Best Master's in Creative Writing Online Programs

By OnlineU Staff | Updated 3/20/2020
2020 Best Online Master's in Creative Writing Badge

The 13 schools on this list are the best value options for obtaining an online master's degree in creative writing based on alumni salaries and low tuition rates. Mount Saint Mary's University - CA is the #1 school, with a median alumni salary of $127,100 and a yearly tuition of $17,946 for a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. The University of Texas at El Paso ranks #2, with a median salary of $104,311 and an annual tuition rate of $10,350.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.

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RankSchool Annual Tuition Mid-Career Salary
# 1 #1 Mount Saint Mary's University - CA $17,946 $127,100
# 2 #2 The University of Texas at El Paso $10,350 $104,311
# 3 #3 Albertus Magnus College $13,500 $103,300
# 4 #4 University of Denver $22,816 $103,250
# 5 #5 Drexel University $29,969 $102,914
# 6 #6 The University of West Florida $15,700 $89,500
# 7 #7 National University $13,260 $79,863
# 8 #8 Southern New Hampshire University Online $11,286 $70,212
# 9 #9 Saint Leo University Online $11,340 $57,600
# 10 #10 Savannah College of Art and Design $38,475 $67,200
# 11 #11 University of Nebraska at Omaha $15,000 $56,893
# 12 #12 Tiffin University $7,875 $52,700
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo

2020 Online Colleges Offering Creative Writing Degrees - Ranking Details

#1 Mount Saint Mary's University - CA

  • Annual Tuition: $17,946
  • Median Salary: $127,100
  • Locations: Los Angeles (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

Mount Saint Mary's University hosts an online Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing that aims to prepare graduates to teach the craft at the college level. The 36-credit curriculum includes instruction in writing and literary theory, writing workshops, and coursework in the humanities discipline, providing students the chance to understand the role of history and culture in stories and storytelling. Workshops are facilitated through video conferencing, allowing for meaningful interactions among students and professors. Class announcements and course materials may be delivered through the Canvas learning management system. The program can be completed fully online or in a hybrid format, combining online study with in-person lessons. There is also a study abroad opportunity in Cusco for MFA students. Students finish the online creative writing program with a completed manuscript in the genre of their choice. To apply, prospective students must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0. GRE scores are not required for admission. Students must submit their transcripts, an application essay, two letters of recommendation, a professional resume, and a writing sample. An interview may also be required. The Professional and Academic Resource Center offers a number of resources that are available virtually, including career advising and peer tutoring.

#2 The University of Texas at El Paso

  • Annual Tuition: $10,350
  • Median Salary: $104,311
  • Locations: El Paso (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The curriculum for the online Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of Texas at El Paso is focused on writing workshops. The workshops allow students to cultivate their writing and knowledge in the creative process as they work toward completing a publishable manuscript in fiction or poetry. The degree requires 48 credits, with six credits dedicated to a thesis project. Through coursework in creative writing and the theory and form of the discipline, graduates may be prepared for careers in teaching at the college level or publishing. The program can be completed entirely online through the Blackboard learning management system. However, MFA students also have the option to take classes on campus for a semester. Students can earn the degree in three years but may take up to five years if needed. The application requires students to submit official transcripts from their undergraduate studies, a statement of purpose, a professional-quality writing sample, and three letters of recommendation. Students may begin courses in the fall or spring. This unique program can be completed entirely in Spanish for Spanish-speaking students. Resources for distance learners include academic advising, career resources, and veteran services.

#3 Albertus Magnus College

  • Annual Tuition: $13,500
  • Median Salary: $103,300
  • Locations: New Haven (CT)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

Students in the online Master of Fine Arts in Writing program at Albertus Magnus College are given the freedom to personalize their plan of study to a schedule and pace most convenient for them. The 36-credit program provides packets detailing all required readings and assignments at the beginning of each course, and writers participate in three intensive workshops each semester in an online forum. The MFA can be earned entirely online. Students are instructed in writing skills, the creative process, genre conventions, market trends, and what agents and publishers are looking for when receiving synopses, outlines, and manuscripts. Under the guidance of a portfolio mentor, students graduate from the two-year program with a collection of publishable work. Prospective students must have a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit a completed application, writing sample, official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, personal essay, and a photocopy of their driver’s license or ID. Online students at Albertus Magnus have access to career counseling and internship opportunities, library and technology services, and research support.

#4 University of Denver

  • Annual Tuition: $22,816
  • Median Salary: $103,250
  • Locations: Denver (CO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The online Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of Denver provides a well-rounded education in both the craft and the practical fundamentals of writing. Students are instructed in writing routines and habits, the writing process, and defining genres and audiences. In addition, students of the online creative writing degree program also learn how best to market their manuscripts to agents and publishers. The university offers several concentrations within the MFA, including Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Professional Poetry, and Dramatic Writing. Classes are asynchronous; students use the Canvas online learning platform to access assignments and grades, group discussions, and course content. The Canvas Chat feature allows students to have real-time conversations with instructors and classmates. Video conferencing technology, like Skype and Zoom, is implemented for group projects and face-to-face office hours. The degree requires 48 credits and can take as few as 18 months to complete. Graduate certificates are also available in 4-course and 6-course formats. To be considered for admission, prospective students must submit an application, resume, personal statement, and official transcripts from their completed undergraduate degree and any other post-secondary institution. Distance learners are supported by a number of resources, including career services, veteran services, the writing and research center, and IT support.

#5 Drexel University

  • Annual Tuition: $29,969
  • Median Salary: $102,914
  • Locations: Philadelphia (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The online Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Drexel University provides students several experiences to broaden their writing horizons. Students can diversify and share their passion for the craft through study abroad opportunities, international writing intensives, and programs that bring writing into the lives of veterans, incarcerated individuals, and patients in hospice. The two-year online creative writing degree requires three five-day residencies on campus, which allow students to network with peers, professors, and published authors. However, the majority of the program can be completed online through the Blackboard learning management system. Weekly lectures, readings, instructions for assignments, and grades are posted to the platform for students to access at their convenience. Some courses may require synchronous meetings. Prospective students must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Along with a program application, interested students must submit a personal statement, official transcripts, a writing sample, and a current CV. MFA students have the opportunity to take on teaching assistantships, for which they need a letter of recommendation and a personal piece of expository writing. Access to the writing center and virtual library databases, 24/7 tech support, and academic advising are all available to help online graduate students succeed.

#6 The University of West Florida

  • Annual Tuition: $15,700
  • Median Salary: $89,500
  • Locations: Pensacola (FL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The master’s in creative writing online program at the University of West Florida has multiple start dates. Students can specialize in Fiction, Nonfiction, or Poetry. The program requires 33 credit hours, 18 of which will be at the 6000-level. There is an optional thesis track. The UWF online creative writing degree provides real-time lectures through a free video-conferencing service that allows for classroom-style interaction with faculty and fellow students. Courses are held in the evening, but daytime events are available. For admission to the program, most prospective students must have at least 20 credit hours of undergraduate junior or senior level English, a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0, and a 413 MAT or 153 GRE verbal score and a 4.5 analytical writing score, although this can be waived under certain conditions. Prospective students must also submit a statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and a 2,500-word sample of fiction or nonfiction, or 10 poems. Online students are given access to library services, the writing lab, tutoring, and technical support. The online creative writing degree also provides editing opportunities with two different literary journals.

#7 National University

  • Annual Tuition: $13,260
  • Median Salary: $79,863
  • Locations: La Jolla (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

National University’s online Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing was the first in the United States to offer an online MFA with no required residency. Students specialize in Nonfiction, Fiction, Screenwriting, or Poetry, but do not have to choose right away. Furthermore, this online MFA accepts students interested in writing young adult and genre fiction. Rolling admission allows students to start their online creative writing degree at any time of year. To graduate, 58.5 or more quarter units are required. Most courses are intensive eight-week workshops, and the elective pedagogy classes will qualify MFA graduates to teach at the college level. In the online workshops, students read and critique each other’s work under faculty guidance and advice, taking one online workshop at a time. For a final thesis project, students work individually with a member of the faculty to complete a work of publishable quality. Over one-quarter of graduates report publishing their thesis. Coursework is completely online and asynchronous. Admission requirements include National University graduate admission and portfolios of creative writing (such as 10-20 pages of poetry). MFA students are also able to participate in the editing process of the university’s online literary journal, The GNU.

#8 Southern New Hampshire University Online

  • Annual Tuition: $11,286
  • Median Salary: $70,212
  • Locations: Manchester (NH)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

The online Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University allows students to earn their master’s in 15 months if they take two courses per term. There are five graduate terms a year, and applications are accepted at any time. Decisions are made within days of receiving the required materials. The SNHU master’s in creative writing online program offers concentrations in Nonfiction, Fiction, Poetry, and Screenwriting. Thirty-six credits are required to graduate: 30 credits for the major’s requirements and 6 in major electives or the chosen concentration. Courses have assignments, discussion boards, and specified deadlines, but students schedule their own online time. There are no GRE or GMAT requirements for admission. Prospective students should contact admissions counselors who will walk them through the application process, which includes submitting a personal statement. SNHU offers a wide range of online education services, including tutors, a writing center, career services, academic advising, technical support, an online accessibility center, an online library and bookstore, and online wellness resources. There is also an online student union, where classmates and faculty can meet, work on projects, or attend virtual university clubs.

#9 Saint Leo University Online

  • Annual Tuition: $11,340
  • Median Salary: $57,600
  • Locations: St. Leo (FL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Saint Leo University's online Master of Arts in Creative Writing degree is a low-residency program designed to be completed in two years, although students can take longer if they maintain continuous enrollment. The MA in creative writing offers concentrations in Fiction, Nonfiction, or Poetry, with an optional focus on writing for veterans. Coursework includes three eight-day residency courses on campus in summer (9 credits), then 27 online credits taken during the year. The eight-day residencies include creative writing workshops, panel discussions, readings, and craft talks by faculty, visiting writers, and publishing professionals. During the residency, students meet with their faculty mentors to design the work plan they will complete from home, guided by their mentor. Graduate coursework wraps up with the completion of a book-length work of writing. The process begins with the application writing sample, which should be in the genre of the intended concentration. Applications also require a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and transcripts showing a bachelor’s degree with a 3.25 or higher GPA. Students should apply at least 60 days before the term begins in mid-July.

#10 Savannah College of Art and Design

  • Annual Tuition: $38,475
  • Median Salary: $67,200
  • Locations: Savannah (GA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Master of Fine Arts in Writing at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) offers a 90-credit hour degree program online, with four start dates per year. In addition to traditional creative writing, students study subjects like digital media for current industry knowledge. Many students have class credits in publication by graduation. Writing skills are taught through workshops that foster discussion in a flexible, 24/7, online format. There are designated due dates, but otherwise, student work is asynchronous. Most courses for the online creative writing degree are taught by writers who also teach on campus. Each quarter lasts 10 weeks, and each course requires 12–17 hours of work per week. Applications are accepted year-round, no later than 30 days before the quarter begins; however, students who want to be considered for financial aid need to apply at least six months. Students apply online, and advisors guide them through the process. Application results usually take two to four weeks. A variety of e-learning resources are available, including peer tutors, student counselors, access to software, and textbook rental. There are also career services, including resume development, portfolio building, self-promotion, and assistance in finding employment opportunities.

#11 University of Nebraska at Omaha

  • Annual Tuition: $15,000
  • Median Salary: $56,893
  • Locations: Omaha (NE)
  • Accreditation: HLC

At the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the master’s in creative writing online program is a low-residency MFA that can be completed in two years. Students earn 60 credit hours towards a degree concentration in Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Screenwriting, Playwriting, or Young Adult. Applications are accepted anytime, and there are two start dates per year. The program combines five 10-day, on-site residencies with four 16-week semesters online. At each residency, students attend workshops, lectures, craft discussions, and readings, and they meet with their faculty mentors. During individual conferences, students work with their mentors to create an individualized study plan for each semester. This one-on-one work takes place alongside creative writing workshops. Students spend at least 25 hours per week on their graduate work each semester. During the final residency, students deliver a craft lecture and present a public reading from their MFA thesis. There is no set number of students in any given concentration that the program seeks to fill, so each application is considered on its own. Applications are filled out online, and official transcripts are required.

#12 Tiffin University

  • Annual Tuition: $7,875
  • Median Salary: $52,700
  • Locations: Tiffin (OH)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Tiffin University’s Master of Humanities degree with a concentration in Creative Writing offers students a curriculum that spans all types of writing, including fiction, poetry, screenplays, performance writing, young adult fiction, and creative nonfiction. This MH degree prepares students to work in the fields of community college education, editing, authoring, journalism, freelance writing, technical writing, publication assistance, advertising, and public relations. A 15-week semester starts every January, May, and August, and students can begin at any point. The 30 credit hours required to graduate can be completed in 1.5 years for full-time students and 2.5 years for part-time. A capstone project is required. Although students should log in daily to participate in discussion and chat forums and to see assignments and announcements, the time they choose to do so is up to them. Attendance is tracked through the submission of assignments and/or discussion participation. An online course demonstration is available on the Tiffin University website. Applying for the online creative writing degree is free, and there are advisors available to answer questions. Once accepted, students can access the online Pfeiffer Library, as well as academic guidance and support offered by the DragonQuest system. Other student services include professional skill-building workshops, university email, and free access to Grammarly.

Online Master's in Creative Writing Overview

The most common type of online master’s degree is the Master’s of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing. An online MFA program offers workshops, provides more in-depth feedback than bachelor’s programs, and exposes students to a myriad of other writing styles. It also often prepares graduates to teach the craft to others at the collegiate level. The preferred method of learning for this program is “low-residency”, meaning that the majority of the work is completed online, but once or twice a year students convene for a week to attend live intensive seminars.

Many programs take two to three years to complete, require 36 to 70 credit hours, and call for a completed creative writing thesis upon graduation. Traditionally, the programs offer concentrations in poetry and fiction, with select programs now offering coursework in media related fields. For admission, students need to hold a bachelor’s in any area of study—though a degree in a communications or writing-related field is favorable—have a 2.0 to 3.0 minimum GPA, and obtain a satisfactory GRE score. Many individuals that hold this online degree go into publishing, communications, copywriting, teaching, and authoring.

This website offers school details to prospective students as an informational resource. The appearance of a school listing on this website should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the school by this site.

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