By Iris Stone
There is a unique advantage to choosing an accredited online master’s in English degree program. Unlike some other subjects, which require a lot of hands-on interaction and practical work – such as in labs – English programs inherently boast more flexibility. Particularly when it comes to English degrees in Creative Writing, many schools cut the reins loose on students who have the ability to produce creative content in isolation.
Some of these degrees fall under the category of “low residency,” which means that students work entirely independently to complete required assignments, simply checking in with mentors as they meet milestones. However, these residency programs nearly always require students to travel to campus a few times a year for intensive, collaborative writing workshops. As such, these programs are not ideal for students who have absolutely no ability to travel.
Below we have ranked the ten most affordable master’s in English online, which includes Creative Writing Programs. These universities are all accredited and represent a mix between traditional online English degrees and less structured low residency options. But they all have one thing in common: they boast the ten absolute least expensive annual tuition rates of all U.S. schools with online degrees in this area. We determined these top affordable schools by looking at data from College Navigator, a web database that is a component of the National Center for Education Statistics at the U.S. Department of Education. Keep in mind that the figures below are approximate indications of how much you can expect to pay for school, and of course they may be affected by scholarships, financial aid, cost fluctuations between semesters, and miscellaneous fees.
10. Morehead State University
Online Master of Arts in English
With fully online curriculum and a virtual classroom environment for collaborative learning and discussion, Morehead State University’s online masters in English program is a great learning opportunity for students in a rural setting. Whether you are looking to pursue creative writing, literary studies, or break into law or education, Morehead puts all the resources you need at your fingertips. Coursework covers everything from Early Modern English poetry (Milton, Shakespeare, etc.) to modern novels and film theory. Scholarships and awards such as the Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing help students finance this already highly affordable degree program at one of The Daily Beast’s “top underrated schools.”
9. Institute of American Indian Arts
Online Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing
The Native American experience is a blind spot in the American cultural imagination, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The affordable online masters degree in English offered at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) is just one of fifty low-residency MFA programs in the country, and the only one devoted to cultivating Native American creative voices. With award-winning faculty and mentors (75% of whom are indigenous), and virtual workshops, the IAIA provides students with a safe space to probe their experiences, assemble a body of work, and build professional relationships. Coursework in fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry exposes students to a range of styles, which culminates in a thesis portfolio.
8. University of Nebraska
Online Creative Writing MFA
Ranked by Forbes among the top 150 universities in the Midwest, the University of Nebraska’s online English master’s degree combines convenience and affordability with the intimacy of individualized mentorship. Split between online coursework and five on-site residencies at the Lied Lodge on Arbor Day Farm, students work individually most of the year and come together for symposiums, lectures, and social activities on a beautiful mountainside property. Students select between 16-week poetry, nonfiction, and fiction seminars conducted individually with faculty mentors. Because it is a low residency program, students can actually interview and select their mentors to ensure the best fit.
Tuition: $5,610/yr (In-state) $13,525/yr (Out of-state)
7. University of Houston at Victoria
Online Low Residency Creative Writing MFA
For many aspiring writers, an MFA or Master’s in English online fulfills two main functions: honing one’s craft through workshops and peer critique, and actually getting published. At the University of Houston at Victoria, where 90% of students on College Prowler rate the professors as highly knowledgeable, an affordable online master’s in English can help students accomplish both at once. With coursework in digital publishing, publishing contract law, publication design, and more, students are exposed to the realities of a career in writing, even before they have anything to sell. At the end of this completely online, 36 credit hour program, students must complete a thesis project in either fiction (100+ pages) or poetry (at least 50 pages).
Tuition: $6,252/yr (In-state) $12,768/yr (Out of-state)
6. University of Texas at Tyler
Online English MA Degree
Tied for 22nd among regional universities in the West according to U.S. News, the University of Texas at Tyler (UTT) is a great choice for students looking to earn an accredited master’s in English online. Their 100% online curriculum is conducted on an individualized basis between students and their faculty mentors, and covers material ranging from literary criticism and composition to history and education. This research-oriented coursework prepares students for a variety of careers, including those in education, research, editing, and more. Whether you pursue a PhD or life in the private sector, this cheap degree will be sure to enrich your mind and your wallet.
Tuition: $6,142/yr (In-state) $12,658/yr (Out of-state)
5. Converse College
Online MFA in Writing Low Residency
Creative writing comes in many forms, from genre fiction to children’s and young adult literature, literary fiction, creative nonfiction, and beyond. In Converse College’s cheap online English master’s degree, students can explore their unique interests and styles in a diverse curriculum with plenty of personalized attention and support. Coursework in genre history and criticism, environmental writing, and on-campus residencies all contribute to the singular educational experience that Converse has to offer. Ranked 23rd among Regional Universities in the South according to U.S. News, Converse is a great choice for aspiring writers looking for flexibility in a cheap master’s in English online.
4. Hamline University
Online MFA in Writing for Children and Adults Low Residency
What’s the difference between writing for kids and writing for adults? While there are a multitude of programs that cater to aspiring adult and nonfiction writers, this affordable online master’s degree in English helps writers tap into the minds of young readers. Students develop their writing capabilities in a manner that will allow them to inspire children and encourage them to read and imagine for the first time. Picture books, comics, and graphic novels are just a few of the genres/mediums you can pursue at Hamline University. Between annual residencies with guest speakers and workshops and online coursework, this convenient and affordable degree takes just two years to complete. If you’ve always dreamed of captivating young minds with your stories, don’t miss this chance to get a degree from U.S. News’ 9th ranked regional university in the Midwest.
3. Queens University of Charlotte
Online MFA Creative Writing Program Low Residency
In some ways, low-residency programs provide the ideal educational environment for writers, combining the solitude necessary for composition with the intimacy and solidarity of weeklong residencies. Ranked the 7th best of such programs in the country by the Poets &Writers organization, Queens University of Charlotte’s low-residency online English master’s degree has mastered this balance. After completing this highly personalized, four-semester program, many students have gone on to publish work for years—the school includes a list of dozens of published alumni on their website. A combination of successful, committed faculty and personalized coursework makes Queens University the perfect destination for budding writers of all stripes.
2. Minnesota State University at Mankato
Online Master of Arts in English: Technical Communication
Technical writing programs are hard to come by; combining the linguistic fluency of a writer with the technical knowledge of scientist, there are few educational tracks that typically offer both at a graduate level. In fact, Minnesota State University at Mankato is one of only a select few universities to offer an affordable online masters degree in English with an emphasis in communicating technical information. With a low, in-state tuition for all online students, this degree program represents a great opportunity to launch a lucrative career in this specialized field. Practical coursework in editing; research; and written, spoken, and visual communication prepares students for professional life while allowing them to study and work at their own pace online.
1. Ashland University
Online Low Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing
Of all the low-residency creative writing MFA’s on this list, Ashland University’s is probably the most prestigious. Ranked second in job placement, fourth in fellowship placement, and 11th in selectivity on Poets & Writers 2013 MFA listing, AU has a strong reputation for launching careers in creative writing and publishing. Why? In addition to personalized genre workshops, annual residencies in Ohio and Paris, and award-winning faculty, AU holds its students to highly rigorous standards of aesthetic and intellectual ability and curiosity. For struggling writers looking for a affordable online masters degree in English, Ashland may be the jumpstart you need to “[r]e-energize a commitment to the literary arts.”
About the Author:
Iris Stone began her writing career when she started working as a freelance writer and researcher in 2011. Her freelance business soon took off and she now owns and operates a writing and editing firm that works with clients all across the country. Despite the time it takes to run a business she still does much of the writing herself, and her work has included a variety of content related to education policy, colleges and universities, academic programs, and graduates’ careers. Her interests actually span far beyond writing, and she is currently studying to be a physicist! Check out her Google+ Profile.
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