Creative Writing Programs

When researching creative writing programs, one will find that most creative writing degrees are at the master's level. Most colleges and universities, if they offer creative writing to their undergraduates, will only offer it as an English degree with a creative writing track. This may sound unfair, but actually it makes sense because that way, the student gets the literature foundation they should have while they learn to write. When it comes to PhD creative writing programs, though some do exist, they are rare. The master's degree is usually considered the terminal degree of creative writing; all ranking systems center around this truth. So, with that in mind, let's take a look at the best creative writing degree programs for you.


Researching Creative Writing Programs

One of the most helpful tools in your research process will be the Poets & Writers ranking chart (http://www.pw.org/files/topfifty_secured.pdf). This chart breaks down the top fifty creative writing schools. The programs are judged by numerous categories including: poetry, fiction, nonfiction, funding, selectivity, job-placement, student-faculty ratio, program size, and even the cost of living. In short, they have ranked the overall experience a person would have going to each of these schools. Their top five programs are University of Iowa in Iowa City; University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; University of Wisconsin in Madison; Brown University in Providence; and Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

While it is very good to play by the Poets & Writers ranking system because they do take so much into account, you will want to look at the list with a discriminatory eye. Your interests might be a little more narrow than all of the categories they consider. For instance, out of their top five writing schools, only University of Iowa in Iowa City offers a creative nonfiction degree. So, if you were going for that kind of program, the top five would mean very little to you. What's nice about the sheet is that they have the overall ranking, but they also show you how each school ranked in a specific category. So, if you really want your teacher's upmost attention and your wallet is thick, than you might pay closer attention to the student-teacher ratio and less attention to the funding aspect.

Once you've figured out the best creative writing degree programs for you, it's time to get some real information about the school. Ask the admissions office for information about the program and they will usually send you a pretty hefty packet of material. Then, try to network. Find people that go to the program. What do they like about it? What do they wish they knew before they went? Could you see yourself working with that person? Even talking to professors of that school will give you a good idea of what to expect. This process should help you determine exactly what creative writing program is the best for you and which ones you thought would be perfect, but actually don't suit your personality or mode of writing.

So, there are basically three steps to finding the creative writing degree program for you. First go over the general rankings, then decide which categories are most important to you, and finally do your real research on that school by asking for pamphlets and talking to both students and professors. If you do all those things, you should end up in a place where you can be happy and your writing will thrive.