What Education Do I Need to Become a Poet?

A degree program in English or creative writing can help you hone your poetry writing skills and develop your talent. Continue reading to learn about how you may become a poet without formal education and look at coursework you may complete in a degree program if you decide to complete a college-level course of study. Schools offering Creative Writing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Poetry writing skills can be developed through independent study or formal education. The Academy of American Poets states that very few poets can earn a living from their poetry alone, and many hold jobs as teachers and journalists (www.poets.org).

Degrees No formal education is necessary, but an associate's, bachelor's, or graduate degree can help develop writing skills and increase chances of publication
Courses English Composition, Critical Theory, Literary Interpretation
Online Options There are many online distance-learning programs for poetry students

What Type of Degree Will Help Me Become a Poet?

There is no degree requirement for becoming a poet, and no degree program can guarantee that graduates will become published poets. According to the Academy of American Poets, the best way to learn to write poetry is to read poetry. The organization suggests you may want to begin by submitting your poetry to literary magazines and journals, and then work up to small presses and university publishers.

What Degrees Are Available?

An undergraduate or graduate degree in English or creative writing may help you develop your writing skills and increase your knowledge about all writing genres, including poetry. You should look for degree programs that specifically offer courses or concentrations in poetry. You may also want to check the program's faculty roster for published poets. Relevant programs are available from the associate's to doctoral degree levels and are widely available online through distance-education means. These degree programs may be available:

  • Associate of Arts in English
  • Bachelor of Arts in English
  • Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing
  • Master of Arts in English and Creative Writing with a concentration in poetry
  • Master of Fine Arts in Literary Arts
  • Masters of Fine Arts in Poetry and Poetry in Translation
  • Master of Fine Arts in Fiction and Poetry
  • Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing/Doctor of Philosophy in English Language and Literature
  • Doctor of Philosophy in English-Creative Writing

What Courses Will I Take?

English or creative writing degree programs include classes about reading and writing samples from such genres as poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and playwriting. As a student, your studies become more in-depth as your degree level increases. Graduate studies allow you to specialize in poetry and refine your skills under the guidance of your instructors. Doctoral degree programs prepare you for a career in academia. In addition to poetry, the curriculum may include the following subjects:

  • English composition
  • American literature
  • British literature
  • Children's literature
  • Critical theory
  • Literary interpretation

Are There Any Prerequisites?

Associate's and bachelor's degree programs typically require you to have a high school diploma or its equivalent to enroll, along with other standard prerequisites and test scores; your program's department may request additional writing samples. Master's and doctoral degree programs often require you to submit a complete writing portfolio and demonstrate fluency in a foreign language as part of the admissions process.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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