Schools for Authors
Read about the degree programs and training that could help you launch your writing career. Get information about classes and topics offered, as well as online study options for aspiring authors.
Aspiring authors who want to study creative writing will have plenty of options to choose from. Programs can award undergraduate degrees and certificates, and several schools make curricula available online.
How Can I Find a School for Authors?
While there may be some private, for-profit schools that offer writing programs, they can be very limited in scope and their quality of training is difficult to verify. Instead, you might want to start by accessing the navigator at the National Center for Education Statistics, or NCES for short.
The NCES' searchable, online database lists nearly 400 traditional institutions that offer educational programs in creative writing or general writing. You can find writing programs presented through an institution's college or department of English, arts and sciences, communication or creative writing.
Another source you might want to use to find legitimate schools and programs for budding authors is the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP). The AWP features a directory of over 500 degree-granting schools that offer writing programs at all undergraduate and graduate levels. It also lists writers' conferences and centers. While the AWP is not an accrediting body, it is a national, non-profit literary organization for the benefit of teachers, authors and prospective authors.
What Degrees Will Schools Offer?
Schools may provide the opportunity to earn a specialization certificate in creative writing. Certificate programs can vary widely from school to school. Depending on the courses involved, you may be able to complete the program in a year or less. The 20-33 credits worth of courses in poetry, fiction writing, scriptwriting and creative writing may be applicable toward an associate's degree.
Two of the most common 2-year degrees for a budding author are an Associate of Arts (A.A.) in Creative Writing or an Associate of Fine Arts (A.F.A.) in Creative Writing. Generally made up of 61-66 credits, these degrees can dovetail into a bachelor's degree when a school has an articulation agreement with a 4-year college; you may be able to fulfill the requirements for a bachelor's degree in two additional years.
A school may include fewer general education courses in an A.F.A degree than in an A.A. program. Consequently, a program leading to an A.A. will usually transfer more readily to a bachelor's degree program. Typical courses can include creative fiction and non-fiction writing, world literature, American literature, poetry and journalism. Schools usually feature a number of workshops. In addition, you may have the opportunity to participate in an internship.
You may be able to earn a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing or English with a concentration in Creative Writing. Most schools structure their 4-year programs to consist of 120-180 credits.
Generally, schools require you to participate in a number of workshops and seminars in areas such as creative writing, fiction and non-fiction writing, poetry and teaching creative writing. Schools may give you the option of completing a senior thesis or capstone project. In addition, you may have the opportunity to participate in a for-credit internship at an off-campus business or government agency.
Will I Find Any Schools With Online Options?
There are some schools that offer you the opportunity to earn a certificate or associate's degree online, but they are rare. You can more readily find online programs leading to a bachelor's degree or master's degree. In addition, there are a number of schools that offer stand-alone courses and writing labs via the Internet, which can help you develop the craft of writing. Common courses include grammar, professional writing, writing mechanics, academic writing, logic, argument and research.
Which Schools Offer Certificates in Creative Writing?
Some certificate programs offer students the chance to go to readings and workshops. Schools offering these types of programs include:
- The Community College of Philadelphia offers a Creative Writing Academic Certificate program.
- Drexel University offers a certificate program in writing and publishing that includes online and hybrid options.
- The University of Texas at Austin offers a Creative Writing Certificate.
Which Schools Offer Associate's Degrees in Creative Writing?
The following schools are among those offering 2-year creative writing programs. Some, like the one offered by the College of Southern Nevada, are designed to be easily transferable to a bachelor's degree program.
- National University offers an online Associate of Arts (A.A.) program in creative writing.
- The College of Southern Nevada offers an Associate of Arts (A.A.) in Creative Writing.
- Minneapolis Community and Technical College offers an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree program with an emphasis in creative writing.
Which Schools Offer Bachelor's Degrees in Creative Writing?
Bachelor's degree programs might allow students to focus on a specific genre, such as fiction or screenwriting. A few schools offering these types of programs include:
- Southern New Hampshire University offers an online Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree program in creative writing and English.
- Lesley University offers a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Creative Writing program that allows students to focus on areas like poetry, scriptwriting or fiction.
- Carnegie Mellon University offers a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Creative Writing.
Authors will need to use their creativity in order to become writers, which can be developed through a college or university's creative writing program. These programs are available as certificates in addition to associate's and bachelor's degrees.