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In a world that is fast latching on to everything digital, the importance of Creative Writing is still on the rise. Be it print, television, radio, or podcasts – writing stories, blogs, prose, scripts, articles, or even speeches brings value to designers and creators alike. Creative Writers who take up Content Writing typically stare at enviable incomes. ‘PayScale’ reports that a Professional Writer takes home anywhere between $30,000 and $74,000 per year. Whether one chooses to be a full-time writer or a freelancer, having a Master’s in Creative Writing opens up a host of opportunities, with ample scope to scale and grow. Read on to learn all about what an Online MFA Creative Writing Program entails and how you can jumpstart or further your career by taking up this MFA Degree at the right college. This guide will focus on all aspects of the Online MFA Creative Writing programs.
www.onlinemasterscolleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.
We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.
SNHU has earned the GetEducated.com Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.
As is usually the case, choosing the best MFA Creative Writing Programs can be a daunting task. Of the many out there, some best MFA Programs have made it to our shortlist. Given that each University or College typically has something that they claim is unique about their program, deep-diving into each of them requires time and patience. However, to make it easy for you, we have the best available programs listed out, based on several important factors such as Tuition, Faculty, Program Quality, Graduation Rates, Reputation of the Institute, etc. Here is a list of the best MFA creative writing programs.
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Higher Education is typically an expensive affair. Tuition Fees and other expenses can add up to thousands of dollars, making it hard for most even to consider a Master’s Program. We recognize this to be a key factor in zeroing in on a choice of school. After extensive research, we have listed out some of the most affordable MFA Creative Writing Programs available in the country. Here are our rankings for the most affordable MFA Creative Writing Programs
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A Creative Writing Program is for the mind that is buzzing with words – words that need to be articulated and presented in an appropriate form, serving an equally appropriate function. Whether you are interested in simply improving your writing skills, or have decided to write a novel, or perhaps even write a script for a movie, an MFA in Creative Writing will teach you all the nuances of writing – from styles to techniques. Reasonably new industries such as blogging and social media welcome creative writers with an MFA Degree, as there is an endless need for content. All in all, the possibilities are endless! But before you sign up for an Online MFA Creative Programs, it is essential to dig deep and understand the full scope of these programs.
Online MFA Creative Writing Degree Types
There are broadly three types of programs pertaining to Master’s in Creative Writing online, each distinct yet bearing similarities. Which of the three is better depends on your purpose and career aspirations.
MFA Creative Writing
The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Creative Writing Program hurls a student into the wide world of fiction, non-fiction, literature, and poetry. Understanding narratives, comparing literary works, and adding perspective to prose and poetry takes up much of the program, as do discussions, workshops, seminars, and open forums. Ideas are tabled, opinions are placed under scrutiny, and thoughts are composed, eventually bringing about your article, novel, blog, poem, or script.
Typically spanning 48 Semester credit hours (includes 6 hours of Thesis), this program will teach you the theory, form, and style of fiction, non-fiction, and creative writing cover advanced literature, and touch upon topics as publishing and travel writing.
The key difference between a Master of Arts or M.A. Creative Writing Program and an MFA Creative Writing Program is that the former focuses more on studying the Arts, Literary Analysis, and Theory. The latter is more hands-on. In other words, an M.A. can be thought of as an ‘Academic Degree,’ whereas an MFA can be labeled a ‘Practice or Studio-Based Degree.’ Typically, this program can be undertaken full-time (1 Year) or part-time (2 Years), depending on the college you choose.
MBA in Fine Arts
A formidable alternative to an MFA Creative Writing Program is an MBA in Fine Arts that is broad-based and covers the Arts and Media Administration more from a Business point-of-view. This program enables students to lead Projects, start their own Companies in Media or consult for film, music, art, and broadcasting Firms. Those who aspire to blend artistic talent with business acumen are the ones who should consider this program.
Specializations in MFA Programs
In addition to the standard MFA Programs in Creative Writing, Students can opt to specialize in a specific field or area of interest that could help niche markets or industries. Below is a list of some of the specializations available:
Online MFA Graphic Design
Hand or Computer-aided design for creating graphical assets such as icons, elements, illustrations, logos, etc., more for digital media.
Online MFA Drawing & Illustration
Sketching, illustrating, drawing for print media that compliments accompanying text, using Computer Software.
MFA Animation Online
Using advanced Software to design motion graphics, animations, cartoons, and renders, typically used in film and television.
Online MA Theatre Studies
Enhancing acting skills, art direction, and cinematography, both on-stage and in front of the camera.
Online MFA Photography
Mastering Film & Digital Cameras, learning techniques in photography, manipulating light.
Creation of murals, artifacts, and sculptures using bronze, clay, plaster-of-Paris, fiberglass, and complex materials.
MFA Ceramics Online
Learning the art of pottery and design in Ceramics.
Learning brush-techniques, hues, shades, color-matching, textures, and more.
MFA Screenwriting Online
Scripting of dialogues, explicating plots, Screenplay writing, and writing for Shows and Broadcasts.
Understanding Poets and Poetry and learning to form thoughts and translate them into Poems.
Curriculum and Skills Gained in MFA Creative Writing Programs
An MFA in Creative Writing usually consists of Form & Theory Classes, Workshops, Literature, Electives, and a Thesis. Subjects vary from college to college but generally cover Fictional & Non-Fictional Literature, Poetry, History of Art & Literature, Screenwriting, and Music.
The MFA Creative Writing Syllabus largely covers:
Forms and Techniques of Fiction
Narrative Theory & Poetics
Forms and Techniques of Poetry
Advanced Fiction, Poetry, Play, Screen and Creative Non-fiction writing
Variable Topics in Literature
Studies in Form
Politics of Narration
Writing about Popular Music
By the end of an MFA Creative Writing Program –
You will be able to teach Creative Art Subjects
Go on to become authors and publish books
Script for films and broadcasts
Have a deeper understanding of the history of Art and Literature
Join an ever-growing cross-border community of writers
Take up managerial or entrepreneurial roles in media and tech industries.
MFA Creative Writing Residency Requirements
Increasingly, low residency MFA Creative Writing Programs and no residency MFA Creative Writing Programs are becoming popular. A low residency program allows you to work and study simultaneously or perhaps parallelly pursue another course as well. Less time spent on Campus translates to more time to work or self-study. Here is a quick list of low residency MFA Creative Writing Programs:
Accreditation for Online MFA Creative Writing Programs
Having a recognized Degree is always important when seeking work or furthering your career. An Accreditation is a seal of achievement and an endorsement of your qualification. After all, the time and money you invest in an MFA Creative Writing Program should be of weight and value in the job market.
You can read up and understand more on Accreditation here. Most MFA Creative Writing Programs are accredited either by Universities on a National, Regional or Programmatic level or an Independent Body such as the AWP – Association of Writers & Writing Programs.
Timeline for graduation from Online MFA Creative Writing Programs
How long an MFA Creative Writing Program takes to complete largely depends on what kind of program you wish to enroll in – Full Time, Part Time, Distance, or Accelerated, in addition to which school you choose. While some Schools follow a 3-Year Program, most follow a 2-Year Program, and some offer a 1-Year Full-Time Program. Part-Time Programs rely heavily on self-study and typically go on for 2 Years.
There are virtually no Colleges that offer Accelerated Programs. A 1 Year full-time Program is the shortest duration to complete an MFA in Creative Writing.
From a technical viewpoint, to pursue a Master’s in Creative Writing, most Colleges ask for a Bachelor’s Degree, Professional Experience, and a minimum GPA of 2.5. However, some do away with the GPA. In addition to these, many colleges require
Statement of purpose
Transcripts of your Undergraduate Studies
A sample of your professional-quality writing
Letters of Recommendation.
Most Colleges have dispensed with GRE and/or GMATTest Scores for admission.
One Year MFA Programs
Time is money, and of course, every Student aspires to finish a Course or Program as early as possible. When speed is of the essence, 1 Year MFA Programs are a favorite pick. Although several schools offer one-year MFA Programs, one must note that these Programs tend to be rather rigorous and intensive. However, completing the program in a year lets you place yourself on the career-trajectory quicker and gain an advantageous foothold. One year MFA Creative Programs are popular and equally recognized and accredited just as two-year Programs are but require focus and longer study-hours for sure.
Effective 2020 and in some cases 2023, most Colleges have done away with asking for GRE Scores. However, in doing so, some Colleges require you to submit some form of written work – Poetry, Fiction, or Non-fiction, as well as rely heavily on references and recommendations (preferably from former Teachers).
Here is a list of MFA Creative Writing no GRE required Programs:
As of publishing this Page, there are no Free Online MFA Programs that are accredited. On the other hand, there are enough Sites that offer Free MFA Courses that one could take up if one is not interested in obtaining a Recognized Degree. Most such Free Courses will give you a Certificate of Completion, which may or may not be useful in your career, but will not grant you a Degree. Here are a few places Online where you can sign-up for a Free Online MFA Course:
Coursera offers a host of Courses, Guided Projects, and Specializations in Creative Writing, but none that will award you with a Professional Certificate or Degree.
Udemy claims to have over 6,000 Courses connected with Creative Writing at three different levels – Beginner, Intermediate, and Expert. None of them, however, are accredited or certified.
DIY MFA teaches most skills usually taught in a formal MFA Creative Writing Program but is modular rather than cohesive and structured.
How to Pay for Online MFA Creative Writing Programs
Paying for Tuition is increasingly a challenge. ‘U.S. News reports that the average Tuition and Fees at private National Universities have jumped 144%, showing no signs of receding in the foreseeable future. Add to that, living expenses for Students have also steadily been on the rise. 69% of College Students who took out Student Loans graduated in 2023 with an average debt of $29,900, necessitating a closer look and wiser decision when picking a College for MFA Programs.
To ease the burden of paying for Tuition, these are some of the ways one could consider while budgeting for an MFA Program:
Most Colleges offer Scholarships based on certain criteria and conditions, either as a lump sum or as a waiver. See the available Scholarships for MFA programs below.
There are quite a few Colleges that offer Assistantships, which can offset some Tuition Fees rendering services to the Institution
Some Companies in Media, Publishing, and Broadcasting allow their Employees to take up MFA Programs while working. Depending on the Scheme, the Company either pays for your Degree upfront or reimburses you after completion. However, there are some caveats that you need to know and understand.
Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Direct PLUS Loans are two ways of seeking help from the Federal Government.
Some Colleges allow the payment of Tuition Fees in increments/installments.
FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) can be considered by current and prospective College Students.
Scholarships for Online MFA Creative Writing Students
Most Colleges offer some form of Scholarship – Fee Reduction, Bursary, Fully Paid, and Merit-based. Depending on where you live, what your circumstances are, your background, qualification, experience, and in some cases, ethnicity/community, one may be able to bag a Scholarship. Here is a list of some Scholarships available:
U.S. Residents or Citizens between the ages of 21 and 31 can apply for this Scholarship by submitting ten pages of poems and writing a short introduction to their work. There are Five Awards in all at $25,800. Application Deadline: April 30, 2023.
FAQs about MFA Programs
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an MFA degree?
An MFA Degree is a Professional, Post-Graduate Program in art subjects, which qualifies you to work in the Art or Design Industries and take up other Creative Professions.
Can I do an MFA without a BFA?
Yes, you can do an MFA without a BFA, provided you have any bachelor’s degree (need not be relevant to an MFA at all).
How long does it take to get an MFA degree?
An MFA can be obtained anywhere between 1 and 3 Years, depending on the college and type of Program (Full-Time/Part-Time).
How to get an MFA?
You will need to have a bachelor’s degree and fulfill basic Admission Criteria in addition to paying Tuition Fees.
Which University has the best MFA Creative Writing Program?
According to ‘Poets & Writers’, there are well over 260 MFA Programs on offer. Zeroing on the ‘best’ is subjective, keeping in mind several important factors to some and possibly insignificant to some others. However, this Page has enough and more information to help YOU make that choice, depending on what you are looking for and what suits you best.
Can I teach with an MFA?
Yes, depending on the Accreditation and Licensing Regulations of a State/District, you can certainly teach with an MFA.
What does low residency mean?
Low Residency Programs consist of a certain amount of distance education, coupled with formal on-Campus education. In other words, such Programs largely do not require your presence on Campus.
What can you do with an MFA in creative writing?
You could become a Creative Director, Art Critic, Animator, Graphic Designer, Novelist, Author, Poet, Screenplay Writer, Script Writer, Broadcaster, Art Teacher or manage Publishing, Theaters, Media and more.
Is an MFA worth it?
Considering there is an increasing demand for Creative Professionals in various fields and more than adequate pay-packets for the taking, yes, an MFA is certainly worth it – provided you have the interest and aptitude, of course.
Certifications and Licensing for MFA Creative Writing Graduates
Professional Certifications validate your skill, knowledge, and expertise in a chosen area of Creative Writing. Certifications endorse your understanding and development of a particular field and are vital in securing a lucrative job. Being Certificated also allows you to be a Licensed Practitioner of your Online MFA Creative Writing Degree and qualifies you for Government jobs as well.
Additional Resources for MFA Creative Writing Professionals
After completing an Online MFA Creative Writing Program, staying in touch and staying connected in today’s world is essential for growth in one’s career. Signing up for workshops, subscribing to magazines, joining various associations, and networking with professionals or groups is what keeps you up to date with the latest trends and developments in the field of Creative Writing. All of this, in turn, helps you secure higher pay-packets or better jobs. We have put together some important resources that we find interesting:
Duotrope – An award-winning resource for writers and artists that helps find publishers and writers for your work.
The Author’s Guild – The Author’s Guild is a treasure trove for Creative Writers. The Guild provides legal assistance, conducts online workshops and seminars, offers discounts and awards, and has a voluminous resource library, should you find the need for one.
The Writer’s Digest – This is a Site that helps writers improve their craft and connect them with the writers’ community and vast resources.
The Southern Review – The Southern Review is a premier literary journal that discovers and promotes diverse, engaging, relevant, and challenging literature.
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