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Creative writing majors will focus on the generation of new literature, whether that be short story, poetry, novel, memoir, or any of the other literary forms. Focusing in creative writing will also involve analyzation of process and techniques of previously published work, as well as constructive criticism of fellow classmates’ work.
Majors in this area are, more often not, aspiring novelists, poets, scriptwriters, and the like, none of which actually require a degree to pursue, but entering the career without a degree is traditionally difficult. The the true perk of undertaking a degree in creative writing is simply this: the writer’s community. The expectation is to learn from published individuals (professors), receive a hearty supply of feedback on passages of your own writing (from professors and peers), and learn the art of discipline.
While often included in the same bucket as an English major, creative writing is the other side of the coin. English majors analyze and interpret literature, rarely being required to write anything original. Creative writing is the flipside—while students will be consistently reading and examining previously written work, as well, the primary focus will be on using the tools presented in literature to generate bona fide work. Creative writing comes in a variety of degrees, multiple types of associates, baccalaureates, and masters, as well in doctorate form.
While less common, some community colleges will offer an Associate of Arts (AA) in Creative Writing or, even more rarely, an Associate of Fine Arts (AFA) in Creative Writing. Almost every college offers a 2-year degree in professional writing, which can often include the option of creative writing courses.
Creative writing at this level will likely require 60 credits that include a variety of liberal arts courses. Within the major, students will often take workshops which center around peer review, as well as at least one interest-specific course such as playwriting or poetry. The AFA will likely culminate in a capstone project.
The baccalaureate level will contain the same types of classes, but more in-depth. The opportunities to take specialized classes will increase and graduation often requires a thesis project that’s publication-ready.
Creative writing degrees are conferred one of two ways at this level, either as a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Creative Writing or a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Creative Writing. The difference between a BA and a BFA in this major is the same as any other major. A BA will have a ratio of of 60/40, liberal arts core classes to creative writing courses, while a BFA inverts that number, spending about 60% of students’ time in their designated major courses. BFAs are often classified as pre-professional degrees, designed to send students directly into the working world.
Careers for graduates with a BA/BFA in Creative Writing: Advertising Copywriter, Digital Copywriter, Editorial Assistant, Magazine Journalist, Newspaper Journalist, Public Relations Specialist, Speechwriter, Technical Writer, Book Editor, Proposal Writer, Marketing Communications Specialist, Grant Writer, Content Strategist, Translator, Video Game Writer, Film Critic, Copy Editor, Social Media Specialist, Proofreader, Web Content Writer, Greeting Card Writer, Ghostwriter, Travel Writer
There’s a small caveat when it comes to obtaining a degree in creative writing at the master’s level. A Master of Arts degree is typically offered in English Literature with a concentration in some facet of creative writing. It’s largely considered an academic degree with heavy research overtones. Again, as with an English degree, the focus is on analyzing already-published literature rather than creation. MAs in English typically take 2 years to complete attending full time.
The more direct approach to a graduate degree in creative writing major is a Master’s in Fine Arts. The whole focus is generally on creation of new work and intense workshops. Residencies or writer’s retreats are typically involved at this level, as well, and the degree culminates in a publication-ready dissertation varying anywhere between 40 to 200 pages. MFAs take anywhere between 2 to 3 years to complete.
The introduction of the MFA as the terminal degree in the creative writing world is more recent and there are still PhD programs available, though a doctorate as a requirement for work in the field is fading. Earning an MFA makes students eligible to teach at the university level, but publication is also often required to attain such a position.
Careers for graduates with an MA or MFA: Professor, Arts Administrator, Web Content Manager, Creative Director
A PhD in Creative Writing is much like an MFA with more emphasis on literary theory and research. There will likely be a heavy critical component to the final dissertation, which is, again, publication-ready, but more often book-length at this level of education. PhD programs take between 4 to 6 years to complete.
Careers for graduates with a PhD in Creative Writing include: Professor, Program Director