10 Cheapest Online MFAs in Creative Writing
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Updated November 11, 2022
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Seeking advancement in a field of journalism, marketing, publishing, or so many other fields? Check out the 10 Cheapest Online Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.
A world without professional writers is unfathomable. Is it even possible to imagine a world without television shows, movies, plays, musicals, books, magazines, or newspapers? Or how about a world without instructional manuals, copyrights, or nonprofit organizations? The importance of those who specialize in writing is insurmountable, which is why a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a valuable degree.
Those with an MFA in Creative writing are not merely fiction authors, but many go onto roles in publishing, scriptwriting, editing, journalism, and grant writing. Possible career fields include public relations, advertising, journalism, and marketing. A stereotype exists that a degree in writing doesn't have a high earning potential; however, the Bureau for Labor Statistics reports that the national average salary for writers and authors is $62,170.
If you are looking to combine intellectualism, creativity, and communication — all while making a great income — check out our 10 Cheapest Online MFAs' in Creative Writing.
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Top 10 Affordable Online MFAs' in Creative Writing
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Bay Path University offers the cheapest Online Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Consider its net price of $2,496 in comparison to the next most affordable, which is $7,043. In addition, plenty of financial aid options are available to Bay Path students. The 39 required credit hours can be taken at a full or part-time pace. Courses begin in January, May, and August, and students have the options to specialize in teaching or publishing tracks. MFA faculty includes authors Ann Hood and Andre Dubus III, who is scheduled to teach non-fiction and fiction writing courses. In addition, students can spend their summers abroad in Ireland. Apart from the Ireland option, this Creative Writing program is 100 percent online with no residency requirement.
Oregon State University offers a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing that invests in developing whole-people, not just writers. It understands the importance of the stories, cultures, and lives that each writer brings to the program, seeking to include these into healthy writing expressions. This highly cultivating journey is guided by faculty mentors. Overall, the MFA is a two-year program involving term-length mentorships and 10-day residencies. Some find residency requirements as inconvenient; however, OSU conducts their residencies at the Caldera Arts Center which is hidden in an old-growth forest by a lake in the Cascade Mountain range. This is certainly a perk that makes residency enjoyable, and it serves as a place for flowing creativity.
Attaining a Writing Master of Fine Arts from the University of Nebraska at Omaha involves two years of focused course work. It is a program for creative writers who are committed to a career of writing. Four 16-week writing seminars are supplemented by five 10-day residencies on campus, which often resemble a conference setting. Throughout this 60 credit-hour program, students work toward a concentration in a specific genre. The genres provided by the University of Nebraska at Omaha are Young Adult Fiction, Adult Fiction, Poetry, Creative Nonfiction, and Writing for Stage & Screen. Students may also bring in up to 18 credit hours from other programs or courses to help supplement their degree-requirement.
El Paso, TX
The University of Texas at El Paso orients its Online Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at producing publishing writers and teachers. This program does not have a residency requirement, which makes it easy to complete from anywhere in the world. It consists of 48 credit hours of coursework that cover theory, form, electives, and workshops. The reputation of this program is contingent on its graduates and its faculty, so UT El Paso is committed to connecting students with high-level writers to aid in development on the intellectual and artistic fronts. It helps if students are already excellent writers, so admission officers look for applicants with distinct voices, social/cultural awareness, and an evident yearning to grow as a writer.
A Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the Queens University of Charlotte is not an ordinary writing degree, but an induction into a community of excellent writers. The program prides itself on providing support beyond graduation. Faculty members have been finalists for Pulitzer Prizes, as well as fellows in a variety of esteemed organizations. In addition, MFA students at the Queens University of Charlotte can take advantage of the Book Development Program. Overall, the MFA specializes in four genres, which include Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, and Writing for Stage and Screen. In addition, the University boasts an incredible 4:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Students enrolled in this low residency program may also begin each semester on campus for a week, or begin the academic year abroad for two weeks.
The University of Houston — Victoria offers a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing that truly considers student needs. Most will have to choose a program based on their residency/fully-online options. Of course, there are pros and cons to each, but rather than deciding for its students makes both options available. Students can further choose one of two concentration tracks: Creative Writing with Applied Literary Translation, and then finally, Creative Writing by itself. The distinction between the two is mostly composed of differences in elective selection and project completion. For instance, students in Applied Literary Translation can take courses such as Grant Writing or International Publishing that are not available to the other students.
Winter Park, FL
The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Full Sail University places a high value on the importance of telling stories for humanity. In this unique program, students are introduced to a variety of techniques such as incorporating visual elements in early stages of creativity, focusing on characters to whom different audiences can relate. In addition to quality education, Full Sail University makes Project LaunchBoxes available which provide technological equipment to students who need them. Logistically, the full-time program takes 12 months to complete, with a different focus each month. Each month, students engage with a different aspect, such as Episodic and Serial Writing, Writing for Games, Multimedia Adaptation, and The Business of Creative Writing. If affordability is a concern, Full Sail University provides a plethora of scholarship opportunities.
New Orleans, LA
One of the most exciting aspects of a Creative Writing Online Master of Fine Arts from the University of New Orleans is the opportunity for students to create lifelong relationships with professors. Many of these professors are award-winning. The program requires 45 credit hours, which splits into five full-time semesters. However, students also can study at a part-time pace. Regardless of the state students are from, all students in the online MFA program pay the in-state tuition rate, thus avoiding nonresident fees. Another incredible feature of this program is the summer residencies abroad. Students can spend the summers with their writing cohort and professions, either in Italy or Ireland.
Western Connecticut State University's Master of Fine Arts in Creative & Professional writing is an extremely versatile degree program. For one, while students take courses and workshops that span all genres, they select a primary and secondary genre that are the focuses of their study. Another example of versatility is that students can choose to complete the program in two, three, or four years. 87% of Western Connecticut State University's graduates with an MFA in Creative & Professional Writing go onto full-time writing careers or are published. Although it is an online program, enrolled students must come to campus twice a year at the beginning of each semester in January and August. Students stay for one week to participate in residency programs, plan the rest of their coursework, and report building a strong community with other classmates. Further, the program requires an internship. Students who wish to teach can complete a teaching practicum, but others can select internships that align with their interests, such as grant writing or editorial work.
La Jolla, CA
National University began their Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing in 2005 and was the first fully-online program in the United States. While most programs require an in-person residency, even among online programs; however, National University is one of the few that doesn't require this for their degree. This means that students are 100 percent remote. The program concludes with students creating a publishable-quality manuscript in the genre of their choosing, which reflects faculty expertise in a myriad genres. National students who are also interested in teaching do particularly well after graduating, too. National âs MFA graduates often find themselves teaching at two or four-year institutions.
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2023 Most Affordable Master's in Creative Writing Online
An online master's degree in creative writing is designed for established career professionals and aspiring writers who want to develop their writing skills. Most creative writing programs at the master's level cover American literature, poetry, professional writing, and creative writing. Common courses include Fiction Writing, Nonfiction, and Creative Writing. Prospective students can expect to complete a thesis alongside a capstone project or comprehensive exam before graduation. With a graduate degree in writing, alumni can enter careers as content writers, editorial assistants, and authors.
View our methodology for details about rankings or learn more about us . You can also check out our overall list of the most affordable online degrees for some inspiration. You may also want to explore similar online graduate programs, including English and fine arts .
2023 most affordable online master's programs.
Explore the most affordable online master's degree programs in 2023 and choose the one that's right for you.
By OnlineU Staff Writers | 1/23/2023
2023 Best Online Master's Degrees in Creative Writing
This list highlights all the best online MFA creative writing degrees based on popularity. All online colleges included are accredited.
By OnlineU Staff Writers | 12/16/2022
2023 Most Affordable Online MFA Programs
Explore the most affordable colleges for online MFA degrees. Our list only includes programs from accredited online schools.
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10 Best Affordable Online Master’s in Creative Writing
A deep dive into creative writing can be much more than an academic exercise or a vehicle to a new career. It can trigger an explosion of self-discovery, deepen your talent for self-expression, and sharpen your view of the art and literature that connect us as human beings. A master's degree in fine arts, with an emphasis in creative writing, has the dual ability to set you up for numerous rewarding careers while deepening your role as a literary citizen.
Many people with MFA degrees in creative writing go into education. High school English teachers in the U.S. earn an average salary of $47,000 and instructors at the community college level average $48,000 to $60,000. Other potential careers include web content manager who makes a yearly average of $64,000, advertising copywriter at $60,000 a year, librarian at $59,000, social media specialist at $50,000, or lexicographer at $45,000 a year. If the possibility of writing scripts is appealing, screenwriting and playwriting are also possible career paths. Salaries for those competitive roles vary widely, from $50,000 to $100,000 or more. Of course, there are aspirations of becoming a professional writer and composing the next Great American Novel. Good luck! But even if books and poetry don't become your primary source of income, the ability to write publishable material brings the satisfaction of sharing your gifts with the world. Indeed, the goal of an MFA in creative writing may simply be personal fulfillment. As one of the colleges listed below puts it, these programs are for "art makers and risk takers."
Some of the colleges on this list offer coursework can be completed full off-campus, from home, at a pace that fits around your work and lifestyle. As a bonus creative writing surely boasts some of the best course names in academics such as Simple Art of Murder, Memoirs of the Mind, and Bringing Out the Dead! Many of the colleges, however, require brief residences of 10 days to a month, usually a couple of times a year. The residences offer intensive study and a chance to deepen your network of peers and mentors who share your passion for words and expression. These connections, which also can be forged via online workshops and classes, can serve you well for years to come. To quote Robert Louis Stevenson: "To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life."
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Nearly half of the data used to score each ranking involves finances and are acquired from sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics, the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Education, Glassdoor, and PayScale. Financial data encompasses the cost of tuition, fees, and class supplied; the average price of living; access to financial aid and social services; and lastly, the projected annual salary acquired from degree outcomes and income for loan repayment. The second largest category of information involves the quality of education, how competitive degree applicants should be for consideration, and how exclusive a degree program is overall. The final 25 percent of collected data is dependent on student and alumni reviews from sources such as PayScale, Rate My Professor, and Students Review.
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#10 – Bay Path University
MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing
Bay Path University's MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing is built around shaping writers who are able to tell a good story into professionals with a laundry list of publishable prose. The two-year, 39-credit program is offered fully online in a way that can shape itself to a student's life. No residency at the Massachusetts campus is required. The three-semester program studies various forms of creative nonfiction, including literary concepts such as the spiritual journey, food and travel writing, health and wellness narratives, biographies, personal essays, and memoirs. The master's thesis is a 150-page manuscript that can serve as the foundation for a full-length book. There are two specialized tracks, one aimed at publishing the student's work, and one at teaching creative writing. The program consists of six core courses, two specialized-track courses, and four elective courses. Applications must include an essay that describes what a student expects to learn from the Bay Path program, and what he or she can contribute to it. Applicants also must provide one 10-page writing sample or two five-page samples such as a personal essay, profile, column, or article.
Net Price: $22,102
#9 – oregon state university-cascades.
MFA in Creative Writing
The two-year MFA in Creating Writing program at Oregon State University-Cascades offers a hybrid approach that fits within your lifestyle while requiring a handful of brief but intensive retreats at Oregon State's satellite campus in Central Oregon. Faculty mentorships and peer interaction are a crucial part of the off-campus experience, during which students develop and work on a project study plan that includes meeting genre-specific objectives. The creative writing master's program requires four 10-day residencies (OSU-Cascades uses a quarter system), conducted in a lakeside setting overlooking the Cascade Mountains. Program application requirements include either 10-12 poems or 15-20 pages of prose (which can be excerpts from larger work), along with a statement of objectives and three letters of recommendation. A goal of the program is to transform students into literary citizens: "Thinking creatively makes people more intelligent, more sensitive, more emotionally mature, and ultimately more empathetic." Faculty includes T. Geronimo Johnson, whose debut novel, "Hold it 'Til it Hurts," was a 2013 PEN/Faulkner finalist.
Net Price: $19,205
#8 – west virginia wesleyan college, buckhannon, wv.
West Virginia Wesleyan College's MFA in Creative Writing is a two-year program aimed at giving students the tools to produce a publishable manuscript and a thorough grounding in the best examples of creative writing. Most of the four semesters of coursework can be completed off-campus. The program includes five intensive 10-day residencies at the Buckhannon, W.V., campus or in the bucolic environment of Blackwater Falls State Park. Based on a student's application, the residencies are held in the summer or winter. Students can focus on the genres of poetry, fiction, or creative non-fiction. Semester projects are completed during the residencies. Program applicants must show a "significant" body of coursework in English or writing, and supply 20 pages of prose or 15 poems. U.S. News & World Report ranks WVWC #15 for Best Value among Southern colleges.
Net Price: $18,382
#7 – lindenwood university.
MFA in Writing
St. Charles, MO
Lindenwood University, located in Missouri, offers a two-year accelerated MFA in Writing program that can be completed entirely online, or with a combination of online and on-campus classes. The program requires 48 credit hours, which includes a graduate thesis. Students can take up to three classes per quarter. Classes are three credits each. Most students take two classes per quarter. If they successfully complete three per quarter, however, the program can be completed in one year and three months. Writing workshops, literature classes, and craft classes are offered in several genres. Online classes are conducted via Canvas. Students aren't required to log in to a class at the same time. The degree qualifies students to teach writing at a university level and prepares them for careers in writing, editing, and publishing. Applications must include a statement of purpose and 7-10 pages of creative writing examples. Students currently teaching at the K-12 or community college levels can apply for tuition discounts. Students can serve as editorial assistants for Lindenwood University's literary journal. The program is ranked No. 2 by Best Colleges for online master's degrees in creative writing.
Net Price: $17,305
#6 – eastern kentucky university.
M.F.A. Creative Writing
Eastern Kentucky University offers a two-year, "low-residency" program for an MFA in creative writing. The university refers to the program as the Bluegrass Writers Studio. Most of the 48 credit hours of semester coursework can be conducted online to fit around your current lifestyle. Twelve credit hours worth of summer residencies is required. Residences, which consist of lectures, workshops, and readings are worth three credit hours for 10 days or six for a month. Residencies are held on campus in Richmond, KY, or in Lisbon, Portugal. Online workshops and mentorships in the genres of fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry are conducted via Blackboard, conference calls or other digital connections. Applications to the program must include a two-page statement of purpose, along with 15 pages of poetry or 20 pages of prose. A $300 honorarium is offered to the incoming editor-in-chief of Jelly Bucket , the program's literary magazine.
Net Price: $12,659
#5 – university of houston-victoria.
Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
Coursework for the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of Houston-Victoria can be taken exclusively online or with a combination of online and on-campus courses. UHV is located in Victoria, a Texas city of 67,000 located between Houston and San Antonio. The two-year MFA program requires 36 credits in a semester system. Six credit hours are devoted to the master's thesis. UHV's program focuses on poetry and creative writing, from creation to publication. Students can select a creative writing track or choose an emphasis in applied literary translation. Students on either of the two tracks share most of the available options of courses for completing the degree . Application requirements include a GRE Admissions Index of 980 or higher, along with two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and 20-30 sample pages of creative writing.
Net Price: $11,305
#4 – university of arkansas at monticello.
MFA Creative Writing
The University of Arkansas at Monticello is located in a city of 9,500, about 45 miles south of Pine Bluff. UAM's two-year MFA in Creative Writing program can be taken fully online. There is no on-campus requirement, allowing self-disciplined people an opportunity to earn a creative writing degree that fits their lifestyles, interests, and goals. The program fits UAM's broader mission to enhance individuals' abilities to think creatively and critically and to appreciate and contribute to the cultures of their community and beyond. There are 48 semester hours required for students, who are accepted into the genre of fiction, creative nonfiction or poetry. "Genre jumping" is encouraged so students can broaden their knowledge base. Application requirements include three letters of recommendation, plus a personal essay and essay that critiques a literary work. Applicants also must submit examples of creative writing: 10 pages of poetry, 20 pages of fiction, or 20 pages of nonfiction.
Net Price: $11,260
#3 – university of nebraska at omaha.
The MFA in Writing program at the University of Nebraska at Omaha is designed to be completed in two years and is aimed at creative writers committed to a literary career. The program comprises four 16-week online seminars and five 10-day conference-style residency sessions in Omaha, NE. Omaha is a city of about 470,000 located about two hours from Des Moines, IA, and three and a half hours from Kansas City. Students earn 60 credit hours in a semester system toward an MFA in one of four genres: Adult Fiction or Young Adult Fiction, Poetry, Writing for Stage and Screen, or Creative Nonfiction. Students are expected to devote a minimum of 25 hours a week in their distance studies. A flexible schedule of writing, guided readings, and critical response allow the student to balance coursework with other life commitments. During the 10-day residency sessions, held twice a year in Nebraska City, students attend lectures, workshops, and readings. Attendees are paired with a faculty mentor with whom the student designs a study plan for the next home-based semester. Application requirements include a self-assessment essay and samples of creative writing. The latter depends on the student's chosen genre. Aspiring screenwriters/playwrights, for instance, must submit 15-20 pages of representative original work.
Net Price: $11,223
#2 – university of new orleans.
Creative Writing Workshop Online MFA
New Orleans, LA
University of New Orleans' Creative Writing Workshop Online MFA is organized into standard semesters, giving students the benefit of exposure to a variety of professors in each genre as well as continuous interaction with classmates. This approach can build strong, often life-long relationships. UNO was listed among Huffington Post's Top 25 Underrated Creative Writing MFA Programs . With 45 required hours, students can complete the degree from home by studying full time for five semesters offered in spring and fall. However, there is flexibility to study part-time in order to make room for a job, family obligations, or other needs. UNO's program offers inticing summer residencies overseas at the University College Cork in Ireland and at the Ezra Pound Center for Literature in Brunnenburg, Italy. Students in the program can pursue an emphasis in five genres: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, playwriting, and screenwriting. Application requirements include a statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, and writing samples that vary by genre. Fiction applicants, for example, should send no more than two short stories or a novel excerpt, either of which can total no more than 30 pages.
Net Price: $10,858
#1 – mississippi university for women, columbus, ms.
Mississippi University for Women, which despite its name has been a co-educational school for more than 35 years, offers a low-residency MFA in Creative Writing. The program is offered through online classes and two short residencies. The program is 48 credits on average and can be completed in two or three years if done full-time. Genres include fiction, poetry, nonfiction, playwriting, translation, and writing for new media. Elective classes include African American Fiction, Medieval and Renaissance Narratives, and Twentieth-Century Avant-Garde Poetry. There are four required residency courses that total six credit hours. They are held on campus in Columbus, MS, located less than two hours east of Birmingham, AL. The W's MFA is unusually flexible because the residencies are treated as separate classes. In many other low-residency programs, the residency is the culmination of semester work, which means attendance is required. MFA students can edit a biannual online literary journal called Ponder Review . Application requirements include three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and 10-30 pages of samples of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or drama. GRE scores are not required for the program. The W doesn't charge out-of-state tuition.
Net Price: $10,783
Most Affordable Online MFA In Creative Writing Degrees
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Updated February 3, 2023
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Sharpen your writing skills and learn to navigate the world of publishing with one of the most affordable online MFAs in creative writing.
If you have a love of literature and a way with words, you’re perfectly suited for an MFA in creative writing. And if you think that such a degree is useless, think again. These programs can prepare you to publish your writing, teach at the university level, or work in a publishing house.
In creative writing MFA programs, students work closely with published faculty to hone their craft. They read extensively, write prolifically, and receive constructive critiques. Most programs also teach students the ins and outs of getting their work published.
What kind of affordable online MFA in creative writing should you get?
It depends on your career goals. Some programs are geared toward those who want to become published writers, while others are intended for future professors. Still others offer tracks in both areas.
If you aren’t interested in teaching, you may want to pursue an MA in English. These programs are typically shorter than creative writing MFA programs. However, students develop similar skills and knowledge related to professional writing. You can explore other online options by reading our guide to the Most Affordable Online Graduate Schools .
Another important note is that some online creative writing MFAs require brief residencies. These are in-person components typically lasting about a week. Generally, these occur once or twice annually throughout the program. If this is not possible, choose a no residency program.
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How much money do people make with an online MFA in creative writing?
The income of a published writer varies widely. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics , the median salary of writers and authors is $61,820. However, the lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,520. The highest 10 percent earned over $118,760.
These numbers also take into account writers outside of creative professions, such as copywriters. Expected job growth for writers and authors is 8 percent, which is as fast as average.
Postsecondary teachers earn a median salary of $76,000. Anticipated job growth is 15 percent, which is much faster than average. Editors earn a median annual wage of $58,770, but little to no job growth is expected.
What can you do with an online MFA in creative writing?
An online MFA in creative writing can lead you down many paths. You may publish novels, poetry, short story collections, or screenplays. You can also become a creative writing professor at a university or teach writing and/or English at a high school.
An MFA in creative writing can also prepare you to work for a magazine or a publishing house. You might become a content strategist or copywriter for a creative brand looking for talented writers. The choice is yours.
What are the requirements for an online MFA in creative writing?
A bachelor’s degree is required, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be in a related field. In most cases, you will be asked to submit a portfolio or creative writing sample. Some programs ask for GRE scores, letters of recommendations, and/or a resume.
To earn the MFA in creative writing, you will typically need to submit a creative thesis. This is a completed publishable manuscript. You’ll work with a faculty advisor to plan and develop the thesis.
You will likely complete writing workshops, and in some cases you will need to attend a few in-person residencies. These consist of seminars, workshops, and other literary events. Some programs also require you to read and respond to a certain number of books.
What are the best affordable online MFAs in creative writing?
Our data is pulled from trusted sources including:
- U.S. News and World Report
- Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Princeton Review
- Official college/university websites
The 35 schools listed here offer flexible, quality education at the most affordable rates. These degrees are organized by the average price it will cost you to earn the whole degree, fees and financial aid included. Whatever your goals in the literacy field, these programs can help you achieve them without breaking the bank.
See our rankings methodology page .
These rankings include CollegeChoice.net is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site. from our partners. We use publicly available provisional datasets from Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) to inform the data for these schools. All data is current as of the date this article was published. Program-specific information may vary.
#1 Most Affordable Online MFA In Creative Writing Degrees
Mississippi University for Women
- Columbus, MS
- Online + Campus
Busy students attend Mississippi University for Women because they can earn graduate degrees at an institution that prioritizes learning flexibility. The Columbus, Mississippi, school offers an MFA in creative writing among its five online master's degrees. A busy schedule is no barrier to graduate education with degrees such as this program.
Applicants should expect to have a bachelor’s degree in the major or a related one unless otherwise stated on the program or admissions website. What the program provides is advanced preparation through an intensive curriculum that may involve research opportunities and other hands-on experience. This credential lays the foundation for a doctorate or other terminal degree.
Residents of Mississippi or other states pay $7,425 per year in tuition. An avenue for exploration when it comes to paying for tuition are grants and scholarships. In addition to financial aid students don’t need to pay back, they may also want to consider federal or private loans.
#2 Most Affordable Online MFA In Creative Writing Degrees
University of New Orleans
- New Orleans, LA
University of New Orleans enrolls students in one of the nation’s best creative writing MFA programs for online degree-seekers. Learners pursue this degree to build on prior knowledge attained in a bachelor’s, receiving training specifically related to the field. Students earn this so they can also pursue a doctorate later on if they choose.
This school’s online format attracts people who see the appeal of remote learning. Students do not need to sacrifice other important aspects of their lives such as work and family to earn this degree. Whether enrollees are learning in person or online they study in a supportive academic environment.
The application requirements include a bachelor’s degree, unless the program states otherwise. About 56% of applicants get accepted to this school on average, but applicants may find that programs have different averages. Once accepted, students will pay $6,090 per year in in-state tuition, with grants, loans, and scholarships popular funding streams for those who qualify.
#3 Most Affordable Online MFA In Creative Writing Degrees
University of Arkansas at Monticello
- Monticello, AR
A public college situated in Monticello, Arkansas, the University of Arkansas at Monticello administers a comprehensive catalog of degrees. A leader in online graduate education, the school offers four remote master's programs. The MFA in creative writing is one such option for students interested in the field.
Logistics is no barrier to earning this degree, which was designed with adaptability and flexibility in mind. Professionals, caretakers, and other workers can schedule their studies on the evenings, weekends, and other convenient times. Strong career preparation is a key feature of the program, which does not sacrifice rigor for convenience.
For consideration to enter this program, degree-seekers will need a bachelor's degree unless otherwise stated. Contact the program department, or admissions, to determine entrance and application requirements like transcripts and recommendation letters.
#4 Most Affordable Online MFA In Creative Writing Degrees
University of Houston-Victoria
- Victoria, TX
The University of Houston-Victoria has a reputation for developing rigorous online graduate programs. People with a bachelor’s in creative writing may want to explore the top-ranked MFA in creative writing. Enrollees can complete the graduate curriculum remotely, ensuring they have more control over their schedules.
More individualized attention and opportunities to collaborate with peers are key benefits of the 18-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio that creative writing MFA students enjoy. Learners receive strong preparation using a curriculum that emphasizes advanced theoretical concepts and practices in creative writing. The training learners receive is an important step for career advancement or a doctoral degree in this field and related ones.
Texas students enrolled in the program pay a yearly average of $6,338, while those elsewhere pay $13,934. Grants and scholarships help degree-seekers pay for their education if they qualify. About 48% of the school’s learners take out a student loan, another way to fund their degree.
#5 Most Affordable Online MFA In Creative Writing Degrees
University of Nebraska at Omaha
Prospective creative writing graduate students who need extra flexibility in their degree program should consider the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Remote learners can choose from six online master's degrees, including the MA in critical and creative thinking, delivered from the Omaha, Nebraska, location. The program’s appeal includes a flexible online format that allows degree-seekers to work and pursue other interests.
Applicants to master’s programs usually meet entry requirements with a bachelor’s degree, or the equivalent, and other criteria that varies depending on the program. Students complete a rigorous master's in critical and creative thinking curriculum that immerses them in advanced knowledge and field preparation that a bachelor’s alone cannot provide. The program also provides the foundational knowledge for a Ph.D.
Residents of Nebraska pay $5,558 per year in in-state tuition and $14,440 if they are residents elsewhere. Many learners receive grants and scholarships, both from the school and outside sources, to help finance their degrees. Loans may also be available to help students pay for all or part of the program.
#6 Most Affordable Online MFA In Creative Writing Degrees
Northern Arizona University
- Flagstaff, AZ
Creative writing students attend Northern Arizona University for top-ranked degrees such as the online MFA. The program prepares learners for higher-level work in the field than a bachelor's degree typically allows. The MFA program prepares students for doctoral degrees and other terminal programs.
The school’s online format is a big draw for students who have a lot to accomplish and need adaptability. Students may want an advanced degree but have other concerns such as caregiving and employment, and this flexible degree supports those endeavors. Enrollees tend to do better in educational environments such as this, where personalized learning is emphasized and faculty support is available to all.
The application requirements for this program include a bachelor’s degree and transcripts, but the department can provide more information. People applying to this school get accepted at a rate of 85%. Once accepted, students can explore financial aid options to help pay for tuition, which stands at around $10,305 per year for Arizona residents.
#7 Most Affordable Online MFA In Creative Writing Degrees
Old Dominion University
- Norfolk, VA
Old Dominion University offers students an online technical writing MA degree that is a top-ranked program in its class. A bachelor’s degree provides foundational education compared to the advanced training in this program. If they choose, graduates with a can also pursue a doctorate later on.
Many learners appreciate the school’s convenient online format. The flexible program grants students more control over their schedules and makes education easier to fit with other priorities. Enrollees enjoy a student-focused environment whether they study remotely or on campus.
The application requirements for this program include a bachelor’s degree and transcripts, but the department can provide more information. The data from this school show an 89% admission rate, but expect some variances across programs. Students can expect to pay around $10,207 per year for tuition if they live in Virginia, and they can use grants, loans, and scholarships to help fund their education.
#8 Most Affordable Online MFA In Creative Writing Degrees
Western Connecticut State University
- Danbury, CT
Prospective graduate students can earn an MFA in creative and professional writing at Western Connecticut State University, an institution known for developing flexible graduate programs. Though located in Danbury, Connecticut, the school offers online master's degree opportunities for remote learners, including the MFA program. A busy schedule is no barrier to graduate education with degrees such as this program.
Applicants typically need a bachelor’s degree or a related credential to apply to master’s programs. Students in the program complete rigorous coursework they couldn’t access in a bachelor’s degree alone. The program also provides the foundational knowledge for a Ph.D.
Tuition differs depending on residency status, with residents of Connecticut paying an average $7,378 per year in in-state tuition, and residents elsewhere pay $19,008. Learners can use resources at the financial aid department to find out if they qualify for grants and scholarships. In addition to financial aid students don’t need to pay back, they may also want to consider federal or private loans.
#9 Most Affordable Online MFA In Creative Writing Degrees
- Saint Charles, MO
Prospective graduate students can earn a creative writing degree at Lindenwood University, an institution known for developing flexible graduate programs. The MFA in writing with a creative nonfiction concentration is among the six online master's degrees delivered from the Saint Charles, Missouri, campus. This adaptable degree is ideal for full-time workers, caregivers, and others who want to pursue graduate education but need flexibility to do it.
Applicants will need to review the program page for more admissions information, but a bachelor’s is usually a starting point for a master's program. Students complete a rigorous MFA in writing curriculum that immerses them in advanced knowledge and field preparation that a bachelor’s alone cannot provide. The degree may satisfy the entry requirements for a Ph.D. program in this field.
Students can expect to pay $18,000 per year in tuition if they reside in Missouri or another state. Learners can contact the financial aid department to find out whether they qualify for grants and scholarships. In addition to financial aid students don’t need to pay back, they may also want to consider federal or private loans.
#10 Most Affordable Online MFA In Creative Writing Degrees
Bay Path University
- Longmeadow, MA
Bay Path University’s academic catalog includes rigorous graduate education available online. Learners with a bachelor's degree in creative writing may find the MFA in creative nonfiction writing of particular interest. This program successfully blends a rigorous curriculum and a flexible online format.
More individualized attention and opportunities to collaborate with peers are key benefits of the 12-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio that students enjoy. Learners complete a strong curriculum in creative nonfiction writing delivered by faculty with industry expertise. Obtaining this degree is of great benefit to those who want to advance their careers and pursue higher-paying positions.
Students enrolled in the program pay a yearly average of $14,670, regardless of state residency. Financial aid such as grants and scholarships helps many degree-seekers afford their education. About 87% of enrollees take out student loans, so there are plenty of ways to fund this degree.
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10 MFA Programs for the Budget-Conscious
Rare, exclusive fully-funded programs aren't the only option for a lower-cost degree.
It’s well-worn advice by now that you shouldn’t go into debt for an MFA. But how can you avoid it? Every year, the limited fully-funded programs—think Michener Center for Writers, Rutgers, Cornell, Brown, Purdue, Iowa, Johns Hopkins—receive a flood of applications. Fully-funded MFA programs at Syracuse University and Hunter admit around 6% and 2% of applicants, respectively.
Statistically, it’s a simple fact that not every writer who feels committed to completing an MFA will find a seat in a fully-funded program—and those application fees add up. For example, Vanderbilt’s fee is $85 and Boston University’s is $95. Plus, even at full funding, location matters, as living on a graduate student’s salary has wildly different implications in different housing markets; some “fully funded” students do end up taking out loans to bridge the gap between stipends and what it means to pay rent.
Highly selective programs with extensive funding can be a gift for writers, but you also need a backup plan. This isn’t about thinking of MFA safety schools, but rather applying widely to programs that are a good fit both academically and financially. There are over 160 residential MFA programs in the United States, all of which have a different mix of aid and aesthetic. Even if full funding is not advertised, at some schools, you may still get it.
No matter what you get from the Registrar’s office, for any offer of admission, prospective students should ask to speak to current enrollees and recent grads and do as much vetting as possible. No program is perfect.
With that in mind, here are 10 programs for the cost-conscious to get started with, based on the institution’s financial transparency and publicly available data.
Indianapolis, where Butler University is located, boasts a low cost of living in what is still a relatively major city, Indiana’s largest. As a private school, residency conditions do not apply, and Butler’s tuition and fees run about 16K a year. The MFA was established in 2008 and matriculates upwards of 15 students annually. There are a wide variety of scholarships available, including many that are not linked to instruction. Butler offers some paid teaching positions for second year students; in any given cohort, about half of enrollees would be eligible. As a university founded in a Christian religious tradition, Butler may not be right for everyone, even though its mission and degree programs (including the MFA) are firmly secular. However, with funding, this very small school can be an economical choice in a Midwest capital.
Eastern Washington University
Founded in 1978, the Eastern Washington University program offers full and partial funding for many students in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. A land-grant institution in Washington state that is closer to Idaho than Seattle, the MFA is housed in Spokane, a small walkable city with low living costs. A two year program, students who are not fully funded in their first year through a teaching assistantship have a chance to get second-year funding and stipend through community-based programs and publishing, including with the literary journal Willow Springs Magazine . EWU’s tuition is on the lower end, at $12,704 a year. Through a western states partnership, those who reside in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, or Nevada do not have to establish residency. A unique aspect of EWU is that classes are largely held in the evenings, making it possible to hold a day job if needed.
University of Florida, Gainesville
The University of Florida, Gainesville MFA program is a fully funded three-year program, and receives upwards of 500 applications a year. It admits only six students in each genre of poetry and fiction. Founded in 1949, UF is a well-ranked, established program and has maintained the very low application fee of $30. The town of Gainesville, in the central panhandle of Florida, is an inexpensive place to live, making it likely that a stipend will in fact cover living costs. UF is a very pedagogically focused school. It prioritizes permanent faculty rather than visiting writers or temporarily appointed professors to deliver instruction, and the admissions statement is clear that applicants are selected on what the committee sees as potential to develop through the course of study. The program emphasizes world literature, and over half of its faculty are bilingual and born outside America.
Long Island University
If you absolutely have to be in New York, take a look at Long Island University. Located in Brooklyn, this school has ample paid internship opportunities at PEN World Voices Festival, the National Book Foundation, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, among others. LIU also offers teaching assistantships that will offset costs. Tuition is half that of other NYC-based schools like Columbia, which is highly relevant for those students who may pay some out of pocket. As a private school, state residency requirements do not apply. Founded in 2007, LIU’s MFA has programs in poetry, fiction, playwriting, creative nonfiction, and cross-genre projects. New York is, of course, extremely expensive, so applicants must balance funding against cost of living. With a $50 application fee, for those who feel strongly about being in the epicenter of American publishing, LIU may be worth the relatively low initial cost.
Established in 1982, the McNeese State University MFA offers all who are admitted some level of funding, though it does not provide free rides. By their own metrics, MSU students enrolled in the MFA pay about $1,500 per semester for three years. The application process begins at no cost—prospective students are not asked to contribute any application fees or paperwork until after they are accepted. This is a positive model that helps students understand if they are a good fit before committing to fees or devoting time to formal applications. Prospective students should send in their work in poetry or fiction, their statement of purpose, and an additional letter spelling out one’s interest in teaching introductory composition. MSU is in Lake Charles, Louisiana, a gulf town about halfway between Houston and New Orleans with a very low cost of living. Demographically, Lake Charles is nearly 50% Black. MSU as a university enrolls more female identified students and employs more female identified faculty than average, making it a highly diverse option.
University of Mississippi
Founded in 2000, the fully-funded program at the University of Mississippi Oxford is free to apply to, and the phased application is very low stakes. Email in a writing sample along with a statement of purpose essay, and the first part of the application is done. Much like other Gulf schools, it’s only once these initial materials are reviewed are some students asked to move to Phase II, which requires filling out the graduate application and providing letters of reference. In many ways, applying to UM is like submitting to a literary magazine or pitching agents. Applicants will only hear back and be asked for additional materials if the committee is interested. UM offers funded positions that do not involve teaching, and specifically earmarks financial aid for students of underrepresented groups. Oxford is a diverse city that is approximately 22% Black.
University of New Hampshire
The University of New Hampshire’s program is newer, founded in 2007. It is very small and also very selective. Graduate school tuition rates were $14,170 in 2020. Residents of Rhode Island receive a discount. UNH has a reputation of being very community-minded, the kind of school where students celebrate on another’s successes. An advantage of UNH is the availability of paid internships in research and communications, and stipend positions at the literary magazine, Barnstorm . Top applicants will receive tuition waivers and a stipend through teaching fellowships. Durham, New Hampshire, has a high cost of living for such a small city, but in contrast, the housing costs in Boston, about an hour away, are 60% more than this college town.
Texas State University
The Texas State University MFA, founded in 1991, is a large program, with upwards of 70 candidates enrolled at any given time. The cost of living in San Marcos, located between San Antonio and Austin, is slightly lower than the national average. While TXST is technically only partially funded, 90% of applicants receive full funding, a hefty percentage. In-state tuition rates are $8664 annually, but essentially no students pay the full balance. While 75% of candidates are from outside of Texas, the university has a generous out of state waiver that is not contingent on residency. In 2019, this applied to 100% of students, suggesting that while not guaranteed, getting a waiver is highly achievable. If not offered full funding, note that TXST is a 3-year program, which could potentially increase costs and delay entry into the job market by a year. The university is designated as a Hispanic Serving Institute, with 25% of enrolled students identifying as Hispanic or Latinx.
University of Texas, El Paso
University of Texas, El Paso has both a residential and a fully online program; this section covers the residential course of study. Since 1992, UTEP has enrolled a cohort of a dozen MFA students, and like other Texas-based programs, it is a 3-year course of study. That said, this program has the lowest tuition of any program on this list, at $6600/year. Graduate stipends pay $1200 per month for ten months, which is fairly average, but put in context of El Paso’s extraordinarily low cost of living, those dollars will stretch much farther than in other cities. UTEP is distinctive in that it offers a bilingual English/Spanish MFA, though bilingualism is not required of any applicant. Classes draw on both Spanish and English texts, and the program offers support for student matters like housing and financial aid in both languages. The campus is located near a shared border crossing with Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
St Mary’s College
The St. Mary’s College program refreshingly focuses on life after an MFA and publishes statistics on the careers of its graduates. All incoming students are funded at 40–50% of tuition in their first year, and a smaller percentage in their second year. This brings tuition costs at this private school down to something that is more in line with a public school, with no penalty for not having California residency—although note that attending SMC means living in San Francisco, which is more expensive than New York. All students are invited to apply for graduate teaching assistantships, which offer an additional stipend. SMC is an option for students who are interested in interdisciplinary work, as there is funding for dual-concentration students who may take three years to complete their degree. The college also provides paid internships with Lambda Literary, Kearny Street Workshop, Hedgebrook, and is notably LBGTQIA+ friendly. Without a full portfolio of funding, St Mary’s can be unreachable for many, but because it has a free application process, it’s worth seeing where an application shakes out in the funding hierarchy.
A comprehensive list of MFA programs from Poets & Writers can be found here .
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Reinhardt’s online MFA program ranked most affordable by OnlineU
By Jack Haller
Reinhardt University’s unique MFA in Creative Writing program, with its summer residencies and one-on-one guidance with award-winning writers, was ranked as one of the nation’s most affordable online Master’s in Creative Writing programs by OnlineU.
Reinhardt’s online Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program, directed by Bill Walsh, was ranked 19th on the 2020 Most Affordable Master’s in Creative Writing Online list by OnlineU. The website is dedicated to locating and ranking the most affordable online undergraduate and graduate degrees at various colleges and universities around the country and can also be broken down by the desired degree.
Walsh said Reinhardt’s MFA program is a great way to dive into the creative writing community with exposure to some of the best in the field.
“The RU MFA program is affordable and agreat way for students to earn a master’s degree in creative writing, while working with some of the best writers in the country,” said Walsh. “Our students have busy lives. Most are working adults with a life-long passion to be writers. In pursuit of that goal, they are exposed to award-winning writers who mentor them one-on-one to be novelist, poets, dramatists or screenwriters.”
The creative writing program is rigorous but brings out the full potential of every student who goes through it with consistent mentoring from Reinhardt’s professors and numerous successful authors. It serves to form students into well-rounded writers, while also allowing opportunity for students to learn how to write in their genre of choice.
“It is a two-year journey where you are going to change as a writer and person. It’s a 60-hour program of interesting classes, mentorships, friendship, publishing and learning how to write in your genre in order to publish a book,” Walsh said.
Courses include content that covers writing and editing, along with specific storytelling techniques such as dialogue, place and setting, image, character development and plot. Writers enrolled in the program fine tune their skills, all while fitting their schoolwork into their lives.
“The best thing about the program is that students complete 90 percent of all their work from home at their own schedule and pace,” said Walsh. “It is accommodating to the working adult.”
The Etowah Valley MFA in Creative Writing program is the only low-residency program in the state and has pushed countless students to move ahead in their creative writing careers. They are able to receive exposure to some of the best writers in the U.S. and get a degree in what they love while continuing to focus on their personal lives.
Reinhardt’s creative writing alumni are publishing their works; some are going on to earn doctorate degrees. Walsh describes the experience as “an enjoyable and rewarding adventure.”
“If you are serious about becoming a better writer who can go on to publish books, this program is perfect for the non-traditional student. Above all else, even though there is a large amount of work and the program is thorough, it is fun. Our students enjoy themselves while learning. This is a time for deep, creative and intellectual growth—why not have fun doing it, too?”
Click here to learn more about Reinhardt’s creative writing program.
15 Best Low Residency MFA Programs
Author: Natalie Harris-Spencer Updated: February 18, 2023
The best low residency MFA programs offer you a more cost-effective way to complete a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. The difference between a low residency and a fully remote program is that you’ll be expected to stay on campus for short periods throughout the year, giving you greater flexibility than if you’d have either been living on campus, or full-time in front of a computer screen.
What can you expect from the best low residency MFA programs?
These programs will force you to juggle your writing time around your day job , family, and cats, while still plunging you into that writers’ life you so crave. In many ways, they’re harder than the traditional brick-and-mortar school program, in that they give you a truer flavor of what it’s like to pursue a writing career with a million other things going on in your life. They’re also far more immersive than an online-only program.
You’ll be hit with a combination of remote and in-person learning. A typical school year comprises two semesters, of which there is usually a 10-day intensive residency on campus per semester (so, two residencies per year, for two years). The time in between residencies is remote i.e. spent from your writing desk at home, where you will be paired with a mentor or smaller groups of writers. In fact, the 1:1 mentorship is a huge benefit of a low residency MFA program ; you’ll get closer attention than you would if you were in a traditional college class.
The best low residency MFA programs will offer a variety of genres , including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, popular fiction, scriptwriting, literary translation, graphic novels and comics, and writing for young people, while some allow for a dual-genre path.
While MFAs are not cheap, low residency programs are certainly on the more affordable side. Read on for 15 best low residency MFA programs, listed in alphabetical order.
1. Antioch University
Offered by AU Los Angeles, Antioch University’s low-residency MFA in Creative Writing program is dedicated to the education of literary and dramatic artists, community engagement, and the pursuit of social justice. It offers two, 10-day residencies in June and December.
2. Bard College
Bard College offers MFAs for artists in a variety of disciplines, not just writing. Each summer session runs for eight intensive weeks (there is no winter residency), and does not follow the traditional semester schedule. Most students receive some amount of financial aid, making it an attractive option for candidates.
3. Bennington College
Bennington College is widely regarded as one of the best low residency MFA programs in the United States. Residencies take place in picturesque Vermont, and their prestigious faculty includes many multi-published authors and literary prizewinners. You can elect to pursue a dual-genre path. Bennington’s residencies take place in January and June.
4. Cedar Crest College
This pan-European MFA offers a single 15-day residency at the beginning of July that rotates between Dublin, Ireland, Barcelona, Spain, and Vienna, Austria, with new locations coming soon. Unlike other programs, you’ll only attend three residencies in total, and you won’t go to the university campus in Allentown, Pennsylvania. But…you get to travel to Europe.
5. Goucher College
The only program dedicated solely to nonfiction writing, this low residency MFA attracts applicants and faculty interested in pursuing narrative, memoir, personal essay, and literary journalism. Literary agents and editors attend the two 10-day residencies in Baltimore, Maryland, and there are sponsored trips to New York to meet top publishing professionals.
6. Institute of American Indian Arts
Now in its tenth year, the emphasis with this particular Creative Writing MFA is on Native writers, voices, texts, and experience, although applications are open to all. Based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, it offer two 8-day residencies in January and July.
7. Lesley University
While the nine-day residencies take place in the “literary mecca” of Cambridge, Massachusetts, there’s also the opportunity for students to study abroad at a 12-day residency in rural Wales. Lesley has relationships with literary agencies and presses , so that you get a fast-track into publishing on submitting your thesis when you graduate.
8. Lindenwood University
Located in St. Charles, Missouri, Lindenwood University is unique in that there is no formal residency requirement: you can take classes fully on campus, online, or choose the low residency model. The program is more affordable than others due to its flexibility, and offers financial aid to teachers and candidates over the age of sixty.
9. New York University
Based on NYU’s campus in Paris, France, there are five, 10-day residencies held in January and July. This is one of the more expensive programs, with limited funding available. However, its faculty line-up is always incredible, and you’re paying for the prestige of Paris.
10. Pacific University
Based in Portland, Oregon, Pacific University’s MFA program places a strong emphasis on craft . It offers multiple full and partial merit-based scholarships to qualifying candidates. Residencies are in January and June.
11. Sewanee School of Letters
The model at Sewanee School of Letters in Tennessee is slightly different: you complete a single, six-week residency over the summer , which in turn is spread over the course of three to five summers, making it more affordable than other low residency programs.
12. University of New Orleans
Despite positioning itself as online MFA, the University of New Orleans is actually low residency, in that it offers a month-long residency every summer at various international locations, including Ireland and Italy.
13. University of Southern Maine (Stonecoast)
My alma mater . Stonecoast at USM offers two 10-day residencies in January and July, alongside a concurrent writers’ conference, in the picturesque town of Freeport, Maine. Its popular fiction program is especially popular with writers of horror, fantasy, and sci-fi, and its WISE program (writing for inclusivity and social equity) is at the heart of its ethos. In my humble opinion, it will always be one of the best low residency MFA programs.
14. Vermont College of Fine Arts
Another Vermont entry: proof that this beautiful state inspires creativity. Residencies are nine days and take place in December and July, with past residencies going further afield: Slovenia, Puerto Rico, Cozumel, Mexico, Rome, and Asheville, North Carolina. Literary translation and dual-genre paths are available.
15. Warren Wilson College
Established in 1976, Warren Wilson is the original low residency MFA program, introducing the format to North America and the rest of the world. Consequently, it’s on the pricier end, but there are multiple grants and financial aid available. It offers two, 10-day residencies in January and July near the wonderful town of Asheville, North Carolina, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
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