Colleges for Creative Writing

There are a lot of creative writing colleges out there, but out of the mass, a few will always rise as the best of the best. The top creative writing schools in the United States are the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop; the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; the University of Wisconsin in Madison; Brown University in Providence; and Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Why are these programs so great? Let's take a look.


Best Creative Writing Schools: A Short List

There are a lot of "top creative writing school" lists, and on the top of all of them is the University of Iowa. Their MFA alumni have accumulated seventeen Pulitzer Prizes and three have been U.S. Poet Laureates. Not only does this University carry clout, but it also carries history. The University of Iowa began teaching creative writing in the 1800's. That history doesn't make Iowa a stiff program, though. They were one of the first top graduate writing programs to take on creative nonfiction, a relatively new genre in the MFA world. The faculty of Iowa strives not to teach, but to develop talent. That is their philosophy, and they have the results to back it up.

The University of Michigan's creative writing college concentrates on fiction and poetry MFAs. This program is heavily workshop based, but they do add an emphasis on literature, believing good readers make good writers. All the students must read books off the same booklist, and they are tested on that booklist in an essay examination. A nice perk of this program is that all students receive a $6,000 stipend over the summer (when classes are suspended), so that they can use that time to write. Another benefit of this creative writing college is that all students are given the opportunity to teach their own creative writing classes. The philosophy being, if you learn to teach it, you will better understand craft.

The University of Wisconsin in Madison is excellent because they incorporate a large variety of genres into their curriculum. They teach fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and playwriting for undergraduates, and fiction and poetry for graduates. The university's alumni is comprised of such prestigious authors as Joyce Carol Oates. The University of Wisconsin prides itself on its involvement in the community, taking part in such activities as the Monsters of Poetry Reading Series, the Wisconsin Book Festival, the FELIX Reading Series, and the Writers in Prisons Project.

Brown University has always carried a reputation for excellence in the arts, and their MFA creative writing college is no different. They offer MFAs in electronic arts, fiction, and poetry. What is unique about this program, is that they believe all kinds of information and study will fuel your writing directly. So, during the first year of study, a student will take two classes: a workshop and another class in a different genre. The second class may be in history, philosophy, social studies, any kind of graduate study that they believe will improve your knowledge and writing.

Cornell University is a top creative writing school that focuses a large amount of their coursework on literature. Every semester, a student is expected to take a workshop and two other courses that are usually literature classes (though languages and cultural studies are also options). This is a school that believes one should know the foundation of their art in order to excel at it. Also, all first year students get the opportunity to work for the fiction and poetry literary magazine Epoch so that they may gain professional experience in publishing. What's more, Cornell offers full funding for each of their MFA students.

So, as you can see, of all the creative writing colleges out there, there are definitely those that stand out. University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop; the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; the University of Wisconsin in Madison; Brown University in Providence; and Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, are the top creative writing schools in the nation. So, take a leap of faith, work on your portfolio, and apply.