Creative writing is a career chased by those who have a passion and talent for writing. Whether your medium is fictional stories, poetry, screenwriting, or non-fictional stories, creative writing allows you to express yourself through your work. If you think this is what you want to do with your life, you should pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.
Entertainment is one of the most commonly overlooked necessities in life. Everyone you speak to throughout your day will be looking forward to some form of entertainment. Most often, people go home at night to watch movies, TV shows, or read books. As a creative writer, you could help provide a steady stream of entertainment, making your job surprisingly vital to society. For anyone wanting a creative job, creative writing is a fantastic option.
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Before we get to the best MFA in Creative Writing programs, let’s explore the difference between an MFA and Master’s Degree in Creative Writing.
MFA vs Master’s in Creative Writing
Chances are you have already completed an undergraduate degree in creative writing or a similar field. Assuming this is the case, you’re likely trying to decide your next step. With the two most common paths at this point being so similar, choosing MFA or a master’s degree can be a difficult decision. So what sets them apart and which one should you choose?
An MFA is often considered to be the highest-level academic degree you can earn for certain fine arts specializations, including creative writing. In a master’s of fine arts program, there is more of a focus on writing and preparing you to become a writer. It does require more credit hours than a master’s degree program, but if you want to be a writer, this path gives you the best education and preparation.
A Master’s Degree in Creative Writing, on the other hand, most often allows for a concentration in creative writing instead of a specialization. With a master’s degree, you would receive an education more focused on analyzing and studying literature rather than writing and composing. While a master’s degree is the quicker option, due to fewer required credit hours, it may not be the best if you plan to become a writer.
In either degree program, there are options for concentrations within creative writing. The most common are fiction, literary nonfiction, poetry, genre fiction, and at some schools, screenwriting. These are pretty self-explanatory; fiction focuses on writing fictional works, nonfiction focuses on nonfictional writing, poetry focuses on writing poems, genre fiction allows you to focus on one genre of fiction like romance or horror, and screenwriting focuses on writing scripts for movies, plays, and TV shows.
Best MFA Creative Writing Programs
Attending a school with a great MFA in Creative Writing program is essential to receiving the best education. While many schools offer these programs, you will want to be fully prepared for your career as a writer upon graduating, and not every school can promise you will be. Applying to one of the following 11 schools, which are ranked as some of the absolute best for MFA in Creative Writing programs, is a great way to secure your future writing career.
University of Nebraska-Omaha
In Omaha, Nebraska, you can enroll in the University of Nebraska’s MFA in Creative Writing program. Students of this program will complete 60 credit hours of coursework in various genres while focusing on one genre based on the student’s specialization. The program is made up of four 16-week long writing seminars and five 10-day long residency workshops. Both the seminars and the workshops are designed to help prepare you as a writer.
To enroll in this program, applicants will need to provide their official transcripts, a resume, two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a writing sample that consists of 15 to 40 pages in their genre. As with all MFA programs, you will also need to have completed a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing or a similar subject.
Queens University of Charlotte
The Queens University of Charlotte in Charlotte, North Carolina, offers a low-residency MFA in Creative Writing. This program ensures there are never more than four students per teacher, which helps students get the quality education they need. Students of this program will have opportunities to write for the school’s literary journal or start an internship to help get their work published.
Requirements to apply to this program include submitting a resume, official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a 25-page writing portfolio. There is no requirement as to the genre the writing portfolio must be in, though you should focus on the genre you wish to pursue in your career.
At Lindenwood University in Saint Charles, Missouri, students can enroll in an MFA in Creative Writing. This program consists of 48 required credit hours that can be completed entirely online or on-campus. For both paths, no residency is required. Students of this program can take courses designed for both creative writers and those interested in journalism and editing. Most of the courses are taught by experienced authors and journalists, giving students a unique perspective.
Many opportunities are available to you at Lindenwood University, including being an editorial assistant for the school’s literary journal. To enroll in this program, you will need to submit a sample of your reactive writing as well as your official transcripts.
National University-San Diego
For those who wish to complete an online master’s degree, National University in San Diego, California, offers a completely online MFA in Creative Writing with no residency required. This program offers online workshops and seminars to provide students with an interactive online learning experience.
Students of this program will be required to complete elective courses. Many of these courses are unique and can help customize your degree, like film and directing courses or literary studies courses.
University of Texas-El Paso
In El Paso, Texas, students can enroll in a unique bilingual MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Texas. In fact, this is the only bilingual MFA program available in the world, providing students with a classroom experience in which English and Spanish coexist. While this program is on-campus, the university also offers an online MFA in Creative Writing program that can be completed from anywhere in the world.
The programs at this university require students to complete 48 credit hours made up of 42 credit hours of workshops and six for thesis work. To enroll, students must provide official undergraduate transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose and either eight to 10 pages of poetry or 20 pages of fictional writing.
Eastern Kentucky University
At the Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky, students can enroll in a low-residency MFA in Creative Writing program that is primarily online. The program requires students to attend at least 12 credit hours of residencies which are available in the winter in Lexington, Kentucky and in the summer in Lisbon, Portugal. Students can choose which residencies to attend, providing freedom of scheduling and the ability to travel.
To apply to the program at Eastern Kentucky University, students will need to provide GRE scores, undergraduate transcripts, a well-written resume, multiple letters of recommendation, and a writing portfolio. Students must also have completed an undergraduate degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
Oregon State University
Oregon State University offers an on-campus MFA in Creative Writing program at its Corvallis, Oregon, location as well as an online MFA in Creative Writing through its campus in Bend, Oregon. This university is known for having many successful graduates from the MFA program and currently has the highest cumulative GPA of any college in the state of Oregon.
These programs consist of many different focuses, from spiritual writing to physical geography writing, and take around two years to complete. After completion, students will be considered for external GTA positions by the school, helping students find employment right away. To enroll, you will need to submit a resume highlighting achievements and awards, a writing portfolio, transcripts, and a statement of objectives.
Bay Path University
Bay Path University in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, offers a fully online MFA in Nonfiction Writing with no required residencies. There is also an option for students to study abroad in Ireland through this program. This is a great option for anyone who is unable to attend residencies and other on-campus activities but still wishes to earn a degree. The program here consists of 39 required credit hours and is designed for students at all levels of their writing careers.
To be accepted into this program, you will need to have maintained a GPA of 3.0 or higher and submit official transcripts with a 250-word essay, 10 pages of writing samples, and two letters of recommendation.
University of Arkansas-Monticello
In Monticello, Arkansas, you can enroll in the University of Arkansas’ non-residency MFA in Creative Writing program. This program consists of 48 required credit hours in one of three genres: poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. Students of this program will be able to learn at their own pace, with allowances of anywhere between three and 12 credit hours per semester.
To apply to the University of Arkansas at Monticello’s MFA in Creative Writing, you will need to apply with official transcripts showing a GPA of 3.0 or higher, a manuscript, a personal essay, a critical writing analysis, and three letters of recommendation.
University of New Orleans
The University of New Orleans in New Orleans, Louisiana, offers both online and on-campus versions of their MFA in Creative Writing program. Both programs take students around three years to complete and allow for focuses in poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. Students of these programs will also have the opportunity to study abroad in Ireland or Italy over the summers.
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To enroll in one of these programs, students need to apply with GRE scores, official transcripts, and other documentation such as a resume and writing portfolio. Students do need to maintain at least a B in all classes to stay in the program once accepted.
In Boston, Massachusetts, you can attend Emerson College and enroll in its MFA in Popular Fiction Writing. This program is taught by award-winning faculty members and offers a concentration in all sorts of genres. Some of the more popular choices include mystery, horror, and young adult writing. The program requires students to complete 36 credit hours, 16 of which are workshops and four of which must be spent on a thesis.
Emerson College focuses on teaching students that writing is both a professional career and a form of art. They strive to help students learn about the history of their chosen genre, and help them to develop their own unique voice as a writer.
Creative writing is a great way to express yourself and your own interests in a way that benefits your career. Whether you wish to be a fiction writer, poet, or journalist, creative writing is a great skill to have. Being able to write unique works ensures an interested audience, which helps you become more successful.
While it is possible to land creative jobs without a degree, earning an MFA in Creative Writing is one of the best ways to turn your passion into a career. With plenty of job opportunities and a societal demand for constant entertainment, you are sure to make a decent living.
Attending one of the best 11 schools listed above is the best way to make sure your education is tailored to your needs. With options for online and on-campus degrees, you can’t go wrong with any of the best MFA in Creative Writing programs mentioned above.
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