In this article, we profile the top 20 best online master’s in creative writing degree programs for 2017.

Whether you have aspirations of becoming a published poet or want to write the next great American novel, skill and craft are required. To take your writing to the next level and learn to navigate the publishing world, MFA programs can help. Today, a number of online master’s in creative writing programs are offered from some of the nation’s top writing schools.

We looked at over 65 accredited colleges and universities listed by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) College Navigator that offered online master’s in creative writing, online MFA degrees with a concentration in creative writing, or closely related English and literature programs. We narrowed our original list of schools by choosing institutions with regional or national rankings from major publications like U.S. News and World Report. We then listed the schools in order of affordability based on in-state graduate tuition rates/fees published by NCES College Navigator.

The resulting selections for our top 20 best online master’s in creative writing degrees are listed below in order of affordability.

#20 – Northwestern University

Hybrid Online MFA in Creative Writing

Evanston, Illinois

Website

Northwestern University - Top 20 Best Online Master’s in Creative Writing Degrees

Northwestern University offers a hybrid online MFA in Creative Writing.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $50,864

The School of Professional Studies at Northwestern University offers a part-time online master’s in creative writing degree program with specializations in fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Flexible scheduling allows students to balance their professional, personal, and writing lives. A mix of online and face-to-face classes may be offered depending on the semester. The program is not considered to be fully online as certain semesters do not offer any online courses. Admission to the program is highly competitive. Students must hold a bachelor’s from a regionally accredited institution, preferably in English or writing. While the GRE is not required, exceptional scores bolster the admissions application. Northwestern is a top-ranked national university by all major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the most recent edition of Best Colleges ranks the school as the 12th best national university.

#19 – Emerson College

Online MFA in Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing

Boston, Massachusetts

Website

Emerson College - Top 20 Best Online Master’s in Creative Writing Degrees

Emerson College’s online MFA focuses on popular fiction writing.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $30,648

One of the top creative writing master’s programs online on our list is the online MFA from Emerson College that is designed for students who want to pursue fiction writing careers in various genres. Students take online classes in literature and writing workshops designed to work on craft and publishing techniques. Courses are designed to fit the busy schedules of professional writers and aspiring authors. Some of the courses required include advanced writing workshop in popular fiction, introduction to the publishing process for writers, topics in the history of popular forms, and topics in writing and publishing. Emerson is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 8th best regional university in the North.

#18 – Wilkes University

Online Master’s in Creative Writing

Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

Website

Wilkes University - Top 20 Best Online Master’s in Creative Writing Degrees

Wilkes University offers a low residency online master’s in creative writing.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $24,096

The online master’s in creative writing program at Wilkes University offers two convenient completion pathways. The low-residency format is considered to be an online program with eight-day campus residencies in January and June, while the weekender format is online with four weekend sessions per semester. Areas of study include creative nonfiction, fiction, making documentary films, playwriting, poetry, publishing, and screenwriting. Admission to the program includes the submission of official transcripts, current resume, and writing samples. According to the program website, 90 percent of acceptance decisions are based on the writing sample. Wilkes is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 85th best regional university in the North and 34th best value school.

#17 – Bay Path University

Online MFA in Creative Nonfiction

Longmeadow, Massachusetts

Website

Bay Path University - Top 20 Best Online Master’s in Creative Writing Degrees

Bay Path University’s online MFA in creative nonfiction is a top-ranked degree program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $22,420

For those interested in earning an MFA with no residency requirements, Bay Path University is one of the best online creative writing programs. The fully online program focuses on creative nonfiction and offers small class sizes, flexible schedules, and close mentoring by nationally recognized authors. Courses may be taken on a full-time or part-time basis, and a total of 39 credits are required. Students may also choose between two completion tracks that require six credits. These tracks focus on either a publishing pathway or teaching track. Bay Path University is a regionally ranked institution by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the most recent edition of Best Colleges lists the school as the 122nd best regional university in the North.

#16 – Southern New Hampshire University

Online Master’s in English and Creative Writing

Manchester, New Hampshire

Website

Southern New Hampshire University - Top 20 Best Online Master’s in Creative Writing Degrees

No GRE or GMAT scores required for Southern New Hampshire University’s online master’s in English and creative writing.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,810

The online master’s in creative writing from Southern New Hampshire University offers four concentrations that make the degree highly specialized. Students are able to tailor their degree toward career goals or personal interests. These concentrations include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or screenwriting. All courses are delivered online and the degree may be completed in as little as 15 months. Some of the required courses include graduate studies in English language, graduate studies in literary theory, story and concept, and studying the craft. Admission does not require GRE or GMAT scores. Southern New Hampshire is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 101st best regional university in the North and the #1 most innovative institution.

#15 – Lindenwood University

Online Master of Fine Arts in Writing

St. Charles, Missouri

Website

Lindenwood University - Top 20 Best Online Master’s in Creative Writing Degrees

Lindenwood’s MFA program is fully online.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,332

The creative writing master’s programs online at Lindenwood University include the MFA in writing. This fully online program requires no residency and is fully accredited. Conveniently delivered coursework allows students to hone their skills, learn editing, and participate in online workshops. Admission to the program is contingent upon approval of a submitted writing sample and statement of purpose. Courses are taught by experienced writers who are also published authors, editors, or journalists. Lindenwood is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top national university. Also, several of the online graduate programs have earned top 100 rankings.

#14 – Tiffin University

Online Master of Humanities – Creative Writing

Tiffin, Ohio

Website

Tiffin University - Top 20 Best Online Master’s in Creative Writing Degrees

Tiffin University’s flexible online master’s in creative writing offers 15-week long classes.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,600

One of the most affordable online creative writing programs on our list is the master of humanities in creative writing from Tiffin University. Flexible online courses are taught by qualified professors who regularly teach on campus. The online program is designed for individuals with career aspirations of becoming editors, journalists, published authors, and other roles as writers. Online courses include creativity and its development, introduction to graduate humanities, literary theory, studies in genre fiction, and teaching college English. Most classes are offered in a 15-week format with several start dates throughout the year. Tiffin is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a top regional university in the Midwest.

#13 – Queens University of Charlotte

Online MFA in Creative Writing

Charlotte, North Carolina

Website

Queens University of Charlotte - Top 20 Best Online Master’s in Creative Writing Degrees

The low residency online MFA in creative writing from Queens University of Charlotte is a best value program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,730

The low-residency online creative writing degree from Queens University of Charlotte is designed to provide students with solitary time to write and meet with colleagues in both distance and on-campus engagement. Courses are generally delivered via distance learning and are taught by seasoned faculty members with writing and publishing credentials. Courses include studies in creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and writing for the stage and screen. Queens University of Charlotte is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 22nd best regional university in the South and 28th best value school. Several of the online graduate programs are also ranked.

#12 – National University

Online MFA in Creative Writing

La Jolla, California

Website

National University - Top 20 Best Online Master’s in Creative Writing Degrees

National University’s online MFA in creative writing requires no residency.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,232

One of the top creative writing master’s programs online with no residency is the online MFA in creative writing from National University. The online format makes class attendance flexible and convenient, especially for working students. Curriculum adheres to the same standard and philosophy of the on-campus MFA, but does not require residency obligations. Courses are accelerated and students only take one class at a time. Courses may include advanced workshop in fiction, basics of screenwriting, pedagogy of creative writing, seminar in fiction, seminar in poetry, and textual strategies. To be considered for admission, applicants must submit portfolios that include 20-30 pages of their best creative writing in a single genre or combination of genres. According to U.S. News and World Report, National University is ranked as a top regional university in the West.

#11 – Saint Leo University

Online Master’s in Creative Writing

Saint Leo, Florida

Website

Saint Leo University - Top 20 Best Online Master’s in Creative Writing Degrees

Saint Leo University’s online master’s in creative writing program is designed for working students.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,630

Saint Leo University offers an accredited online master’s in creative writing that is designed for working adults. The online creative writing program provides classes for busy professionals who desire a low-residency format. Students have the time to pursue writing ventures with only a one-week residency that takes place during the summer. Online courses include theory and practice in creative writing, workshop in fiction, and workshop in poetry. The program also requires a master’s thesis, which may include a book-length collection of original creative work. Saint Leo is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 62nd best regional university in the South and 26th best value school.

#10 – Ohio University

Online Master’s in English

Athens, Ohio

Website

Ohio University - Top 20 Best Online Master’s in Creative Writing Degrees

The online master’s in English from Ohio University offers creative writing workshops.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,510

One alternative to creative writing master’s programs online is an online master’s in English like the one offered at Ohio University. Admission does not require GRE scores, but applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with a minimum GPA of 3.0. The program is ideal for teachers who want to study specific English content like creative writing while earning a graduate degree. Courses may include creative writing workshops, multi-ethnic cross cultural literature, and rhetoric and composition. Ohio University is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a top national university and the 74th top public school in the country.

#9 – Bowling Green State University

Online Master’s in English – Professional Writing and Rhetoric

Bowling Green, Ohio

Website

Bowling Green State University - Top 20 Best Online Master’s in Creative Writing Degrees

Professional writing and rhetoric! Bowling Green State University is one of our top picks for online master’s in creative writing related degrees.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,397

One of the most affordable online creative writing degree programs on our list is the online master’s in English with professional writing concentration from Bowling Green State University. The program is designed for students who want to pursue writing as a career in fields like editing, journalism, publishing, and various writing professions. Courses are delivered entirely online and include ethics in professional and technical writing, professional communication and rhetoric, resources and research in professional writing, and teaching of writing. A total of 31 credits are required for completion of the degree. Bowling Green State is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a top national university and public school. Also, several of the institution’s online graduate programs are accredited and ranked.

#8 – University of West Florida

Online Master’s in English – Creative Writing

Pensacola, Florida

Website

university-of-west-florida-online-MFA creative writing

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,062

University of West Florida’s online creative writing programs are taught by university professors who hold terminal degrees and have extensive experience in publishing and teaching. Synchronous courses delivery means that students are attending live lectures via the school’s online video conferencing systems. This method of delivery provides a flexible learning format so that students do not have to travel to campus for class. Admission to the program is competitive and requires at least 20 hours of upper division undergraduate coursework in English, submission of official GRE scores, and writing samples. Three letters of recommendation from instructors are also required. University of West Florida is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a top national institution.

#7 – McNeese State University

Online Master’s in Creative Writing

Lake Charles, Louisiana

Website

McNeese State University - Top 20 Best Online Master’s in Creative Writing Degrees

McNeese State University’s online creative writing master’s is a top ranked program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,575

One of the top creative writing master’s programs online from our list is offered by McNeese State University. This fully online program is a studio master’s program that focuses on the maturation and craft of fiction and poetry writers. In fact, the same concentrations are offered in the online program as the full-residency MFA in fiction and poetry. Six thesis hours must also be completed during the last spring semester of the student’s academic career. Most of the courses are in workshop format and include form and theory in cross-genre, literature electives, and workshops in major genres. McNeese State is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 98th best regional university in the South and 41st top public school. Also, several online graduate programs have earned top rankings.

#6 – East Carolina University

Online Master’s in English – Creative Writing

Greenville, North Carolina

Website

East Carolina University - Top 20 Best Online Master’s in Creative Writing Degrees

Ranked and accredited: East Carolina University offers a top online master’s in creative writing.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,288

East Carolina University offers one of the most affordable online creative writing degree programs on our list. Students may earn a thesis or non-thesis master’s in English with a concentration in creative writing by completing 33-semester hour credits. Eighteen semester hours are required for the concentration. Online creative writing courses include advanced fiction writing, advanced nonfiction writing, advanced poetry writing, creative writing, directed readings in creative writing, and literature from the writer’s perspective. East Carolina University is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a top national institution and the 118th best top public school. Several online graduate degree programs have also been ranked.

#5 – University of Houston

Online MFA in Creative Writing

Victoria, Texas

Website

University of Houston - Top 20 Best Online Master’s in Creative Writing Degrees

The online MFA in creative writing from University of Houston is low residency and entirely online.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,990

As far as low residency, entirely online creative writing programs go, University of Houston offers one of the most affordable. Admission to the program requires two letters of recommendation, a twenty-page writing sample, and official GRE scores. Courses are taught online by the same university professors who lead on-campus MFA program. These courses include American literary history, digital publishing, legal environment of publishing and contracts, literary theory, and the business of books. University of Houston is ranked with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top regional institution in the West. Also, several of the school’s online graduate programs have earned top 200 rankings.

#4 – University of Arkansas

Online MFA in Creative Writing

Monticello, Arkansas

Website

University of Arkansas - Top 20 Best Online Master’s in Creative Writing Degrees

The online MFA in creative writing from University of Arkansas is highly affordable.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,300

One of the most affordable online creative writing degree programs on our list is the non-residency MFA in creative writing from University of Arkansas. Approximately 48 semester hours are required and three genres are offered: Creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. Genre jumping is allowed for one semester with the permission of the MFA Director. Admission to the program requires official transcripts, twenty pages of a polished manuscript, personal essay, three letters of recommendation, and an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better. University of Arkansas is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a top regional college in the South.

#3 – University of Nebraska

Online MFA in Creative Writing

Omaha, Nebraska

Website

University of Nebraska - Top 20 Best Online Master’s in Creative Writing Degrees

University of Nebraska’s online MFA in creative writing has 3 concentrations.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,090

One of the best online creative writing programs on our list is the blended online MFA in creative writing from University of Nebraska. Three concentrations are offered with the 60-credit MFA: Creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. While the program offers a non-residency approach with an online format, students must participate in five 10-day residencies at a conference center in Nebraska City. Some of the courses offered include fiction seminars, nonfiction seminars, poetry seminars, and residency sessions that include lectures, classes, and individual conferences with faculty. The University of Nebraska is ranked and accredited. In fact, the school has earned a best national university ranking from U.S. News and World Report. Also, several of the online graduate programs have been ranked.

#2 – Mississippi University for Women

Online MFA in Creative Writing

Columbus, Mississippi

Website

Mississippi University for Women - Top 20 Best Online Master’s in Creative Writing Degrees

Mississippi University for Women offers an online MFA in creative writing that can be completed on a part-time basis.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,065

One of the cheapest online creative writing degree programs on our list is the 48-hour MFA in creative writing degree from Mississippi University for Women. Students may complete the program in two to three years, or longer if part-time study is your pathway of choice. Classes are delivered online and combined with two types of brief residency requirements. Some of the courses offered include African American fiction, early lyric poetry, forms in fiction, graduate fiction workshop, modernist fiction, special topics in literature, and writing for new media. The university is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 43rd best regional university in the South and the 15th top public school.

#1 – University of Texas – El Paso

Online MFA in Creative Writing

El Paso, Texas

Website

University of Texas - Top 20 Best Online Master’s in Creative Writing Degrees

University of Texas – El Paso offers our #1 most affordable online MFA in creative writing degree.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,623

The #1 most affordable online master’s in creative writing on our list is the online MFA from University of Texas – El Paso. This fully online program is designed for those interested in creative writing who want to complete a graduate degree from anywhere in the world. There is no residency requirement even though the program is considered to be workshop-heavy. Some of the required courses include advanced fiction writing, advanced creative nonfiction, forms and techniques of fiction, narrative theory and poetics, and writing the novel. Application to the program requires an official transcript of undergraduate studies, a professional-quality writing sample of twenty pages of fiction, statement of purpose, and three letters of recommendation. The institution is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a top national university.

BMD Staff
May 2017

This concludes our list of the top 20 online master’s in creative writing degrees for 2017.