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12 Best Colleges for Creative Writing [2023]

02.03.2023 • 11 min read

Nick Griffin

Subject Matter Expert

Learn about the top colleges for creative writing, tips on what to consider when choosing a creative writing major, and answers to frequently asked questions.

In This Article

  1. The Best Creative Writing Programs

  2. What To Consider About College for Creative Writing Majors

  3. Best Literary Colleges FAQs

Writing well is a tremendous asset in nearly every industry. In fact, one of the top skills employers look for in employees is the ability to communicate clearly and effectively through writing.

Completing a degree at one of the top colleges for creative writing can deliver more career opportunities than you may think. You could work in publishing, media, higher education, or marketing and advertising.

You can also use your storytelling and creative thinking skills to work as a freelancer. As an independent contractor, you can set your own rates and choose your work hours.

This introduction to 12 of the best colleges for creative writing majors will help you select the right program for your career goals. We’ll even tell you what to look for when comparing some of the leading literary colleges. Let’s get started!

The Best Creative Writing Programs

Students who choose to enroll in a creative writing program are looking at factors like location, curriculum, and the quality of the instructors.

While many differences exist, all creative writing degree programs offer instruction in the primary literary forms:

  • Poetry

  • Fiction

  • Creative nonfiction

Some schools offer instruction in additional forms, including:

  • Screenwriting

  • Drama

  • Playwriting

  • Digital writing

When selecting a program you would enjoy, also make sure the instruction fits your learning needs.

Some schools offer seminars, resident writers, literary journals, and other perks beyond the standard workshops and courses.

The following 12 programs currently rank among the best writing programs offered in the U.S.

1. Columbia University

The Undergraduate Creative Writing Program at Columbia University boasts one of the most prestigious literary histories.

Well-known writers like J.D. Salinger, Federico Garcia Lorca, Eudora Welty, Langston Hughes, and Jack Kerouac have taken creative writing courses at the university. The roster of instructors in the undergraduate program is equally as impressive.

The program offers seminars designed for creative writers plus courses in the following writing forms:

  • Fiction

  • Literary nonfiction

  • Dramatic writing

  • Poetry

  • Screenwriting

Students also have access to a thriving School of Arts and can move on to the prestigious MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in Creative Writing program.

Annual Tuition & FeesUndergraduate EnrollmentOnline or In Person
$65,524 (without aid)8,148In Person

2. Emory University

The Undergraduate Creative Writing Program at Emory University started more than 30 years ago. It remains one of the most reputable colleges for aspiring writers ready to start professional careers.

The university requires an application and instructor permission to enter all creative writing courses. Students can major in creative writing or participate in creative writing workshops while completing other degree programs.

The school provides writing workshops and courses in the following disciplines:

  • Poetry

  • Creative nonfiction

  • Fiction

  • Screenwriting

  • Playwriting

Annual Tuition & FeesUndergraduate EnrollmentOnline or In Person
$57,948 (without aid)7,130In Person

3. Brown University

Brown University is one of the leading universities for English literature and creative writing. They are also among the best colleges for writers interested in music, performance arts, and visual arts.

The Undergraduate Department of Literary Arts offers cross-disciplinary courses in all of those disciplines for students pursuing degrees in creative writing. Students can select from a diverse catalog of creative writing workshops, literature courses, independent study courses, and honors workshops.

Creative writing courses are available in the following disciplines:

  • Poetry

  • Fiction

  • Screenwriting

  • Digital writing

  • Cross-disciplinary writing

Annual Tuition & FeesUndergraduate EnrollmentOnline or In Person
$65,146 (without aid)7,349In Person

4. Colorado College

Colorado College offers a creative writing track for English majors who wish to focus on creative writing. The program offers more than the typical writing workshops and seminars at some of the other best colleges for creative writing. In fact, many of the elective courses are taught by guest professors. These distinguished guests are writers themselves.

Students benefit from multiple literary resources exclusive to the college, including:

  • Hairstreak Butterfly Review and other magazines and publications

  • Visiting Writers Series

  • Writing contests

  • Literary publishing practicum

  • Student-led spoken word group (SpeakEasy)

  • Campus printing press studio

  • Fine Arts Center

  • Specialized library collections

These benefits make Colorado College one of the leading colleges for creative writing majors able to attend classes in Colorado Springs. The creative writing faculty includes some published authors, making it a top choice for authors as well.

Annual Tuition & FeesUndergraduate EnrollmentOnline or In Person
$65,028 (without aid)2,266In Person

5. Duke University

Duke University may offer the best creative writing program for students with a shared interest in theater and performance arts. Students have access to courses in theater and documentary studies.

The school also has a collection of writing courses, workshops, and seminars in the following writing forms:

  • Fiction

  • Creative nonfiction

  • Travel writing

  • Poetry

  • Memoir

  • Theater

  • Documentary writing

Students at Duke have many opportunities to learn from other writers through the writers-in-residence program. The university also invests heavily in conferences, readings, and visiting speakers for the creative writing program.

Annual Tuition & FeesUndergraduate EnrollmentOnline or In Person
$63,054 (without aid)6,883In Person

6. Cornell University

Cornell University allows students to enroll as English majors with a concentration in creative writing. Students can also complete courses from the creative writing program as minors.

Writing workshops are available in the following literary forms:

  • Fiction

  • Poetry

  • Narrative writing

The university is home to a reputable reading series where multiple published authors visit for live readings and social receptions. This college is excellent for authors interested in networking with other authors.

Annual Tuition & FeesUndergraduate EnrollmentOnline or In Person
$63,200 (without aid)25,582In Person

7. Northwestern University

Northwestern University was one of the first colleges in the U.S. to offer an undergraduate creative writing program. Today, the school has a highly competitive creative writing major. It serves as a concentration within the English department.

Students have access to workshops and courses in the following disciplines:

  • Creative nonfiction

  • Fiction

  • Poetry

  • Cross-genres

This university ranks as one of the best literary colleges in part because the faculty includes award-winning authors. The school hosts a Festival of Writing every spring, and students have opportunities to network with and learn from visiting writers.

Annual Tuition & FeesUndergraduate EnrollmentOnline or In Person
$63,468 (without aid)22,933In Person

8. Oberlin College

The creative writing program at Oberlin College offers a collaborative and immersive experience for writers who want the freedom to experiment.

The program focuses on workshops where students learn from one another while preparing for several literary careers. It’s a studio environment best suited to students who want to work closely with a small group of peers.

Oberlin also offers a wide variety of courses in the following disciplines:

  • Poetry

  • Fiction

  • Nonfiction

  • Drama

  • Screenwriting

  • Translation

  • Hybrid forms

Annual Tuition & FeesUndergraduate EnrollmentOnline or In Person
$61,965 (without aid)2,942In Person

9. Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University is home to one of the most reputable graduate programs for writing. It only makes sense they also made the list of the top colleges for creative writing undergraduate programs.

The 16-credit creative writing certificate can be taken with any bachelor’s degree major and offers students a workshop model of instruction. Students in this program learn how to become better writers by writing alongside current professional writers.

The program focuses on courses within the 3 primary forms of writing:

  • Poetry

  • Fiction

  • Nonfiction

All creative writing courses take the form of workshops. This format allows students to read and critique one another’s work in a professional and inclusive environment. Instructors are professional writers with qualifications well-suited to guiding new writers toward lucrative writing careers.

Annual Tuition & FeesUndergraduate EnrollmentOnline or In Person
$60,590 (without aid)16,973In Person

10. Wichita State University

Wichita State University is an outstanding college for writers who want to complete undergraduate and graduate degrees from the same institution. The school offers a studio-academic Master of Fine Arts program for students studying fiction or poetry at the most advanced level.

The program allows undergraduate students to major or minor in creative writing. They have access to visiting writers, a school literary journal, and national press internships.

This program's course selection covers the 3 primary forms of writing

  • Poetry

  • Fiction

  • Nonfiction

Annual Tuition & FeesUndergraduate EnrollmentOnline or In Person
$8,860 (without aid)16,097In Person

11. Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is an excellent choice for writers interested in transferring credits from other institutions or online programs. The creative writing degree program allows students to transfer up to 90 credits and offers competitive pricing per credit hour for the remaining courses.

Unlike the other programs in this list, all courses at SNHU are virtual. SNHU is one of the best colleges for creative writing majors who value the flexibility of online classes.

Four concentration options are available for this program:

  • Screenwriting

  • Poetry

  • Fiction

  • Nonfiction

Annual Tuition & FeesUndergraduate EnrollmentOnline or In Person
$15,380 (without aid)2,998Online

12. Boise State University

The creative writing program at Boise State University is ideal for students who want to learn from acclaimed writers with bestselling novels and prize-winning poetry collections to their credit.

The program offers theory classes with a wide range of modern writing disciplines, including speculative fiction and graphic novels. Most courses focus on the following writing forms:

  • Poetry

  • Fiction

  • Creative nonfiction

Boise State is also home to the literary journal The Idaho Review and the Free Poetry chapbook series. Students may have the opportunity to work with those publications to gain experience prior to graduation.

Annual Tuition & FeesUndergraduate EnrollmentOnline or In Person
$8,364 (without aid)25,830In Person

What To Consider About College for Creative Writing Majors

What exactly are you looking for when comparing the finest literary colleges? Consider these ‌factors to help you select the right programs.

Transferable Credits

You can save money on your education by completing some courses online. But make sure the credits are transferable to the school offering your creative writing program.

For example, Golden Gate University’s Degrees+ powered by Outlier allows students to take courses online at a fraction of the price of traditional college. Students can earn their associate degree and transfer their credits into over 500 different institutions to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

School Reputation

The best creative writing programs have a reputation for high-quality education from prestigious and trustworthy instructors. Make sure you align with the values and vision of your chosen institution.

Keep in mind many quality schools out there to look into. Take the time to do some research, ask former students, and speak with an advisor.

Course Variety

The top colleges for writers will offer a wide selection of courses related to writing, literature, liberal arts, history, and more. They may also give writers the chance to earn certifications to enter into lucrative careers.

Favorable Outcomes

An exceptional creative writing program produces successful graduates. Look at the percentage of students who complete their degree and how many go on to graduate school or successful careers in writing, editing, research, or reporting.


Can you make it to on-campus classes without neglecting other responsibilities like managing a full-time job while going to school? Are there options to attend some or all courses online for your convenience? Figure out what your needs are and make sure you can commit to your education.


Many high-quality college programs come with a high price tag. But you can cut your college costs. Fill out a FAFSA—Free Application for Federal Student Aid—and look into grant and scholarship opportunities to get free money to help pay for school.

Best Literary Colleges FAQs

What can I do with a creative writing degree?

A bachelor’s degree in creative writing can prepare you for a career in technical or creative writing, reporting, editing, or proofreading. You can build a career writing everything from novels and short stories to technical manuals and marketing materials for businesses.

Several editing and reporting jobs are available to writers with a solid command of grammar and a high level of writing ability. Almost any career you may go into in the future will value your writing skills.

What is the best degree for creative writing?

Degrees in creative writing and literature are among the most popular for those interested in building careers in writing. Other excellent degree options include journalism, liberal arts, and even history.

College history programs are notorious for demanding written papers, and the knowledge gained may allow graduates to specialize in historical writing.

Studying the sciences is another lucrative career option, combining writing with specialized knowledge. As of December 2022, science writers earned an average of $63,331 per year.

Science writers may:

  • Edit a science journal

  • Research and write grant proposals

  • Write training material and research summaries in the medical field

Is it worth it to major in creative writing?

Being able to articulate yourself and your ideas clearly is an in-demand skill in nearly any industry. No matter if you are considering going back to school in your 40s or pursuing writing right out of high school, a creative writing degree is a solid investment.

A creative writing degree is worth the investment if you’re serious about building a new career based on writing. You can also select a minor or earn a professional certificate to hone your skills and specialize in a field of interest.

By graduating college with such a sought-after skill, you’ll set yourself up for career success.

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