Choosing to move on after undergraduate studies and undertake postgraduate study toward a master’s degree is a great ambition. However, deciding which school you’d like to complete your degree can also not only difficult but also confusing, complex, and oftentimes costly. If you have already completed your undergraduate degree (or are in the process), working, and/or maintaining family obligations, this list can help take some of the stress and strain out of your search for the perfect master’s program for your needs and budget.
Before you commit to any program anywhere, be sure to check it out thoroughly and ask whatever questions you think are appropriate to ensure you find the perfect fit for your educational, financial and personal needs both now and in the future. A university that would not consider a candidate for a Master of Fine Arts coursework program may readily take the same candidate into a Master of Arts program. Understanding the difference between these programs can mean the difference between a valuable and useful degree for the candidate which enhances employability versus an expensive waste of time which does not. Understanding that an MFA requires more coursework and results in a “terminal degree,” while MA candidates undertake less coursework and can go on to doctoral studies, is an important step of the selection process.
Most online universities have a distinct curricula, a knowledgable staff, innovative technology, and a diverse student body – all key components when considering a prospective program. Finding one which also maximize time and financial investments to ensure affordability and efficiency while preparing students for lucrative careers or continued graduate studies is more of a challenge. Plus choosing a master’s program can be confusing and complex particularly if your are completing your undergraduate degree, already working, and/or maintaining family obligations. To help manage the potential stress and strain from your search for the master’s program which best suits your educational needs, we devised the Top 10 Masters In Creative Writing Online Programs. Schools on this list are accredited, highly regarded universities with a history of offering academic excellence and real experience designed to fit any budget and help you as you attain your educational and professional goals.
1. Southern New Hampshire University
The SNHU Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing online program marries the best of a traditional writing residency program with cutting-edge online technology. This allows students to maintain contact with their faculty advisors and monitor their progress while being able to keep up with the responsibilities of home and work life. The five-day residencies function as a combination workshop and writing conference, complete with interaction with other students and established publishing-industry insiders. MFA candidates have the option of taking fiction, including adult and young adult, or nonfiction, including environmental writing and memoir.
The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (as well as other programs) offered by SNUH are accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Tuition for the Creative Writing MFA varies for residents. The nonresident cost of this program is $1,881 per course plus books and fees; for the SNHU Maine campus, residents pay $1,125 per course.
2. Full Sail University
Full Sail is a fully online university that allows students the freedom and flexibility to take their courses at their own convenience. The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program available at Full Sail is primarily geared toward the entertainment industry, with such offerings as Script Analysis and Criticism, Script Writing and Storyboarding, and Character Creation and Development. This program is unique in that it allows students to specialize training in Classical Writing and Storytelling Techniques, Research, Business and Marketing, or Thesis Portfolio plus gain means of developing leadership, research, and project management skills through core courses.
Full Sail’s programs are recognized by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges. The cost for the online program is $31,000 plus $2,720 for the LaunchBox communications suite, but allows full access to other students and to faculty advisors. This is a one-year program.
3. Fairfield University
Fairfield University’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing online program follows the low-residency model, meaning that candidates are not required to live and work at the campus full-time. Instead, writing residencies are held for ten days each semester, in January and July. The program offers fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and screenwriting concentrations, plus sub-concentrations in Publishing/Editing and Spiritual Writing which can be combined with any of the primary concentrations. Candidates are also exposed to visiting publishing-industry professionals from New York, who offer invaluable advice and experience on how to get published in one’s chosen genre. Information on the credit hour requirements is only available through contacting the University directly, implying that the requirements may be somewhat different for each concentration and sub-concentration.
Fairfield is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Th two-year course is available as an online offering except for the ten-day residencies, and costs $7,950 per semester plus $975 room and board.
4. Queens University
Located in Charlotte, NC, Queens University’s Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing online program is designed around the workshop system, to allow students to more effectively present and critique their own and others’ work. With a faculty-to-student ratio of 1:4 and distance learning combined with on-campus residences each semester, Queens University has amassed an excellent reputation as one of the best creative writing MFAs in the country.
All degrees offered at Queen’s University are accredited by The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The cost for the two-year course is $6,484 per semester plus $300 per semester for the graduating residency. This presumably does not include other fees or book costs.
5. University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP)
UTEP made a bold move when they elected to eliminate the residency requirement for creative writing MFA candidates, allowing students to earn their MFA anywhere in the world. The three-year online program encompasses 48 credit hours of regular coursework, plus 6 credit hours of master’s thesis work. MFA candidates can either take online courses or attend the UTEP campus physically. However, the FAQ is fairly clear that students are discouraged from taking both simultaneously except in certain limited circumstances.
The Master of Fine Arts program at UTEP is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The cost of tuition is based upon credit hours up to 21. Resident tuition is $5,870.80 versus nonresident tuition of $14,190.80. Fees, application fees, program and other miscellaneous fees, as well as books, are additional.
6. Spring Arbor University
Spring Arbor University, with campuses in Michigan and Ohio, is the only overtly Christian university on this list. Courses are designed to emphasize both academic and spiritual growth, and offer a great deal of flexibility to the student as the MFA in creative writing is available exclusively as an online program. The program is 36 credit hours, including 33 hours of general coursework and 3 hours of Capstone work.
Degrees available through Spring University are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The cost of the writing program at Spring Arbor is $580 per credit, plus books, fees, and other miscellaneous expenses.
7. Lindenwood University
Located in St. Charles, MO, just west of St. Louis, Lindenwood University has adopted an online approach to its creative writing MFA as well. The program consists of 45 credit hours of mix-and-match study, as well as a 3-hour Thesis course. This allows students to study the topics that are most interesting and relevant to their career objectives, from fiction writing to technical editing. Course offerings include creative fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry writing, analysis, and critique.
This and other programs offered at Lindenwood are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The cost of the program is $395 plus $39.50 per credit hour for the online course. Books, fees, and application are not included in tuition.
8. Union Institute & University
Of the universities listed here, Union Institute & University has the most geographically diverse presence, including campuses in Brattleboro, Vermont; Cincinnati, Ohio; Los Angeles, California; Miami, Florida; and Sacramento, California. UI&U was initially envisioned and designed as a “university without walls,” and the online MFA and MA programs available point up this commitment. Candidates can choose between programs in literature and writing or general creativity, and may enroll from part time at 6 credit hours a semester to three-quarter time at 9 hours to full-time at 12 credit hours.
Union’s MA and MFA programs are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The cost for these programs is $719 per credit hour, plus registration and application fees and books as well as miscellaneous costs.
9. Tiffin University
Tiffin University’s home campus is located in Tiffin, OH. While it is a small campus, the online delivery of courses gives this university a reach far beyond its apparent size. The Master of Humanities Creative Writing program is offered online, and consists of 30 to 35 credit hours depending on what track the candidate wishes to pursue. This program is based upon instilling and expanding an understanding of the creative process. It allows students to refine their academic foundation in performance writing, creative prose and poetry while gaining essential producing experience within hands on environments.
Accreditation of all Tiffin programs is offered by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The cost per credit is $500 plus fees, books, and application fees, and students have a decent selection of department electives from which to choose. Tiffin’s tuition is one of the lowest on this list, with a 30-hour course starting at $15,000 and a 35-credit course starting at $17,500.
10. National University
National University’s one course per month format allows students the unique opportunity to truly focus on their studies. This program also has the most comprehensive breakdown of credits and how they are applied to the candidate’s MFA in creative writing. The program consists of 13 courses encompassing 58.5 quarter units, and features some of the most rigorous coursework of its kind in the nation. The emphasis in this program is on working in multidisciplinary creative writing fields, such as creative fiction and screenwriting.
National’s programs are recognized by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The cost per quarter unit is $372, while a 4.5 credit quarter unit is $1,672. Admission and program fees, books, and other fees and expenses are extra.