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Students earning a master's degree in English and creative writing receive advanced training in literary criticism and writing. Each graduate student chooses a focus area, such as fiction writing, creative nonfiction, or poetry.
Full-time students typically earn their master's degree in English or creative writing in two years. Many programs offer low-residency or no-residency options that appeal to working students. Graduates often work as high school teachers, editors, and writers. Some programs connect graduate students with literary agents and offer publishing classes. A master of fine arts (MFA) in creative writing also prepares graduates for college-level teaching roles.
The following list ranks the most affordable English and creative writing master's programs. Prospective students can use these rankings to find a program that fits their budget and career goals. This page also explores degree requirements, common courses, and scholarship opportunities for graduate students in English and creative writing programs.
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Top 10 Cheap Online Master's in English and Creative Writing Programs 2021
Methodology: Here's How We Rank Schools
|Academic Quality||Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates||25%|
|Affordability||Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid||35%|
|Reputation||Admission and enrollment rates||15%|
|Program Offerings||Number of program options||10%|
|Online Enrollment Score||Portion of learners taking at least one online course||15%|
Is creative writing an English major?
The English department at most colleges and universities offers creative writing classes. Some also provide a creative writing major or concentration.
What kind of jobs can you get with an English degree?
An English degree qualifies graduates for positions in education, journalism, business, public relations, and media. English majors often work as teachers, lawyers, librarians, editors, and writers.
What can you do with a master's in creative writing?
Graduates with a master's in creative writing can pursue careers as writers and authors. They can also become creative writing teachers, screenwriters, speechwriters, journalists, and editors.
How long does it take to get a master's degree in creative writing?
Full-time students generally earn a master's degree in creative writing in two years. Some programs offer accelerated options that allow learners to graduate sooner.
What Can I Do With an English and Creative Writing Degree?
Graduate-level training in English and creative writing helps learners build strong communication, storytelling, and analytical skills. Master's students learn how to critically analyze literature, construct and hone their writing, and publish original works.
Degree-seekers pursuing a master's degree in creative writing or English often focus on a specific area. Many programs offer concentration areas based on literary genres, with options in fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Some programs also offer specializations in graphic novels, young adult literature, and medical narrative writing.
An English and creative writing degree prepares graduates for a variety of high-level careers. As the field's terminal degree, an MFA in creative writing meets the requirements for college-level teaching positions. A master's degree can also lead to opportunities for professional writers, editors, and journalists. A master's degree can help current professionals advance their career or switch fields.
Accreditation for an English and Creative Writing Degree
Before applying to an English or creative writing program, prospective students should research the school's accreditation status. Accredited colleges and universities meet the highest academic standards and grant widely recognized degrees. To earn and maintain accreditation, schools regularly undergo rigorous reviews from independent accrediting agencies. These agencies evaluate each school's student learning outcomes, academic mission, and faculty qualifications.
Accreditation benefits students in important ways. Most graduate programs require applicants to hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited school. Credits from accredited institutions are more likely to transfer, and only students at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid.
When evaluating a creative writing or English program, prospective graduate students should look for regional accreditation, which is the gold standard for liberal arts and research institutions. Applicants can verify any school's accreditation status using the U.S. Department of Education's database.
What Are the Requirements for an English and Creative Writing Degree?
Applicants to master's programs in creative writing or English need a bachelor's degree. Most universities require an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution. Applicants may also need to submit GRE scores,recommendation letters, and a statement of purpose. Creative writing programs typically require a writing sample.
Admitted graduate students usually complete 30-45 credits of coursework to earn their degree. Graduation requirements vary by program but often include a master's thesis, master's exam, or culminating creative writing project.
Courses in an English and Creative Writing Program
English and creative writing graduate students complete seminars and workshops during their degree. These courses develop writing and analytical skills, which learners strengthen through writing workshops, projects, and a master's thesis.
While completing a master's degree in English or creative writing, graduate students often focus their training by choosing a concentration area. Schools may offer concentrations in creative writing, rhetoric, technical writing, and business communications. Students may also design their own concentration by choosing electives.
This section introduces courses common to many English and creative writing programs. Each program offers different classes, so learners should contact their institution for details about course availability.
- Introduction to Graduate Study in English and Creative Writing
- Many English and creative writing programs begin with an introductory class, which prepares students for graduate-level study in English, rhetoric, and creative writing. The class offers a program overview and introduces learners to various types of assignments, such as seminar papers and book reviews. The course also provides an overview of English and creative writing career opportunities. This foundational training prepares graduate students for advanced master's coursework.
- Creative Writing: Fiction
- Many creative writing students pursue graduate studies to hone their fiction-writing skills. Degree-seekers in this course examine fiction narrative techniques, genres, and formats. Coursework covers techniques, literary craft, and the critiquing process. This class often follows a workshop format, in which students submit short fiction pieces to the group for analysis and revision. Students strengthen their fiction writing abilities and learn to articulate their writing process and goals.
- Creative Writing: Poetry
- Many creative writing programs include coursework on poetry. Enrollees explore poetry formats, critical analysis of poetry, and aesthetic choices. Learners read published poems and essays about poetry. Creative writing students may also write original poetry and critically analyze poetry by peers. The course provides foundational training for aspiring poets.
- Creative Nonfiction
- This class prepares MFA students to write essays and memoirs that draw on personal experiences and real events. Learners examine the definition of creative nonfiction and explore how literary nonfiction differs from other types of nonfiction. Students learn to apply creative writing skills to nonfiction formats. They use tools such as dialogue, structure, and tense. Learners may also workshop pieces from other students.
- Literary Criticism
- This class explores various critical theories used to analyze texts. Graduate students may explore approaches including poststructuralism, historical criticism, and gender analysis. The course also examines theoretical claims, various methodological approaches, and the historical development of literary criticism. In addition to core thinkers such as Foucault and Derrida, learners may explore more recent literary criticism. The course prepares master's students for doctoral English programs. Learners also strengthen their analytical and theoretical skills.
Certifications and Licensure for English and Creative Writing Majors
English and creative writing careers do not typically require licensure or certification. Some writers may pursue speciality certifications, such as the certified professional technical communicator credential for technical writers. Graduates who pursue education careers may need a teaching license. Educators may pursue a creative writing endorsement or board certification to advance their careers.
Board Certification in English Language Arts
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards offers this certification for experienced English teachers. Candidates for board certification must pass a computer-based assessment that tests content knowledge and teaching practice. Candidates must also submit a portfolio demonstrating mastery in teaching English language arts.
Creative Writing Endorsement
Professional Organizations for English and Creative Writing Majors
Joining a professional organization can help English and creative writing graduate students build a professional network and transition into the workforce. These organizations often host events to connect writers and academics, list job openings on private boards, and offer fellowship programs for writers.
AWP represents nearly 50,000 writers. The association offers resources and support, including professional development tools. Members benefit from career services, networking opportunities, and a community devoted to writing and teaching. AWP members also receive The Writer's Chronicle, which includes award and grant listings.
Founded in 1883, MLA promotes the study and teaching of humanities disciplines, including literature and language. MLA hosts an annual convention and local seminars, publishes a bibliography in language and literature, and issues four major periodicals. Members also receive a quarterly newsletter with updates on initiatives and events.
Founded in 1989, the ALA represents specialists in American literature. The scholarly association hosts conferences with networking opportunities, offers a members directory, and provides fellowships for individuals studying American literature. The ALA fosters interaction among members and offers professional development resources and tools.
The Authors Guild represents writers, including novelists, journalists, and nonfiction writers. The professional organization provides opportunities to share work, network with other authors, and attend events. The guild maintains regional chapters and provides member services including seminars, a member directory, and a quarterly bulletin.
Graduate students earning a degree in creative writing or English can qualify for several scholarships. Professional organizations, private foundations, and government agencies offer funding opportunities for MFA and master's students in the humanities. In addition to the following opportunities, degree-seekers can research scholarships based on their career path, school, and state.
Who Can Apply: The National Endowment for the Arts offers fellowships for creative writers. Each year, the fellowship alternates between prose and poetry awards. Applicants can use the award to support their writing or research. The committee evaluates applications based on the merit of the writing sample.
Who Can Apply: The Daughters of the American Revolution offers this scholarship to support graduate students pursuing an English degree. Applicants need a minimum 3.25 GPA and must submit official transcripts. Recipients who maintain a record of academic success can renew the award.
Who Can Apply: The Mystery Writers of America offers this scholarship to learners studying mystery writing, including fiction, nonfiction, screenwriting, and playwriting. Applicants must not have previously received monetary compensation for their writing. Recipients can use the scholarship to cover tuition and fees for university writing programs.
Who Can Apply: New and amateur sci-fi and fantasy writers, including MFA students, can submit to this writing contest. Applicants must submit a piece of up to 17,000 words. Writers who have professionally published a novel, more than one novelette, or more than three short stories do not qualify.
Who Can Apply: The Horror Writers Association offers several scholarships for early-career writers, including graduate students in creative writing programs. The scholarships, including the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship and the Horror Writers Association Scholarship, promote the genre and help students fund their education.
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