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2020 Best Colleges for Creative Writing Undergrad Degrees

Writer at a desk with a computer, magazines, coffee, headphones, iPhone, and a pad of paper reading "Pass It On."

 

Wanna get closer to having people celebrate you on a future National Author’s Day? Creative Writing is a great degree for anyone interested in writing, regardless of whether your passion lies in fiction, poetry, screenwriting, playwriting, or nonfiction. 

If you're not quite sure what you want to major in, take our Career & Majors quiz! If you're sure about Creative Writing but don't know what sort of options you have, we're all over it! 

While most institutions offer creative writing courses and a number offer minors, it can be difficult to find undergraduate degrees focused solely on the big CW— Creative Writing. Writing is difficult enough, especially so when you love it so ardently.  

Lisa Simpson collapsing on her desk in tears declaring "Writing is the hardest thing ever!"

 

It should not be hard to find an institution of higher education to further your education in it. We’ve compiled a nice lineup below, beginning with colleges that offer a full Bachelor’s in Creative Writing to colleges that offer English majors with an Emphasis in Creative Writing, as well as minors, certificates, and a smattering of MFA program shoutouts. 

University of Iowa

Most widely known for the famous Iowa Writers’ Workshop, it’s less known that you don’t have to be a graduate student to take advantage of the boatloads of experience in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. 

The University of Iowa offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in English and Creative Writing, as well as a Literary Publishing Track. You’ll also be earning your degree in writing in a UNESCO City of Literature which hosts an annual Book Fest as well as numerous other opportunities to get involved with the flourishing literary community in Iowa City. 

Northwestern University

Nestled within the English Department at Northwestern, the Creative Writing Major is considered a concentration, but admission is very competitive. Students can study it as a major, minor, or as a sequence-only student. Benefits of majoring include one-on-ones with visiting writers, senior honors, and participation in the winter senior readings series. 

Students can apply for admission no earlier than the spring semester of their sophomore year and are required to complete certain prerequisites to be considered. Accepted students will study with accomplished professors, as well as with visiting writers from the Annual Writers’ Festival held during the Evanston Literary Festival. 

Columbia University in the City of New York 

Columbia University in the City of New York offers an undergraduate Creative Writing program that combines intensive workshops with seminars to produce works of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction—students can opt to major in a Single or Cross-Genre course of study. Students can also take workshops in dramatic writing and screenwriting.

The program is modeled after the graduate Writing Division of The School of the Arts, which offers a high-ranking MFA program, and any student may apply to join the program regardless of their major upon entering Columbia. Located in New York City, students also have the advantage of being close to the major publishing houses in the industry.  

Emory University

Celebrating its 29th birthday this year, the Emory University undergraduate Creative Writing Program encourages students to approach the study of literature creatively, including through their own personal interests in specific genres such as poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, playwriting and screenwriting. 

Every year, the Creative Writing Program sponsors the Creative Writing Reading Series, where they bring four to six international renowned and prize-winning authors down to Atlanta, GA, to discuss writing with Emory students. 

Oberlin College

Oberlin College’s department of Creative Writing offers the program as both a major and minor. With 57 courses and 9 associated faculty, students can fully explore fiction, poetry, nonfiction, playwriting, and screenwriting. One of the standouts in this program versus others is the 5 Study Away programs the department collaborates with—many Creative Writing programs discourage students from heading abroad. 

The program can be competitive, even once you’ve been accepted to it. Students must submit an application for all upper level workshops that includes 12 pages of their best work. The students with the best applications will be rewarded with a seat in a classroom of the picturesque Peters Hall at this Ohio institution. 

Brandeis University

Brandeis University offers the full enchilada, as well: a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing. It’s been taught at Brandeis since 1951 and became its own major in 2003, with classes offered entirely by established writers. 

Workshops have a maximum of 14 students and the program is very active, with sponsored reading series’, student awards, panel discussions, and publishing workshops, as well as both journal and performance opportunities. 

Hamilton College

Named for the now-famous-thanks-to-Lin-Manuel-Miranda Alexander Hamilton, Hamilton College’s Literature and Creative Writing Department offers a creative writing curriculum that emphasizes small classes to go along with the development of superior reading and writing skills. 

Students can take advantage of research opportunities in writing, as well, and apply for the college’s Emerson Grants program. Located in Clinton, NY, Hamilton students are just over four hours away from the publishing industry. 

Bucknell University

Home to the Stadler Center for Poetry and Literary Arts, Bucknell University’s Creative Writing major, housed in the English department, gets support both on and off campus. Students can take workshops in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as take part in a lively reading series, internship opportunities, and garner knowledge from writers-in-residence. 

Located in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, students spend their time studying contemporary texts just three hours from the publishing capital, NYC. 

Kenyon College

Located in Gabier, OH, and home to the Kenyon Review, Kenyon College features an English major with an Emphasis on Creative Writing. Ten faculty members teach workshops in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. 

While at Kenyon College, students have the opportunity to apply for internships with the Kenyon Review Student Associates Program, apply for the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, submit to The Kenyon Collegian, and more. Students can also take advantage of the Kenyon-Exeter program to study abroad. 

University of Miami

The University of Miami College of Arts and Sciences features a Bachelor’s in English with a Creative Writing Concentration. Students can opt for a Thesis or non-Thesis track, but both routes feature courses with a multilingual aspect, whether it’s an entirely different language or an English vernacular from different communities. UM’s MFA program is the only program in the nation with a broad, multilingual focus. 

Mangrove, a national undergraduate literary magazine, give students an opportunity to get hands-on learning, and they can also utilize USpeak, UM’s open mic night, to read original work aloud. 

University of Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh Writing Program is one of the oldest in the nation and offers three tracks for students to pursue: fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Each track has three levels of classes and are topped off with a senior seminar capstone experience. 

Undergraduate students are eligible for four writing awards during their time at the University of Pittsburgh, and also can take part in events such as the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series. The institution also features an MFA program. 

Stanford University

The Creative Writing Program at Stanford University was founded by Wallace Stegner, noted writer and environmentalist, in 1946. For students earning an undergraduate degree, Stanford offers a major in English with an Emphasis in Creative Writing. For students taking majors outside of English, a minor in Creative Writing is also offered, featuring tracks in prose and poetry.

The Stegner Fellowship is a major offered by the Creative Writing Program, accepting five fiction and five poetry fellows per year. While there’s no degree attached to this, it functions as a writer-in-residence opportunity and receives the guidance of Stanford faculty.   

 

Honorable Mentions: 

University of Rochester: The Department of English offers a track in Creative Writing. Students must apply to a specific Creative Writing advisor and receive written approval to pursue the concentration. 

Brown University: Brown offers a concentration in Literary Arts within their English Department, but the primary focus is on MFA students. 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology:  In the Comparative Media Studies department, students can major in Writing. MIT offers several different writing genres, but has several unique classes in science writing in particular. 

University of Virginia: UVA offers a fully-funded 2-year MFA program that is extremely competitive — it only admits 5 poets and 5 fiction writers per year. Undergrads have the option of majoring in English and choosing a concentration of either poetry writing or literary prose writing. 

Colorado College: A track within the English major, students at Colorado College can complete 15 courses to get awarded the distinction of Creative Writing at graduation. 

Colby College: The Creative Writing concentration at Colby College is provided for English majors. Students can earn an Honors designation, as well. 

Washington University in St. Louis: Students at Washington University in St. Louis can earn a Certificate in Creative Writing comprised of 16 units. Acceptance to the MFA program is highly competitive but comes with a number of perks. 

University of Texas-Austin:  UT-Austin offers a Certificate in Creative Writing, as well as Honors option. The New Writers Project is a 3-year MFA program that offers concentrations in poetry and fiction. 

You after getting into the just-right program and bonding with an amazing group of writers who are going help you develop your voice and create a solid foundation for your entire writing career:

A GIF of Mable Pines from the animated TV show "Gravity Falls" says "I have found my people."

 

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