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Cheap Online Master’s in English and Creative Writing Programs 2021

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Students earning a master’s degree in English and creative writing receive advanced training in literary criticism and writing. Each graduate student chooses a focus area, such as fiction writing, creative nonfiction, or poetry.

Full-time students typically earn their master’s degree in English or creative writing in two years. Many programs offer low-residency or no-residency options that appeal to working students. Graduates often work as high school teachers, editors, and writers. Some programs connect graduate students with literary agents and offer publishing classes. A master of fine arts (MFA) in creative writing also prepares graduates for college-level teaching roles.

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Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

The following list ranks the most affordable English and creative writing master’s programs. Prospective students can use these rankings to find a program that fits their budget and career goals. This page also explores degree requirements, common courses, and scholarship opportunities for graduate students in English and creative writing programs.

What Can I Do With an English and Creative Writing Degree?



Graduate-level training in English and creative writing helps learners build strong communication, storytelling, and analytical skills. Master’s students learn how to critically analyze literature, construct and hone their writing, and publish original works.

Degree-seekers pursuing a master’s degree in creative writing or English often focus on a specific area. Many programs offer concentration areas based on literary genres, with options in fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Some programs also offer specializations in graphic novels, young adult literature, and medical narrative writing.

An English and creative writing degree prepares graduates for a variety of high-level careers. As the field’s terminal degree, an MFA in creative writing meets the requirements for college-level teaching positions. A master’s degree can also lead to opportunities for professional writers, editors, and journalists. A master’s degree can help current professionals advance their career or switch fields.

Accreditation for an English and Creative Writing Degree



Before applying to an English or creative writing program, prospective students should research the school’s accreditation status. Accredited colleges and universities meet the highest academic standards and grant widely recognized degrees. To earn and maintain accreditation, schools regularly undergo rigorous reviews from independent accrediting agencies. These agencies evaluate each school’s student learning outcomes, academic mission, and faculty qualifications.

Accreditation benefits students in important ways. Most graduate programs require applicants to hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited school. Credits from accredited institutions are more likely to transfer, and only students at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid.

When evaluating a creative writing or English program, prospective graduate students should look for regional accreditation, which is the gold standard for liberal arts and research institutions. Applicants can verify any school’s accreditation status using the U.S. Department of Education’s database.

FAQ

Question Answer
Is creative writing an English major? The English department at most colleges and universities offers creative writing classes. Some also provide a creative writing major or concentration.
What kind of jobs can you get with an English degree? An English degree qualifies graduates for positions in education, journalism, business, public relations, and media. English majors often work as teachers, lawyers, librarians, editors, and writers.
What can you do with a master’s in creative writing? Graduates with a master’s in creative writing can pursue careers as writers and authors. They can also become creative writing teachers, screenwriters, speechwriters, journalists, and editors.
How long does it take to get a master’s degree in creative writing? Full-time students generally earn a master’s degree in creative writing in two years. Some programs offer accelerated options that allow learners to graduate sooner.

What Are the Requirements for an English and Creative Writing Degree?



Applicants to master’s programs in creative writing or English need a bachelor’s degree. Most universities require an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution. Applicants may also need to submit GRE scores,recommendation letters, and a statement of purpose. Creative writing programs typically require a writing sample.

Admitted graduate students usually complete 30-45 credits of coursework to earn their degree. Graduation requirements vary by program but often include a master’s thesis, master’s exam, or culminating creative writing project.

Courses in an English and Creative Writing Program



English and creative writing graduate students complete seminars and workshops during their degree. These courses develop writing and analytical skills, which learners strengthen through writing workshops, projects, and a master’s thesis.

While completing a master’s degree in English or creative writing, graduate students often focus their training by choosing a concentration area. Schools may offer concentrations in creative writing, rhetoric, technical writing, and business communications. Students may also design their own concentration by choosing electives.

This section introduces courses common to many English and creative writing programs. Each program offers different classes, so learners should contact their institution for details about course availability.

Introduction to Graduate Study in English and Creative Writing
Many English and creative writing programs begin with an introductory class, which prepares students for graduate-level study in English, rhetoric, and creative writing. The class offers a program overview and introduces learners to various types of assignments, such as seminar papers and book reviews. The course also provides an overview of English and creative writing career opportunities. This foundational training prepares graduate students for advanced master’s coursework.
Creative Writing: Fiction
Many creative writing students pursue graduate studies to hone their fiction-writing skills. Degree-seekers in this course examine fiction narrative techniques, genres, and formats. Coursework covers techniques, literary craft, and the critiquing process. This class often follows a workshop format, in which students submit short fiction pieces to the group for analysis and revision. Students strengthen their fiction writing abilities and learn to articulate their writing process and goals.
Creative Writing: Poetry
Many creative writing programs include coursework on poetry. Enrollees explore poetry formats, critical analysis of poetry, and aesthetic choices. Learners read published poems and essays about poetry. Creative writing students may also write original poetry and critically analyze poetry by peers. The course provides foundational training for aspiring poets.
Creative Nonfiction
This class prepares MFA students to write essays and memoirs that draw on personal experiences and real events. Learners examine the definition of creative nonfiction and explore how literary nonfiction differs from other types of nonfiction. Students learn to apply creative writing skills to nonfiction formats. They use tools such as dialogue, structure, and tense. Learners may also workshop pieces from other students.
Literary Criticism
This class explores various critical theories used to analyze texts. Graduate students may explore approaches including poststructuralism, historical criticism, and gender analysis. The course also examines theoretical claims, various methodological approaches, and the historical development of literary criticism. In addition to core thinkers such as Foucault and Derrida, learners may explore more recent literary criticism. The course prepares master’s students for doctoral English programs. Learners also strengthen their analytical and theoretical skills.

Certifications and Licensure for English and Creative Writing Majors



English and creative writing careers do not typically require licensure or certification. Some writers may pursue speciality certifications, such as the certified professional technical communicator credential for technical writers. Graduates who pursue education careers may need a teaching license. Educators may pursue a creative writing endorsement or board certification to advance their careers.

Board Certification in English Language Arts


The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards offers this certification for experienced English teachers. Candidates for board certification must pass a computer-based assessment that tests content knowledge and teaching practice. Candidates must also submit a portfolio demonstrating mastery in teaching English language arts.

Teaching License


Educators at K-12 public schools need a state-issued teaching license. Licensure requirements vary by state. However, a master's degree in creative writing or English often meets the education requirement for a teaching license. Candidates may also need to complete a teacher preparation program and pass exams.

Creative Writing Endorsement


In some states, teachers can apply for a creative writing endorsement on their teaching license. Candidates for the endorsement must meet the requirements for a teaching license or certificate. Endorsement requirements vary by state but often include specific coursework. A creative writing endorsement can make teachers more competitive for journalism, English, and creative writing positions.

Professional Organizations for English and Creative Writing Majors



Joining a professional organization can help English and creative writing graduate students build a professional network and transition into the workforce. These organizations often host events to connect writers and academics, list job openings on private boards, and offer fellowship programs for writers.


  • Association of Writers & Writing Programs AWP represents nearly 50,000 writers. The association offers resources and support, including professional development tools. Members benefit from career services, networking opportunities, and a community devoted to writing and teaching. AWP members also receive The Writer's Chronicle, which includes award and grant listings.

  • Modern Language Association Founded in 1883, MLA promotes the study and teaching of humanities disciplines, including literature and language. MLA hosts an annual convention and local seminars, publishes a bibliography in language and literature, and issues four major periodicals. Members also receive a quarterly newsletter with updates on initiatives and events.

  • The American Literature Association Founded in 1989, the ALA represents specialists in American literature. The scholarly association hosts conferences with networking opportunities, offers a members directory, and provides fellowships for individuals studying American literature. The ALA fosters interaction among members and offers professional development resources and tools.

  • The Authors Guild The Authors Guild represents writers, including novelists, journalists, and nonfiction writers. The professional organization provides opportunities to share work, network with other authors, and attend events. The guild maintains regional chapters and provides member services including seminars, a member directory, and a quarterly bulletin.

Scholarships for English and Creative Writing Students

Graduate students earning a degree in creative writing or English can qualify for several scholarships. Professional organizations, private foundations, and government agencies offer funding opportunities for MFA and master’s students in the humanities. In addition to the following opportunities, degree-seekers can research scholarships based on their career path, school, and state.

NEA Creative Writing Fellowship

Who Can Apply: The National Endowment for the Arts offers fellowships for creative writers. Each year, the fellowship alternates between prose and poetry awards. Applicants can use the award to support their writing or research. The committee evaluates applications based on the merit of the writing sample.
Amount: $25,000

Leo W. and Alberta V. Thomas Utz Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Daughters of the American Revolution offers this scholarship to support graduate students pursuing an English degree. Applicants need a minimum 3.25 GPA and must submit official transcripts. Recipients who maintain a record of academic success can renew the award.
Amount: $4,000

Helen McCloy Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Mystery Writers of America offers this scholarship to learners studying mystery writing, including fiction, nonfiction, screenwriting, and playwriting. Applicants must not have previously received monetary compensation for their writing. Recipients can use the scholarship to cover tuition and fees for university writing programs.
Amount: $500

L. Ron Hubbard Writer Contest

Who Can Apply: New and amateur sci-fi and fantasy writers, including MFA students, can submit to this writing contest. Applicants must submit a piece of up to 17,000 words. Writers who have professionally published a novel, more than one novelette, or more than three short stories do not qualify.
Amount: $1,000

Horror Writers Association Scholarships

Who Can Apply: The Horror Writers Association offers several scholarships for early-career writers, including graduate students in creative writing programs. The scholarships, including the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship and the Horror Writers Association Scholarship, promote the genre and help students fund their education.
Amount: $2,500

Cheap Online Master’s in English and Creative Writing Programs 2021



  1. Harvard University
    Location

    Cambridge, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    America's oldest higher learning institution, Harvard offers many online degrees, including a master of liberal arts in creative writing and literature. The 48-credit program lets graduate students customize the degree around their interests.

    While they can complete most coursework online, master's students must complete an on-campus writer's residency to earn their degree. During the residency, students take a master class and attend an agents-and-editors weekend. All master's candidates write a thesis at the conclusion of the program.

    Rather than applying for admission, prospective students register for graduate-level courses in advanced fiction writing and elements of the writer's craft. Enrollment requires a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university. Students who maintain a grade of B or higher in the classes can join the English program.

  2. Lindenwood University
    Location

    Saint Charles, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Saint Charles, Missouri, Lindenwood dates back to 1827. The private liberal arts university offers a master of fine arts (MFA) in writing. The fully online program features writing workshops, literature courses, and craft classes, preparing graduates for literary careers.

    Graduate students can choose an emphasis in fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction. The program also admits students without an emphasis. All enrollees complete a thesis in their final quarter.

    MFA students complete coursework in eight-week terms. Lindenwood admits new students on a rolling basis. Applicants must submit a statement of purpose and a writing sample. The program does not require GRE scores or recommendation letters.

  3. Mount Saint Mary's University
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A private Catholic university in Los Angeles, MSMU offers a master of fine arts (MFA) in creative writing. The 36-credit creative writing program takes full-time learners two years to complete. Students complete most requirements online, but they must meet in person every other weekend.

    Students learn writing techniques, publishing strategies, and professional skills. MFA candidates complete 15 credits of creative writing workshops, including options in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and playwriting.

    Applicants must submit transcripts showing a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA, an application essay, recommendation letters, and a resume. MSMU does not require GRE scores. Prospective students also must provide a writing sample and complete an interview.

  4. Bay Path University
    Location

    Longmeadow, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A private institution in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, Bay Path offers an online master of fine arts in creative nonfiction writing. The no-residency creative writing program pairs graduate students with faculty mentors to strengthen their writing skills. Through small group intensive writing workshops, students prepare for careers in the literary arts.

    During the 39-credit program, Bay Path students choose a track focused on publishing, narrative medicine, or teaching. The unique narrative medicine option trains students in writing medical and trauma narratives. Learners complete an internship under a writer and a clinical practitioner. Graduate students can also choose to attend a summer creative writing seminar in Ireland.

    Applicants must submit undergraduate transcripts showing a minimum 3.0 GPA in English and writing classes, two recommendation letters, and an original essay. Bay Path also requires a writing sample and an interview to gain admission. The program does not require GRE scores.

  5. Eastern Washington University
    Location

    Cheney, WA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    From its campus in Spokane, Washington, EWU offers a master of fine arts (MFA) in creative writing. The creative writing program takes a studio-based approach to training writers, with focus areas in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. MFA candidates hone their craft and study the literary arts.

    Students complete an intensive course of study that includes coursework in literary form and theory plus MFA workshops. In these advanced workshops, graduate students strengthen their writing skills. As a culminating project, learners complete a book-length thesis in their focus area. EWU also offers internship programs where MFA candidates gain teaching experience.

    Prospective students must submit an essay explaining their reasons for earning an MFA. EWU also asks for a writing sample, recommendation letters, and official transcripts. The program does not require GRE scores for admission.

  6. University of North Alabama
    Location

    Florence, AL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Florence, Alabama, UNA is a public institution that offers an online master of arts in writing. Graduate students can pursue a track in technical writing, rhetoric and composition, or creative writing.

    The creative writing program offers a business-focused perspective, offering classes in grant writing, document design, and publishing. Learners also complete a thesis or directed project. UNA connects students with paid writing internship opportunities to build their professional portfolio.

    Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited school with at least 24 credits of upper-division English coursework. UNA also requires a minimum 2.75 GPA, GRE or MAT scores, three recommendation letters, and a writing sample.

  7. University of Arkansas at Monticello
    Location

    Monticello, AR

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A public university, UAM dates back to 1910. The school's online master of fine arts in creative writing is a no-residency program that builds literary analysis, creative writing, and critical thinking skills. The flexible, fully online program appeals to working professionals.

    During the 48-credit program, students choose a focus area in fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction. Throughout the program, learners work with faculty mentors and take workshops in every genre.

    Students can transfer up to nine credits toward the degree. The program also awards graduate assistantships to incoming students. Prospective students must submit official transcripts, a personal essay, a critical analysis essay, three recommendation letters, and a manuscript. They also need a minimum 3.0 GPA in undergraduate coursework.

  8. Lesley University
    Location

    Cambridge, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A private university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Lesley dates back to 1909. Graduate students can earn an online master of fine arts (MFA) in creative writing that fosters creative potential. The mostly online program features several nine-day residencies on campus.

    During the creative writing program, graduate students participate in workshops and seminars. Lesley encourages students to build mentor relationships. The MFA program uses a small-group format to bond writers and strengthen their skills.

    The creative writing program allows students to focus their training on fiction, nonfiction, poetry, graphic novels, screenwriting, or young adult. Learners can complete the MFA in four semesters, with two residencies per year. Graduates can pursue career opportunities as authors, screenwriters, poets, and playwrights.

  9. The University of Texas at El Paso
    Location

    El Paso, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    UTEP's master of fine arts (MFA) in creative writing program offers a flexible route to a graduate degree. The fully online program features concentrations in fiction and poetry. The degree prepares graduates for literary careers and university-level teaching jobs.

    The 48-credit creative writing program includes 42 credits of writing workshops and literature classes plus six credits for the master's thesis. MFA students can also participate in an optional summer program in Europe.

    Prospective students need a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. They must also submit official transcripts, a statement of purpose, three recommendation letters, and a writing sample. The creative writing program accepts writing sample submissions in Spanish.

  10. University of Nebraska at Omaha
    Location

    Omaha, NE

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A public university founded in 1908, UNO offers a low-residency online master of fine arts (MFA) in writing. The program combines four semesters of distance learning with five residencies in Omaha. During the 10-day residencies, graduate students attend workshops and readings. The creative writing program features six focus areas: fiction, creative nonfiction, young adult, playwriting, screenwriting, and poetry.

    Full-time students can complete the MFA in writing in two years. The flexible schedule helps working students balance their studies with personal and professional responsibilities. Prospective students must submit two recommendation letters, a statement of purpose, and a writing sample. The writing sample should represent the applicant's strongest work in the genre track they plan to pursue.

Advertisement BestValueSchools.com 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.

Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

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