15 Best Online MFAs’ in Creative Writing

The MFA in Creative Writing is one of the most common terminal degree programs for those interested in the literary arts, and with good reason. Earning a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing provides a variety of experiences in the cultivation of writing skills desirable at the professional level. Contrary to popular perception, MFA candidates may have different ambitions than becoming a published, professional creative writer. 

Graduates from MFA in Creative Writing programs may go onto work as editors, managers, and writers in a variety of fields, like business or marketing. Upon graduation, MFA students are qualified for teaching careers in writing or literature at the college level, and the focus on workshopping in MFA programs also prepares students for publishing. The MFA in Creative Writing is one of the most common terminal degree programs for those interested in the literary arts, and with good reason. The degree may be earned in as little as two years or less and often gives students the opportunity to study around the world with focused residency programs.

Not all MFA in Creative Writing programs are offered entirely online, as on-campus residences are required for students to gain critical perspectives through in-person workshopping and lectures. Applicants to MFA in Creative Writing may not all come from literature or English background, but all should have a passionate drive towards writing. Most programs require the submission of a writing sample prior alongside applications, and these samples are expected to showcase the student's creative skills in poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. Once admitted, students will likely select a genre of focus and participate in intensive workshops and seminars. An MFA in Creative Writing is strong preparation for those driven towards the literary arts and provides a vital opportunity for the creation of community amongst a cohort of fellow dedicated writers.

Selection Criteria

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No matter what degree you decide on, we hope our research and support has made the selection process easier. There are numerous resources BVS utilizes to collect information on degrees, and we encourage you to check them out for yourself!

Here are the 15 Best Online MFA in Creative Writing for 2020!

15. Full Sail University

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

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Online students can earn the No. 15 Best Online MFA in Creative Writing at Full Sail University. Approximately 38% of students enrolled within the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Full Sail graduate within one year after completing 12 courses. Sample class titles include Character Creation and Development; Writing for Film and Animation; and Advanced Visual Storytelling. Writing fanatics will enjoy Full Sail's proximity to independent press publishers, such as Burrow Press, and literary events near Orlando, FL like Loose Lips and There Will Be Words. There are also scholarships available for online students specifically, such as the Momentum Scholarship and the Courage and Creativity Scholarship. Each scholarship provides over $18,000 in student aid for eligible MFA applicants. Overall, the program costs $28k for tuition and fees, although the average annual cost of living, including tuition, rounds out to $12,600. According to the University's MFA disclosure, nearly three-fourths of the MFA's graduates found work as writers, authors, and editors.

Net Price: $12,600
Score: 70.4

14. Antioch University Los Angeles – Los Angeles, CA

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

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Antioch University's Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a low-residency program that utilizes mentorship, workshops, and courses in craft and analysis to provide students an education in literary arts that recognizes the importance of community engagement and social justice. The 10-day campus residencies include seminars, readings, and workshops, while the five-month online periods are where students write under the supervision of a faculty mentor. Students are admitted to a single genre as their focus, either fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, or writing for young people. However, students have the opportunity to study more than one genre. Some opt to study TV/screenwriting, playwriting, or emerging media at the campus in Santa Barbara for one or more semester.

Net Price: N/A
Score: 72.2

13. University of New Orleans – New Orleans, LA

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

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The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of New Orleans is a majority-online program that equips students with skills in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry writing. The curriculum consists of 45 credits, where 12 credits are required in courses on the thesis genre. The remainder is made up of courses dedicated to all types of writing with room for electives that cater to the student's interest. Eighteen of the required credits are earned in the Summer Residencies Abroad program, where students may travel to Cork, Ireland, and Brunnenburg, or Italy. All students must defend a creative thesis prior to graduation, as well as take a comprehensive exam in their chosen genres.

Net Price: $16,610
Score: 72.5

12. Emerson College – Boston, MA

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

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Emerson College's Master of Fine Arts in Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing is designed for those interested in a variety of genres, including fantasy, sci-fi, horror, mystery, thriller, and young adult fiction. The online MFA program is made up of online workshops, literature seminars, and courses on the intricacies of publishing. The 36-credit degree may be earned at either a full-time or part-time schedule, with full-time students completing in five semesters including summers. Applicants are not required to submit a GRE score but must include a writing sample with their application. Prior to graduation, students in the program must submit a final project: at least 100 pages of a novel ready to be published.

Net Price: N/A
Score: 72.9

11. Mississippi University for Women – Columbus, MS

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

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Graduates from the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at Mississippi University for Women enter the professional field with highly-valued and sought after skills in their craft. The curriculum prepares students not only in different types of craft but in many professional aspects of the field, including the potential publishing and self-publishing, writing for the internet and other markets, working with agents, creative writing pedagogy, and more. Students graduate with many more career opportunities in their vision than a professional writer. Some residency courses are required, but scheduling is flexible. Applicants must submit a writing sample and a letter of intent.

Net Price: N/A
Score: 72.9

10. University of Houston-Victoria – Victoria, TX

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

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The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Houston-Victoria may be earned either entirely online or on a low-residency schedule. The curriculum is focused on creative writing and poetics, focusing on the creation, critique, revision, and publication of creative works. The 36-credit program consists of 12 credits of Creative Writing Workshops, one course on Form and Poetics, and 15 credits of electives. The final six credits are fulfilled by a thesis course. Elective options include Legal Environment of Publishing and Contracts, Genre Studies, Studies in Latino Literature, and more. Applicants must submit a 20-30 page Creative Writing Sample and GRE scores.

Net Price: $9,900
Score: 72.3

9. University of Arkansas at Monticello – Monticello, AR

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

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The University of Arkansas at Monticello designed their Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing prepares students with advanced creative thinking skills and the ability to communicate those ideas in a technologically literate way. There is also an emphasis on the importance of writing in today's global society, with culturally-informed and sensitive values at the core of the program's goals. The program is a total of 48 credits, and students are accepted into one of three genres as their focus: fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction. Courses can be taken at whatever pace is suited for the student, whether it be as little as three hours a term or as high as twelve.

Net Price: N/A
Score: 76.4

8. National University – CA

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

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National University's Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a 100 percent online program. Students participate in online creative writing workshops and constructive discussions of the work. There is also an emphasis on reading and the craft of contemporary literature. Students only take one accelerated course at a time, with workshops lasting two months and electives only one. All will complete a publishable manuscript in one genre to submit as their thesis, but some may take advanced workshops in two genres. Students are also allowed to switch from one genre to another as their focus if their goals change. Required courses include one on the Pedagogy of Creative Writing, which has prepared some graduates from the program to go onto teaching composition or creative writing.

Net Price: $27,5020
Score: 83.2

7. Bay Path University – Longmeadow, MA

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction Writing

Bay Path University Affordable Women's Colleges

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Bay Path University curated their Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction Writing for writers at all stages in the careers and skill level. Students learn from MFA faculty who are accomplished memoirists, journalists, food and travel writers, editors, and publishers, to gain all-encompassing knowledge about the creative writing professional field. There is both a Publishing Track and a Teaching Track. The 39-credit program may be completed at either a full or part-time schedule with all courses online and no residency requirement. Students participate in small peer group workshops and have access to tutoring and mentorship through the online community. Some may participate in the summer term creative writing seminar option in Ireland.

Net Price: $2,496/$9,739
Score: 87.2

6. Queens University of Charlotte – Charlotte, NC

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

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Queens University of Charlotte's Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a low-residency program. Residencies take place either on campus for a week at the beginning of each semester, or an annual 15-day residency abroad in locations like Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, or Santiago. Students study the writing of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, or writing for stage and screen. The program at Queens offers students the opportunity of a highly personalized course of study, with dedicated faculty and a student-teacher ratio of four-to-one. Students can contribute to the campus literary journal and participate in the university's Book Development Program if they already have a draft or manuscript completed.

Net Price: $9,204/$16,818
Score: 87.4

5. Lindenwood University – Saint Charles, MO

Master of Fine Arts in Writing

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The Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Lindenwood University can be completed 100 percent online with no residency requirement. Graduates are prepared with sharpened writing and analysis skills, and often pursue careers in writing, editing, publishing, and teaching at the university level. Courses consist of writing workshops, literature classes, and craft classes, all taught by writers who are published as authors, journalists, and editors. The curriculum and available electives cover a wide variety of genres. Students may serve as editorial assistants for the university literary journal, and complete a Graduate Thesis prior to graduation. The 48-credit program requires submission of a creative writing sample and statement of purpose in an application, as it's a selective program.

Net Price: $52,082
Score: 88.1

4. Eastern Kentucky University – Richmond, KY

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

 

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The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Eastern Kentucky University is designed for any person who has earned an undergraduate degree and is now hoping to improve their creative writing abilities in fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction. Graduates are ready for careers in teaching English, composition, and creative-writing programs at the college level, or pursue professional writing careers. Applicants must submit a statement of purpose, and a 15-20 page creative writing sample and are expected to have a bachelor's degree in English. The MFA is a low-residency program, with most courses taken online but a required 12 credits on campus for in-person workshops. Residencies may take place in Kentucky or Portugal, with students choosing which to attend.

Net Price: $36,454
Score: 91.5

3. Oregon State University – Cascades – Bend, OR

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

Oregon State University Best Online Bachelors Psychology

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The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Oregon State University is a low-residency program, with intensive online coursework accompanied by a 10-day residency at OSU's extended campus in Bend, Oregon. The residency is dedicated to the establishment of community amongst the cohort and core faculty members, where the craft of creative writing can be examined and learned through a variety of perspectives. The curriculum focuses on both craft and the history of literature, with an understanding that the literary imagination is vital to humanity. Applicants must submit a writing sample and statement of objectives. The two-year program admits students to a single, self-selected genre, and must submit a minimum 70-paged thesis prior to graduation.

Net Price: $7,043/$18,923
Score: 92.4

2. University of Nebraska at Omaha – Omaha, NE

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

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The Master of Fine Arts in Writing from the University of Nebraska at Omaha consists of online writing seminars and five 10-day residency sessions. The program is a total of 60 credits taken over two years, and students select either adult or YA fiction, poetry, writing for stage & screen, or creative nonfiction as their focus genre. Residency sessions are made up on lectures, classes, workshops, and individual conferences with faculty. Courses are dedicated to the advanced stylistic craft of the student's chosen genre. Applicants must submit a statement of purpose as well as a writing sample, which has varying requirements based on the student's intended genre.

Net Price: $7,630/$20,320
Score: 97.3

1. The University of Texas at El Paso – El Paso, TX

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

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Students in the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at the University of Texas are prepared for publishing and teaching careers. The 48-credit program is completed entirely online, made up of workshops and literature classes and ending on a thesis. The curriculum approaches Creative Writing with an understanding of the importance of workshops, but in accompaniment with the necessary background in theory and form. Courses cover a variety of aspects of the field, including Form of the Short Story and Asian American Poetry. Graduates from the program have come from various fields, but all have had a serious drive towards writing.

Net Price: $8,965/$30,609
Score: 100