10 Universities Offering Free Writing Courses Online
See our list of universities that offer free online writing courses. Learn about what courses are available and what topics they cover to find the course that’s right for you.
Online Writing Courses for Credit
Many schools offer free online courses and materials through OpenCourseWare (OCW) projects. While formal admission isn’t necessary to access lectures and other materials, these courses don’t usually award college credit. Students looking for the same ease of access and the opportunity to apply their study time towards a degree or certificate program might want to consider courses that can lead to credit through Study.com.
Students trying to improve their writing can check out English online classes like English 104: College Composition. Chapters in this course include:
- Conventions in Writing: Usage – Instructors discuss tips for developing clear sentence structures, good diction and a strong writing style.
- Parts of an Essay – This chapter covers prewriting strategies and methods for organizing an essay. The importance of a strong thesis, smooth transition sentences and an engaging introduction are also discussed.
- Essay Writing – The differences between persuasive and personal essays are covered alongside strategies for addressing the audience and anticipating opposing views.
- How to Revise an Essay – Instructors demonstrate strategies for using sources in an essay and evaluating an argument’s logic or evidence.
- Using Source Materials – Tips for writing a bibliography or works cited page and avoiding plagiarism are covered in this chapter.
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Creative Writing, General
Free Online Non-Credited Writing Courses
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Through MIT’s OCW program, students can download a variety of undergraduate and graduate-level course materials that cover topics in, among others, essay, expository and technical writing. Course activities and formats include assignments, exams, lecture notes and video presentations.
- Writing and Reading the Essay focuses on the essay as a popular literary genre. The syllabus indicates two essay anthologies as course texts, which can be purchased online. Course activities include a reader’s journal and a series of personal writing assignments.
- Writing and Reading Short Stories offers students the opportunity to study character development, plotting and point of view. Featured authors include, among others, Flannery O’Connor, Alice Walker, William Faulkner and John Updike.
New Jersey Institute of Technology
The New Jersey Institute of Technology is a scientific and technological university that offers OCW courses and materials.
- Technical Writing is geared toward the advanced writer. In this course, which consists of about 40 video-taped lectures, students apply theory to analyze and solve complex communication problems. Course topics include audience awareness, document design, ethics, gender equity and rhetorical theory.
The Open University is the largest educational establishment in the United Kingdom, as well as the country’s only distance-learning school. The university’s free online classes may not provide access to the same resources used by formally enrolled students, but course formats might include Web- and print-based content as well as the ability to interact with other students through a comments feature.
- Start Writing Fiction is a 12-hour, introductory course that can provide students with the inspiration and tools they need to put their words on paper. The course emphasis is on developing character and settings within a variety of fiction genres.
- Writing What You Know is designed to help students improve their descriptive writing skills. This 8-hour, introductory class encourages students to view their everyday lives from a new perspective, demonstrating how an author’s personal life can serve as a source of inspiration.
Through Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (OWL), students and teachers around the world can enjoy 24-hour access to a variety of Web-based resources, including handouts, podcasts and PowerPoint presentations. These include topics in grammar and mechanics, professional and technical writing, English as a Second Language (ESL), research and writing style.
- Professional and Technical Writing provides a list of varied Web-based resources that can show students and professionals how to research and write business letters, memos and other office-related documents. Topics include audience analysis, parallel structures and writing tone. Additional technical writing resources include information on how to write scientific abstracts and white papers.
- The Writing Process includes a list of mostly text-based resources and exercises that cover everything from overcoming writer’s block to proofreading strategies. Additional topics include pre-writing, thesis statements, outlining and audience analysis, which can be applied to a wide variety of writing tasks.
University of College Falmouth
The University College Falmouth is a specialized art institution based in the United Kingdom. The non-credit classes offered through the school’s ‘openSpace’ project allow students to work at their own level and pace but don’t provide all the materials from the original course. Although registration isn’t required to access assignments, lectures and other materials, registered students may be able to participate in online chats and peer reviews.
- Introduction to Novel Writing was designed to provide graduate-level students with the structural skills to organize and develop extended pieces of creative writing. In addition to writing assignments and suggested readings, open course materials include YouTube videos by Joyce Carol Oates, Salmon Rushdie and Amy Tan.
- Writing for Children introduces students to the genres and styles integral to the market and helps them find the right age group for their story. Open course materials include assignments, background reading, examples of children’s books and an online lecture.
University of Iowa
The Writing University is a Web-based resource for the school’s literary and writing community, providing direct access to a number of free audio presentations. Recent podcasts have included presentations on the sentence, creative nonfiction and experiential writing.
- Flash Fiction introduces students to the concept of the super-short story and its emergence as a mainstream literary trend. Listeners can learn how brief experiences or even a life story can be condensed to a paragraph or a couple of written lines.
- How to Find the Short Story Within Your Novel helps listeners identify the dissimilarities between these two literary forms. Students learn how to extract a quality excerpt from a longer piece of prose and how first-time authors can prepare their work for publication.
University of Massachusetts at Boston
- Critical Reading and Writing is designed to help students achieve college-level reading and writing skills through a critical exploration of U.S. foreign policy. Students have access to the course syllabus, an assignment list and website. Through the course site, students can open and download text documents and PowerPoint presentations on topics like critical analysis strategies, brainstorming and building concepts, as well documents and links to online resources on foreign policy issues.
University of Michigan
This university participates as a member of the OpenCourseWare Consortium by providing free access to educational materials and course content through its Open.Michigan website.
- Principles of Research and Problem Solving is a powerpoint presentation breaking down scientific writing skills as within research proposals.
Utah State University (USU)
Utah State offers OCW materials in several academic departments. Students may be able to apply the knowledge gained from use of these open materials to pass exams to earn credit. USU may give credit to students who pass subject tests offered by individual departments, the International Baccalaureate Organization or CLEP exams, among other options.
- Intermediate Writing: Research Writing in a Persuasive Mode provides access to 16 weekly lessons, with links to readings and related writing assignments. Students learn how to engage in various components of the writing process while developing critical reading and thinking skills. Topics include writing about controversial topics, argumentation styles, source documentation and how to use multimedia resources.
- Introduction to Writing: Academic Prose is an online complement to a graduate-level course. The course materials are presented in a similar 16-week format, with links to several online readings and assignment descriptions. The syllabus begins with assignments related to debate and dialogue, cultural myths and visual literacy. Additional writing activities include a family narrative, a school board project and a media analysis.
Online courses can be found at Stanford through the school’s OpenEdX platform.
- Adventures in Writing is an innovative approach to teaching writing skills. Developed by a group of lecturers, the course teaches written communication skills through a series of learning modules drawn and formatted in the style of graphic novels.
The 25 Best Masters-Level Creative Writing Programs Online for 2018
If there’s one common complaint among writers – aspiring and accomplished, alike – it’s a constant lack of time. Writing the perfect story, poem, screenplay – even single sentence – requires energy, discipline, talent, and a lot of hard-to-find time. Enter the creative writing program, designed to provide writers with resources – including dedicated writing time – that are otherwise difficult to come by. Here, students’ sole focus is writing, which is in fact creative writing programs’ premise: that becoming a good writer requires undivided attention; you don’t hone your craft by filling free time on the weekends, you do it through years and years of practice. Even then, the writer is still trying to get better. Of course, it also helps when you’re under the tutelage of experienced, award-winning peers – the other key component to any quality creative writing program.
Increasingly, low-residency MFA programs are gaining traction in the field, which allow for both one-on-one work and time alone to work on your masterpiece. There are also numerous alternatives to the MFA, from 100% online creative writing programs, to accelerated training tracks, and hybrids. As such, we’ve winnowed down the top 25 overall graduate tracks in creative writing that are available fully or partially online.
For more general information regarding online learning see our ranking of the best colleges online.
- Total Program Cost (1/3): the estimated out-of-state (if applicable) tuition per credit hour rate.
- Flexibility Enhancing Components (1/3): components include accelerated courses, life experience credits, the availability to work full or part time, asynchronous and synchronous learning opportunities, etc.
- Academic Reputation (1/3): the rank of the school’s parent institution according to US News.
1. The University of Edinburgh
Online MSc Creative Writing
Founded in 1582, The University of Edinburgh is the sixth-oldest, English-speaking university in the world. As a member of the Russell Group, Coimbra Group, and League of European Research Universities, Edinburgh is routinely ranked among the top 30 schools internationally by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Academic Ranking of World Universities, and the Guardian. In the UK, it is behind only Cambridge and Oxford in endowment, with over £310 million. Among its distinguished alumni – many of whom are central figures in European history – include physicist James Clerk Maxwell, naturalist Charles Darwin, philosopher David Hume, mathematician Thomas Bayes, inventor Alexander Graham Bell, signatories of the Declaration of Independence, and the writers Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, J.M. Barrie and Sir Walter Scott.
Edinburgh offers an online creative writing degree (MSc) which can be completed in 3 years on a part-time basis. Course work includes synchronous and asynchronous classes, consisting of tutor–student consultations, peer-to-peer writing forums, and webinars. The degree begins with a virtual summer school and Moodle orientation – an online learning platform that encourages an intimate, collaborative educational environment. Though the degree requires some core studies, there is a significant amount of autonomy and flexibility, and students will work on a dissertation portfolio throughout enrollment to showcase work. Poetry applicants should submit approximately ten poems for examination (this depends upon length); fiction applicants should submit for review two to three short stories, or a selection from a novel (around 3,000 and 5,000 words). Scholarships and funding are available for eligible students.
2. Lancaster University
Online MA in Creative Writing
Lancaster University, in England, was established in 1964; it is a member of of the N8 Group of research universities, alongside the universities of Durham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York. The school is divided into 4 academic disciplines – Arts and Social Sciences, Health and Medicine, Science and Technology, and Management. Lancaster is consistently ranked among the top 10 schools in the UK by QS World University Rankings, Academic Ranking of World Universities, and the Guardian. Enrollment currently stands at approximately 13,000, the majority of whom are undergraduates. Distinguished alumni include business executives from Apple, Better Capital, Gulf One Investment, and more; award-winning journalists; numerous MPs, and writers, actors, composers, and other artists.
Lancaster’s online MA in Creative Writing consists of 12 personal tutorials and 6 online conferences, which serve as a forum for peer criticism and workshopping. With exception of a five-day Summer School at Lancaster’s campus following the first year, course work is 100% online for maximum flexibility and to allow writers from across the world to participate in the program. (In addition to workshops, agents, publishers, and other writers attend this residential portion in order for students to network and familiarize themselves with business aspects of the profession.) All students are assigned a personal tutor to review, analyze, and assess work according to genre, and courses deliver through the Moodle platform to encourage an intimate, collaborative learning environment. Further, with a cohort-based model of 18-20 students, participants benefit from a fellowship-like atmosphere. For those interested, Lancaster offers a Creative-Critical MA Pathway, as well.
3. University of York
Online Postgraduate Diploma in Creative Writing
The University of York, established in 1963, joined the Russel Group in 2012, and has a student population of about 16,700 across nine colleges (which are more residential halls than specific academic schools). There are more than thirty areas of study offered from a wide range of fields, including Archaeology, Health Sciences, Social Policy and Social Work, Language and Linguistic Studies, Management, Law, Politics, Economics, and Philosophy. It has been named the 8th best college in the world under 50-years-old, and is highly ranked by the Academic Ranking of World Universities, QS World University Rankings, Sunday Times, and Guardian. Notable graduates include numerous MPs, five members of the House of Lords, two Members of the Scottish Parliament, one Member of the European Parliament, and political leaders across the globe.
York offers a Postgraduate Diploma in Creative Writing, which can be completed in 2 years on a part-time basis. The program is 100% online for maximum flexibility, and there are several start dates throughout the year to accommodate students’ schedules. Consisting of six 20-credit modules, example studies include Creativity, Theory and the Craft of Writing; The Art of the Short Story; Methodology, Research and Literature; Theory and Practice in Contemporary Poetry; The Novel as Narrative; and Scripting for Theatre, Radio, Film and Television. While the degree requires a significant amount of personal work, it’s also designed to support a collaborative community of writers through the Blackboard learning platform, which includes live chat tools, group discussion boards, video conferencing, and more. For those interested, York holds two optional two-day residential weekends, during which there are workshops, forums, and visiting writers. (Students unable to attend these residencies may video-conference in.)
4. Stanford University
Online Certificate Program in Novel Writing
One of the most prestigious universities in the world, Stanford was founded in 1891 and currently enrolls about 15,900 students. Ranked across the board as a top-5 school in the United States, the university has been recognized by the New York Times, Forbes, Princeton Review, Washington Monthly, US News, and numerous other publications for academic excellence; it has recently been ranked among the top 3 schools in the world by the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings and Academic Ranking of World Universities. Especially noted for its ties to technology and Silicon Valley, graduates have gone on to found such companies as Google, Hewlett-Packard, Nike, Sun Microsystems, Instagram, Snapchat, and Yahoo!. Other alumni include 8 Nobel Prize winners, 114 Rhodes Scholars, and numerous politicians.
Stanford’s School of Continuing Studies offers a Certificate Program in Novel Writing that consists of 7 courses, many of which are taught by the school’s prestigious Stegner Fellows. A two-year program, courses include Form and Theory of the Novel, Plot and Structure, Manuscript Preparedness, and Subtext, Theme, and Language. Students are also required to take one alternative genre course in the regular Continuing Studies Creative Writing program (which may include Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, Memoir, etc.). Through a one-on-one tutorial, students receive individualized instruction and review of works in progress. All course work is 100% online for maximum flexibility, and the cohort-based progression is designed to encourage an intimate, collaborative learning and writing environment (class sizes max out at 30). Applicants need not have published work or even hold college degrees; a high school diploma is required.
5. Queens University of Charlotte
Online Master’s in Creative Writing
Queens University of Charlotte is a private school in North Carolina with an enrollment of about 2,400. Offering 39 undergraduate majors, 80 concentrations, and 19 graduate programs, the school is divided into 6 colleges in Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, Communication, Adult Studies, and Health; the most popular areas of study are in Business and Marketing (which accounts for 35% of undergraduate students) and communications/journalism (15%). US News has ranked the school among the very best in the South region, and Princeton Review notes the school’s mid-range selectivity. Also of note is Queens’s MFA in Creative Writing, which Poets & Writers ranks among the top 10 in the country.
Queens’s unique, low-residency online master’s in creative writing (MFA) consists of four semesters of course work. (Each semester begins with a 7-day residency including workshops, writing seminars, and student and faculty readings.) Students have the ability to work through four separate genres – fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and stage and screenwriting – and a student-to-faculty ratio of 4:1 guarantees individualized instruction and an intimate, collaborative work environment. Queens also offers extensive help and resources to graduates of the program, including opportunities to meet with editors from Henry Holt, Farrar Straus & Giroux, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Red Hen, Viking, Penguin, and Riverhead. Fiction, nonfiction, and screenwriting applicants should submit 25 pages of material; poets should submit 10 pages of work. Graduates of the program have been published by both major and independent publishing houses, and have been reviewed across the world.
6. Lindenwood University
Master’s in Creative Writing Online (MFA)
Lindenwood University is a private Christian school in Saint Charles, Missouri, with a student enrollment of approximately 12,200. The university offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees across nine schools: Business and Entrepreneurship, Communications, Education, Fine and Performing Arts, Human Services, Humanities, Nursing and Allied Health Sciences, Science, Individualized Education, and Sport, Recreation, and Exercise Sciences. US News and Washington Monthly have both recognized the school’s academics, and with a student-to-faculty ratio of just 13:1, class sizes remain small to support an intimate, collaborative learning environment. Its speaker series, begun in 2008, has hosted Dan Cathy, President and COO of Chick-fil-A restaurants; P. J. O’Rourke, political satirist, journalist, and writer; Eric Greitens, Navy SEAL, humanitarian and author; and numerous other business leaders, politicians, and activists.
Lindenwood offers an online, low-residency MFA program. Alternatively, students may also complete an accelerated, on-campus track that consists of 9 credit hours in 12 week-blocks. (Hybrid tracks are available, as well.) A 48-credit degree, Lindenwood is designed as a highly flexible and customizable program, with studies in poetry, literary fiction, genre fiction, the novel, creative nonfiction, narrative journalism, scriptwriting, and literary journal editing. (Note that students do not have to declare an emphasis.) Class sizes are limited to 14 students to support individualized instruction, and the faculty are accomplished, established writers from across all genres, including Tony D’Souza, Eve Jones, Wm. Anthony Connolly, Catherine Rankovic, and Kelli Allen. Admissions are rolling to accommodate students’ busy schedules, and the program accepts up to 9 transfer credits. Degree completion times range from 1-2 years.
7. National University
Online MFA Programs
Founded in 1971, National University has a central campus in La Jolla, California, and more than a dozen satellite campuses throughout the state an in Nevada. With an enrollment of approximately 25,000, National offers over 120 associate, bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees, plus 23 certificate and credential programs. In addition, National has developed a robust distance learning program, offering 1,500 online classes. Consisting of 6 colleges – Letters and Sciences, Business and Management, Education, Engineering and Computing, Health and Human Services, and Professional Studies – National holds regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and specialized accreditation from more than a dozen other bodies. Notable graduates include business professionals, politicians, professional athletes, active and retired military, and more.
National offers one of the few 100% online MFA programs in the country with no residency requirement, started in 2005. Students choose to pursue work in either fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, or screenwriting, and course work is accelerated with two-month workshops and one-month electives. Designed for maximum flexibility, students are not locked into a specific genre and may change their focus over the course of the degree. National’s program is decidedly open to writers of all backgrounds and ambitions; students include military members serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, doctors, teachers, nurses, and more. While students progress through the MFA from home, National supports a highly collaborative, peer-to-peer program, which requires students to submit a piece of work once-a-week for workshopping.
8. University of Nebraska
Online Master’s in Creative Writing (MFA)
The University of Nebraska was founded in 1908 as the Omaha Presbyterian Theological Seminary, joining the state system in 1968. With an enrollment of about 15,000 students, UNO is classified as a doctoral/research university by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Notable programs include computer science, management information systems (MIS), bioinformatics, information science/assurance, public administration, and business, with many of these ranked in US News’s top 25. Among the school’s distinguished alumni include former U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel; United States Air Force Brigadier General Charles J. Adams; Grammy Award-winning American jazz vocalist Karrin Allyson; CBS News correspondent Harold Dow; 5 Medal of Honor recipients; former Chairman and President of Union Pacific Railroad James R. Young, and numerous professional athletes, politicians, artists, and business leaders.
Nebraska offers an online, low-residency MFA in Creative Writing that consists of 60 credit hours. Students choose a track in Fiction, Poetry, or Creative Nonfiction, and participate in five 10-day residencies at the Lied Lodge Conference Center in Nebraska City. These residencies give students the opportunity to attend lectures, workshop manuscripts, and visit readings. All course work is designed for maximum flexibility, with working professionals and adult learners in mind, and faculty are selected based on experience, literary accomplishments, and a pedagogical style that stresses a student-focused approach. To further accommodate students, entry dates are available several times per year. Applicants should have earned at least a 2.5 undergraduate GPA and must submit 3 letters of recommendation and a personal statement.
9. University of Denver
MLS in Arts And Culture with a concentration in Creative Writing Online
Founded in 1864, The University of Denver is the oldest private college in the region, with a student enrollment of approximately 11,800. It has been recognized by US News, Forbes, and Washington Monthly for academic rigor, and Bloomberg Businessweek ranks its business program among the best in the country. Other well-regarded programs include creative writing, public affairs, clinical psychology, and social work. Notable alumni include Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman/CEO of Emirates Airlines; Brad Anderson, former CEO of Best Buy; Jay Batson, former CEO of Acquia; Roger Birnbaum, CEO and co-founder of Spyglass Entertainment; ; Peter Coors, Chairman of Molson Coors Brewing Company; Jim Lentz, President and CEO of Toyota North America, and numerous other business executives, politicians, media members, and artists.
Denver offers an MLS in Arts And Culture with a concentration in Creative Writing that consists of 48 credit hours. Required course work includes The Writing Life: Concepts, Practices, and Professionalism; The Writers Workshop; Literary Genres for Writers: Drama, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry; Research in the Humanities, and an elective capstone project, portfolio, or project. Concentration courses cover fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and screenwriting, and students also have the opportunity to tailor the degree through a wide variety of electives, from Children’s Literature, to Literature to Film, to Memoir & Personal Essay. Courses deliver in accelerated 10-week blocks, and for maximum flexibility students have both online and on-campus classes.
10. Mississippi University for Women
Online Master’s in Creative Writing (MFA)
Mississippi University for Women, founded in 1884, currently has a student enrollment of approximately 2,500. (Men were offered admission into the school beginning in 1982.) Offering degrees in more than 50 areas of study across 5 colleges – Business, Education and Human Sciences, Nursing and Speech Language Pathology, Arts and Sciences, and Culinary Arts – the most popular programs are Nursing, Elementary Education, Psychology, Business Administration and Management, Visual and Performing Arts, Family Systems, Accounting, Paralegal, Social Sciences, and English. Notable graduates of MUW include Eudora Welty, Doris Taylor, Elizabeth H. West, Valerie Jaudon, and numerous politicians, business professionals, artists, and entertainers.
MUW offers an online, low-residency MFA that consists of 48 credit hours: 6 residency hours (including 2 short and 2 long), 12 workshop hours, 12 form hours, 12 hours of electives, and a 6-credit thesis. Students are also encouraged to attend the Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium residency as an orientation to the program. The program is designed for maximum flexibility both in its delivery – students choose when to complete residencies according to their own schedules – and curricular requirements – students are encouraged to work in several genres to expand their gifts as a writer. MUW maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio to support individualized instruction, and the program also emphasizes a collaborative, peer-to-peer educational and work environment. Some example classes outside of the core include Feminist Poetry, Black Arts Movement and Beyond, Southern Fiction, Modern European Drama, and African American Fiction.
11. Middlesex University
Online Master’s in Novel Writing (MA)
Middlesex University is located in the historic titular neighborhood of northwest London. Divided into schools of Business, Law, Art and Design, Health and Education, Media and Performing Arts, Science and Technology, and Work Based Learning, the university has received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize three times and the Queen’s Award for Enterprise twice. Middlesex has been ranked highly by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Academic Ranking of World Universities, Sunday Times and the Guardian. Distinguished alumni include numerous renowned artists and sculptors, politicians, business executives, Helen Mirren, Dermot O’Leary, Henry Bond, Alan Carr, Roger Glover, Ray Davies, and others.
Middlesex offers an MA in Novel Writing that can be completed in one year on a full-time basis or 2-3 years on a part-time basis. Asynchronous course work is designed for maximum flexibility, and students receive individualized instruction from acclaimed faculty novelists. In addition to technical training and workshops, the degree addresses the practical business concerns of novel writing, including how to approach agents, editors, publishers, etc. The curriculum is divided into five modules – Writing, Reading, Researching, Developing the Novel, and Dissertation – which provides students with an in-depth, broad program of study. Faculty include Josie Barnard, author of five Virago books; Lorna Gibb, author of two biographies; Sarah Wardle, a widely published poet; and Maggie Butt, an ex-journalist and BBC TV producer, now accomplished poet.
12. Harvard Extension School
Online Master’s in Literature and Creative Writing
Widely considered the best university in the world, Harvard was established in 1636, making it the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Alumni include eight United States presidents, numerous foreign heads of state, 62 living billionaires, 335 Rhodes Scholars, and 242 Marshall Scholars. Harvard’s Extension School, one of the university’s 12 colleges, offers graduate, undergraduate, and continuing education programs in more than 60 areas of study. With its distance education program having begun in 1949, Harvard is one of the pioneers of off-campus learning and today remains its role as a leader in online learning. Extension School graduates include business executives, artists, academics, politicians, and non-profit leaders.
The Extension School offers a Master’s in Literature and Creative Writing that consists of 9 courses and a thesis. Requirements include a proseminar in research methods, one advanced fiction writing course, four creative writing, two literature courses, and one literature seminar. (Note that students must complete three admission courses to begin the program.) Some example classes include The African American Novel, The Ancient Greek Hero, Writing for TV, Old English Literature, and Shakespeare. The thesis is a demonstration of both creative work and an introductory critical piece, in which students contextualize their creative work and its influences. As a low-residency, hybrid program, students must complete at least three courses on campus. All students have access to a writing center, tech support, career services, libraries, and money management resources.
13. Ashland University
Online Master’s in Creative Writing (MFA)
Ashland University is a private university in Ashland, Ohio, with a total enrollment of approximately 6,000. (Additional campuses are located throughout the state, including Cleveland, Columbus, Elyria, Massillon, Mansfield, and elsewhere.) Founded in 1878, the school offers nearly 70 bachelor’s degrees, 9 pre-professional programs, and graduate degrees, such as an MBA, MFA, MEd, and EdD. The school consists of 5 colleges – in arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and health, and continuing education – which offer a wide range of majors, from traditional liberal arts degrees to more specialized studies in actuarial science, toxicology, and entrepreneurship. Notable alumni have gone on to successful careers in business, academia, media, and professional athletics.
Ashland offers an online, low-residency MFA program with tracks available in poetry, creative nonfiction, or fiction. (There are also cross-genre opportunities for interested students.) In total, the program requires 6 weeks of residential requirements, which take place over three 2-week summer sessions; these residencies include workshops, lectures, readings, and networking opportunities. All remaining course work is 100% online for maximum flexibility. All classes are kept small to encourage an intimate, collaborative atmosphere, and students benefit from both peer-to-peer interaction and faculty mentorship. Applicants should submit 10-15 pages of poetry or 20-25 pages of prose, and two letters of recommendation; they are expected to have earned at least a 2.75 undergraduate GPA. Students can expect to complete the 45-credit track in two years.
14. Wilkes University
Online MA/MFA in Creative Writing
Wilkes University, established in 1933 as satellite campus of Bucknell University, is a private school in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, with additional schools in Mesa, Arizona and Bartonsville, PA. Academics are divided between seven colleges – in Science and Engineering, Pharmacy, Nursing, Business and Leadership, Education, and Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences – and with a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1, class sizes are kept small to encourage an intimate and collaborative learning environment. Wilkes sponsors several notable lecture series, which have hosted the likes of writer Norman Mailer, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, journalist Bob Woodward, television host John Stossel, and former New York Governor George Pataki. Distinguished alumni have gone on to careers in politics, sports management, academia, and the arts, among others.
Wilkes offers a low-residency MA/MFA in Creative Writing with two available formats. The traditional low-residency track consists of eight-day campus residencies in January and June, while the “weekender” option includes four weekend sessions per semester in either Wilkes-Barre or Mesa, Arizona. For maximum flexibility and customization, students have the opportunity to focus on one of seven offered areas: Fiction, Poetry, Screenwriting, Playwriting, Creative Nonfiction, Publishing, and Documentary Film. Each student is matched with a mentor to fit their discipline and particular genre. Further, cohort-based classes help support a vibrant creative forum through which students can hone their craft and work. In the last decade, Wilkes creative writers have published over 100 pieces and 30 chapbooks/collections, produced over 40 films and 50 films, and started numerous literary journals and publishing companies.
15. Teesside University
Online Master’s in Creative Writing (MA)
Teesside University is a public university in the northeast England borough of Middlesbrough. Established in 1930 as Constantine Technical College, the school currently enrolls over 20,000 students, most of whom are undergraduates. The school is divided into five colleges in Arts & Media, Computing, Health & Social Care, Science & Engineering, and Social Sciences, Business, and Law. In addition, Teesside has five multidisciplinary research institutes covering digital futures, social futures, technology, health, and design, culture, and the arts. Distinguished alumni include poet Brendan Clearly, actor Jamie Dornan, numerous British MPs, and professional in video game design, business, sports, and more.
Tesside offers an online MA in Creative Writing that consists of a 30-credit module. As a non-residency program, all course work is 100% online for maximum flexibility, and students can be completed in 2 years. Asynchronous classes deliver in accelerated 8-week blocks and typically consist of an introductory video, writing prompt, and support materials – study questions, further reading suggestions, and discussion forum opportunities. Some core classes include Core Skills and Techniques, The Professional Writer in the World, Writing and the Self, and Writing Specialisms. All students also complete a 60-credit thesis/writing project as a capstone in the student’s preferred form and genre. The program’s lead instructor is Sophie Nicholls, a bestselling novelist and an award-winning poet with 160,000 books sold.
16. Southern New Hampshire University
Online MA in English & Creative Writing
Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit university halfway between Manchester and Hooksett, New Hampshire. Originally founded in 1932 as the New Hampshire School of Accounting and Secretarial Science, SNHU has expanded to become one of the worldwide leaders in distance learning, with over 70,000 enrolled online. Of the more than 200 programs offered – in accounting and finance, healthcare, business, sports management, and more – all are career-focused and designed for working professionals and adult learners. Further, SNHU instructors are accomplished experts in their respective fields and well-adapted to the school’s unique online approach. Most important, the university has an established and active of alumni network, with distinguished graduates in politics, professional sports, the arts, and business. All students have access to personalized academic advising, a writing center, career services, 24/7 tech support, and e-library services.
Southern New Hampshire offers an online MA in English & Creative Writing with concentrations available in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Screenwriting. Core requirements include Studying the Craft, Story and Concept, Graduate Studies in English Language, and Graduate Studies in Literary Theory. All students also complete a capstone project in which they submit a either a creative thesis or portfolio of work with an evaluative essay. Courses deliver in accelerated 10-week blocks, and students may be able to complete the degree in as little as 15 months. For maximum flexibility, there are no residency requirements and course work is 100% online. Admissions are rolling, and applicants should have earned at least a 2.75 undergraduate degree.
17. Eastern Oregon University
Online MFA with concentrations in Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Screenwriting, Graphic Novel, and more
Established in 1929, Eastern Oregon University is located in La Grande and has an enrollment of approximately 3,700. (A satellite campus in Gresham, Oregon offers several programs, as well.) The university offers bachelor’s degrees in a wide range of disciplines and master’s degrees in creative writing, business, education, and teaching. Among the most popular undergraduate programs are in business, arts and sciences, dental hygiene, military science, agricultural science, psychology, and nursing. EOU’s newly-founded outdoor leadership program is one of the first of its kind. Notable alumni have gone on to careers in politics, sports management, professional sports, and the arts.
Eastern Oregon’s low-residency MFA can be completed in two years, with concentrations available in Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Screenwriting, Graphic Novel, and more. In addition to hands-on campus visits – which consist of workshops, craft seminars, readings, etc. – courses focus on individualized studies, service learning, and work on a thesis, a book-length original work in the student’s major genre and written under the supervision of a faculty mentor. Residency periods give students the opportunity to take advantage of one of the region’s literary hotspots, and there are multiple creative festivals, conferences, and organizations around town. Class sizes rarely exceed 10-15 students to support an intimate, vibrant, and collaborative community.
18. Simon Fraser University
Online Writer’s Studio
Simon Fraser University is a public university in British Columbia, Canada with satellite campuses in Burnaby, Vancouver and Surrey. Established in 1965, the student enrollment currently stands at approximately 35,000. SFU is one of Canada’s top schools, having been ranked as the country’s best comprehensive university nearly every year since 1991 by Maclean’s; it has received high rankings from the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Academic Ranking of World Universities, and the Times National, as well. In particular, publications have recognized Simon Fraser’s programs in science and engineering, social sciences, humanities, communication and media studies, geography, politics, computer science and information systems, and more.
Simon Fraser offers a non-terminal “Writer’s Studio” program on a part-time basis over the course of a year. Designed as a collaborative, peer-to-peer workshop, students developing or finishing a novel, poetry collection, or non-fiction work will find SFU’s track an excellent launching point or polishing forum to discuss their work amongst a vibrant creative community. Studies cover writing theory, craft, and the business side of writing, with one-on-one instruction from a faculty mentor and a genre-specific mentor workshop group of nine writers. Past instructors have included such experienced, talented writers as Timothy Taylor, Rachel Rose, Steven Galloway, Lynn Coady, Ivan Coyote, and Caroline Adderson. As an alternative to the traditional MFA track, the Huffington Post has called Simon Fraser’s program one of the best in the world.
19. Fairfield University
Online Master’s in Creative Writing (MFA)
Fairfield University, founded by Jesuits in 1942, is located in Connecticut, in the town of the same. The student enrollment is just shy 5,000, and academics are divided into five seperate schools: Arts and Sciences, Business, Engineering, Nusing and Health Sciences, and a graduate school of Education and Allied Professions. There are 35 undergraduate majors available, 16 interdisciplinary minors, and nearly 40 graduate tracks, the most popular and prestigious of which are Biology, International Studies, Art History, Religious Studies, Sociology, Accounting and Finance, and Mechanical Engineering. Distinguished graduates include sixty-two Fulbright Scholars; a MacArthur Fellow; a Guggenheim Fellow; businesswoman Kathleen Murphy; attorney Joseph Russoniello; Christopher McCormick, the president & CEO of L.L.Bean; G. Simon Harak, a Pax Christi National Peacemaker of the Year, and numerous other leaders in medicine, politics, academia, and the arts.
Fairfield offers an MFA in Creative Writing with concentrations available in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or screenwriting. Dual concentrations are offered for those interested, which requires a final book-length thesis that includes work in both chosen genres. In addition to these concentrations, students are also encouraged to choose a track in either Editing and Publishing, Literary Health and Healing, or Spiritual Writing. As a low-residency program, students have maximum flexibility, and an accelerated program is offered to undergraduate students looking for a fast-track transition. (Also note that total residency time only adds up to 20 days for the traditional track.) A unique Prior Learning Assessment allows qualified students to receive up to one full semester credit for previously written or published work. The last three years alone, Fairfield MFA grads have published 34 books, in addition to numerous articles, essays, stories, and poems.
20. Converse College
Founded in 1889, Converse College is a liberal arts university in Spartanburg, South Carolina, with a student enrollment of 1,400. While the undergraduate school is for women, master’s degrees are conferred on men, as well. Converse’s academic departments include: Art and Design, Education, English/Creative and Professional Writing, Health and Physical Education, Mathematics and Computer Science, Psychology, Religion and Philosophy, and Economics, Accounting and Business, among others. (There are 30 undergraduate majors in total.) With a student-to-faculty ratio of 12:1, class sizes are small to encourage an intimate, collaborative learning environment. It has been recognized by US News and Washington Monthly for academics, value, service, and social mobility.
Converse offers a low-residency MFA that consists of 48 graduate credits. Designed for writers working in the modes of poetry, fiction, young adult fiction, creative nonfiction, and environmental writing, students attend four 9-day residencies throughout the course of study (offered in summer and January) and complete a critical project on literature or craft, a book-length creative thesis, and oral defense. Residencies offer a unique opportunity to meet established writers and review works in progress; recent visitors include Claudia Emerson, Joyce Carol Oates, Gladys Swan, C. Michael Curtis, Peter Selgin, Natasha Trethewey, and Erin McGraw. Graduates of the Converse MFA have received numerous honors: the X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize, Finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics, and Finalist for the Stony Brook Short Fiction Prize, among others. MFA alumna Julia Peterkin is the only South Carolinian to win the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction.
21. Tiffin University
Online Master of Humanities with a concentration in Creative Writing
Tiffin University, established in 1888 and located in northern Ohio, has an enrollment of approximately 4,300. Undergraduate programs are divided into three colleges – Arts and Sciences, Business, Criminal Justice and Social Sciences; Tiffin’s graduate school offers master’s degrees in business (with numerous MBA concentrations), education, the humanities, criminal justice, and psychology, among others. Distinguished alumni have gone on to careers in professional sports, business, politics, and the arts. In addition to accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, Tiffin holds three specialized accreditations.
Tiffin offers a Master of Humanities with a concentration in Creative Writing. Students hone their craft in writing novels, short stories, drama, poetry, and screenplays, and electives are available in a wide variety of areas: Literary Theory, Teaching College English, Creative Writing and its Development, Studies in Genre Fiction, and Poetics of Western Drama. As a 100% online program, the degree is designed for maxim flexibility, with numerous start dates, transfer credits, and no application fees. Further, on an accelerated track, students can complete the degree in as little as 1.5 years; part-time students finish in 2.5 years. Tiffin graduates have established careers at such companies as Walt Disney, Deloitte & Touche, Whirlpool Corporation, Calphalon Corporation, and others.
22. University of Louisiana at Monroe
Online MA in English Literature
The University of Louisiana at Monroe, established in 1931 as Ouachita Parish Junior College, currently has an enrollment of about 8,850. One of the nine member colleges in the University of Louisiana System, the main academic disciplines are divided into schools of business, English literature, marriage and family therapy, pharmacy, and theater arts. US News ranks the school among the best in the South region, and has highlighted several of its individual programs. Distinguished alumni include businessmen – Lloyd E. Lenard, Tim Brando, Moon Griffon, Marc Swayze, Willie Robertson, and Rob Redding; entertainers – Tim McGraw and Devon O’Day; and numerous politicians and professional athletes.
UL Monroe offers an online MA in English Literature in which students can concentrate in Creative Writing or Literary Studies. Consisting of 30 credit hours, core class examples include English Literature Before 1800, English Literature from 1800 to the Present, American Poetry, American Prose, English Literature from 1800 to the Present, and others. Creative writing students will complete a class in Forms and Theories of Creative Writing, plus nine hours of writing workshops in fiction or poetry. For maximum flexibility, there are entry dates throughout the year and transfer credits may be available for eligible students. (Prior Learning Assessment options are also offered.) Applicants should have earned at least a 3.0 undergraduate GPA and a combined score on the GRE, with special emphasis on verbal.
23. University of British Columbia
The University of British Columbia is a public university in Vancouver with a student enrollment of approximately 61,000. Founded in 1908, UBC is one of the most prestigious schools in the country, and has been ranked high by US News, Maclean’s, Newsweek, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities, among others. It also one of the most active research universities worldwide, with an annual research budget over a half-billion dollars. The most popular areas of study are in the colleges of Arts, Science, Medicine, Applied Science, and Business. Faculty and alumni have received 7 Nobel Prizes, 69 Rhodes Scholarships, 65 Olympic medals, 8 memberships in the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and 208 fellowships to the Royal Society of Canada.
UBC offers an MFA with an optional residency for maximum flexibility. Students choose between nine genres, more than any other low-residency program: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, screenwriting, playwriting, writing for children, graphic novel, songwriting, and translation. (Note that students are required to complete work in three separate genres as part of the program’s unique emphasis on “literary cross-training” that develops well-rounded writers prepared to tackle a number of professional opportunities.) The residency option consists of ten days each summer in which students attend readings, craft seminars, and workshops. UBC’s MFA stresses the actual practice of reading, so students aren’t bogged down with independent studies not directly related to their work. Admissions are primarily based on the quality of a student’s submitted portfolio.
24. Western New England University
MFA in Creative Writing (fiction) Online
Western New England University is a private university in Springfield, Massachusetts, with a total enrollment of about 4,000. Established in 1919 as the Springfield campus of Northeastern College, the university is a member of the Cooperating Colleges of Greater Springfield and a partner in the region’s Knowledge Corridor Initiative. The schools five colleges – in Arts and Sciences, Business, Engineering, Law, and Pharmacy – offer nearly 50 undergraduate degrees, and a student-to-faculty ratio supports an intimate, collaborative educational setting. Distinguished alumni include Academy Award winning producer Anthony Katagas; a large number of local, state, and federal politicians; military leaders; and professional athletes.
Western New England offers an online, low-residency MFA in Creative Writing (fiction) that consists of 48 credits. Each curriculum is individualized according to a student’s interests with mentor faculty supervision. Particular attention is paid to craft, including voice, plot structure, sentence construction, dialogue, and narrative. Intensive 7-day residencies (summer and winter) give students the opportunity to meet with instructors and visiting writers one-on-one, attend readings, and participate in workshop for works in progress; past visiting writers include Bruce Machart and Daphne Kalotay. Further, with the MFA student-to-faculty ratio at just 5:1, students benefit from small class sizes. Upon graduation, students will have completed a substantial portfolio of work; faculty will then provide commentary and letters of reference. Admissions are rolling.
25. Union Institute and University
Online Master’s in Literature & Writing
Union Institute and University is a private university in Cincinnati, Ohio specializing in hybrid and online programs. (Satellite campuses are in Vermont, Florida, and California.) Established in 1964, UIU offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in a wide variety of fields including Business, Leadership, Education, Health & Science, and Protection & Civil Service. The school is primarily designed to serve the needs of adult learners; its core values are integrity, diversity, social justice, theory and practice, creative and critical thinking, and academic excellence. Distinguished alumni include authors Rita Mae Brown, Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Gerald Haslam, Jean Houston, and Phillip Lopate, plus numerous business leaders, politicians, and activists.
UIU offers an online Master’s in Literature & Writing that consists of 36 credits. For maximum flexibility, students can complete the course work on a full- or part-time basis, and there are several entry dates throughout the year. Degree completion time is typically 2 years. While the degree does not directly incorporate creative writing, elective options in writing allow students to customize the degree accordingly. Recent graduates have studied African American Literature, Young Adult Literature, Ecocritical Literature and Theory, Composition Theory and Practice, Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, Shakespeare and the English Renaissance, and more. All students must complete a thesis to demonstrate mastery of material. Alumni are currently working in publishing, public relations, secondary education, radio and television, and more.
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