related course options. Columbia also benefits from its location in New York City, which is bursting at the seams with publishing houses, literary journals, and talented authors.

Columbia University’s Low Library (Wally Gobetz/Flickr)

#3: University of Iowa

The University of Iowa’s big draw is the infrastructure of its graduate Writers’ Workshop, which is often considered the best MFA program in the country.

As an English and Creative Writing major here, you’ll take classes from great young writers and established professors alike, and get to choose from a wide range of topics. This major provides transferable skills important for a liberal arts major with a creative focus. You’ll also have access to the university’s impressive literary community, including frequent readings, writing prizes and scholarships, and the acclaimed literary journal The Iowa Review.

#4: Emory University

Emory is renowned for its dedicated undergrad creative writing program, which draws the very best visiting scholars and writers. Students here have the chance to attend intimate question-and-answer sessions with award-winning authors, study a range of genres, compete for writing awards and scholarships, and work closely with an adviser to complete an honors project.

#5: Oberlin College

A small liberal arts school in Ohio, Oberlin offers very different advantages than the schools above do. You’ll have fewer opportunities to pursue writing in the surrounding city, but the quality of the teachers and the range of courses might make up for that. Moreover, it boasts just as impressive alumni, including actress and writer Lena Dunham.

#6: Hamilton College

Hamilton is another small college, located in upstate New York. It’s known for giving students the freedom to pursue their interests and the support to help them explore topics in real depth, both inside and outside the classroom. Hamilton’s creative writing program takes full advantage with small classes and lots of opportunities to intern and publish; it also has one of the best writing centers in the country.

#7: Brown University

Brown’s Literary Arts program offers one of the top MFAs in the US as well as an undergraduate major. For the major, you must take four creative writing workshops and six reading-intensive courses, which span an array of departments and topics, from music and literature to Middle East studies and Egyptology.

Part of Brown University’s campus (Chuck Roberts/Flickr)

#8: Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University has an excellent creative writing MFA program, lots of super specific class options, and a number of scholarships specifically earmarked for creative writing students. This school’s undergraduate English program also offers a concentration in creative writing that allows students to specialize in a specific genre: poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. If you’re interested in exploring your potential in a specific writing genre, Washington University could be a great pick for you.

#9: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT might not be a school you generally associate with writing, but it actually has an excellent program that offers courses in digital media and science writing, as well as creative writing, and provides plenty of guidance on how graduates can navigate the tricky job market.

Not to mention the school is located in Cambridge, a haven for book lovers and writers of all kinds. Though it probably isn’t a good fit for students who hate science, MIT is a great place for aspiring writers who want to build writing skills that are marketable in a wide range of industries.

#10: University of Michigan

University of Michigan is one of the best state universities in the country and has a top-notch MFA program. This school’s undergrad creative writing sub-concentration requires students to submit applications for admittance to advanced creative writing courses. These applications give students crucial practice in both building a writing portfolio and articulating their interest in creative writing to an audience who will evaluate their work. If you’re looking to attend a big school with a great creative writing major, this is a fantastic choice.

#11: Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins is another school that’s known more for engineering than it is for writing, but, like MIT, it has a dedicated writing program. As a major here, you must take not only courses in prose, poetry, and literature, but also classes on topics such as philosophy and history.

#12: Colorado College

Colorado College is a small liberal arts school known for its block plan, which allows students to focus on one class per three-and-a-half-week block. The creative writing track of the English major includes a sequence of four writing workshops and also requires students to attend every reading of the Visiting Writers Series.

Bonus School: New York University

I didn’t include NYU in the main list because it doesn’t have a dedicated creative writing major, but it’s a great school for aspiring writers nonetheless, offering one of the most impressive creative writing faculties in the country and all the benefits of a Manhattan location.

Washington Square Park at NYU

How To Pick the Best Creative Writing School for You

Just because Northwestern is a great school for creative writing doesn’t mean you should set your heart on going there. (The football fans are completely terrifying, for one thing.) So where should you go then?

Here are some questions to ask yourself when looking at creative writing programs to help you determine the best school for you:

Does It Have Courses You’re Interested In?

Look at the course offerings and see whether they interest you. While you can’t predict exactly what classes you’ll love, you want to avoid a mismatch where what you want to study and what the program offers are completely different. For example, if you want to write sonnets but the school focuses more on teaching fiction, it probably won’t be a great fit for you.

Also, don’t forget to look at the English courses and creative writing workshops! In most programs, you’ll be taking a lot of these, too.

What Opportunities Are There To Pursue Writing Outside of Class?

I touched on this idea in the criteria section, but it’s important enough that I want to reiterate it here. Some of the best writing experience you can get is found outside the classroom, so see what kind of writing-related extracurriculars a school has before committing to it.

Great options include getting involved with the campus newspaper, working on the school’s literary journal, or interning at the university press.

Who Will Be Teaching You?

Who are the professors? What kind of work have they published? Check teacher ratings on Rate My Professors (but make sure to read the actual reviews—and always take them with a grain of salt).

If you’re looking at a big school, there’s a good chance that a lot of your teachers will be graduate students. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing: a lot of the best teachers I had in college were graduate students. Just take into consideration what kind of graduate program the school has. If there’s a great creative writing MFA program, then the graduate students are likely to be better writers and more engaged teachers.

What Are the Alumni Doing Now?

If you have a sense of what you want to do after you graduate, see if any alumni of the program are pursuing that type of career. The stronger the alumni network is, the more connections you’ll have when it comes time to get a job.

What About the Rest of the School?

Don’t pick a school for which you like the creative writing program but dread everything else about it. Most of your time will be spent doing other things, whether hanging out in the dorms, exploring off campus, or fulfilling general education requirements.

Many schools require you to apply to the creative writing major, so make doubly sure you’ll be happy with your choice even if you aren’t accepted to the program.

What’s Next?

Are you sure a creative writing major is the right fit for you? Read our post on the pros and cons of the major to help you decide what path to take in college.

For more general advice about choosing a college, check out our complete guide to finding the right school for you. Some major factors to consider include deciding whether you’re interested in a small college or a big university, an in-state or out-of-state institution, and a public or private school.

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10 Best Schools for Creative Writing in the World | 2022

Honestly, writing exciting poems, interesting and fictitious stories, and other amazing content for pay is educative and interesting.

Even though you are a talented writer, knowing how to make it creative really demands some formal training.

Now, if you’re wondering where to brush up your writing skills, this article provides information on the best graduate schools for creative writing in the world.

Actually, these best grad schools for creative writing train students to stand out from other creative writers. In fact, top news agencies in the world usually rush to hire graduates from one of these institutions.

That sounds like a whole lot of money right? So, attending any of these universities gives you an edge in a job hunt.

Initially, stories pass from one generation to another through oral storytelling traditions. Although, the primary “writing” tool was the memory and voice of the storyteller.

However, some of the first written stories in the Western tradition were the Bible and Homer’s Odyssey; in the Eastern Tradition, the Indian Vedas and Sanskrit poems; in central America, the Mayan Codices.

Before now, the art of writing was a difficult thing for a long time. Initially, the only people that learned how to write were only monks, the rich, and educated classes. Besides, inks and quills were expensive to buy. Honestly, it was very hard to make paper.

Table of Contents Hide

Who is a Creative Writer?

A Creative writer is someone usually a professional that writes for different print and online publications. Actually, the person writes interesting and entertaining articles, essays, stories or poems for books, magazines, websites, and scripts.

Also, Creative Writers are always passionate about creative ideas and they can express these ideas with clarity.

However, the duties of a Creative Writer include:

  • Firstly, handling research before and during the writing process.
  • Secondly, preparing materials for assignments, such as planning, outline, and synopsis.
  • Thirdly, carrying out thorough fact-checks before submitting any work.
  • Also, replying to feedback sessions and making revisions suggested by the client, publisher or editors.
  • Finally, attending as many training sessions and workshops as possible.

Also, for you to be a Creative Writer, you must:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree in writing, communication, language, marketing.
  • Posses evidence of writing experience (links to published work would be advantageous).
  • Have a very critical reading and thinking skill.
  • Also, an interest in current events and a general thirst for knowledge.
  • Have the strength and the ability to accept constructive feedback.
  • Basic computer skills.

What Can I Do With a Creative Writing Degree?

However, you can do a lot with a creative writing degree even with an associate degree in creative writing, you can go into the following:

  • Advertising copywriter
  • Creative director
  • Digital copywriter
  • Editorial assistant
  • Lexicographer
  • Newspaper journalist
  • Web content manager
  • Writer
  • Academic librarian
  • Film director
  • Marketing executive
  • Schoolteacher
  • Public relations officer
  • Social media manager

What are the types of Creative Writing degrees?

Well, below are the types of creative writing degrees you can earn.

Certificate

Actually, certificate programs introduce you to the basics of creative writing or writing in general. Also, it helps you update your skills in certain writing specializations. Besides, you get certification on completion of the program and the program lasts anywhere from a few days to two weeks.

Associate Degree

Associate degrees, like certificate programs, also train a student on the fundamentals of writing. However, it advances to providing you a broader professional knowledge which is near what you would get attending a four-year bachelor’s program.

Also, it takes two years to acquire an associate degree in creative writing and you can complete it mainly online.

Bachelor’s Degree

In short, this type of degree is suitable for you if you wish to take a writing career. You’ll get comprehensive knowledge by taking courses that will set you on the right track to becoming a creative writer.

Actually, the Bachelor’s program takes four (4) years to complete, after which you get a Bachelor of Arts Degree (BA).

Master’s Degree

However, this degree is ideal for you if you want to grow as a professional in creative writing. But, you must, first of all, acquire a Bachelor of Arts degree to qualify for the Master’s degree. Also, courses towards a Master’s in Creative Writing take two years to complete.

P.hD.

Well, you can take this degree if you have decided to take an academic line in creative writing. Also, you’ll learn the technical aspects of writing and its theory to enable you to teach at a university or community college.

Besides, it takes several years to complete a Ph.D. but it generally lasts for four years.

If you’re a US citizen or resident, you need to see this: Reedsy National Creative Writing Scholarship

What is the salary and job growth of Creative Writers?

Actually, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the job outlook for Creative Writers is really promising. Their 2016 statistics point out that there were 131,200 jobs that year for Writers and Authors. However, the typical entry to these jobs was a Bachelor’s degree.

Also, the BLS records the average annual pay of writers and authors as at 2018 as $62,170. They typically earn $29.89 per hour. Although, the job market for writers and authors will increase by 8% from 2016 to 2026. This creative writing job growth is as fast as average.

You can also read our: How can I get an Online Creative Writing Degree? Schools and Salaries

Can I get a Creative Writing Degree Online?

Yes. You can get a creative writing degree online through online colleges. Also, you can get it through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) platforms like Coursera and Udemy. However, this would depend on the kind of creative writing degree you want.

However, MOOCs don’t give you a BA, MA, or P.hD. degree. This is because they are primarily for short courses which either give certificates after completion or do not give certificates. Nonetheless, you would have acquired some form of formal education after taking a course on a MOOCs platform.

Well, if you want to acquire a globally accepted online degree in Creative Writing, you’ll need to enroll in an online college. Just try and make sure that the school you’re going for has accreditation.

Finally, the online platforms where you can acquire a degree in Creative Writing include:

  • Online Accredited Colleges

How can I become a Creative Writer?

Best Schools for Creative Writing in the World in 2022
List of the best graduate schools for Creative Writing in the world

We in World Scholarship Forum have put together a list of the best schools for creative writing in the world that offer either bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees for you.

However, we selected our 10 best schools for creative writing majors based on uniRank’s ranking of world universities, our information from reliable government sources, student surveys, college graduate interviews, and editorial review.

So, based on these criteria, here is a list of our 10 best graduate schools for creative writing in the world :

  • University of Lowa
  • The University of Michigan
  • University of Virginia
  • New York University
  • University of Texas
  • University of California–Irvine
  • Cornell University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Boston University
  • Brown University

#1. Brown University

This school is a private Ivy League research university in Providence, Rhode Island that was founded in 1764. However, the MFA program in creative writing at this top school of creative writing is offered through the Department of Literary Arts. Also, the program is a two-year residency type.

Thus, Brown University has an acceptance rate of 9% and a graduation rate of 96%. Similarly, the student-faculty ratio is 6:1. Though, this institution has a tuition fee of $57,591.

Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education.

Address: Providence, RI 02912, United States

#2. Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University was founded in 1876. It is a private research university in Baltimore, Maryland. Actually, this institution was named after its first benefactor, Johns Hopkins.

However, the MFA in Fiction and Poetry in this top school for creative writing in the world is known as The Writing Seminars. Actually, this is a two-year residency program.

Also, Johns Hopkins being one of the best schools for creative writing has an acceptance rate of 13% and a graduation rate of 93%. Similarly, the student-faculty ratio is 7:1. Though, this school has a tuition fee of $55,357.

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Address: Baltimore, MD 21218, United States

#3. Cornell University

Actually, this is a private and statutory Ivy League research university in Ithaca, New York that was founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White.

Conversely, the department of English in this best graduate school for creative writers is in charge of the MFA/Ph.D. Program in Creative Writing. Also, creative writing here is small and highly selective.

Similarly, only eight MFA students are enrolled each year. Actually, first-year students get practical training by working as Editorial Assistants for Epoch.

Furthermore, it has an acceptance rate of 14% and a graduation rate of 93%. Also, the student-faculty ratio is 9:1 while the tuition fee is $57,626.

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Address: Ithaca, NY 14850, United States

#4. University of Michigan

The University of Michigan is a public research university in Ann Arbor, Michigan and it was founded in 1817.

Actually, this institution being one of the best accounting schools in the world has an acceptance rate of 29%. Also, the graduation rate is 91%.

Finally, the student-faculty ratio is 15:1 while the tuition fee is $15,262 (Michigan residents) and $49,350 (out-of-state)

Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Address: 500 S State St, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, United States

#5. University of Virginia

However, this is a public research university in Charlottesville, Virginia that was founded in 1819. So, the Creative Writing Program at this school for creative writing is a two-year residency MFA program.

Also, this top school for creative writing has an acceptance rate of 30% and a graduation rate of 94% of students.

Besides, the student-faculty ratio is 15:1 while the tuition fee is $17,354 (in-state) and $49,530 (out-of-state).

Accreditation: Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Address: Charlottesville, VA, United States

#6. Boston University

This University is a private research university in Boston, Massachusetts. Besides, this institution has been historically affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Also, Boston University has above 3,900 faculty members and almost 33,000 students.

However, the creative writing program in this school is a small and intensive program that takes only one year to complete. Also, students in this best school for creative writing in the world, do a summer-semester Translation Seminar.

Also, this best grad school for creative writing has an acceptance rate of 29% and a graduation rate of 85%. Similarly, the student-faculty ratio is 10:1. This school has a tuition fee of $53,948.

Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education

Address: Boston, MA 02215, United States

#7. New York University

New York University is a private research university based in New York City. Actually, this best graduate school for creative writing was founded in 1831. Also, the creative writing program is located in the heart of Greenwich Village.

Besides, the acceptance rate in this top creative writing school in the world is 32% while the graduation rate is 85%. The student-faculty ratio is 9:1. Also, the tuition fee is $53,229

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Address: New York, NY 10003, United States

#8. The University of Texas

Well, the University of Texas at Austin is a public research university in Austin, Texas that was founded in 1883.

Actually, the Michener Center for Writers hosts an MFA in Writing Program this best writing school for creative writing majors. Thus, creative writing here is a three-year, full-time residency program.

In addition, the acceptance rate is 40% while the graduation rate of 81%. The faculty-student ratio is 19:1. Besides, the tuition fee is $10,826 (Texas residents) and $38,435 (out-of-state students).

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Address: Austin, TX 78712, United States

#9. University of California–Irvine

This university is a public research university in Irvine, California. However, this school offers 87 undergraduate degrees and 129 graduate and professional degrees.

Besides, you can get the MFA in Writing at the English Department at the University of California Irvine. It is a three-year residency program.

Thus, UC Irvine has an acceptance rate of 41% and a graduation rate of 86%. Similarly, the student-faculty ratio is 18:1. However, this top creative writing school has a tuition fee of $13,700 (California residents) and $42,692 (out-of-state).

Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

Address: Irvine, CA 92697, U.S.A

#10. University of Iowa

Actually, this school which is a public research university in Iowa City, Iowa was founded in 1847. However, the University of Iowa is the oldest and the second-largest university in the state.

Actually, creative writing this one of the best schools for creative writing majors which is a two-year residency program.

Also, students take classes from great young writers and established professors. They get to choose from a wide range of topics. However, this major in this best school for creative writing provides transferable skills important for liberal arts majors with a creative focus.

Actually, the University of Lowa being one of the best schools for creative writers in the world has an acceptance rate of 84% and a graduation rate of 70% of students. Besides, the student-faculty ratio is 15:1 and the tuition fee is $9,579 (in-state) and $31,870 (out-of-state).

Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission

Address: Iowa City, IA 52242, U.S.A

FAQs on the Best Schools for Creative Writing

Is creative writing hard?

Writing as a hobby may be totally different from studying Creative Writing. The latter is much more academic than many people think. It’s also much more difficult. There is much more to creative writing than just having a story idea.

How long does it take to get a degree in creative writing?

Most Bachelor’s degree programs require four years of full-time study and expose students to general education coursework and classwork in their chosen writing specialty. In the case of creative writing, you may have to major in the English Language.

What jobs can you get with a creative writing degree?

With a degree in creative writing degree, you can become:
1. BlogSpot.
2. Copywriter.
3. Web Content Editor.
4. Journalist.
5. Proofreader/Sub-Editor.
6. Content Marketing Specialist.
7. Social Media Specialist.

Conclusion

The essence of creative writing is to entertain and share the human experience, like love or loss. However, creative writers try to get at a truth about humanity through poetics and storytelling.

If you wish to check if you can do creative writing, just keep in mind that whether you are trying to express a feeling or a thought, the first step is to use your imagination.

On the other hand, the best undergraduate schools for creative writing in the world teach students to be renowned creative writers in the world.

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