What Is the Curriculum for a Masters Degree in Writing?

A master's degree program in writing offers the opportunity to hone your craft and critiquing skills for a particular form of writing. Types of master's-level writing programs include creative writing, technical writing, screenwriting and journalism. Graduates may work in creative, business or academic industries, in roles such as technical writers, news writers, screenwriters, novelists, and freelance writers. Read on for more information about the curriculum for a master's degree in writing. Schools offering English Reading & Writing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Types of Master's Degrees in Writing

In a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Creative Writing program, you can traditionally choose to focus on either fiction or poetry writing; some programs offer specializations in creative non-fiction or playwriting as well. Screenwriting programs also typically award M.F.A degrees. Graduate-level journalism and technical writing programs usually lead to either a Master of Science (M.S.) or a Master of Arts (M.A.).

Important Facts About a Master's Degree in Writing

PrerequisitesBachelor's degree; creative and/or critical writing samples may be required
Degree FieldCreative writing, English, English and creative writing, professional writing, writing
ConcentrationsFiction, nonfiction, poetry, professional writing, screenwriting
Online AvailabilityMany schools offer online master's degree programs
Median Salary (2018)$62,170 (writers and authors)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)8% (writers and authors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Curriculum for a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

In creative writing master's degree programs, the primary course is a writing workshop in which students read and critique the work of their classmates. Elective courses may include intensive grammar courses and surveys of literature. In addition, you'll take courses that examine specific writing topics, such as dialogue and tone, and classes from other disciplines related to your writing interests. For example, if you write short stories set during the Civil War, you may choose to take a graduate-level history class.

The capstone of a writing M.F.A. program is a creative thesis; this may be a collection of poems, stories or short plays, a novella, a novel excerpt or a full-length play, depending on the program and student.

Curriculum for a Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting

Screenwriting programs are similar to creative writing programs, but they emphasize the media of film and television. In a M.F.A. in Screenwriting program, you'll learn to develop story ideas into scripts and screenplays for production. The curriculum includes workshops, as well as courses in film and television history, criticism, genres, film theory, and advanced screenwriting techniques. The final thesis is generally a collection of feature-length screenplays.

Curriculum for a Master of Science in Journalism

M.S. programs in journalism may offer specializations in areas such as newspaper writing, magazine writing or Web and new media writing. Within these specializations, you may sometimes further focus on general news reporting, political reporting, sports reporting, international journalism or similar fields. Core courses for the degree may cover topics such as these:

  • Journalistic ethics
  • Legal issues in mass communication
  • Media criticism
  • Copy editing
  • Deadline pressure

You can practice writing articles, features, editorials and columns. In some programs, you may either submit a scholarly thesis, such as a research paper on the study of mass media, or a professional thesis. The professional thesis may be a selection of original, non-fiction news or magazine articles.

Curriculum for a Master of Science in Technical Writing

Technical writing involves creating easy-to-read instructions for complex equipment or processes. A technical writer may deal with scientific, medical, legal, economic or technological subject matter. In a M.S. program, core coursework teaches the following aspects of technical writing:

  • Clarity
  • Technical communication style
  • Audience analysis
  • Editing
  • Information design
  • Technical research

Along with the writing core, the curriculum includes courses in a competency area of your choice. These competency-area courses give you an in-depth understanding of the subject for which you want to produce technical writing, such as software engineering or law.

Many programs require you to complete a writing internship with a business or legal firm, research department or government agency to gain professional experience. The capstone of the M.S. in Technical Writing program may be a thesis, a research project or an exam.

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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