MA Degrees in Creative Writing in USA 2023

  • Creative Writing ›

An MA is a master’s degree awarded to students that have completed a program studying humanities or fine arts subjects such as history, communications, philosophy, theology or English. A Master of Arts degree typically requires coursework, research and written examinations.Creative writing programs provide students with an overview of various writing techniques. Throughout the course of stud… Read more

An MA is a master’s degree awarded to students that have completed a program studying humanities or fine arts subjects such as history, communications, philosophy, theology or English. A Master of Arts degree typically requires coursework, research and written examinations.

Creative writing programs provide students with an overview of various writing techniques. Throughout the course of study, students often practice and experiment with a variety of genres, allowing them to establish a clear voice and style.

The United States of America is a large country in North America, often referred to as the "USA", the "US", the "United States", "America", or simply "the States". American colleges are funded by "tuition" charged to the student, which is often quite expensive, very commonly reaching into the tens of thousands of dollars per year.

18 Results in Creative Writing, USA

Master of Arts in Writing

Johns Hopkins' Advanced Academic Programs nine-course online or on-campus MA in Writing program reflects the school's international reputation for academic rigor and creative ... +

MA in Publishing and Writing

Whether you want to shape the prose of fresh voices as an editor, represent writers as a literary agent, or work with exciting online publications and new media formats, Emers ... +

Master of Arts in Professional and Creative Writing

The online Master of Arts in professional and creative writing helps writers be successful, whether they are looking to write a novel or polish their professional writing skil ... +

Earn a scholarship worth up to $10,000

Master of fine arts in creative writing.

The low-residency MFA at SPU is a creative writing program for apprentice writers — both Christians and those of other faith traditions — who not only want to pursue excellenc ... +

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a 48-hour degree program for students who wish to become professional writers of playwriting, fiction, or poetry. The program re ... +

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing & Poetics

Launched in Fall 2012, the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing & Poetics (MFA) is designed to help students develop their creative work through a course of study that ... +

Narrative Studies, MA

The MA in narrative studies is a comprehensive program that explores narrative and storytelling across various cultures and historical periods. With an emphasis on teaching an ... +

The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a low residency graduate program, which requires two weeks of residency every summer in Eastern Oregon and completing online cou ... +

MFA Program for Writers

The Program is intellectually rigorous but with that rigor comes a generosity of spirit you'd be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. The MFA Program for Writers taught me that no ... +

MASTER OF FINE ARTS (M.F.A.) Creative Writing

Founded in 1981, the McNeese State University is home to the oldest Master of Fine Arts program in Louisiana and one of the oldest in the southeast. The cornerstone of our pro ... +

Writing Popular Fiction (M.F.A.)

Faculty in this program are published authors who are also experienced professors and scholars in the fields of writing and popular fiction. In addition, you will have mentors ... +

The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a limited-enrollment, academically rigorous, low residency two-year course of graduate studies for those aspiring to recover a f ... +

Master of Arts degree in Children’s Literature

Simmons launched the first Master of Arts degree in Children’s Literature in 1977 to provide a rigorous, disciplined study of children’s and young adult books for those who ar ... +

MFA Program in Creative Writing

The UAM Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, non-residency, provides an opportunity to talented and highly self-disciplined individuals to earn an MFA tailored to fit thei ... +

MA in English

The English Department at Salisbury University offers a variety of Master of Arts and post-baccalaureate opportunities for students wishing to further their study in various f ... +

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We have 12 Masters Degrees in Creative Writing, USA

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Masters Degrees in Creative Writing, USA

ma creative writing usa

Emerson College

Postgraduate study in the USA, apply now!

ma creative writing usa

The New School

We don’t just expand conventional boundaries—we redraw them

ma creative writing usa

University of San Francisco

Change the world from here

Creative Writing (MFA)

Emerson college masters and certificate programs.

Emerson’s Creative Writing (MFA) program focuses on the practice of writing and its literary foundations and is one of the longest-running programs of its kind. Read more

Institution profile for The New School

The New School Schools of Public Engagement (SPE)

Live the writer's life in New York City. The New School's Creative Writing MFA program allows you to join a community of diverse voices, plug into New York's publishing world, and build a network that will support you through graduation and beyond. Read more

Institution profile for The New School

Creative Publishing and Creative Journalism

The new school social research.

The academic traditions of criticism, theory, and critical writing all share an equal part in the Creative Publishing and Critical Journalism (CPCJ) master's program. Read more

Publishing and Writing (MA)

Emerson's Publishing and Writing MA will help you discover your place in the ever-vital, ever-changing field of publishing. Learn to shape the prose of fresh voices as an editor, represent writers as a literary agent, or work with exciting online publications and new media formats. Read more

Creative Writing - Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

University of colorado boulder college of arts and sciences.

The MFA in creative writing is a three-year degree program that values literary study, innovation and writing that tests the limits of conventional forms. Read more

MFA in Writing

University of san francisco college of arts and sciences.

The Master of Fine Arts in Writing program offers graduate students an intimate, personalized learning experience while taking advantage of San Francisco’s vibrant, eclectic literary scene. Read more

Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing (MFA)

Romance. Fantasy. Science fiction. Horror. Mystery. Thrillers. Young adult. Read more

Writing for Film and Television (MFA)

Emerson’s low-residency Writing for Film and Television MFA teaches you to write for film, television, and other emergent forms of media across multiple genres. Read more

Writing For Children (MFA)

Simmons university graduate studies.

Nurture your creativity with engaged critical study and analysis of literature for children and young adults. Transformative works from folklore, fantasy, nonfiction, poetry, and realism set rich contexts to your developing vision and voice. Read more

English (MA)

Clemson university college of architecture, arts and humanities.

Clemson University’s Master of Arts in English offers a comprehensive approach to literary studies, incorporating exploration of literary texts and theory… Read more

English - Master of Arts (MA)

The MA in Literature program is a two-year degree program focused on giving students a broad understanding of American and British Literature, and the current themes and methodologies in criticism and theory.  Students must complete 30 credit hours of coursework (10 courses), at least 21 of which must be taken at CU Boulder. Read more

Digital Production Arts (MFA / MS)

Clemson university college of engineering, computing and applied sciences.

All programs are offered within the Division of Visual Computing in the School of Computing, with significant collaboration with the departments of Art and Performing Arts. Read more

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ma creative writing usa

The 10 Best Creative Writing MFA Programs in the US

The talent is there. 

But the next generation of great American writers needs a collegial place to hone their craft. 

They need a place to explore the writer’s role in a wider community. 

They really need guidance about how and when to publish. 

All these things can be found in a solid Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing degree program. This degree offers access to mentors, to colleagues, and to a future in the writing world. 

A good MFA program gives new writers a precious few years to focus completely on their work, an ideal space away from the noise and pressure of the fast-paced modern world. 

We’ve found ten of the best ones, all of which provide the support, the creative stimulation, and the tranquility necessary to foster a mature writer.

We looked at graduate departments from all regions, public and private, all sizes, searching for the ten most inspiring Creative Writing MFA programs. 

Each of these ten institutions has assembled stellar faculties, developed student-focused paths of study, and provide robust support for writers accepted into their degree programs. 

To be considered for inclusion in this list, these MFA programs all must be fully-funded degrees, as recognized by Read The Workshop .

Creative Writing education has broadened and expanded over recent years, and no single method or plan fits for all students. 

Today, MFA programs across the country give budding short story writers and poets a variety of options for study. For future novelists, screenwriters – even viral bloggers – the search for the perfect setting for their next phase of development starts with these outstanding institutions, all of which have developed thoughtful and particular approaches to study.

So where will the next Salinger scribble his stories on the steps of the student center, or the next Angelou reading her poems in the local bookstore’s student-run poetry night? At one of these ten programs.

Here are 10 of the best creative writing MFA programs in the US.

University of Oregon (Eugene, OR)

University of Oregon

Starting off the list is one of the oldest and most venerated Creative Writing programs in the country, the MFA at the University of Oregon. 

Longtime mentor, teacher, and award-winning poet Garrett Hongo directs the program, modeling its studio-based approach to one-on-one instruction in the English college system. 

Oregon’s MFA embraces its reputation for rigor. Besides attending workshops and tutorials, students take classes in more formal poetics and literature.  

A classic college town, Eugene provides an ideal backdrop for the writers’ community within Oregon’s MFA students and faculty.  

Tsunami Books , a local bookseller with national caché, hosts student-run readings featuring writers from the program. 

Graduates garner an impressive range of critical acclaim; Yale Younger Poet winner Brigit Pegeen Kelly, Cave Canem Prize winner and Guggenheim fellow Major Jackson, and PEN-Hemingway Award winner Chang-Rae Lee are noteworthy alumni. 

With its appealing setting and impressive reputation, Oregon’s MFA program attracts top writers as visiting faculty, including recent guests Elizabeth McCracken, David Mura, and Li-young Lee.

The individual approach defines the Oregon MFA experience; a key feature of the program’s first year is the customized reading list each MFA student creates with their faculty guide. 

Weekly meetings focus not only on the student’s writing, but also on the extended discovery of voice through directed reading. 

Accepting only ten new students a year—five in poetry and five in fiction— the University of Oregon’s MFA ensures a close-knit community with plenty of individual coaching and guidance.

Cornell University (Ithaca, NY)

Cornell University

Cornell University’s MFA program takes the long view on life as a writer, incorporating practical editorial training and teaching experience into its two-year program.

Incoming MFA students choose their own faculty committee of at least two faculty members, providing consistent advice as they move through a mixture of workshop and literature classes. 

Students in the program’s first year benefit from editorial training as readers and editors for Epoch , the program’s prestigious literary journal.

Teaching experience grounds the Cornell program. MFA students design and teach writing-centered undergraduate seminars on a variety of topics, and they remain in Ithaca during the summer to teach in programs for undergraduates. 

Cornell even allows MFA graduates to stay on as lecturers at Cornell for a period of time while they are on the job search. Cornell also offers a joint MFA/Ph.D. program through the Creative Writing and English departments.

Endowments fund several acclaimed reading series, drawing internationally known authors to campus for workshops and work sessions with MFA students. 

Recent visiting readers include Salman Rushdie, Sandra Cisneros, Billy Collins, Margaret Atwood, Ada Limón, and others. 

Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ)

Arizona State University

Arizona State’s MFA in Creative Writing spans three years, giving students ample time to practice their craft, develop a voice, and begin to find a place in the post-graduation literary world. 

Coursework balances writing and literature classes equally, with courses in craft and one-on-one mentoring alongside courses in literature, theory, or even electives in topics like fine press printing, bookmaking, or publishing. 

While students follow a path in either poetry or fiction, they are encouraged to take courses across the genres.

Teaching is also a focus in Arizona State’s MFA program, with funding coming from teaching assistantships in the school’s English department. Other exciting teaching opportunities include teaching abroad in locations around the world, funded through grants and internships.

The Virginia C. Piper Center for Creative Writing, affiliated with the program, offers Arizona State MFA students professional development in formal and informal ways. 

The Distinguished Writers Series and Desert Nights, Rising Stars Conference bring world-class writers to campus, allowing students to interact with some of the greatest in the profession. Acclaimed writer and poet Alberto Ríos directs the Piper Center.

Arizona State transitions students to the world after graduation through internships with publishers like Four Way Books. 

Its commitment to the student experience and its history of producing acclaimed writers—recent examples include Tayari Jones (Oprah’s Book Club, 2018; Women’s Prize for Fiction, 2019), Venita Blackburn ( Prairie Schooner Book Prize, 2018), and Hugh Martin ( Iowa Review Jeff Sharlet Award for Veterans)—make Arizona State University’s MFA a consistent leader among degree programs.

University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX)

University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas at Austin’s MFA program, the Michener Center for Writers, maintains one of the most vibrant, exciting, active literary faculties of any MFA program.

Denis Johnson D.A. Powell, Geoff Dyer, Natasha Trethewey, Margot Livesey, Ben Fountain: the list of recent guest faculty boasts some of the biggest names in current literature.

This three-year program fully funds candidates without teaching fellowships or assistantships; the goal is for students to focus entirely on their writing. 

More genre tracks at the Michener Center mean students can choose two focus areas, a primary and secondary, from Fiction, Poetry, Screenwriting, and Playwriting.

The Michener Center for Writers plays a prominent role in contemporary writing of all kinds. 

The hip, student-edited Bat City Review accepts work of all genres, visual art, cross genres, collaborative, and experimental pieces.  

Recent events for illustrious alumni include New Yorker publications, an Oprah Book Club selection, a screenwriting prize, and a 2021 Pulitzer (for visiting faculty member Mitchell Jackson). 

In this program, students are right in the middle of all the action of contemporary American literature.

Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis, MO)

Washington University in St. Louis

The MFA in Creative Writing at Washington University in St. Louis is a program on the move: applicants have almost doubled here in the last five years. 

Maybe this sudden growth of interest comes from recent rising star alumni on the literary scene, like Paul Tran, Miranda Popkey, and National Book Award winner Justin Phillip Reed.

Or maybe it’s the high profile Washington University’s MFA program commands, with its rotating faculty post through the Hurst Visiting Professor program and its active distinguished reader series. 

Superstar figures like Alison Bechdel and George Saunders have recently held visiting professorships, maintaining an energetic atmosphere program-wide.

Washington University’s MFA program sustains a reputation for the quality of the mentorship experience. 

With only five new students in each genre annually, MFA candidates form close cohorts among their peers and enjoy attentive support and mentorship from an engaged and vigorous faculty. 

Three genre tracks are available to students: fiction, poetry, and the increasingly relevant and popular creative nonfiction.

Another attractive feature of this program: first-year students are fully funded, but not expected to take on a teaching role until their second year. 

A generous stipend, coupled with St. Louis’s low cost of living, gives MFA candidates at Washington University the space to develop in a low-stress but stimulating creative environment.

Indiana University (Bloomington, IN)

Indiana University

It’s one of the first and biggest choices students face when choosing an MFA program: two-year or three-year? 

Indiana University makes a compelling case for its three-year program, in which the third year of support allows students an extended period of time to focus on the thesis, usually a novel or book-length collection.

One of the older programs on the list, Indiana’s MFA dates back to 1948. 

Its past instructors and alumni read like the index to an American Literature textbook. 

How many places can you take classes in the same place Robert Frost once taught, not to mention the program that granted its first creative writing Master’s degree to David Wagoner? Even today, the program’s integrity and reputation draw faculty like Ross Gay and Kevin Young.

Indiana’s Creative Writing program houses two more literary institutions, the Indiana Review, and the Indiana University Writers’ Conference. 

Students make up the editorial staff of this lauded literary magazine, in some cases for course credit or a stipend. An MFA candidate serves each year as assistant director of the much-celebrated and highly attended conference . 

These two facets of Indiana’s program give graduate students access to visiting writers, professional experience, and a taste of the writing life beyond academia.

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, MI)

University of Michigan College of Literature, Science, and the Arts

The University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program cultivates its students with a combination of workshop-driven course work and vigorous programming on and off-campus. Inventive new voices in fiction and poetry consistently emerge from this two-year program.

The campus hosts multiple readings, events, and contests, anchored by the Zell Visiting Writers Series. The Hopgood Awards offer annual prize money to Michigan creative writing students . 

The department cultivates relationships with organizations and events around Detroit, so whether it’s introducing writers at Literati bookstore or organizing writing retreats in conjunction with local arts organizations, MFA candidates find opportunities to cultivate a community role and public persona as a writer.

What happens after graduation tells the big story of this program. Michigan produces heavy hitters in the literary world, like Celeste Ng, Jesmyn Ward, Elizabeth Kostova, Nate Marshall, Paisley Rekdal, and Laura Kasischke. 

Their alumni place their works with venerable houses like Penguin and Harper Collins, longtime literary favorites Graywolf and Copper Canyon, and the new vanguard like McSweeney’s, Fence, and Ugly Duckling Presse.

University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN)

University of Minnesota

Structure combined with personal attention and mentorship characterizes the University of Minnesota’s Creative Writing MFA, starting with its unique program requirements. 

In addition to course work and a final thesis, Minnesota’s MFA candidates assemble a book list of personally significant works on literary craft, compose a long-form essay on their writing process, and defend their thesis works with reading in front of an audience.

Literary journal Great River Review and events like the First Book reading series and Mill City Reading series do their part to expand the student experience beyond the focus on the internal. 

The Edelstein-Keller Visiting Writer Series draws exceptional, culturally relevant writers like Chuck Klosterman and Claudia Rankine for readings and student conversations. 

Writer and retired University of Minnesota instructor Charles Baxter established the program’s Hunger Relief benefit , aiding Minnesota’s Second Harvest Heartland organization. 

Emblematic of the program’s vision of the writer in service to humanity, this annual contest and reading bring together distinguished writers, students, faculty, and community members in favor of a greater goal.

Brown University (Providence, RI)

Brown University

One of the top institutions on any list, Brown University features an elegantly-constructed Literary Arts Program, with students choosing one workshop and one elective per semester. 

The electives can be taken from any department at Brown; especially popular choices include Studio Art and other coursework through the affiliated Rhode Island School of Design. The final semester consists of thesis construction under the supervision of the candidate’s faculty advisor.

Brown is the only MFA program to feature, in addition to poetry and fiction tracks, the Digital/Cross Disciplinary track . 

This track attracts multidisciplinary writers who need the support offered by Brown’s collaboration among music, visual art, computer science, theater and performance studies, and other departments. 

The interaction with the Rhode Island School of Design also allows those artists interested in new forms of media to explore and develop their practice, inventing new forms of art and communication.

Brown’s Literary Arts Program focuses on creating an atmosphere where students can refine their artistic visions, supported by like-minded faculty who provide the time and materials necessary to innovate. 

Not only has the program produced trailblazing writers like Percival Everett and Otessa Moshfegh, but works composed by alumni incorporating dance, music, media, and theater have been performed around the world, from the stage at Kennedy Center to National Public Radio.

University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA)

University of Iowa

When most people hear “MFA in Creative Writing,” it’s the Iowa Writers’ Workshop they imagine. 

The informal name of the University of Iowa’s Program in Creative Writing, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop was the first to offer an MFA, back in 1936. 

One of the first diplomas went to renowned writer Wallace Stegner, who later founded the MFA program at Stanford.

 It’s hard to argue with seventeen Pulitzer Prize winners and six U.S. Poets Laureate. The Iowa Writers’ Workshop is the root system of the MFA tree.

The two-year program balances writing courses with coursework in other graduate departments at the university. In addition to the book-length thesis, a written exam is part of the student’s last semester.

Because the program represents the quintessential idea of a writing program, it attracts its faculty positions, reading series, events, and workshops the brightest lights of the literary world. 

The program’s flagship literary magazine, the Iowa Review , is a lofty goal for writers at all stages of their career. 

At the Writers’ Workshop, tracks include not only fiction, poetry, playwriting, and nonfiction, but also Spanish creative writing and literary translation. Their reading series in association with Prairie Lights bookstore streams online and is heard around the world.

Iowa’s program came into being in answer to the central question posed to each one of these schools: can writing be taught? 

The answer for a group of intrepid, creative souls in 1936 was, actually, “maybe not.” 

But they believed it could be cultivated; each one of these institutions proves it can be, in many ways, for those willing to commit the time and imagination.

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Master of Arts (MA) in Writing | Northwestern SPS - Northwestern School of Professional Studies

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Program Overview

Master’s in Writing

MA in Writing

Northwestern’s part-time Master of Arts in Writing program provides students the opportunity to grow as artists within the specializations of fiction, nonfiction, popular fiction, and poetry. A dual-genre specialization is also offered, as well as a publishing and professional development track that combines publishing industry-related instruction with the creative coursework of the writing workshops. The small-group workshop format allows for individual attention from published, award-winning faculty . Students also have the opportunity to learn the ropes in teaching writing, publishing, and editing. Flexible scheduling — with courses offered evenings and weekends on Northwestern’s Chicago and Evanston campuses as well as online and in hybrid format — gives students the opportunity to balance their professional, personal and writing lives. While earning their degrees, students connect with other writers at readings and other events in an artistic community that extends beyond the University into Chicagoʼs vibrant literary scene.

About the MA in Writing

Writing program goals, ma in writing courses, curriculum for ma in writing, writing faculty, master's in writing admission, tuition and financial aid for writing, registration information for writing, careers in writing.

Juan Martinez

Some of the bravest, most interesting writers I've encountered come from this program. They've lived, they've been out in the world, and they're willing to find ways to transmute that experience into compelling, transformative work.”

Students form lasting bonds with each other and with their professors. The years students have spent in the SPS creative writing program, some have told me, are the most creatively rewarding ones they've experienced.”

Christine Sneed

Teaching in Northwestern's part-time writing program has been a career highlight for me. The program is enriched by its students who come from various backgrounds and careers. The diversity of passions, insights and life experiences helps to create a truly unique and rewarding learning experience.”

Core Courses



Electives are chosen from the graduate course offerings in the Master of Arts in Literature program, creative writing special topics courses (MCW 490) and the seminars and internships (practica) in teaching and publishing. Since good writers also need to be good readers, students must take electives in literary studies. Recent electives include courses on reading poetry; the narrator in fiction, nonfiction and poetry; and writing humor. Independent studies round out the program and provide an opportunity to strengthen writing portfolios.

The final project of both the MA and MFA programs is a creative thesis, an original work of high literary merit (judged on the basis of art as well as craft). The creative thesis is structured and revised under the supervision of a faculty member (or faculty mentor) and a second reader. The project may be one long piece or a series of shorter pieces. It may include or be an expansion of work written during the student's course of study as long as it represents a culminating effort to shape stories, prose pieces, a long piece, or a group of poems into a coherent, self-sufficient work. This large-scale project supplements the smaller-scale study of craft with the invaluable experience of creating a larger work. And for students who plan to pursue book-length publication after graduation, the master's creative thesis may be the first version of a work in progress.

Northwestern also offers a part-time MFA program in Prose and Poetry .

Explore MA in Writing Courses . You can narrow your course search by day, location or instructor.

Learn from a faculty of esteemed writers in small-group workshops where instructors facilitate discussions that help students examine and address strengths and weaknesses in their writing as well as open up possibilities for re-thinking and revising. Get to know the instructors on our MA in Writing Faculty page.

Candidates for admission to the MA in Writing program must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution or its foreign equivalent and possess a strong academic record, preferably in English, writing or related fields. For a complete list of requirements, see the Admission page for SPS graduate programs.

Tuition for the MA in Writing program at Northwestern is comparable to similar US programs. Financial aid opportunities exist for students at Northwestern. Complete details can be found on the MA in Writing Tuition and Financial Aid pages.

Already accepted into the Master's in Writing program? Get ahead and register for your classes as soon as possible to ensure maximum efficiency in your progress. 

Northwestern University’s MA in Writing is an art degree. Students pursue the degrees in order to become better writers, able to create prose and poetry that draw on a full range of the craft. On a more practical level, MA students become better writers, which prepares them for a variety of careers. For details visit the  Writing Career Options page.

Find out more about Northwestern's MA in Writing

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International Student

Study Creative Writing at Adelphi

A big choice facing all postsecondary students is whether to go into graduate studies after gaining a bachelor's degree. This dilemma is especially present in the field of creative writing, in which the proper timing of education versus breaking into the industry is a subject of much debate. Let's look at the options for a master's degree in creative writing and how valuable they are.

One major life choice for undergraduate international students wrapping up their degrees is whether to pursue graduate studies. Planning ahead for this life decision is particularly vital to international students given all the hoops they must jump through be able to work or study in the U.S. While for many careers a graduate education is simply required, a master's degree in creative writing is less of a guaranteed prerequisite to a fruitful writing career. This article will look at that issue as well as break down what a graduate program in creative writing is like.

To graduate study or not to graduate study…

An ongoing debate in the arts, and more specifically creative writing, is the necessity of graduate education in the first place. While most parties agree that training at least to the undergraduate level is desirable to hone writing skills and develop creativity in the protected environment of college classes, many people believe that after this step the next move should be to focus on starting one's career. After all, a writer can just sit down and write; the advanced training that professionals like doctors or lawyers need isn't completely necessary to function as a writer.

So what does a master's degree in creative writing offer international students, then? Well, the most obvious advantage is a new area of study for recent converts to creative writing. Studied psychology for undergrad and then decided you'd rather be the next Neil Simon? Find a graduate program in creative writing and kick off your education in earnest. For newly aspiring creative writers, graduate work in creative writing is more necessary the further your undergraduate studies were away from the field.

For those who did study creative writing or something related during their undergraduate years, the decision is less black and white. In the end, make the decision based off your own feelings — if the graduate work you're doing is significantly different from your undergraduate work, or if you really just want more time to cultivate your creativity in a school setting, a master's degree in creative writing can be a good choice.

Degrees Offered

A graduate program in creative writing will almost always result in a Master of Fine Arts; the real difference is in what exactly is studied. There are plenty of straightforward Creative Writing master's programs out there that cover all of creative writing. But there are also master's programs that focus on more specific writing niches (feminist writing, specific genres, etc.) or the crossover between disciplines (creative writing and African-American studies, for example). If you know you're interested in such a specialty, a master's degree in creative writing is a good way to pursue it.

One advantage of a graduate program in creative writing is that, unlike undergraduate education with its many general requirements, the program's focus will be related to creative writing. This doesn't mean you'll be writing exclusively — a good dose of literature classwork is typical just as it is in undergraduate creative writing — but it does mean that all your effort goes toward your chosen goal of creative writing.

The format of classes is also different, with a focus on the more intimate, workshop-style classes that spring up in the later years of an undergraduate creative writing major. It is assumed that graduate students either know or can quickly learn on their own the basics of writing and genre, so lecture hall classes on these topics are very rare in graduate creative writing programs.

Final Thoughts

A graduate program in creative writing won't be the right choice for everybody, but it does represent some advantages for certain writers. It's worth considering once you finish up your undergraduate education here in the U.S.

Learn more about studying creative writing in the USA by reading our growing article collection.

« Study Guide by Subject   « Study Creative Writing in the U.S.

Over time we will be updating this section and including more information for those who want to study creative writing in the USA and for other countries, but please feel free to post your thoughts and comments on our Facebook fan page , and also follow us and post questions through Twitter .

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Creative Writing

 Lect. Rachel DeWoskin (right) leads students in a fiction writing course at Taft House.

Making its home south of Midway Plaisance in Taft House, The Program in Creative Writing is an intersection of imagination and critical inquiry. Creative Writing offers an array of writing-workshop-based classes in a variety of genres, from fiction and poetry to creative nonfiction and translation. In addition, MAPH students focusing in creative writing have the unique opportunity to inform their creative projects with rigorous analytic research in a variety of subjects, such as Art History , Cinema and Media Studies , Comparative Literature , English Language and Literature , Gender and Sexuality , Philosophy , and Visual Arts .

Selected Faculty

Portrait of Rachel DeWoskin standing on a rooftop

Rachel DeWoskin

Portrait of Srikanth Reddy

Srikanth Reddy

Portrait of Vu Tran

Sample Courses

Most Creative Writing courses are application-based. MAPH students in the Creative Writing Option get priority in these courses, but all students are required to submit an application by the deadline set by the program to be considered for admission. Please visit the Creative Writing page  for the submission form and information about deadlines and procedures.

CRWR 40229 - Technical Seminar in Fiction: 3D Character Builder ( Rachel DeWoskin ) This reading and writing course will acquaint students with one of the essential tools of fiction writers, characterization. We will read works by authors including Baldwin, Guo, Nabokov, Munro, Sharma and Wharton, toward exploring how some of literatures most famous characters are rendered. How do writers of fiction create contexts in which characters must struggle, and how does each character's conflicts, choices, and use of language reveal his or her nature? How do we make characters whose behaviors are complicated enough to feel real, and why are some of the worst characters the most compelling? Students in this technical seminar will complete both creative and analytical writing exercises, reading responses, and a critical paper that focuses on characterization in a work of fiction.

CRWR 40411 - Technical Seminar in Poetry: Urban Image and Poetic Play  ( Garin Cycholl ) This technical seminar focuses on poems’ development of image through the work of urban writers. We will explore the lineage of urban lyric within the nineteenth century, then reflect on its development in the contemporary city. What impulse defines an “urban poetics?” What is urban lyric’s relationship with painting and photography? Do all city poems reflect one “city” in the end or is a more local impulse at work in cities as foci for writing? This course seeks to establish a solid, working basis in examining “image” and its lyric development through critical reflection and field work. To this end, we will work with a range of urban writers, including Paul Blackburn, Andrew Colarusso, Wanda Coleman, Kevin Killian, Frank O’Hara, Salima Rivera, Ed Roberson, and David Ulin.

CRWR 44021 - Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: The Trouble With Trauma ( Dina Peone ) In “The Body Keeps the Score” Bessel van der Kolk writes, “The greatest sources of our suffering are the lies we tell ourselves.” Many trauma survivors begin writing reluctantly, even repulsed by the impulse to query their woundedness. The process is inhibited by stigma surrounding the notion of victimhood, entities that would prefer a survivor's silence, plus our tendency to dismiss and devalue ones suffering in relation to others. Students in this class will shed some of these constricting patterns of thinking about trauma so they may freely explore their stories with confidence, compassion, curiosity, and intention. We'll read authors who have found surprise, nuance, and yes, healing through art, honoring the heart-work that happens behind the scenes. Half of class-time will include student-led workshops of original works in progress. Paramount to our success will be an atmosphere of safety, supportiveness, respect, and confidentiality. By the quarter's end each student will leave with a piece of writing that feels both true to their experience and imbued with possibility.

CRWR 49300 - Thesis/Major Projects in Poetry ( Margaret Ross ) This thesis workshop is for students writing a creative BA or MA thesis in poetry, as well as creative writing minors completing the portfolio. Because it is a thesis workshop, the course will focus on various ways of organizing larger poetic “projects.” We will consider the poetic sequence, the chapbook, and the poetry collection as ways of extending the practice of poetry beyond the individual lyric text. We will also problematize the notion of broad poetic “projects,” considering the consequences of imposing a predetermined conceptual framework on the elusive, spontaneous, and subversive act of lyric writing. Because this class is designed as a poetry workshop, your fellow students’ work will be the primary text over the course of the quarter.

A more comprehensive list of courses and descriptions is available at the Creative Writing course page . 

Creative Writing Option

Students who plan to do a creative writing thesis project in fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction can choose to pursue the MAPH Creative Writing Option. Students who complete the following requirements will receive a Creative Writing notation on their MAPH transcript:

Two-Year Language Option for Creative Writing

MAPH's Two-Year Language Option is a great way for students to pursue advanced work in literary translation in their second year. Some possibilities might include advanced workshops on literary translation in various genres, upper-level undergraduate seminars and graduate courses in non-Anglophone literatures across a range of geographical regions and historical periods, and courses on translation theory.

Recent Creative Writing Thesis Projects

"Wonders of Unsung Black Life: A Poetic Interpretation on Living in Blackness" Tia White, MAPH '21 Advisor: Margaret Ross

" Once and Future Gardens " Sarah Hobin, MAPH '21 Advisor: Lina Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas

" Love Me, Love Me Not, Love Me Again: Stories for Bibliotherapy " Casey Glynn, MAPH '20 Advisor: Rachel DeWoskin

" From the Well That Washes Itself: A Novel (Excerpt)" Hajrije Kolimja, MAPH '20 Advisor:  Rachel DeWoskin

" The Confrontation Exercises: Essays " Jiaying Liang, MAPH '19 Advisor: Daniel Raeburn

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Graduate School

Creative Writing Graduate Programs in America

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Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Cambridge, MA •

Harvard University •

Master's Student: I go to the Extension School and the classes have been amazing! The papers have truly taught me to be a better writer. My fellow students are some of the most interesting people I've ever known. Highly recommend! ... Read 4 reviews

Harvard University ,

Graduate School ,


4 Niche users give it an average review of 4.5 stars.

Featured Review: Master's Student says I go to the Extension School and the classes have been amazing! The papers have truly taught me to be a better writer. My fellow students are some of the most interesting people I've ever known.... .

Read 4 reviews.

Brown University Graduate School

Providence, RI •

Brown University •

Brown University ,


Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences

Evanston, IL •

Northwestern University •

Northwestern University ,


Florida International University

Graduate School •

Golden Gate University


College of Arts and Sciences - Arcadia University

Arcadia University •


College of Arts and Science

Nashville, TN •

Vanderbilt University •

Vanderbilt University ,


Washington University in St. Louis - Arts & Sciences

St. Louis, MO •

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Washington University in St. Louis ,


College of Arts and Letters - University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, IN •

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Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Los Angeles, CA •

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Cornell University College of Arts & Sciences

Ithaca, NY •

Cornell University •

Cornell University ,


Rackham School of Graduate Studies

Ann Arbor, MI •

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor •

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor ,


1 Niche users give it an average review of 5 stars.

Read 1 reviews.

Krieger School of Arts & Sciences

Baltimore, MD •

Johns Hopkins University •

Master's Student: What I like most about Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts and Sciences is the presence of professionalism and genuine consciousness. Not only are the classes highly interesting and inclusive but also they are conveniently laid out so no matter where you are in the world you can complete your degree on your own time. All the classes are provided asynchronously so no 3:00am wake ups for lecture. Professors are organized and available with plenty of opportunity to connect with fellow students. This is only my first semester but I am feeling very confident in my commitment to Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts and Sciences Advanced Academics Program. ... Read 13 reviews

Johns Hopkins University ,


13 Niche users give it an average review of 4.4 stars.

Featured Review: Master's Student says What I like most about Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts and Sciences is the presence of professionalism and genuine consciousness. Not only are the classes highly interesting and... .

Read 13 reviews.

The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences - University of Virginia

Charlottesville, VA •

University of Virginia •

University of Virginia ,


1 Niche users give it an average review of 4 stars.

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences - New York University

New York, NY •

New York University •

Master's Student: Professors are engaging and always available for help when needed, especially in the Art History department. ... Read 7 reviews

New York University ,


7 Niche users give it an average review of 4.7 stars.

Featured Review: Master's Student says Professors are engaging and always available for help when needed, especially in the Art History department. .

Read 7 reviews.

College of Liberal Arts - University of Texas - Austin

Austin, TX •

University of Texas - Austin •

University of Texas - Austin ,


College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences

Blacksburg, VA •

Virginia Tech •

Virginia Tech ,


Liberal Arts and Sciences - University of Florida

Gainesville, FL •

University of Florida •

University of Florida ,


Graduate School of Arts & Sciences - Boston University

Boston, MA •

Boston University •

Blue checkmark.

Boston University ,


College of Letters & Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Madison, WI •

University of Wisconsin •

Graduate Student: I love the practical nature of my program(GISWMP) and I think I have become a better team player and more knowledgeable. I wish we had more diversity in faculty. There aren't enough professors! ... Read 3 reviews

University of Wisconsin ,


3 Niche users give it an average review of 4 stars.

Featured Review: Graduate Student says I love the practical nature of my program(GISWMP) and I think I have become a better team player and more knowledgeable. I wish we had more diversity in faculty. There aren't enough professors! .

Read 3 reviews.

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences - University of Illinois

Urbana, IL •

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign •

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign ,


College of Arts and Sciences - University of Miami

Coral Gables, FL •

University of Miami •

Niche User: The arts and science department is very kind and supportive. The helped home and improve my skills. I would recommend this school to others. ... Read 6 reviews

University of Miami ,


6 Niche users give it an average review of 4.7 stars.

Featured Review: Niche User says The arts and science department is very kind and supportive. The helped home and improve my skills. I would recommend this school to others. .

Read 6 reviews.

BYU College of Fine Arts and Communications

Provo, UT •

Brigham Young University •

Brigham Young University ,


College of Liberal Arts - University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Minneapolis, MN •

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities ,


University of Washington College of Arts & Sciences

Seattle, WA •

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University of Washington ,


College of Humanities and Social Sciences - NC State University

Raleigh, NC •

North Carolina State University •

North Carolina State University ,


College of Arts and Humanities - University of Maryland

College Park, MD •

University of Maryland - College Park •

University of Maryland - College Park ,


Florida State University - The College of Arts and Sciences

Tallahassee, FL •

Florida State University •

Florida State University ,


College of Communication, Architecture and The Arts - Florida International University

Florida International University •

College of Health and Community Well - Being - University of La Verne

University of La Verne •


Miami University

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MA in Writing

You bring the passion for storytelling, we’ll help you develop your craft, tap into your creativity, and increase your network. Our goal is that you will leave our program ready to write, publish, and edit at the highest levels possible.

Program Overview

The Johns Hopkins MA in Writing program reflects our university’s international reputation for academic rigor and creative innovation. Rooted in craft and led by working writers, our high-quality program is both challenging and supportive: We’re here to offer clear, straightforward, thoughtful feedback while creating a culture that encourages risk-taking.

At JHU, you will not only boost your writing, revision, and editing skills, but also learn how to read like a writer, to give and receive feedback, to find publishing opportunities, and to live the writing life.

Explore Many Genres and Styles

We offer areas of concentration in nonfiction or fiction writing, each offering its own core courses and required electives that will explore craft elements like form, voice, structure, and style.

In addition to classes in your selected concentration, you’ll get to dabble in other genres like poetry, drama, playwriting, and screenwriting. Flesh out your schedule with classes from across genres, eras, themes, craft elements, and even from our science writing and teaching writing graduate programs.

Live the Writing Life: Summer Residency

The optional residency courses bring together our community for a week of sessions, workshops, readings, outings, receptions, and, of course, personal writing time. After all, you’re likely to be inspired by your surroundings!

Residency locations vary from year to year. We’ve been to Bar Harbor, Maine; Dublin, Ireland; and Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Sometimes our writing residencies are integrated with the JHU science writing and teaching writing master’s programs, giving you a chance to connect with even more writers and faculty members.

Complete a Manuscript, Build Your Portfolio

You will leave JHU with a solid, publishable portfolio. You’ll bring together the best of you for your thesis project. This could be part of a novel or memoir, or a collection of essays or short stories. You will work under the guidance of a faculty mentor to revise your project, while also taking a capstone workshop where you’ll discuss the writing life and practice and conduct public readings.

Learn on Your Terms

The MA in Writing program is one of the most flexible at JHU. You can complete your degree online in a dynamic and interactive learning environment, or choose to incorporate in-person classroom and residency experiences into your studies. All students are encouraged to attend an optional summer residency.

What’s it Like to Study Writing at JHU?

Upcoming Events

ma creative writing usa

MA in Writing Online Information Session

Student insights.

MA in Writing students share their perspectives about the program:

ma creative writing usa

Torrence Boone  '22

“I had written a novel and struggled, but since coming to the program I feel empowered, with a new set of tools and approaches to writing and work. ”

ma creative writing usa

Elissa Collins '23

“I knew I wanted to go back to grad school, and with Johns Hopkins I knew you could work full time and complete the program. So I was very excited about that. ”

ma creative writing usa

Anne Haddad '24

“With its thought-provoking methods and structure, this program has empowered me to feel confident to return to writing the stories I’ve always wanted to write.“

ma creative writing usa

Catherine Smart  '24

“Every professor is accessible and candid and wants to see you develop. I have never had that in a program before, which is why I would stay here above any other program. ”

Why Study Writing at JHU

Surround yourself with other creative writers: Your classmates and faculty members all have a story to tell.

ma creative writing usa

Study With Prolific Writers

Our faculty has been published in Education Week, The New York Review of Books, Time, and many literary journals and major newspapers. Research interests include pop music, Icelandic literature, digital media, creative writing, and multilingual writers.

ma creative writing usa

Grow Your Writing Community and Network

Meet emerging and established writers from all professional backgrounds. Join a successful network of alumni with work in esteemed literary journals, major magazines and newspapers, and on the shelf at your local bookstore.

ma creative writing usa

Write on Location: Travel Opportunities

Our exciting summer residency option rotates locations. You could write near our campus in D.C. or Baltimore, on the rocky shores of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, near Acadia National Park, or in the mountains near Shenandoah National Park, or even Dublin, Ireland.

ma creative writing usa

Customize Your Studies Based on Writing Goals

Choose from a variety of workshops and electives, such as Children's Book Writing, Screenwriting, Sentence Power: From Craft to Art, The Essence of Place, Writing the Other, Travel Writing, Completing the Novel, Memoir and Personal Essay, Teaching Writing – plus a variety of fiction and nonfiction workshops.

ma creative writing usa

Connect With Us

We love to share updates about our students and faculty, as well as links to new publications.

Writing News

ma creative writing usa

Take the Next Step

Study creative writing online or on campus at Johns Hopkins University, among a community of writers dedicated to their craft.

Contact Us for More Information

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