Creative Writing MFA Programs in Illinois

This article covers both public and private school options for those seeking a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing in Illinois. Students will find key program features in this article as well as tuition information for the schools listed. Schools offering Creative Writing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

University of Illinois

The MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Illinois is typically completed in three years and combines literary study and analysis with creative writing training. Students can choose fiction or poetry as their specialty and will complete five creative writing units, two literature units, and three elective units in addition to their final project.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago's MFA in Writing program is unique, as it welcomes those who write nonfiction as well as visual artists who use language in their work. It is a two-year program with a flexible curriculum and may be a good fit for those whose have diverse interests or who want to explore various creative processes and written forms.

Northwestern University - School of Professional Studies

Northwestern's MFA in Prose and Poetry program offers studies in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, popular fiction, publishing, and professional development, and students can pursue a dual specialization among the writing genres. Courses in this program are offered evenings and weekends at two locations - the school's Chicago and Evanston campuses. Students can also take online and hybrid classes, making it a flexible option.

Northwestern University - Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences

The Litowitz Creative Writing Graduate Program at Northwestern University differs significantly from the program offered by the School of Professional Studies, as it gives students the chance to study the processes involved in both creative and academic writing. Students who complete this three-year program earn both an MFA in Creative Writing and an MA in English, opening a variety of professional options upon graduation.

Columbia College Chicago

Columbia College Chicago offers three distinct MFA degrees in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The fiction and nonfiction programs take an average of three years to complete, while the poetry degree takes two years, and all three programs offer part-time options.

Roosevelt University

Roosevelt University offers a traditional MFA in Creative Writing program that immerses students in Chicago's literary community. This program gives students the chance to learn from published authors and get experience producing a literary journal. The program also has opportunities for internships and mentoring relationships.

Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville

The MFA in Creative Writing program at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville is aimed at students interested in taking coursework that can prepare them for roles in education and community service, among others. This program's key feature is the ''Writers in the World'' sequence, where students work with a local organization and create a community service program in their second year of study.

Southern Illinois University - Carbondale

The MFA program in creative writing at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale is a more traditional program than its counterpart in Edwardsville, though it does offer opportunities for students to experience literary publishing and teaching in the community. The program's Graduate Writers Forum organization organizes a literary festival, giving students the chance to expand their skills while maintaining a focus on creative writing.

Chicago State University

Chicago State University's MFA in Creative Writing program requires students to take workshops in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction as well as courses in African American literature and non-African American literature. The culmination of the program is a collection of poems or short stories. Students can also opt to complete the beginnings of a novel of fiction or creative non-fiction. An exam in African American literature and a public reading or performance of student work rounds out program requirements.

DePaul University

DePaul University's MFA program in creative writing and publishing gives students the chance to create works of fiction, memoir, or poetry while receiving their degree. In addition to a traditional creative writing curriculum, DePaul's program adds courses in copyediting, book design, publicity, and teaching. Students can also add on certificates in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), teaching English in two-year colleges, and digital humanities.

School Name Programs Offered Tuition and Fees (2018-2019)*
University of Illinois MFA in Creative Writing In-State: $16,792
Out-of-State: $26,479
School of the Art Institute of Chicago MFA in Writing $50,870
Northwestern University - School of Professional Studies MFA in Prose and Poetry $54,620
Northwestern University - Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences MFA + MA in Creative Writing and English $54,620
Columbia College Chicago MFA in Poetry
MFA in Fiction
MFA in Nonfiction
$2,237
Roosevelt University MFA in Creative Writing $20,466
Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville MFA in Creative Writing $9,030
Southern Illinois University - Carbondale MFA in Creative Writing In-State: $15,626
Out-of-State: $32,528
Chicago State University MFA in Creative Writing In-State: $8,957
Out-of-State: $14,447
DePaul University MFA in Creative Writing $19,422

Source: *NCES College Navigator

Admissions Requirements for Illinois Creative Writing MFA Programs

Though all of these programs have unique admissions requirements, students should plan to provide the following items when applying.

  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions showing completion of at least a bachelor's degree. Some programs require undergraduate coursework in English.
  • A writing sample for the genre students plan on studying. Up to 40 pages of work may be required, depending on the genre.
  • GRE scores
  • A resume or CV
  • A personal statement
  • Academic, professional, and personal letters of recommendation

Each of these programs offers opportunities for skill development in creative writing and other areas, such as publishing and teaching. Prospective students should take the time to select the one that best fits their career goals and talents.

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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