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Find details about every creative writing competition—including poetry contests, short story competitions, essay contests, awards for novels, grants for translators, and more—that we’ve published in the Grants & Awards section of Poets & Writers Magazine during the past year. We carefully review the practices and policies of each contest before including it in the Writing Contests database, the most trusted resource for legitimate writing contests available anywhere.

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Find information about more than two hundred full- and low-residency programs in creative writing in our MFA Programs database, which includes details about deadlines, funding, class size, core faculty, and more. Also included is information about more than fifty MA and PhD programs.

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Emerson College’s Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing MFA

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MFA Program

Writing: Katie Williams, Margot Douaihy, Kirsten Imani Kasai, Jon Papernick, Jessica Treadway Literature: William Orem, Roy Kamada, Mary Kovaleski Byrnes, Adele Lee Publishing: Lisa Diercks, Gian Lombardo, John Rodzvilla

The program offers partial funding. Some students receive fellowships, and all applications are automatically reviewed for funding. The program offers the  Presidential Fellowship and Merit-Based Scholarships .

Students can apply to the program’s Transformational Leaders Fellowship which includes a stipend, scholarship, leadership training and a mentorship program.

The Online MFA in Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing Program hosts an online webinar series for students with writers and publishers of popular fiction to enable students to discuss their craft and foster connections with the writing and publishing community.

The priority decision is November 1, rolling admissions accepted through November 15 for spring admission. The priority decision is March 1, rolling admissions accepted through June 1 for fall admission. The priority decision is February 1, rolling admissions accepted through May 1 for summer admission.

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Emerson College MA in Creative Writing

Creative Writing is a concentration offered under the writing studies major at Emerson College. Here, you’ll find out more about the major master’s degree program in creative writing, including such details as the number of graduates, diversity of students, and more.

You can jump to any section of this page using the links below:

  • Graduate Cost
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Featured Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

MFA in Creative Writing - Online

Embrace your passion for storytelling and learn the professional writing skills you'll need to succeed with our online MFA in Creative Writing. Write your novel or short story collection while earning a certificate in the Online Teaching of Writing or Professional Writing, with no residency requirement.

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MA in English & Creative Writing

Refine your writing skills and take a step toward furthering your career with this online master's from Southern New Hampshire University.

Low-Residency MFA in Fiction and Nonfiction

Harness your passion for storytelling with SNHU's Mountainview Low-Residency MFA in Fiction and Nonfiction. In this small, two-year creative writing program, students work one-on-one with our distinguished faculty remotely for most of the semester but convene for weeklong intensive residencies in June and January. At residencies, students critique each other's work face-to-face, meet with major authors, agents and editors and learn how to teach at the college level.

How Much Does a Master’s in Creative Writing from Emerson Cost?

Emerson graduate tuition and fees.

Part-time graduates at Emerson paid an average of $1,296 per credit hour in 2019-2020. This tuition was the same for both in-state and out-of-state students. Information about average full-time graduate student tuition and fees is shown in the table below.

Does Emerson Offer an Online MA in Creative Writing?

Emerson does not offer an online option for its creative writing master’s degree program at this time. To see if the school offers distance learning options in other areas, visit the Emerson Online Learning page.

Emerson Master’s Student Diversity for Creative Writing

Male-to-female ratio.

Of the students who received their master’s degree in creative writing in 2019-2020, 70.6% of them were women. This is higher than the nationwide number of 66.6%.

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Racial-Ethnic Diversity

Racial-ethnic minority graduates* made up 32.4% of the creative writing master’s degrees at Emerson in 2019-2020. This is higher than the nationwide number of 24%.

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*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

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Most Commonly Asked Questions About our Film and Screenwriting MFAs

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Are you interested in filmmaking or screenwriting? Today we’re hearing from Haley Bresnahan, the admissions counselor for Emerson’s graduate film programs. During this interview, Haley will talk about all the unique benefits of studying film and screenwriting at Emerson.

Q: What programs do you recruit for?

A: I recruit for Emerson’s Film and Media Art (MFA) and Writing for Film and Television (MFA) programs. 

Q: What makes Emerson’s film and screenwriting programs stand out?

A: There are a few things that make the Film and Media Art MFA unique. First, the program has different entry points for students with previous experience in the field. This allows experienced students to shorten their program length and graduate faster. 

The program’s flexible curriculum is another thing that makes it unique. After students take their foundational and core requirement courses, they can take whatever electives interest them and will support their thesis project. Through electives and their thesis project, students can choose to focus on narrative fiction film, documentary, experimental media, interactive media, or installation art. 

A final perk of this program is that Emerson does not claim rights to students’ thesis projects. Students retain the rights to anything they create while in the Film and Media Art MFA, so if they want to continue expanding on their work after graduation, they can do so.

The Writing for Film and Television MFA is also unique for several reasons. First, it is a low-residency program, meaning each semester starts with a week-long, in-person residency, and the rest of the semester takes place online. During each residency week, a different award-winning screenwriter, called the Semel Chair , teaches a master class where they discuss their career path and writing process, conduct a workshop, and share a screening of their work. Previous Semel Chairs include Adele Lim , Emerson alum and writer of Crazy Rich Asians , as well as Mara Brock Aki l , executive producer of Girlfriends . After each residency, students return home and complete two asynchronous online courses for the rest of the semester, which allows students to set their own schedules and work while in school. 

The other thing that makes the Writing for Film and Television MFA unique is its cohort model. Students move through the entire program with the same 24 peers, allowing students to build a network of creative peers that they can carry over into their professional careers. 

Q: What are the cohort sizes like?

A: We try to recruit as many students as possible, but to maintain a tightly-knit community feel, we accept a smaller number of applicants. The Film and Media Art MFA accepts about 24-28 new first-year students each year. The Writing for Film and Television program brings in a cohort of 24 students per year.  

Q: What is the benefit of getting an MFA?

A: Anyone can be self-taught, but completing an MFA program accelerates how much you learn about the craft in a short amount of time. Students in an MFA also get constant feedback from peers and faculty, which helps them refine their craft. 

Three Emerson students using professional cameras to photograph the the Boston Common. The middle student holds her camera on a tripod.

In an MFA program, students develop a creative network of peers, which is extremely helpful in the professional world. As creative professionals in the film industry, it’s all about making connections. Having a network of peers at the start of your professional career proves to be invaluable for our students in the long run. 

Q: Do students need to have an undergraduate degree or experience in film or screenwriting?

A: No, we do have people coming to both programs who have studied or worked in another field but are passionate about filmmaking, media art, and screenwriting and are ready to pursue their interests in an academic setting for the first time. When screening applicants, we look for creative potential, not necessarily years of experience.

A class of Emerson students standing in a circle in the Boston Common, holding cameras and related equipment

Q: How can students make their applications more competitive?

A: When it comes to the essays and creative portfolio, your goal should be to convey your voice as a writer, filmmaker, or media artist. The more the essay and creative sample can have synergy to them, the better. For example, if you talk about a passion for feminist film in your essay, try to include that theme in your sample work to show that you understand your voice and vision.

Q: Why should students choose Emerson for their graduate journey?

A: Emerson encourages students to explore and push their boundaries as creatives. They don’t force you to stay in one box or genre. In fact, Emerson emphasizes taking risks and failing rather than playing it safe. We encourage students to train and try out things they might not have otherwise, which helps students uncover their true creative voice. 

The supportive graduate community is another reason to come to Emerson. Emerson is a small, tight-knit school where students collaborate rather than compete. This creates a supportive network of creative professionals that students can tap into long after graduation. Once you come to Emerson, it will always remain home for you. 

We hope this Q&A with Haley has helped you get to know Emerson’s film and screenwriting programs a little better. For more information about these graduate programs, be sure to schedule a call with an admissions counselor. To hear from students within the programs, check out our Day In the Life blogs. Here you can read about current Film and Media Art students and Writing for Film and Television students . 

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Olivia is a second-year student in Emerson's Communication Disorders MS program. Originally from Ohio, she is loving Emerson and city life. When she's not writing for the Grad Life blog, she loves to read, bake, and crochet.

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Emerson Writing MFA Celebrating 40th Anniversary at AWP Conference

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Writing, Literature and Publishing’s MFA turns 40 in 2024, and in celebration, a panel of alums will converge on the annual Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) conference in February to present a panel, Emerson MFA at Forty: Celebrating Four Decades of Writing & Publishing .

The five alum writers – Ciera Burch, MFA ’20; Rebecca Morgan Frank, MFA ’03; Kenan Orhan, MFA ’18; Shuchi Saraswat, MFA ’10; and Madeline Sneed, MFA ’20 – will discuss how their work in publishing informs their writing, and give readings of work (poetry, essays, stories, novels, YA, and translation) they have published.

Joining them in Kansas City or online will be dozens of alums and faculty members, who are sitting on panels, giving readings, and talking about teaching writing.

Madeline Sneed head shot

The AWP Conference & Bookfair convenes writers, teachers, students, editors, and publishers of contemporary creative writing for four days of events and exhibits that celebrate the joy and value of the written word. This year’s conference (Feb. 7-10) will feature a keynote address by poet Jericho Brown.

On Thursday, Feb. 8, 6-7:30 pm CST, Emerson will host a 40th anniversary celebration at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown. All conference attendees are invited.

Here’s who’s participating in the conference (visit the website for descriptions/schedules):

Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, MFA ’10 is on three panels — Queer Speculation: Transing Genre, Transing Gender ; The Hybrid Memoir: Weaving Personal Narrative with Research ; and Writing Trans Sex.

Headshot of Alex Marzano-Lesnevich

Danielle Legros Georges ’86, LHD ’16 will sit on Gathering the Loose Petals: A Celebration of the Work of Afaa Michael Weaver , and Readings from Wheatley at 250: Black Women Poets Reimagine the Verse of Phillis Wheatley Peters.

Matthew Salesses, MFA ’10 will join Crafting Unforgettable Characters – A Writer’s Guide to Storytelling and Vision & Re-Vision: Teaching Revision in University & Community Workshops.

Sophie Klahr ’07 will sit on Against Tradition, Tradition: Contradiction & the Prose Poem and Whose Line Is It Anyway? The Ecstasy & Agony of Collaborative Books

Rachel Simon ’15 will join Everything Is Awful: Sustaining Through Shitstorms & Systemic Obstacles and Exhausted & Overwhelmed: Attempting Queer Joy in 2024.

Danielle Legros Georges head shot

More Emersonians:

Eloisa Amezcua, MFA ’14 – Biography: The Radical Work of Writing Lives

G’Ra Asim ’14 – Rebel Voices Only

Kurt Baumeister, MFA ’99 – Down to the Wire: The Nuts & Bolts of Editing a Manuscript to Publication

Devon Capizzi, MFA ’20 – Split/Lip Press 10th Anniversary Reading

Sarah Chaves ’11 – The Stages of Writing & Publishing a Memoir

Kirstin Chen, MFA ’10 and Kim Liao, MFA ’09 – Beyond the Debut: Publisher One-Night Stands vs. Long-Term Relationships

Andrea Dupree, MFA ’97 – Evolving Literary Landscape: Creating Innovative Programming at Literary Centers

Lorena Hernández Leonard, MA ’11 and Shuchi Saraswat, MFA ’10 – Lit Mags Explore Challenges & Methods of Expanding Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Edwin Hill, MFA ’03 , affiliated faculty member – It’s a Crime! Genre Fiction’s Bad Rap (Sheet) in Academia’s Mean Streets

Taylor Johnson ’17 – Toward a Poetics of Tenderness: Hegemonic Masculinity & the Poetic Imagination

Alden Jones head shot

Alden Jones , writer-in-residence, and Zoe Sprankle ’20 – Queer Architectures: New Models for Memoir

Joanna Luloff, MFA ’02 – Collaboration in the Creative Writing Classroom

Matt Miller, MFA ’01 — Heroic Crowns: On the Values of Difficulty & Dazzle

Matt Miller, MFA ’05 — When the Old Names Fail Us

Phong Nguyen, MA ’02 – Show (Me), Don’t Tell: Missouri Writers Grappling with the State of Their State

Kim Roberts ’84 – Creating Community Residencies to Celebrate Queer Writers

Ivelisse Rodriguez, MFA ’00 – Breaking Silence: The Ethics of Writing Inherited Trauma across Genres

Ivelisse Rodriguez headshot B&W

Anna Ross , affiliated faculty member – Inside Out, Outside In: How Teaching in Prison Affects Creative Pedagogy Wesley Rothman, MFA ’12 – Communing with James Baldwin: A Centennial Celebration

Asako Serizawa, MFA ’01 – Fictionalizing Marginalized Histories: India, Jamaica, Japan, USA

Kimberly Southwick-Thompson ’06 – Experiential Learning, Multimodality & the Publishing Classroom, Oh My!

Sebastian Stockman, MFA ’11 – About That Book Life: A Publishing Round Robin

Viktoria Valenzuela ’11 – Sin Fronteras: Navigating, Representing, and Publishing Latine Authors

asako serizawa head shot

Did we miss anyone? If so, email [email protected] with the name of the panel or session they’re in.

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Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing The Write Stuff for Writers

emerson online mfa creative writing

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100% online, 8-week courses

Transfer in up to 50% of the degree total

Grow Your Writing Passion into a Career with Liberty’s Online MFA in Creative Writing

Many people write creatively, but few hone their skills to develop their writing craft to its highest form. Even fewer learn the other skills it takes to become a successful writer, such as the steps needed to get a book published and into the hands of readers. Liberty’s 100% online Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing can help you develop your writing passion into a career so you can set your works free to impact culture and the world.

Employers in every industry need professionals who have strong writing skills, so you can be confident that your ability to write effectively can also help set you apart in your current career. With in-demand writing expertise and the ability to customize your degree with electives in literature or writing practice, Liberty’s online MFA in Creative Writing can help you achieve your professional writing goals.

Our online MFA in Creative Writing is designed to help you build on your writing skills with specific workshops dedicated to the craft of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, or screenwriting. With a work-in-progress approach to writing practice and mentorship from our faculty of experienced writers and scholars, you can learn the specific skills you need to make your writing stand out.

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  • Transfer in up to 75% of an Undergrad Degree
  • Transfer in up to 50% of a Grad/Doctoral Degree

Why Choose Liberty’s MFA in Creative Writing?

Our online MFA in Creative Writing is mainly offered in an 8-week course format, and our tuition rate for graduate programs hasn’t increased in 9 years. Through our program, you can study the writing process and develop your creative skills through workshops with experienced writing professionals. With our flexible format, you can grow in your creative writing while continuing to do what is important to you.

As a terminal degree, the online MFA in Creative Writing can also help you pursue opportunities to teach writing at the K-12 or college level. You will gain comprehensive and in-depth exposure to writing, literature, publishing, and many other professional writing skills that you can pass on to students. Partner with the Liberty family and learn under faculty who have spent years in the field you love. Your career in professional writing starts here.

What Will You Study in Our MFA in Creative Writing?

The MFA in Creative Writing program is designed to help you become an excellent creative writer across the genres of creative fiction, nonfiction, screenwriting, and poetry. You can learn how to produce aesthetically and culturally engaged creative works while gaining professional knowledge and practice. You will also study foundational contemporary literature so that you have a background in studying important works to draw on for your writing.

To help you in your professional writing, you will also study many essential skills in editing, layout, and the business of publishing so that you can best position yourself for success in the market. Through your creative writing courses and workshops, you can develop your craft so that you will be ready for your thesis project.

Here are a few examples of the skills Liberty’s MFA in Creative Writing can help you master:

  • Marketing your projects and pursuing new writing opportunities
  • Organizing writing and adapting it to different types of writing
  • Tailoring writing to specific audiences and markets
  • Understanding what makes art effective, compelling, and impactful
  • Writing compelling stories that engage readers

Potential Career Opportunities

  • Book and magazine writer
  • Business communications specialist
  • Creative writing instructor
  • Publications editor
  • Screenwriter
  • Website copy editor and writer
  • Writing manager

Featured Courses

  • ENGL 600 – Editing, Layout, and Publishing
  • ENGL 601 – Writing as Cultural Engagement
  • ENGL 603 – Literary Theory and Practice
  • WRIT 610 – Writing Fiction

Degree Information

  • This program falls under the College of Arts and Sciences .
  • View the Graduate Arts and Sciences Course Guides (login required).
  • Download and review the Graduate Manual for MFA .

Degree Completion Plan (PDF)

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Your success is our success, which is why we are committed to providing quality academics at an affordable tuition rate. While other colleges are increasing their tuition, we have frozen tuition rates for the majority of our undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs for the past 9 years – and counting.

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Admission Information for the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (MFA)

Admission requirements.

  • A non-refundable, non-transferable $50 application fee will be posted on the current application upon enrollment (waived for qualifying service members, veterans, and military spouses – documentation verifying military status is required) .
  • Unofficial transcripts can be used for acceptance purposes with the submission of a Transcript Request Form .
  • Creative Writing Sample – A creative writing sample of one creative writing work of at least 2,500 words or a culmination of creative writing samples totaling 2,500 words.*
  • Applicants whose native language is other than English must submit official scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or an approved alternative assessment. For information on alternative assessments or TOEFL waivers, please call Admissions or view the official International Admissions policy .

*A sample of one or more poems totaling a minimum of 750 words may also be submitted. Song lyrics are not accepted at this time as writing samples.

Preliminary Acceptance

If you are sending in a preliminary transcript for acceptance, you must:

  • Be in your final term and planning to start your master’s degree after the last day of class for your bachelor’s degree.
  • Complete a Bachelor’s Self-Certification Form confirming your completion date. You may download the form from the Forms and Downloads page or contact an admissions counselor to submit the form on your behalf.
  • Submit an official/unofficial transcript to confirm that you are in your final term. The preliminary transcript must show a minimum of 105 completed credit hours.
  • If you are a current Liberty University student completing your undergraduate degree, you will need to submit a Degree/Certificate Completion Application .
  • Send in an additional, final official transcript with a conferral date on it by the end of your first semester of enrollment in the new master’s degree.

Dual Enrollment

Please see the Online Dual Enrollment page for information about starting graduate courses while finishing your bachelor’s degree.

Transcript Policies

Unofficial college transcript policy.

Unofficial transcripts combined with a Transcript Request Form can be used for admission. Official transcripts are required within 60 days of the admissions decision or before non-attendance drops for the first set of matriculated classes, whichever comes first, and will prevent enrollment into future terms until all official transcripts have been received.

Before sending unofficial college transcripts, please make sure they include the following:

  • Your previous school’s name or logo printed on the document
  • Cumulative GPA
  • A list of completed courses and earned credit broken down by semester
  • Degree and date conferred (if applicable)

Official College Transcript Policy

An acceptable official college transcript is one that has been issued directly from the institution and is in a sealed envelope. If you have one in your possession, it must meet the same requirements. If your previous institution offers electronic official transcript processing, they can send the document directly to [email protected] .

If the student uses unofficial transcripts with a Transcript Request Form to gain acceptance, all official transcripts must be received within 60 days of the admissions decision or before non-attendance drops for the first set of matriculated classes, whichever comes first. Failure to send all official transcripts within the 60-day period will prevent enrollment into future terms until all official transcripts have been received.

Admissions Office Contact Information

(800) 424-9596

(888) 301-3577

Email for Questions

[email protected]

Email for Documents

[email protected]

Liberty University Online Admissions Verification

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Lynchburg, VA 24515

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Submit your application online or over the phone.

Apply by phone: (800) 424-9595

Liberty University is dedicated to providing world-class educational experiences to military students across the globe.

Who May Qualify?

  • Active Duty
  • Reserve/National Guard
  • Veterans/Retirees
  • Spouses of Service Members and Veterans/Retirees
  • Current Department of Defense Employees

Available Benefits:

  • Tuition discounts – $275 per credit hour for graduate courses
  • Additional discount for veterans who service in a civilian capacity as a First Responder (less than $625 per course) *
  • 8-week courses, 8 different start dates each year, and no set login times (may exclude certain courses such as practicums, internships, or field experiences)

*Not applicable to certificates.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an mfa in creative writing.

A Master of Fine Arts degree, or MFA, is a terminal degree in an artistic craft that demonstrates that you have achieved the highest level of training and skill in your discipline. Like a doctorate, an MFA often allows you to teach courses at the graduate level while also providing many opportunities for scholarship and leadership in education. If you want to grow your creative writing skills to become the best writer you can be, then the Master of Fine Arts can help you get there.

How will students work towards developing their writing skills?

With creative writing workshops and a thesis project, you will receive support and guidance to help you become the best writer you can be.

How long will it take to complete the MFA in Creative Writing?

You can complete the MFA in Creative Writing in just 48 credit hours!

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The Best 15 Creative Writing MFA Programs in 2023

April 7, 2023

mfa creative writing programs

Whether you studied at a top creative writing university , or are a high school dropout who will one day become a bestselling author , you may be considering an MFA in Creative Writing. But is a writing MFA genuinely worth the time and potential costs? How do you know which program will best nurture your writing? This article walks you through the considerations for an MFA program, as well as the best Creative Writing MFA programs in the United States.

First of all, what is an MFA?

A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is a graduate degree that usually takes from two to three years to complete. Applications require a sample portfolio for entry, usually of 10-20 pages of your best writing.

What actually goes on in a creative writing MFA beyond inspiring award-winning books and internet memes ? You enroll in workshops where you get feedback on your creative writing from your peers and a faculty member. You enroll in seminars where you get a foundation of theory and techniques. Then you finish the degree with a thesis project.

Reasons to Get an MFA in Creative Writing

You don’t need an MFA to be a writer. Just look at Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison or bestselling novelist Emily St. John Mandel.

Nonetheless, there are plenty of reasons you might still want to get a creative writing MFA. The first is, unfortunately, prestige. An MFA from a top program can help you stand out in a notoriously competitive industry to be published.

The second reason: time. Many MFA programs give you protected writing time, deadlines, and maybe even a (dainty) salary.

Third, an MFA in Creative Writing is a terminal degree. This means that this degree allows you to teach writing at the university level, especially after you publish a book.

But above all, the biggest reason to pursue an MFA is the community it brings you. You get to meet other writers, and share feedback, advice, and moral support, in relationships that can last for decades.

Types of Creative Writing MFA Programs

Here are the different types of programs to consider, depending on your needs:

Fully-Funded Full-Time Programs

These programs offer full-tuition scholarships and sweeten the deal by actually paying you to attend them.

  • Pros: You’re paid to write (and teach).
  • Cons: Uprooting your entire life to move somewhere possibly very cold.

Full-Time MFA Programs

These programs include attending in-person classes and paying tuition (though many offer need-based and merit scholarships).

  • Pros: Lots of top-notch programs non-funded programs have more assets to attract world-class faculty and guests.
  • Cons: It’s an investment that might not pay itself back.

Low-Residency MFA Programs

Low-residency programs usually meet biannually for short sessions. They also offer one-on-one support throughout the year. These MFAs are more independent, preparing you for what the writing life is actually like.

  • Pros: No major life changes required. Cons: Less time dedicated to writing and less time to build relationships.

Online MFA Programs

Held 100% online. These programs have high acceptance rates and no residency requirement. That means zero travel or moving expenses.

  • Pros: No major life changes required.
  • Cons: These MFAs have less name-recognition

The Top 15 Creative Writing MFA Programs Ranked by Category

The following programs are selected for their balance of high funding, impressive return on investment, stellar faculty, major journal publications , and impressive alums.

Fully Funded MFA Programs

1) johns hopkins university, mfa in fiction/poetry (baltimore, md).

This is a two-year program, with $33,000 teaching fellowships per year. This MFA offers the most generous funding package. Not to mention, it offers that sweet, sweet health insurance, mind-boggling faculty, and a guaranteed lecture position after graduation (nice). No nonfiction MFA (boo).

  • Incoming class size: 8 students
  • Admissions rate: 11.1%
  • Alumni: Chimamanda Adiche, Jeffrey Blitz, Wes Craven, Louise Erdrich, Porochista Khakpour, Phillis Levin, ZZ Packer, Tom Sleigh, Elizabeth Spires, Rosanna Warren

2) University of Texas, James Michener Center (Austin, TX)

A fully-funded 3-year program with a generous stipend of $29,500. The program offers fiction, poetry, playwriting and screenwriting. The Michener Center is also unique because you study a primary genre and a secondary genre, and also get $3,000 for the summer.

  • Incoming class size : 12 students
  • Acceptance rate: a bone-chilling less-than-1% in fiction; 2-3% in other genres
  •   Alumni: Fiona McFarlane, Brian McGreevy, Karan Mahajan, Alix Ohlin, Kevin Powers, Lara Prescott, Roger Reeves, Maria Reva, Domenica Ruta, Sam Sax, Joseph Skibell, Dominic Smith

3) University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA)

The Iowa Writers’ Workshop is a 2-year program on a residency model for fiction and poetry. This means there are low requirements, and lots of time to write groundbreaking novels or play pool at the local bar. Most students are funded, with fellowships worth up to $21,000. The Translation MFA, co-founded by Gayatri Chakravorti Spivak, is also two years, but with more intensive coursework. The Nonfiction Writing Program is a prestigious three-year MFA program and is also intensive.

  • Incoming class size: 25 each for poetry and fiction; 10-12 for nonfiction and translation.
  • Acceptance rate: 3.7%
  • Fantastic Alumni: Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Connor, Sandra Cisneros, Joy Harjo, Garth Greenwell, Kiley Reid, Brandon Taylor, Eula Biss, Yiyun Li, Jennifer Croft

4) University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI)

Anne Carson famously lives in Ann Arbor, as do the MFA students U-Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program. This is a big university town, which is less damaging to your social life. Plus, there’s lots to do when you have a $23,000 stipend, summer funding, and health care.

This is a 2-3-year program, with an impressive reputation. They also have a demonstrated commitment to “ push back against the darkness of intolerance and injustice ” and have outreach programs in the community.

  • Incoming class size: 18
  • Acceptance rate: 4% (which maybe seems high after less-than-1%)
  • Alumni: Brit Bennett, Vievee Francis, Airea D. Matthews, Celeste Ng, Chigozie Obioma, Jia Tolentino, Jesmyn Ward

5) Brown University (Providence, RI)

Brown offers an edgy, well-funded program in a place that doesn’t dip into arctic temperatures. Students are all fully-funded for 2-3 years with $29,926 in 2021-22. Students also get summer funding and—you guessed it—that sweet, sweet health insurance.

In the Brown Literary Arts MFA, students take only one workshop and one elective per semester. It’s also the only program in the country to feature a Digital/Cross Disciplinary Track.

  • Incoming class size: 12-13
  • Acceptance rate: “highly selective”
  • Alumni: Edwidge Danticat, Jaimy Gordon, Gayl Jones, Ben Lerner, Joanna Scott, Kevin Young, Ottessa Moshfegh

Best MFA Creative Writing Programs (Continued) 

6) university of arizona (tucson, az).

This 3-year program has many attractive qualities. It’s in “ the lushest desert in the world ”, and was recently ranked #4 in creative writing programs, and #2 in Nonfiction. You can take classes in multiple genres, and in fact, are encouraged to do so. Plus, Arizona dry heat is good for arthritis.

This notoriously supportive program pays $20,000 a year, and offers the potential to volunteer at multiple literary organizations. You can also do supported research at the US-Mexico Border.

  • Incoming class size: 9
  • Acceptance rate: 4.85% (a refreshingly specific number after Brown’s evasiveness)
  • Alumni: Francisco Cantú, Jos Charles, Tony Hoagland, Nancy Mairs, Richard Russo, Richard Siken, Aisha Sabatini Sloan, David Foster Wallace

7) Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ):

Arizona State is also a three-year funded program in arthritis-friendly dry heat. It offers small class sizes, individual mentorships, and one of the most impressive faculty rosters in the game. Everyone gets a $19,000 stipend, with other opportunities for financial support.

  • Incoming class size: 8-10
  • Acceptance rate: 3% (sigh)
  • Alumni: Tayari Jones, Venita Blackburn, Dorothy Chan, Adrienne Celt, Dana Diehl, Matthew Gavin Frank, Caitlin Horrocks, Allegra Hyde, Hugh Martin, Bonnie Nadzam

FULL-RESIDENCY MFAS (UNFUNDED)

8) new york university (new york, ny).

This two-year program is in New York City, meaning it comes with close access to literary opportunities and hot dogs. NYU is private, and has one of the most accomplished faculty lists anywhere. Students have large cohorts (more potential friends!) and have a penchant for winning top literary prizes.

  • Incoming class size: 40-60
  • Acceptance rate: 6%
  • Alumni: Nick Flynn, Nell Freudenberger, Aracelis Girmay, Mitchell S. Jackson, Tyehimba Jess, John Keene, Raven Leilani, Robin Coste Lewis, Ada Limón, Ocean Vuong

9) Columbia University (New York, NY)

Another 2-3 year private MFA program with drool-worthy permanent and visiting faculty. Columbia offers courses in fiction, poetry, translation, and nonfiction. Beyond the Ivy League education, Columbia offers close access to agents, and its students have a high record of bestsellers.

  • Incoming class size: 110
  • Acceptance rate: 21%
  • Alumni: Alexandra Kleeman, Rachel Kushner, Claudia Rankine, Rick Moody, Sigrid Nunez, Tracy K. Smith, Emma Cline, Adam Wilson, Marie Howe, Mary Jo Bang

10) Sarah Lawrence (Bronxville, NY)

Sarah Lawrence offers speculative fiction beyond the average fiction, poetry, and nonfiction course offerings. With intimate class sizes, this program is unique because it offers biweekly one-on-one conferences with its stunning faculty. It also has a notoriously supportive atmosphere.

  • Incoming class size: 30-40
  • Acceptance rate: N/A
  • Alumni: Cynthia Cruz, Melissa Febos, T Kira Madden, Alex Dimitrov, Moncho Alvarado

LOW RESIDENCY

11 bennington college (bennington, vt).

This two-year program boasts truly stellar faculty, and meets twice a year for ten days in January and June. It’s like a biannual vacation in beautiful Vermont, plus mentorship by a famous writer, and then you get a degree. The tuition is $23,468 per year, with scholarships available.

  • Acceptance rate: 53%
  • Incoming class: 40
  • Alumni: Larissa Pham, Andrew Reiner, Lisa Johnson Mitchell, and others

12)  Institute for American Indian Arts (Santa Fe, NM)

This two-year program emphasizes Native American and First Nations writing. With truly amazing faculty and visiting writers, they offer a wide range of genres offered, in screenwriting, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

Students attend two eight-day residencies each year, in January and July, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. At $12,000 a year, it boasts being “ one of the most affordable MFA programs in the country .”

  • Incoming class size : 22
  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Alumni: Tommy Orange, Dara Yen Elerath, Kathryn Wilder

13) Vermont College of Fine Arts

One of few MFAs where you can study the art of the picture book, middle grade and young adult literature, graphic literature, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry for young people. Students meet twice a year for nine days, in January and July, in Vermont. You can also do many travel residencies in exciting (and warm) places like Cozumel.

VCFA boasts amazing faculty and visiting writers, with individualized study options and plenty of one-on-one time. Tuition is $48,604.

  • Incoming class size: 18-25
  • Acceptance rate: 63%
  • Alumnx: Lauren Markham, Mary-Kim Arnold, Cassie Beasley, Kate Beasley, Julie Berry, Bridget Birdsall, Gwenda Bond, Pablo Cartaya

ONLINE MFAS

14) university of texas at el paso (el paso, tx).

The world’s first bilingual and online MFA program in the world. UTEP is considered the best online MFA program, and features award-winning faculty from across the globe. Intensive workshops allow submitting in Spanish and English, and genres include poetry and fiction. This three-year program costs $14,766 a year, with rolling admissions.

  • Alumni: Watch alumni testimonies here

15) Bay Path University (Long Meadow, MA)

This 2-year online program is dedicated entirely to nonfiction. A supportive, diverse community, Bay Path offers small class sizes, close mentorship, and a potential field trip in Ireland.

There are many tracks, including publishing, Narrative Medicine, and teaching. Core courses include memoir, narrative journalism, and the personal essay. The price is $785/credit, for 39 credits, with scholarships available.

  • Incoming class size: 20
  • Acceptance rate: an encouraging 78%
  • Alumni: Read alumni testimonies here

Prepare for your MFA in advance:

  • Best English Programs
  • Best Creative Writing Schools
  • Writing Summer Programs

Best MFA Creative Writing Programs – References:

  • https://www.pw.org/mfa
  • The Creative Writing MFA Handbook: A Guide for Prospective Graduate Students , by Tom Kealey (A&C Black 2005)
  • Graduate School Admissions

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Julia Conrad

With a Bachelor of Arts in English and Italian from Wesleyan University as well as MFAs in both Nonfiction Writing and Literary Translation from the University of Iowa, Julia is an experienced writer, editor, educator, and a former Fulbright Fellow. Julia’s work has been featured in  The Millions ,  Asymptote , and  The Massachusetts Review , among other publications. To read more of her work, visit  www.juliaconrad.net

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emerson online mfa creative writing

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emerson online mfa creative writing

What You Won’t Learn in an MFA

An mfa can teach you skills, but will it prepare you for a writing career.

By 2018, I had written five books and decided to pursue an MFA in creative writing with a concentration in fiction. For me, earning an MFA gave me the time and space I needed to quit my day job and transition to writing full-time, but that was something I had been building toward for over a decade. Of course, I can’t speak to all MFA programs, but in many cases, they focus almost exclusively on writing skills and don’t give writers the concrete skills they need to make money writing and publishing. I often found myself answering questions for my classmates about what publishing was really like. It simply wasn’t being taught, sometimes because faculty themselves were struggling with how to navigate writing as a business.

An MFA program may be the right choice to help you become a better writer, or because you want the qualification to teach writing at a college; it may not give you insights into navigating the publishing landscape.

Here are some of the professional development skills you may need to gain outside of the classroom on your writing journey.

Getting published

Many MFA programs don’t talk to authors about the good, the bad, and the ugly in both traditional publishing and self-publishing. There is often an assumption that if you’re in an MFA program, you’ll be seeking a traditional publishing deal. But most programs also don’t teach writers the skills to query small presses or agents who can query large presses. Even as self-publishing has become an increasingly popular publishing choice, many MFA programs aren’t giving students a clear picture of what it involves.

Contracting

My MFA program was great, but never once during my studies did I hear anyone talk about how to read, negotiate, or understand a contract. As an indie author, you’ll have fewer contracts to interact with than authors who choose to traditionally publish their work, but contracts will still come up—contracts with designers who are working on your books, contracts with podcasts or magazines publishing excerpts of your work. In my MFA program, students who were publishing were left to talk with each other to try to understand how contracts work. Most writers aren’t legal experts, and we benefit from having either a private attorney or an attorney through an organization such as the Author’s Guild review our contracts. I would love to see MFA programs better prepare writers to navigate these business interactions, to negotiate writing rates, and to understand what rights we may be signing away with a particular contract.

Writing to market

The culture of MFA programs often shames or diminishes the idea of writing to market, and instead prioritizes creating literary art for the sake of art. This is a completely valid way to approach your writing life. However, if your goal is to publish your work and sell books, understanding the market and how to write books that appeal to readers is important. There’s nothing wrong with writing books with mass-market appeal, but, depending on the program you attend, you may not hear that in classes. Especially for writers considering the self-publishing route, learning how to understand current trends and how to write books that connect to them is invaluable.

Writing is your passion, and seeing your name in print might be your dream, but when it happens, your writing also becomes a business. Understanding how to manage a writing business is something that most new writers won’t have a lot of experience with. For example, when you get paid from book sales, speaking arrangements, or most anything to do with your books, taxes aren’t going to be withheld. Instead, you’ll need to put money aside to pay your taxes. MFA programs generally don’t cover these details or highlight the importance of hiring an accountant or tax professional to help you with setting up your writing business. You may need to form an LLC for your self-publishing business, open a business bank account, and file taxes appropriately for your writing work. As a self-published author, you also may need to keep records tracking orders and inventory.

Most authors are not able to make a living from books alone. Many writers are balancing a variety of different content creation and income streams. This may include teaching at a college or university (for which a terminal degree such as an MFA is required), freelance writing, and independent teaching, to name a few possibilities. The more writing programs can give MFA students the tools they need to understand the business side of their work, the more successful they will be.

Sassafras Lowrey writes fiction and nonfiction and was the recipient of the 2013 Lambda Literary Award for emerging LGBTQ writers.

emerson online mfa creative writing

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  1. Creative Writing BFA, Undergraduate, Emerson College

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  2. Everything you need to know about an MFA in creative writing!

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  1. Ep. 001: WHAT IS RPBR?

  2. NKP 765 Total Track Steam Tour with the Silver Bronco

  3. Q1 Stylistic Mark of MFA program

  4. Distinguished Writers Series: Mary Gaitskill

  5. Distinguished Writers Series: Elif Batuman

  6. Distinguished Writers Series: Elizabeth Nunez

COMMENTS

  1. Graduate Creative Writing (MFA)

    Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing (MFA-Online) Writing for Film and Television (MFA-Low Residency) Publishing and Writing (MA) 120 Boylston Street. Boston, MA 02116. 617-824-8500. Emerson College's Creative Writing MFA is a graduate program offered by the Department of Writing, Literature & Publishing in the School of the Arts.

  2. Emerson College's Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing MFA

    Find details about every creative writing competition—including poetry contests, short story competitions, essay contests, awards for novels, grants for translators, and more—that we've published in the Grants & Awards section of Poets & Writers Magazine during the past year. We carefully review the practices and policies of each contest before including it in the Writing Contests ...

  3. Creative Writing (MFA) Submission

    For more information, visit our MFA in Creative Writing program pages or learn about applying . If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected] or 617-824-8610, and we look forward to staying in touch. Boston. 120 Boylston Street. Boston, MA 02116. 617-824-8500.

  4. Tuition & Aid, Creative Writing MFA, Emerson College

    120 Boylston Street. Boston, MA 02116. 617-824-8500. Los Angeles. The Netherlands. Notice of Non-Discrimination: Emerson College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, ethnicity, sex (under Title IX), pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, including transgender identity, religion, disability, age ...

  5. 25 Best Online Creative Writing MFAs for 2021

    Emerson College offers two of Boston's best online MFA creative writing programs with its MFA in Writing for Film and Television or its Master of Fine Arts in Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing. The best online creative writing MFA degree program in popular fiction writing/publishing is available entirely online (with the completion of 36 ...

  6. Compare Online MFA In Creative Writing Programs

    If you are passionate about writing and want to pursue a master's degree in creative writing, you might be interested in the best online MFA in creative writing programs of 2023. This webpage from Best College Reviews ranks and compares the top online programs based on tuition, curriculum, faculty, and student outcomes. You will also find helpful information on admission requirements ...

  7. Emerson College MA in Creative Writing

    Emerson Graduate Tuition and Fees. Part-time graduates at Emerson paid an average of $1,296 per credit hour in 2019-2020. This tuition was the same for both in-state and out-of-state students. Information about average full-time graduate student tuition and fees is shown in the table below. In State.

  8. Award-Winning Creative Writing MFA Student Reflects on His Success

    For more information about Emerson College's Creative Writing MFA, be sure to schedule a call with an admissions counselor. Or, to get a sense of what it's like to be in the program, check out our blog about a day in the life of a creative writing graduate student .

  9. Most Commonly Asked Questions About our Film and Screenwriting MFAs

    A: I recruit for Emerson's Film and Media Art (MFA) and Writing for Film and Television (MFA) programs. Q: What makes Emerson's film and screenwriting programs stand out? A: There are a few things that make the Film and Media Art MFA unique. First, the program has different entry points for students with previous experience in the field.

  10. My experience applying to 15 of the best Creative Writing MFA ...

    In late 2019 I applied to around 15 of the best Creative Writing MFA's in the United States. All of these programs have less than a 3% acceptance rate--the most competitive among them less than 1% (yes, they received over 1000 applicants and accepted less than 10).

  11. Emerson Writing MFA Celebrating 40th Anniversary at AWP Conference

    Ciera Burch, MFA '20 will join a panel of MFA alums at AWP to celebrate the program's 40th anniversary. Writing, Literature and Publishing's MFA turns 40 in 2024, and in celebration, a panel of alums will converge on the annual Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) conference in February to present a panel, Emerson MFA at Forty: Celebrating Four Decades of Writing & Publishing.

  12. Online Master of Fine Arts

    Liberty's 100% online Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing can help you develop your writing passion into a career so you can set your works free to impact culture and the world ...

  13. Should I do the Emerson MFA?? : r/Screenwriting

    Emerson will happily take your money and make you feel good doing so; you'll still have to put in the days and hours writing quality work. You'll take another risk. The real world is much harder, but at least you won't be paying student loan interest for years and years. Be pragmatic when it comes to humanities majors.

  14. The Best 15 Creative Writing MFA Programs in 2023

    14) University of Texas at El Paso (El Paso, TX) The world's first bilingual and online MFA program in the world. UTEP is considered the best online MFA program, and features award-winning faculty from across the globe. Intensive workshops allow submitting in Spanish and English, and genres include poetry and fiction.

  15. MFA in Writing

    VCFA's MFA in Writing program offers flexibility and creativity. Collaborate with writers during the summer residency. Summer residency from Jul 21-29. ... The creative writing workshop is a core component of the residency experience, one that all students fully participate in. We offer a wide array of workshops, including manuscript-based ...

  16. What You Won't Learn in an MFA

    There is often an assumption that if you're in an MFA program, you'll be seeking a traditional publishing deal. But most programs also don't teach writers the skills to query small presses ...