2024 Best Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Programs [MFA Degree Guide]

By Joy Cromwelle
Edited by Briana Sukert
Updated on May 19, 2024
Edited by Briana Sukert
Ready to start your journey?
Discover the best online masters in creative writing programs. Pursue your writing dreams and gain the skills needed for a successful writing career.

The best MFA in Creative Writing programs will give you opportunities to practice your writing skills, grow your confidence, and get ready for professional work.

best master of fine arts in creative writing programs

If you’re ready to take your writing abilities to the next level and learn from top professors, then it’s time to check out what a Master of Fine Arts program has to offer.

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This type of graduate program is also available online, so you may be able to earn a valuable writing degree on a schedule that works for you.

Best MFA in Creative Writing Programs Online

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Antioch University

Antioch University offers a low-residency program for an MFA in Creative Writing. It provides a flexible learning environment in which students can attend mostly online but have opportunities to attend seminars and workshops on campus. Students can receive faculty mentorship and participate in online class discussions.

Antioch University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Bay Path University

Bay Path University offers an MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing. The program is fully online, with no residency requirements. An optional creative writing seminar is held in the summer in Ireland. Students in the program are part of an inclusive community and can receive faculty mentorship and feedback from small peer groups.

Bay Path University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Concordia University – St. Paul

Concordia University—St. Paul offers a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. This 36 credit degree program can be completed 100% online. It typically takes 2 years to finish and includes workshops and a supervised thesis. The curriculum consists of courses such as Advanced Workshop I and II, Studies in the Craft of Creative Writing, and Studies in the Contemporary Novel.

Concordia University – St. Paul is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Drexel University

Drexel University offers a low-residency program for a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. This 2 year program provides the flexibility of online coursework with occasional workshops and networking opportunities on campus. Students can also participate in optional in-person teaching assistantships. Drexel uses a quarterly academic calendar with classes that are 10 weeks long.

Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Eastern Oregon University

Eastern Oregon University offers a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing that can be earned online. The program requires the completion of 60 credit hours, which can typically be done in 2 years. Students in the program collaborate with a cohort to gain hands-on experience. The program also offers an optional emphasis in Young Adult Writing.

Eastern Oregon University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Liberty University

Liberty University offers a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing that can be earned 100% online. The program consists of 48 credit hours of 8 week courses and usually takes 2 years to complete. The curriculum consists of courses such as Writing as Cultural Engagement, Contemporary Literature, and Writing Fiction. Students in the program must also participate in workshops and complete a thesis.

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Lindenwood University

Lindenwood University offers an online program for an MFA in Writing. It offers concentration options in Poetry, Fiction, and Creative Nonfiction. It requires the completion of 48 credit hours of coursework, which can typically be done in 2 years. While the degree can be completed entirely online, some courses may be taken in person if preferred.

Lindenwood is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Mississippi University for Women

Mississippi University for Women offers a low-residency, 48 credit program for a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing that can typically be completed in 2 to 3 years. Class sizes are small, and students in the program can receive one-on-one advising and mentorship. Students can attend the program full-time or part-time. GRE scores are not needed to apply.

Mississippi University for Women is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University offers a 100% online program for an MFA in Creative Writing that is intended for writers of all fiction genres. Classes have no set meeting times, so students can study entirely according to their own schedules. The program still offers opportunities to engage with a community online, including SNHU’s Creative Writing Review Club.

Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education, Inc.

University of Arkansas – Monticello

The University of Arkansas—Monticello offers a non-residency program for a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. The program requires the completion of 48 credit hours and offers opportunities to study fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction. Students may take anywhere from 3 to 12 credit hours of coursework each academic term.

The University of Arkansas – Monticello is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Houston – Victoria

The University of Houston offers a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. The degree can be earned online or on campus, with both programs following a traditional academic calendar. To earn the degree, students must complete 36 credit hours, including a thesis. Applicants are asked to provide a creative writing sample that is 20 to 30 pages long.

UHV is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Nebraska – Omaha

The University of Nebraska—Omaha offers a Master of Fine Arts in Writing. Students in the program take online classes for four 16 week semesters and come to campus for five 10 day residencies. Concentration options are available in Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, Young Adult, Playwriting, and Screenwriting.

UNO is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of New Orleans

The University of New Orleans offers an online program for a Creative Writing MFA. Online students are part of a community and have the option to attend summer residencies in person. The degree requires the completion of 45 credit hours and can typically be completed in 5 semesters of full-time study. New students may begin in either the fall or spring semester.

The University of New Orleans is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Texas – El Paso

The University of Texas—El Paso offers a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing that can be earned 100% online. Residency opportunities are available but optional. The program requires the completion of 48 credit hours, including a thesis. The curriculum consists of courses such as Forms and Techniques of Fiction, Narrative Theory and Poetics, and Forms and Techniques of Poetry.

The University of Texas at El Paso is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Wilkes University

Wilkes University offers an MFA in Creative Writing. The program requires the completion of a thesis that is read and reviewed by a professional agent or editor. The curriculum consists of courses such as Foundations of Creative Writing, Writing Fiction, and Genre and Context in Poetry.

Wilkes University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Best MFA in Creative Writing Programs Online

Woman taking MFA online creative writing

Masters in creative writing programs are for people who are serious about honing their craft and becoming accomplished writers. If you want to make the most of your natural writing skills, then a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing might be right for you.

In a creative writing program, you will, of course, do plenty of writing. You may experiment with many different genres during your time in school. Your writing courses may cover:

  • Dystopian novels
  • Memoirs
  • Middle grade chapter books
  • Narrative poems
  • Romance stories
  • Science fiction
  • Short stories
  • Sonnets
  • Young adult fiction

Not surprisingly, you’ll spend a lot of time writing during this program! A Master of Fine Arts is focused on helping you excel at your craft. The more you practice—and the more you have your work evaluated by professors and classmates—the more you may improve.

While you can count on having many writing workshops, there will probably be some other classes, too. For example, you might learn skills related to marketing, editing, and teaching. Those types of classes could be useful for expanding your professional opportunities.

In fact, some schools offer specific tracks to expand your career readiness. In addition to the MFA, you might graduate with a certificate in a discipline such as writing instruction or copywriting. At some colleges, graduating with an MFA requires a thesis project.

The thesis might be an extensive creative writing project—perhaps a whole novel! By graduation, your thesis manuscript might be nearly ready for publication. If so, you might be able to start shopping for a publisher soon after school.

In addition to helping you get started as an author, you may have other career paths available to you after graduation. Some options might include working as an editor or an agent. Graduates may go on to teach writing to others, work as a journalist, or head up creative projects as an art director. Marketing or advertising roles might draw on your writing skills as well.

Creative Writing Careers & Salaries

Creative Writing Careers & Salaries

If you’re thinking about getting a master in creative writing online, you probably love to write. Perhaps you have dreams of becoming a published poet or a renowned novelist. A number of graduates work toward such careers with this degree.

Of course, there are other writing jobs you could do, too. Creative writing is useful for developing television scripts and screenplays. This skill could also come in handy for writing informative textbooks that engage young learners. In addition, captivating writing plays a key role in the world of advertising and marketing. Writers produce copy that catches customers’ attention and leads to sales.

In advertising, you would more likely do short-form writing, such as email and social media content. Marketing roles may involve producing longer pieces, such as blog posts. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in media and communications pay a median annual salary of $62,340.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Marketing Managers $135,030
Advertising and Promotions Managers $127,150
Art Directors $100,890
Agents and Business Managers of Artists, Performers, and Athletes $78,410
Postsecondary English Language and Literature Teachers $75,930
Writers and Authors $69,510
Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists $63,920
Editors $63,350
High School Teachers $61,820
News Analysts, Reporters, and Journalists $48,370

Some writers do an assortment of jobs. For example, some might work on their own novels while also producing marketing copy for clients. Some writers pursue journalism careers. Creative writing may come into play when producing content for magazines or newspapers.

As you gain experience in the creative world, you may become qualified for management positions. For example, creative directors or art directors oversee all the artistic elements of a project. That could include text, photos, and layout. Those with an understanding of good writing might make proficient editors for other authors.

Another writing-related career could be to work as a literary agent who connects authors to publishers. Rather than doing a lot of their own writing, some creative writing professionals want to teach others how to write. Positions for creative writing instructors may be available at both the high school and college levels. Most high school teachers need state licensure.

Creative Writing MFA Curriculum & Courses

People taking Creative Writing MFA, in a group work

For a writing MFA, you might be required to complete at least 48 credit hours. The curriculum might include courses similar to the following:

  • Creative Writing in Journalism: During your time in this class, you’ll learn how to tell true stories in ways that hook readers.
  • Elements of Fiction: Before you dive into creating your own works, it’s helpful to study characters, settings, imagery, points of view, and other aspects of fiction writing.
  • Helping Others Write: This class teaches you to be an editor or a book coach who helps other authors develop their stories.
  • Marketing and Writing: You could study digital marketing, copywriting, social media content, and branding as you learn to use your skills in the world of marketing.
  • Memoirs: You might take a class that prepares you to tell your own story in a creative, engaging way.
  • Professional Writing: This course introduces you to different ways that writers can earn a living and helps equip you with skills for those roles.
  • Romance Novels: You could study how to develop characters, plots, and other elements for stories centered around love and romance.
  • Scriptwriting: In this course, you’ll learn how to transfer your writing skills to stories told through acting and dialogue.
  • Short Writing: As you explore writing forms like articles and short stories, you may also practice submitting these types of works to literary journals.
  • Writing for Young Readers: You may study the young adult genre and try your hand at writing pieces for teen readers.

In creative writing master’s programs, you are often able to select many electives so that you can focus on the types of writing that interest you most.

Admissions Requirements

Man preparing requirements for Creative Writing MFA

Creative writing programs evaluate potential students on their academic skills and writing abilities. To get into grad school, you might be required to turn in:

  • Application form and a processing fee
  • GRE score (not needed at all grad schools)
  • Sample that showcases your creative writing abilities
  • Personal statement about your goals or experiences
  • Transcripts from previous college programs—may need a minimum GPA

Admission requirements vary among different colleges. Some schools may also ask for interviews, personal references, or resumes.

Creative Writing Masters Programs Accreditation

University offering Creative Writing Masters

Choosing a regionally accredited college for your creative writing graduate program is a beneficial decision. Regional accreditation is a mark of quality that can serve you well during school and beyond. Students must attend accredited schools to receive federal financial aid. Regional accreditation may also determine whether you’ll be able to transfer your credits from one school to another.

A master’s degree from a regionally accredited school may help you get into a PhD program someday as well. Plus, when you start applying for jobs, a graduate degree from a regionally accredited school may increase your marketability.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Creative Writing Masters Financial Aid

Paying for a graduate degree may seem daunting at first, but financial aid can make a difference for students who qualify.

As you consider going back to school, you may want to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Depending on the income level entered on that form, you may qualify for various types of government student aid.

Financial assistance for graduate students is usually given in the form of loans, though select students might qualify for grant money. Both state and federal assistance programs may be available to you. Scholarships are another source of funding for many students. You can apply for a variety of scholarships from groups like professional associations and community organizations.

Many colleges give scholarships directly as well. Sometimes, employers contribute to college costs for their team members. If you’re currently working, you might be able to learn more about this benefit from your human resources department.

What Is a Creative Writing Masters Degree?

People enrolled to creative writing masters program

A creative writing masters degree is graduate program for people who are serious about pursuing writing as a career. The curriculum for a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing usually includes many writing workshops. Those are classes in which you’ll intensely practice and refine your writing skills. They may cover a variety of genres.

Other courses for this program may discuss editing and publishing. You could study literature and literary analysis, too. Some programs include courses about how to teach writing to others. An MFA is considered a terminal degree in this field.

What Can You Do with an MFA in Creative Writing?

Author who graduated from masters programs in creative writing

Having a master’s degree in creative writing could help writers launch their careers as professional novelists, poets, playwrights, or screenwriters. Some graduates might also help other writers as an editor or an agent.

Your creative abilities could also be useful for helping businesses sell products. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that most advertising and promotions managers make at least $61,250 annually. Marketing managers tend to earn more.

Some creative writers become teachers who inspire others to write well. Depending on your credentials, you might be able to teach high schoolers or college students.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Master’s in Creative Writing Online?

Man pursuing online masters in creative writing

It generally takes 1 to 2 years to complete MFA programs online. Some programs require about 48 credit hours, but others may be shorter. In general, you can expect to spend at least two to four semesters enrolled in the program. Colleges with year-round classes may allow you to finish a bit more quickly.

For some programs, you’ll be required to write a complete novel before graduation. You’ll work on that project throughout several college terms. Even if you are a dedicated, diligent student, this project will take time, and it’s best not to be rushed.

What Jobs Can I Get with a Master of Creative Writing Online Degree?

Writers and editor discussing

Much like an online professional writing degree, some people become writers or authors with a masters in creative writing degree. Some self-publish their works, and others are able to connect with publishing companies that are eager to work with them.

Journalism is another line of work for graduates to consider. Creative writing talents are important for engaging readers, especially when it comes to the features sections of magazines and newspapers. Editors need to have writing skills, too. Instead of writing their own works, some MFA holders help other novelists refine their stories.

Others use their writing know-how to identify new talent. They work as literary agents that help bring writers’ stories to publication.

What’s the Difference Between MA vs. MFA in Creative Writing Degrees Online?

For your graduate degree, you could pursue a Master of Arts (MA) or a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing.

MA in Creative Writing MFA in Creative Writing
  • May require fewer credits—around 36
  • Includes more literary analysis classes
  • Often better for those who want to work in editing or copywriting
  • May require more credits—around 48
  • Includes more writing workshops
  • Often designed for those who want to become published authors

While you might be able to finish an MA program more quickly, you might be able to leave an MFA program with a finished manuscript.

Is an MFA in Creative Writing Worth It?

People enrolled in graduate creative writing programs

Yes, an MFA in Creative Writing is worth it for many students. Writing is a dream and a passion for many people. Going to college and having professionals guide you through the process of producing a manuscript can be invaluable.

Your college experience may lead to more writing opportunities as well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of positions for writers and authors will grow by about 4% over the next ten years. That’s in line with the national average for job growth.

Getting Your Masters in Creative Writing Online

Woman taking Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing online

If you’re serious about your writing career, then you may want to enroll in one of the top creative writing MFA programs.

In a graduate program, you can hone your writing skills and get feedback from experienced professors. You might graduate with the skill and confidence to keep pursuing your craft. Online coursework is possible for this degree. You can take creative writing classes online and interact virtually with faculty members and other students. Online degree in English in creative writing programs from accredited schools are thorough, reputable, and effective.

Now is the time to explore credible programs and start thinking about where you’d like to earn your accredited online creative writing degree.

Ready to start your journey?