By BCR Staff
Whether you dream of publishing poetry, writing a screenplay, or becoming the next big name in science nonfiction, writers can flourish in any number of genres. One way budding writers enhance their talents is by earning an online master’s in creative writing; these programs can be a life-changing opportunity for future writers in the field.
The following ranking represents the top 20 online master’s degrees in creative writing. Many of these programs are considered low-residency, a degree model where students are required to periodically attend courses in person; the colleges with low-residency programs are indicated in the description.
These graduate degree programs were selected through research on key elements of a strong creative writing master’s degree online. For further information regarding distance learning visit our ranking of the top online colleges.
In determining the order of this ranking, we awarded points based on:
- Range of online courses in creative writing (1-5 points)
- Presence of genre specialization options (1-4 points)
- Field credibility of creative writing faculty (1-4 points)
- Flexibility of online degree track (1-3 points)
- Recognition from respected education publications and/or recent alumni (1-3 points)
- An additional point was awarded for noteworthy features that made it a top online master’s in creative writing.
In the event of a tie in points, the school with the lower tuition rate price appears higher in the ranking.
Tuition data was sourced from each college’s official website.
The following list of ranked colleges represents the top 20 online master’s degrees in creative writing.
#20 – Morehead State University
Program Tuition: $10,400.00 per academic year
A historically black college, Morehead State University has a solid history of academic excellence. Morehead State has expanded its distance-learning programs, now offering an online masters in English; this program has no residency requirement, and students have a wide range of course curriculum. Morehead’s English master’s is not technically a creative writing degree, but future writers will find an ample range of writing curriculum; among the writing courses include advanced poetry writing, technical writing, theories of teaching writing, fiction writing, and multiple other writing projects. Morehead University values diversity in both its student body and curriculum.
#19 – West Virginia Wesleyan College
Program Tuition: $475.00 per credit-hour
West Virginia Wesleyan College is a liberal arts school with roots in the Methodist Church. WVWC values a well-rounded education, encouraging students to develop academically, spiritually, and ethically. West Virginia has an online MFA in creative writing; over the course of two years, this low-residency program requires five brief residencies. During the creative writing residencies, students have a unique opportunity to take a cross-genre session in fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. This school has earned glowing testimonials from both current and recent students.
#18 – Western Connecticut State University
Program Tuition: $875.00 per credit-hour
Western Connecticut State University is a widely respected institution, holding high standards for its incoming students and faculty. WCSU’s online masters in creative writing is a low-residency model, requires two brief residencies in August and January. The creative and professional writing degree is geared toward career-driven writers of many kinds; students complete coursework, workshops, seminars, and an internship related to respective career goals. Western Connecticut established a first residency scholarship, awarded to students to subsidize their first residency experience. WCSU’s alumni have reported continued success in careers after graduation.
#17 – Oregon State University-Cascades
Program Tuition: $25,008.00 (total)
A small school of dedicated students and faculty, OSU-Cascades is a grassroots community. OSU-C has a low-residency online MFA in creative writing; this program is completed both remotely and in ten-day creative writing intensives on campus; this two-year degree has students develop their skills and become a publishable voice in the literary world. MFA students may select fiction, poetry, or creative non-fiction as their degree focus. OSU has exciting internship connections for aspiring writers in multiple areas.
#16 – Arizona State University
Program Tuition: $656.00 per credit-hour
Consistently ranked one of the top schools in the nation, Arizona State University is recognized for its many offerings. ASU’s online master’s in English is the college’s most popular program; this degree is led by award-winning faculty, among them three Nobel laureates, a Pulitzer prize winner, and a MacArthur Fellow. The online English master’s does not focus specifically on creative writing, however, there is relevant coursework and electives to closely follow this path. The English master’s consists of 30 credit hours and each of the ten courses run for 7.5 weeks.
#15 – Eastern Kentucky University
Program Tuition: $535.00 – $825.00 per credit-hour
A nationally-ranked institution, Eastern Kentucky University has a wide spectrum of degrees options. For career-driven writers, EKU has a low-residency MFA in creative writing; this online master’s degree is known as The Bluegrass Writing Studio, requiring two residencies in either Kentucky or Lisbon, Portugal. EKU’s creative writing master’s has genre emphases in literary fiction, popular/genre fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry. EKU’S MFA is considered a terminal track, making graduates eligible to teach college-level English. EKU has an innovative online classroom environment, allowing for an optimal degree experience.
#14 – Bay Path University
Program Tuition: $730.00 per credit-hour
Founded in 1897, Bay Path University is a highly respected college with a vast range of academic offerings. Bay Path is home to the American Women’s College, traditional undergraduate degrees for women, graduate degrees for men and women, and the opportunity-rich Strategic Alliances program. Bay Path has a creative writing masters online, a degree program that focuses on creative nonfiction, in particular; this MFA can be completed entirely online, requiring no campus residencies.
#13 – Arcadia University
Program Tuition: $750.00 per credit-hour
Considered one of the top universities in the North, Arcadia University has small class sizes of high-achieving students. Arcadia’s online creative writing master’s is part of a dual-degree program; this dual-degree program awards MFA’s in both creative writing and English. The dual MFA is a challenging track, providing a comprehensive background in both field areas. Arcadia’s online / low-residency MFA requires an exciting trip to study abroad; students travel to Edinburgh, Scotland to prepare a book-length publishable manuscript. In the interim online learning periods, students have continuous access to educational resources, award-winning faculty, and other support.
#12 – Lindenwood University
Program Tuition: $500.00 per credit-hour
Founded in 1827, Lindenwood University has a long history of higher learning. This college values a personalized education experience, as indicated by their 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Lindenwood’s online MFA in creative writing can be completed completely online, or in a hybrid track of online and on-campus residencies. This school’s online writing MFA is nationally recognized for its degree flexibility, affordability, and top-notch faculty; this 48-credit program has numerous genres within its curriculum, among them include literary fiction, poetry, prose, creative nonfiction, and more.
#11 – Wilkes University
Program Tuition: $680.00 per credit-hour
A tight-knit academic community, Wilkes University is a celebrated private school in rural Pennsylvania. Wilkes is home to the Maslow Family graduate program in creative writing; this well-rounded program is based in the life, business, and craft components of strong writing. The online master’s in creative writing covers seven areas of writing study, these include fiction, screenwriting, poetry, playwriting, creative nonfiction, documentary film writing, and publishing. Wilkes’ creative writing graduates have produced over 40 films and published over 100 various works of writing.
#10 – Full Sail University
Program Tuition: $596.00 per credit-hour
Based in Florida, Full Sail University specializes in entertainment, arts, media, and technology. This award-winning school has academics both on campus and online, all of which are programs that celebrate creative thinking. Full Sail’s online master’s in creative writing is an excellent MFA track, particularly for future career writers. The creative writing MFA has monthly courses, each of which themed in different genre areas; among these twelve topic areas include script analysis, character creation and development, business writing, episodic writing, and much more. FSU has several scholarships available to incoming master’s students.
#9 – University of Houston-Victoria
Program Tuition: $332.00 per credit-hour
Established in 1973, University of Houston-Victoria is celebrated for its tuition value, small class sizes, and strong academics. UHV’s top-notch distance-learning includes an online master’s in creative writing; based on student needs, this MFA can be earned either completely online or in a low-residency model. The creative writing MFA has two available tracks, one in creative writing alone (track one) or another in creative writing / applied literary translation (track two); both tracks have an overlapping curriculum, though track two is a more intensive admissions process. UHV is known to offer user-friendly, accessible online technology.
#8 – University of Arkansas at Monticello
Program Tuition: $8,510.00 per year
A tight-knit academic community, the University of Arkansas at Monticello produces open-minded, independent graduates. UAM’s online creative writing masters is a non-residency program; this MFA is 48 credit-hours, which includes a specialization track in either fiction, poetry, or creative non-fiction genres. Creative writing students are encouraged to “genre-jump” by attending workshops in all three subjects. In addition to core curriculum, MFA candidates choose from unique electives, some of which include memoirs of the mind, magazine editing, the simple art of murder, among others. In keeping tuition affordable, online MFA students may apply for graduate assistantships.
#7 – National University
Program Tuition: $416.00 per quarter-unit
National University is a celebrated institution for both traditional and non-traditional students. National has over 100 academic programs, many of which can be completed via distance learning. The online creative writing MFA is expansive in its curriculum, covering a wide range of writing genres and theories. Among the creative writing coursework includes the pedagogy of creative writing, textual strategies, literary theory, and seminars in creative nonfiction, poetry, and fiction. National University’s online creative writing program has no campus residency requirement, allowing students to complete the thirteen courses entirely online.
#6 – Southern New Hampshire University
Program Tuition: $627.00 per credit-hour
A college popular with the adult learner, Southern New Hampshire University has over 80 years of academic history. SNHU has over 90,000 online students, and the award-winning distance-learning program is innovative and user-friendly. This college’s online masters in creative writing is affordable, flexible, and is completed entirely via distance-learning. Most online master’s students complete this degree in 15 months, taking two courses per 10-week term. SNHU’s creative writing program focuses on key career areas such as business, marketing and communications, publishing, and education; additionally, students select specialization tracks in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or screenwriting.
#5 – Antioch University – Los Angeles
Program Tuition: $8,448.00 per semester
Antioch University – Los Angeles is a small and selective college, with class-sizes averaging only eight students. AULA has established an online MFA in creative writing; this program has a low-residency model, requiring a ten-day campus intensive each semester. In the interim between residencies, creative writing students work on projects in fiction, poetry, literary, translation, creative nonfiction, among other genres. The creative writing MFA is largely mentor-based, allowing for one-to-one learning and advisement. Graduates of the creative writing master’s go on to versatile careers as working writers.
#4 – Mercy College
Program Tuition: $857.00 per credit-hour
Based out of the exciting city of New York, Mercy College is an engaging, student-focused academic community. Among Mercy’s 40 online degree programs is a master’s in English literature; this mentor-based program can be completed 100% remotely and online creative writing students can shape their degree to their interests. Graduates of the masters in English go on to careers in publishing, editing, media, advertising, and writing; additionally, this degree qualifies graduates to teach college-level English. Mercy’s online master’s faculty is 100% doctoral-level, bringing decades of experience in both teaching and the literary field.
#3 – Emerson College
Program Tuition: $1,251.00 per credit-hour
A progressive liberal arts school, Emerson College attracts independent minds and successful faculty. Emerson’s online master’s in creative writing is an MFA program in popular fiction writing and publishing; this program is ideal for budding writers seeking to publish novels, particularly in the genres science fiction, mystery, horror, thriller, fantasy, or young adult. EC’s online creative writing MFA has no residency requirement, allowing for even more flexibility in completing the degree. Emerson’s MFA faculty are world-renowned authors, bringing the wisdom of their experience to their students.
#2 – Queens University of Charlotte
Program Tuition: $643.00 per credit-hour
Established in 1857, Queens University of Charlotte has since maintained high academic standards. This college focuses on personalized learning, as indicated by its 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Queens offers a low-residency MFA in creative writing, a supportive degree program that builds lasting peer relationships. This hybrid program provides two choices for in-person residencies; one residency is a seven-day intensive on campus, another option is fifteen-day residency abroad in Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, or Santiago. Queens University’s creative writing curriculum spans fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, or writing for stage and screen.
#1 – The University of New Orleans
Program Tuition: $8,992.00 per year
A low-tuition, high-value school, the University of New Orleans has degree options for most field areas. This top college has a low-residency masters in creative writing; this online MFA explores fiction, nonfiction, poetry, screenwriting, and playwriting genres. Low-residency students travel abroad for one month each summer, exploring countries such as Ireland, Scotland, and Italy. UNO encourages a community-centered degree experience, where students can interact with peers and benefit from a broader breadth of curriculum. Creative writing students learn from a faculty of published authors. Online students do not pay non-resident tuition costs at UNO.
The following list of ranked colleges represents the top 20 online master’s degrees in creative writing.