Best Creative Writing Schools in the U.S.

Oct 20, 2021

Discover some of the best schools for creative writing, including those that offer Master of Fine Arts programs. Find detailed overviews of the programs at four noteworthy universities, as well as a handy table that lists other schools in the United States that offer formal training in creative writing.

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School Overviews

Formal studies in creative writing can typically be found through Master of Fine Arts programs in fiction or poetry. Instruction usually takes place in the form of writer's workshops, where students work with each other and professors to hone their craft. Let's profile a few schools that have been recognized for excellence by the Princeton Review and the U.S. News & World Report in 2017. All four schools offer MFA programs in creative writing or English, and students at the first university can earn a specialized undergraduate degree in English literature.

University of Iowa

The University of Iowa was the first school in the United States to offer a creative writing program. It was ranked at the best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review and named #33 among all public schools in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Alumni of the Iowa Writer's Workshop have won virtually every major literary award over the course of the workshop's history, including some of the nation's poet laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners.

Students can pursue a Bachelor of English Literature with a concentration in creative writing, as well as an MFA in Creative Writing. Admission to both programs is selective and contingent on submission of a manuscript or selection of poems. The university also hosts the annual Iowa Summer Writing Festival, where writers travel across the country to take weekend and weeklong writing courses and workshops.

University of Michigan

In 2017, the University of Michigan was ranked #4 among public schools by the U.S. News & World Report. It earned a #9 rank on the publication's list of the most innovative schools. The 2-year MFA program is comprised mostly of writing workshops and culminates in a master's thesis. Students also have the opportunity to teach undergraduate courses in English or composition. Between the first and second years of the program, all students can take advantage of a $6,000 stipend, which allows them to spend a summer semester writing and honing their skills. Second-year students can gain teaching experience by designing and teaching their own undergraduate courses at the introductory level.

University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas at Austin is a large public university that was ranked #18 among public schools by the U.S. News & World Report in 2017. Students can either pursue an MFA in English with an emphasis on writing fiction or poetry or an MFA in Writing, which allows for a more extensive curriculum. The MFA in Writing program is located in the Michener Center for Writers and takes three years to complete. Students are required to select two genres to study; areas of specialization include fiction, poetry, screenwriting, and playwriting. All MFA students receive financial support from the James A. Michener Fellowship for all three years they are enrolled in the program. MFA students have access to teaching assistantships, which provide them with a stipend and develop their teaching skills.

New York University

New York University offers a Master of Arts in Creative Writing that combines coursework and workshops with enrichment opportunities such as public readings, contributions to literary journals, and teaching experience. Students have access to the Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House and are also invited to participate in a low-residency workshop in Paris. At the undergraduate level, NYU students can pursue a minor in creative writing, which provides a broad introduction to the field. In 2017, the school was ranked #36 among all national universities and 13th most innovative school by the U.S. News & World Report.

List of 10 Good Creative Writing Schools in the U.S.

Now we'll explore a few more schools with unique, noteworthy programs in creative writing.

School Name Location Distinction
University of Wisconsin - Madison Madison, WI Offers a Ph.D. in English with a minor in creative writing
Florida State University Tallahassee, FL Publishes two literary magazines: The Kudzu Review and The Southeast Review
Boston University Boston, MA Offers creative writing global fellowships
University of California - Irvine Irvine, CA Boasts Pulitzer Prize-winning alumni, including Michael Chabon and Richard Ford
University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA The creative writing program accepts only ten students per year
Cornell University Ithaca, NY The Creative Writing Program sponsors a reading series

While MFA degrees are the most common degrees for creative writing, there are also minors available at the undergraduate and doctorate levels. MFA programs give students the chance to hone their craft through formal education and outside enrichment experiences.

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