Best Online Creative Writing Degree Programs

By the OnlineU team | Updated 2/22/2021
Quick Facts
Accreditation: Institutional
Average Tuition: $26,193
Average Salary: $58,796

There are many opportunities for creative writers in today’s economy. While some will realize the dream of publishing their works of fiction or poetry, others will apply their talents to the world of business and earn good salaries in the process. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for writers and authors is $63,200, while technical writers earn a median annual salary of $72,850. We've provided a list of popular schools offering online degrees in creative writing to help students find a program that fits their needs. Continue reading for more information about accreditation for creative writing programs from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP), career options for writers including public relations and advertising, and common courses a student can expect to take while earning their online degree in creative writing.

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Online Bachelor’s in Creative Writing with the Highest Return on Investment

2021 Best Online Colleges Offering Bachelor's Degrees in Creative Writing Badge

These are the top online bachelor's degrees in creative writing ranked by their return on investment (ROI). We calculated ROI based on the expected earnings of graduates over ten years with payments for student debt subtracted. We found that the cheapest degree isn’t always the best investment over time. Based on our methodology, Texas Tech University provides the best 10-year ROI at $327,600, even though their annual tuition is much higher than some of the other options, which may make it a better long-term bet for prospective students. Comparatively, Southern New Hampshire University Online offers the lowest annual tuition and still offers a 10-year ROI of $279,900, so if the initial price point is very important to you, SNHU may be a good option for an online creative writing degree.

ROI amounts are based on data reported by the U.S. Department of Education. Tuitions are manually researched in order to determine tuition amounts specific to online degrees. Read our methodology for more details.

RankSchool Annual Tuition Median Starting Salary Median Debt 10-year ROI
# 1 #1 $20,550 $34,420 $21,500 $327,600
# 2 #2 $13,668 $33,459 $24,821 $313,500
# 3 #3 $9,600 $29,902 $22,458 $279,900
# 4 #4 $22,218 $24,267 $20,832 $223,900
# 5 #5 $15,990 $22,329 $37,000 $183,800

Best Bachelor's Degrees in Creative Writing Rankings Details

#1

Texas Tech University

Lubbock (TX)
  • 10-Year ROI: $327,600
  • Median Salary: $34,420
  • Annual Tuition: $20,550
  • Median Debt: $21,500

The Bachelor of Arts in English online program at Texas Tech University (TTU) offers a concentration in creative writing. The program welcomes new college students as well as transfer students, who can transfer up to nine advanced level courses into the program to help them earn the 120 credits required to graduate. During the course of study students will hone their writing skills... while gaining a greater understanding for literature and media.

Students use Blackboard to interact with their peers, review the course syllabus, and turn in assignments. The school's scholarship portal provides an application for multiple scholarships, including some for transfer students and some specifically for online students. While Texas residents receive lower in-state tuition, online students are currently offered tuition at the same in-state rate regardless of their location.

Students can apply through ApplyTexas or through CommonApp. Texas Tech offers special support to military veterans looking to transition to the student life, and has been designated a Purple Heart University for its support of military students. Online tutoring, as well as online library resources and technical support, is available to all students.

School Type: Non-Profit
Graduation Rate: 60%
Acceptance Rate: 69%
Financial Aid Recipients: 78%
Average SAT Scores: 1070 - 1240
Accreditation: SACS COC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,980

#2

University of Colorado Denver

Denver (CO)
  • 10-Year ROI: $313,500
  • Median Salary: $33,459
  • Annual Tuition: $13,668
  • Median Debt: $24,821

The Bachelor of Arts in English Writing, Rhetoric, and Technology at the University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver) is a fully online program. Courses can be completed full-time or part-time, with 120 credits needed to graduate. Full-time students can expect to complete the program in about four years. The program covers a breadth of writing concentrations meant to give students... a generalized foundation to pursue a variety of career paths, including professional writing, digital publication, creative writing, and academic writing.

Canvas is the tool students use to complete assignments and interact with classmates. Once accepted to CU Denver, students can apply for scholarships through an internal portal. Colorado residents qualify for lower tuition rates, and out-of-state students completing their degree online qualify for a lower tuition rate than the typical out-of-state tuition. CU Denver online students can take advantage of online and on-campus resources at all University of Colorado schools.

Applications can be submitted through the school's online form and applications for fall semesters are typically due late spring. CU Online Navigators are always available to help online students with everything from admissions to financial aid.

Cost per Credit: $456
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 120
Graduation Rate: 48%
Acceptance Rate: 65%
Financial Aid Recipients: 76%
Average SAT Scores: 1020 - 1210
Accreditation: HLC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 967

#3

Southern New Hampshire University Online

Manchester (NH)
  • 10-Year ROI: $279,900
  • Median Salary: $29,902
  • Annual Tuition: $9,600
  • Median Debt: $22,458

Southern New Hampshire University's (SNHU) online Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing offers four concentrations: fiction writing, nonfiction writing, poetry, and screenwriting. The Bachelor of Arts in General Studies program also offers a concentration in creative writing. Each program requires 120 total credits, with 90 possible transfer credits. Creative writing students take... 24 credits in the major core and nine electives, including courses in literary theory, the English language, and publishing. General studies enrollees take 12 required credits in the creative writing concentration and 63 elective credits. These programs take four years for full-time students to complete, but they can attend part-time if they prefer.

SNHU uses a proprietary online platform for all virtual classes, which have weekly assignments that students can complete asynchronously throughout the week. Students participate in workshops where they present their own writing samples and critique their peers' work. Online tuition rates have not increased since 2012, and SNHU provides a range of scholarship and grant opportunities. Active-duty military personnel qualify for discounted tuition rates.

Rolling admission deadlines mean students can apply any time and start quickly after being accepted. Applications must be completed on the school's application page. SNHU online students can access a writing center, tutoring services, career center, wellness resources, electronic bookstore, and technical support.

School Type: Non-Profit
Graduation Rate: 52%
Acceptance Rate: 78%
Financial Aid Recipients: 75%
Accreditation: NECHE
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 76,929

#4

Central Washington University

Ellensburg (WA)
  • 10-Year ROI: $223,900
  • Median Salary: $24,267
  • Annual Tuition: $22,218
  • Median Debt: $20,832

The Bachelor's in English: Professional and Creative Writing program at Central Washington University (CWU) requires 74 credits and provides students with a background in literature studies as well as editing, publishing, and various forms of writing. Writing courses include creative areas such as screenwriting, creative nonfiction, poetry, and fiction, in addition to business,... technical, and scientific writing. This program is designed as a completion program for students who have already taken some classes, and it takes two years of full-time study to complete.

Students use Canvas to submit assignments and take exams. Out-of-state students enrolled in an online degree program pay the same tuition prices as in-state students. CWU offers over 320 scholarships students can apply for through CWU’s Scholarship Central.

Applications are completed online on the school's application page. Online students can access a program advisor to assist with questions about applying or about academic requirements. CMU also has a Career Services department that offers virtual workshops and events in addition to one-on-one career advising services.

School Type: Non-Profit
Graduation Rate: 55%
Acceptance Rate: 86%
Financial Aid Recipients: 90%
Average SAT Scores: 960 - 1160
Accreditation: NWCCU
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 2,722

#5

Full Sail University

Winter Park (FL)
  • 10-Year ROI: $183,800
  • Median Salary: $22,329
  • Annual Tuition: $15,990
  • Median Debt: $37,000

Full Sail University offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program that teaches students how to tell compelling stories across different media. The program takes 29 months to complete, with students taking one course per month. All courses are completed in a set order, allowing students to start any time and take the classes in the most logical order. Because courses... are accelerated, students should plan to spend a substantial amount of time on each course, but they'll complete the degree quicker than they would complete a traditional program.

Upon entry to the program, students receive a Project LaunchBox™, which includes a laptop computer with all of the software they'll need during their studies. This can lead to substantial savings compared to other programs. Full Sail has its own learning platform designed to provide students with the most hands-on experience possible. Full Sail offers a number of scholarships for online students and has admissions staff dedicated to helping military students.

Courses begin monthly, so students can apply at any time and start as soon as they're accepted. Applications are completed on the school's website. Online students can access all resources available to on-campus students, including career advisors, digital library access, and dedicated technical support.

Cost per Credit: $533
School Type: For-Profit
Credits Required: 120
Graduation Rate: 31%
Financial Aid Recipients: 84%
Accreditation: ACCSC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 13,385

Online Creative Writing Degree Overview & Career Information

Online creative writing degrees are available at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate levels, with most traditional writing careers requiring a bachelor’s degree. Online coursework will equip graduates with critical skills to analyze, interpret, and create written work. For most creative writing careers, building a strong portfolio of writing samples is more important than completing internships or any specialized training.

Online Bachelor's Degrees in Creative Writing

An online bachelor’s in creative writing requires completion of general education classes in addition to preferred topics of study, which should enhance the student’s ability to analyze and diversify his or her writing. Though there are not many colleges that offer creative writing degrees, many offer a concentration of creative writing to give you the expertise and breadth to be an effective writer in a multimedia culture with practical skills alongside creativity. Topics of study will include scriptwriting, editing, journalism, screenwriting, and poetry.

Standard admissions require a 2.5 GPA or higher, SAT or ACT scores, and a personal essay. Traditionally, the programs require 120 credit hours for completion.

Accreditation for Online Creative Writing Degrees

Accreditation is a valuable way for students, future employers, and governing entities to know that quality education is being provided. Online programs need to be accredited in order for students to qualify for federal funding such as grants and loans, and graduating from an accredited program is often required to sit for state licensure exams. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is the supreme accreditation board for this country. It is a non-governmental, private organization committed to quality assurance and rigorous standards, and students should check with the Department of Education’s website in order to ensure the school they are considering is accredited.

The Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) is a governing body that evaluates MFA programs to ensure a high level of education and contribution to the written word. The AWP postulates that a valuable writing program offers extensive literary study, strong thesis advisors, accomplished faculty, and a small student-to-teacher ratio, which is something students should consider when evaluating an online MFA program.

Careers in Creative Writing

An online degree in creative writing can provide a breadth of career opportunities, from editing to marketing communications to grant writing. Depending on career goals and experience, areas of focus can vary greatly within creative writing careers.

Companies often hire individuals based on their “soft skills,” which include critical thinking, situation analysis, communication skills, and their ability to communicate effectively across a multitude of media interfaces. An online bachelor’s degree in creative writing can prepare you for a career path in editing and copywriting, advertising, public relations, and publishing, for example.

A master’s program will prepare graduates to teach at a collegiate level, or further critical skills in authorship, which can be essential to getting work published.

Common Online Classes for Creative Writing Students

Creative writing is a field that encapsulates many specialities, so there will likely be a variety of online courses offered. Listed below are some common online classes:

  • Forms and Techniques of Fiction: This class gives students the tools to analyze and imitate important pieces of fiction in order to gain a historical understanding of the creative process.
  • Advanced Poetry Writing: This online course delves into framework and finding your poetic voice through identifying expressive resources and elements.
  • Storytelling in Film and Literature: Students will explore narrative techniques and how they transpose to film, examine the role of the reader and the structure of the meaning, and investigate political, social, and aesthetic issues within the narrative.
  • Scriptwriting: This online class studies the process and elements of film scriptwriting, including character building, three-act structure, plot points, and formatting.
  • Fiction Workshop: This allows students to share their work with peers and receive feedback. It also explores the complexities of fiction writing, from developing characters and plots, to setting a foundation while remaining concise.
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing: Students explore the rules of sci-fi and fantasy writing and the tools embedded in these genres. They will utilize poetic language, horror, and alternate realities to create short stories based on prompts.
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