Best Online Bachelor's Degree Programs in Creative Writing

Learn about online bachelor's degrees in creative writing, including coursework and admissions requirements. Also, explore the top online creative writing programs and the different careers to purse after earning your creative writing degree. Schools offering Creative Writing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Best Online Creative Writing Bachelor's Degree Programs

Below are the top schools that offer bachelor's degrees in the field of creative writing. Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

1. Central Washington University

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Ellensburg, WA $8,072 90%

Central Washington University offers an online Bachelor of Arts in English in Professional and Creative Writing degree program that features coursework in multiple genres and writing styles. Students can tailor their degree to their career and writing goals by choosing electives in the following areas:

  • Fiction, poetry, and nonfiction
  • Business, technical, and grant writing
  • Copy editing, rhetoric, and publication design
  • Literature and history

At the end of their program, students must also complete a senior colloquium course that consists of a portfolio of writing in several genres, including creative writing, literary analysis, or technical writing. Additionally, students complete a practicum experience, which could be an online practicum that teaches them practical editing and writing skills or a cooperative education practicum that consists of a field placement in a business or agency.

2. University of Wisconsin - Superior

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Superior, WI $8,126 79%

The University of Wisconsin - Superior's Bachelor of Arts in Writing degree program can be completed 100% online and features small class sizes, opportunities for faculty-student mentoring, and classes that use video and multimedia elements. Students take writing courses in a range of genres, including:

  • Poetry
  • Fiction
  • Nonfiction
  • Technical writing
  • Cross-genre

Students can also take electives in news writing, legal research, or psycholinguistics. A final capstone course, which includes the creation of an online writing portfolio, is also required. This capstone also helps students prepare to apply to graduate school or helps them begin a job search. Alternately, students can choose to participate in a real-world internship. For the 2019-2020 academic year, the price per credit for online undergraduate tuition was $305 for 2019-2020.

3. University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Denver, CO $9,283 76%

University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus has an online Bachelor of Arts in English Writing, Rhetoric, and Technology degree program that takes four years to complete and requires 120 total credits. This online program can also be attended part-time and accepts transfer credits. With a broad range of creative writing and other courses, students can choose electives that center on:

  • Multimedia composition and digital studies
  • Business and technical writing
  • Grant and proposal writing
  • Fiction workshop

Students can also choose an optional internship as well as a senior writing project course. For the 2019-2020 academic year, Colorado students paid a tuition rate of $330 per credit, while out-of-state students paid $509 as of March 2020.

4. Southern New Hampshire University

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Manchester, NH $31,136 75%

Southern New Hampshire University offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and English degree program that allows students to choose one of the following concentration areas:

  • Fiction
  • Nonfiction
  • Poetry
  • Screenwriting

Students take core courses in literary theory, Shakespeare, and publishing along with electives and writing workshops in their concentration area. This online program has optional internship and experiential learning courses. Students also have open electives that allow them to minor in another area of study, such as business or psychology. The total cost per credit for online undergraduate degree program tuition was $320 for the 2019-2020 year.

5. The New School

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
New York, NY $49,064 87%

The New School's Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing degree program can be attended full- or part-time, and although it requires 120 total credits, it accepts up to 84 transfer credits. This online program's curriculum features four creative writing workshops in areas like poetry, the novel, or literary translation and four literature courses in such subjects as science fiction or specific authors. Students must also complete a colloquium course that develops students as writers and requires they attend several events from the program's reading series or award ceremonies, such as the Story Prize ceremony. Last, students complete a capstone course that requires them to edit and revise their writing work. For the 2019-2020 year, students paid $1,335 per credit for tuition.

All table statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics; tuition based on 2018-2019 school year.

Overview of Online Creative Writing Bachelor's Programs

Online bachelor's degree programs in creative writing prepare students for a wide range of different writing careers in publishing, marketing, technical areas, and public relations. Typically, these programs develop students' writing skills through workshops, literature classes, and the study of different writing genres.

Many online creative writing degree programs have a secondary focus on a field related to creative writing, such as English, technical writing, or professional writing, in order to give students a well-rounded education.

Credits and Length

Generally, online creative writing bachelor's degrees require 120 total credits. College freshman with no prior college credits can earn their degree in about four years of study if attending full-time. However, those who have already earned an associate degree or have credits they can apply to their creative writing degree can usually complete their program in less than four years.

Concentrations

Online bachelor's programs in creative writing sometimes allow students to choose a concentration in one of the following genres:

  • Fiction
  • Nonfiction
  • Poetry
  • Screenwriting

However, many online programs do not have formal concentrations. In the case of these programs, students nonetheless can choose from electives that allow them to focus on the genre of their choice or to focus on multiple genres.

Courses

The exact coursework of online creative writing bachelor's programs varies by university, with each program having a unique set of requirements. Below are some common creative writing courses students take in their programs. Some programs also include courses on business writing, magazine writing, editing, and publishing.

Introduction to Creative Writing

This serves as an introductory course to multiple genres of creative writing, including fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Students are also introduced to the workshop model where they develop the skills to read and critique their peers' work. Students study elements of craft, such as scene writing, dialogue, imagery, and voice.

Fiction Writing Workshop

This is a workshop model course where students study the techniques and methods of different genres of fiction, including magical realism, modernism, and metafiction. Along with studying elements of craft, such as setting, narrative, and plot, students also write original fictional works and submit them for peer and instructor review.

Poetry Writing Workshop

In this workshop, students create original works of poetry and comment on and critique their peers' work. Students study experimental and traditional forms of poetry as well as craft elements, such as voice, style, and form.

Nonfiction Writing Workshop

A workshop class that centers on the study of different forms of creative nonfiction, including magazine writing and personal essays. Students study methods of research as well as elements of craft. Peer feedback and critique are also required.

Grammar and Rhetoric

Students learn about the basics of English grammar and about different rhetorical styles. Common topics include sentence forms and patterns, punctuation, and language development.

Literature

Typically, students are also required to take literature courses, which could center on a major writer, such as Shakespeare, or in specific time periods, such as 18th century literature. Literature classes could also include courses on Native American literature, Gothic literature, or literary theory.

Capstone and Real-World Requirements

Many online creative writing bachelor's degree programs require a final capstone course that consists of an original creative work that a student revises or an online portfolio of their writing.

Some programs also give students a chance to complete an internship or an experiential learning experience that they can use to further hone their skills and gain real-world experience.

Admission Requirements for Online Creative Writing Bachelor's Programs

To apply to an online creative writing bachelor's degree program, you must submit an application and potentially a fee. Some programs also require that you submit ACT/SAT scores if you are an incoming freshman. If you have attended another university or college, then you need to submit transcripts from those schools as well.

How to Choose an Online Creative Writing Bachelor's Degree Program

There are several factors that you should consider when deciding between online creative writing bachelor's degree programs, including the total cost of the degree, accreditation, and the transfer credit policy.

Cost

To determine the total cost of your online creative writing bachelor's degree, you must add up the tuition price and additional fees.

Tuition

The per credit price can range from $330 for a public university to $1,400 for a private university. That means the total tuition for your 120-credit degree could range from $39,600 to $168,000; however, your exact program could cost less or more. Some universities charge a flat rate tuition price per semester or academic year. Several universities also charge non-resident students more than in-state students, even in online programs, so it's important to take into consideration your residency status when choosing a program.

Fees

Universities also usually charge additional fees that are added on to the tuition price. Fees can range from $20 to upwards of $1,500 or more. These fees can be charged only once or each semester, and some examples include graduation fees, technology fees, and online program fees.

Accreditation

Accreditation is another important factor to consider when choosing a university. By achieving accreditation, a school has proven that it has met high, independent standards in terms of faculty, services offered, and student outcomes. The other reason regional accreditation is imperative is that only students who attend an accredited school are eligible for federal financial aid.

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) approves agencies that accredit schools located in certain areas of the country. Below are some of the regional accrediting agencies:

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)

Transfer Credits

If you have previously earned college credits, then you want to take into consideration the transfer credit policy of the universities you are looking at. Some universities allow you to apply 72 to 90 credits toward your bachelor's degree. Some universities also accept transfer credits from the following sources:

  • College credit exams
  • Military training
  • Certificate programs
  • Professional experience

Transfer credits can save you time and money when earning your degree.

Job Options with a Creative Writing Bachelor's Degree

With a bachelor's degree in creative writing, you can pursue a career in the field of editing, marketing, or writing, among others.

Editor

Editors are focused on making sure written materials are clear, grammatically correct, and readable. Specific job duties include:

  • Proofreading
  • Fact-checking
  • Working with writers to improve their writing and abilities
  • Developing content ideas

Editors work in a wide range of environments, including for magazines, newspapers, publishers, and advertising departments or agencies. There are also different kinds of editors, such as copy editors who focus on proofreading, and managing editors who oversee the operations of publications.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), editors earned a median salary of $59,480 in 2018, and the number of jobs is expected to decline by 3% from 2018-2028.

Public Relations Specialist

Public relations specialists are responsible for creating and managing the image and reputation of their employers. Their job duties could include:

  • Writing speeches, press releases, or other media materials
  • Interacting with the media and press
  • Managing a social media presence

Public relations specialists work in a range of industries, including for government agencies, advertising agencies, and community organizations.

As per the BLS, public relations specialists earned a median salary of $60,000 in 2018, and the number of jobs is expected to increase 6% from 2018-2028.

Technical Writer

Technical writers are experts at creating training materials, manuals, journals, and how-to books. Specific job responsibilities could include:

  • Interacting with staff to determine technical needs for the materials they create
  • Writing different content for products, such as software
  • Conducting research
  • Creating non-written items, such as graphs or illustrations

Technical writers work in different technical fields, such as manufacturing and computer technology.

The BLS reported that technical writers earned a median salary of $71,850 in 2018, and the number of jobs is expected to increase 8% from 2018-2028.

Writer and Author

Writers and authors can work in a variety of industries and write in different styles and genres. There are copywriters who specialize in creating written material for advertising, novelists who write fictional novels, and speechwriters who write speeches for politicians or business people. Writers can work for magazines, newspapers, internet companies, advertising agencies, and in film or television.

According to the BLS, writers and authors earned a median salary of $62,170 in 2018, and the number of jobs is expected to stay flat from 2018-2028.

Professional Organizations for Creative Writing

There are several organizations that focus on the field of creative writing, offering writers a wealth of services and resources.

The Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP)

AWP is a leading organization in the field of writing, representing, advocating, and supporting over 550 postsecondary creative writing programs and around 50,000 writers. AWP offers a comprehensive guide to creative writing programs; holds an annual conference for writers, publishers, and educators; and sponsors awards for writers, creative writing programs, and publishers. AWP offers individual memberships that grant you access to job lists, teaching materials, articles, and discounts to the AWP conference.

The Authors Guild

The Authors Guild is the oldest organization in the country that advocates for and supports writers. This organization offers paid memberships that give members access to an online community, legal assistance, seminars, and social events.

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