Best Colleges for Creative Writing

Creative writing colleges
May 8, 2024
8 min read
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/2/24

If you are interested in pursuing a career in writing, this guide will tell you the thirteen best colleges for creative writing.

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em. We’d like to update Shakespeare’s methods of achieving greatness by adding one more: attending the perfect college. 

Picking the best creative writing program is crucial to help you gain the right experience and education to enhance your writing skills and excel. If you’re looking for good colleges for writing, read on to find the thirteen best creative writing colleges! 

Best Creative Writing Colleges Ranking Criteria

Although we are using the U.S. News rankings here, there are still many factors that contribute to how good a college’s creative writing program is. Here are some factors that we’re considering in the rankings.

  • Prestige: Having a reputation for providing high-quality education is important. These schools got their prestigious reputations for a reason! 
  • Variety of Courses: There are many different techniques and styles of writing, so it’s a great asset to have lots of courses to address them. A good variety of writing courses means that you’ll get a more well-rounded education. 
  • Writing-Specific Major: Although many excellent schools offer creative writing courses, it’s a plus if a college offers a writing-specific major. This looks great on resumes for writing-related jobs after graduation. 
  • Internship Opportunities: Hands-on experience is important in any major. Many of these colleges offer internship opportunities or chances to work with professionals or published authors! 

13 Best Colleges for Creative Writing in 2024

School Location Acceptance Rate Tuition Fees
Brown University Providence, RI 5.16% $68,612 per year
Columbia University New York, NY 3.8% $32,670 per term
Duke University Durham, NC 5.1% $66,326 per year
Princeton University Princeton, NJ 4.5% $59,710 per year
University of Iowa Iowa City, IA 86% In -tate: $10,964
Out-of-state: $32,927
Yale University New Haven, CT 3.73% $67,250 per year

School Location Acceptance Rate Tuition Fees
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 7.90% $68,380 per year
Carleton College Northfield, MN 17.85% $65,043 per year
Swarthmore College Swarthmore, PA 7.46% $65,058 per year
Amherst College Amherst, MA 9% $69,820 per year
Emory University Atlanta, GA 14.49% $63,400 per year
Elon University Elon, NC 67% $46,985 per year
Harvard University Cambridge, MA 3.59% $56,550 per year

To save you the worry of searching through all of the creative writing programs the country has to offer, here are the top thirteen best colleges for creative writing.

13 top colleges for creative writing

1. Brown University

Acceptance rate: 5.16%

Tuition: $68,612 per year

If you’re wondering which school has the best creative writing program, Brown University is the top-ranked college to attend for students interested in creative writing.

Brown University’s English Department offers various courses for students to explore their interests and hone their writing skills. Students may choose to enroll in:

Once students have completed their B.A., they can join Brown’s Literary Arts Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program, where they can specialize in their desired form of writing: fiction, poetry, digital and cross-disciplinary writing, playwriting, screenwriting, and nonfiction.

In this program, students have the opportunity to conduct an independent study on their desired topic, which gives them excellent research and writing experience.

If you’re interested in applying to Brown, take a look at our complete guide on how to get into this excellent school.

2. Columbia University

Acceptance rate: 3.8%

Tuition: $32,670 per term

Columbia University is located in the Big Apple and ranks #2 in Writing in the Disciplines.‍ They offer an English and Comparative Literature B.A. program with concentrations in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Literary Translation. 

For film and TV writers, Columbia is also one of the best film schools in the US with options to pursue screenwriting and directing. 

The Poetry concentration, in particular, is considered one of the strongest and most rigorous in the country. Columbia also offers an MFA in Writing for graduates. 

When considering tuition costs, note that Columbia is dedicated to reducing students’ tuition costs and states that students coming from families with annual incomes less than $150,000 are able to attend Columbia tuition-free! According to their financial office, about 50% of all Columbia students receive grants of around $63,971.

So, if money is a major factor in your decision, rest assured you have a high chance of receiving significant grants if you attend Columbia University!

3. Duke University

Acceptance rate: 5.1%

Tuition: $66,326 per year

Ranked third on our list is Duke University. Duke University offers a general B.A. in English and a creative writing minor. While it does not offer a major in creative writing, it offers various creative writing courses that English majors can take to gain more expertise in the subject.

Unlike the majority of undergraduate arts programs, Duke offers its students internships in New York. Gaining this type of experience is crucial for when you graduate and can help you land your dream job!

Tuition at Duke costs over $60K per year. However, select students can get full-ride scholarships, which can help you get your dream degree for free!

4. Princeton University

Acceptance rate: 4.5%

Tuition: $59,710 per year

Princeton University is one of the oldest colleges in the U.S. and consistently ranks as one of the best universities in the world. It ranks third in U.S. News’ Writing in the Disciplines list. Not only is Princeton a great college for writing, but it’s also ranked as the best university in the nation. 

Princeton University offers an English B.A. and a creative writing program that these undergraduate students can join with their B.A. In this program, students work alongside actual practicing writers to gain the most authentic knowledge and experience.

5. University of Iowa

Acceptance rate: 86%

Tuition: $10,964 (Iowa residents), $32,927 (non-residents)

Ranking fifth in Writing in the Disciplines, the University of Iowa is another great option to consider. This university is nationally recognized as a writing university and offers majors in English as well as English and Creative Writing.

Despite their high overall acceptance rate, admission to the English Honors program is selective. The University of Iowa produces high-quality writers with a 95% job/grad school placement rate! 

6. Yale University

Acceptance rate: 3.73%

Tuition: $67,250 per year

While Yale University ranked #5 in Writing in the Disciplines, it does not offer specific Creative Writing minors or majors. Instead, you can participate in an intensive Creative Writing concentration track for English majors as well as taking numerous related courses

English students at Yale can also participate in various student initiatives, including events put on by the English Student Advisory Committee and informal conversations with English faculty at English Lunch tables. 

7. Cornell University 

Acceptance rate: 7.90%

Tuition: $68,380 per year

Cornell University is another one of the best colleges for creative writing majors. It ranked #7 in Writing in the Disciplines and allows English majors to concentrate in Creative Writing. Cornell also offers a creative writing minor.

Graduate students may also join the MFA in Creative Writing program, where they will gain hands-on experience editing and publishing fiction, poetry, essays, and more for EPOCH Magazine.

8. Carleton College

Acceptance rate: 17.85%

Tuition: $65,043 per year

No list of good writing schools would be complete without top-notch liberal arts schools. Ranking #8 in Writing in the Disciplines is the prestigious Carleton College, one of the best colleges for creative writing.

Carleton offers a B.A. in English where students can choose from a breadth of creative courses to enroll in, including a minor in creative writing. Like Brown University, it offers a specialized MFA in Creative Writing. This college also offers courses where students can build their professional portfolios for when they graduate.

9. Swarthmore College

Acceptance rate: 7.46%

Tuition: $65,058 per year

Right after Carleton, Swarthmore holds the title of ninth-best college for creative writing, and it was considered #4 among the Best National Liberal Arts Colleges and Best Value Schools.

This liberal arts college offers an English B.A. and a Writing Associate program. With this English B.A., students are eligible for paid internships to produce original creative writing projects to build their portfolios and gain valuable experience. 

10. Amherst College

Acceptance rate: 9%

Tuition: $69,820 per year

Ranking #10 in Writing in the Disciplines, Amherst is another respectable school for writing majors. The college also ranks as the second school in National Liberal Arts Colleges.

Source: Amherst University 

This rural university offers an excellent English B.A. program that teaches students how to think critically and write well. It also has its very own creative writing center that offers diverse creative writing courses for students.

11. Emory University

Acceptance rate: 14.49%

Tuition: $63,400 per year

Ranked at #11, Emory University offers an English and Creative Writing major to encourage students to approach studying literature in a creative way. Students have the opportunity to experiment with many genres of writing, including poetry, fiction, playwriting, and more. 

Emory offers plenty of creative writing engagement outside of the classroom. Interested students can submit their work to creative writing contests or student-run publications. 

You can also take part in the Creative Writing Peer Mentorship Program, which matches an aspiring CW major with an upperclassman, to gain wisdom and tips about the program. 

12. Elon University

Acceptance rate: 67%

Tuition: $46,985 per year

If you choose to attend Elon University, you can add a Creative Writing minor to your academic profile. This minor allows you to take courses in nonfiction, poetry, and fiction in addition to other writing-based courses. 

While Elon doesn’t offer a Creative Writing major, you may choose to major in Professional Writing and Rhetoric to help sharpen up your skills with the pen. 

13. Harvard University

Acceptance rate: 3.59%

Tuition: $56,550 per year

Harvard University is a prestigious school that’s on many students’ radars when they consider attending university. Coming in with the 13th spot in Writing in the Disciplines, Harvard’s prestige extends into the realm of the arts.

Source: Harvard University

Harvard offers an extensive English B.A. program where students can enroll in various comprehensive creative writing courses

In fact, there are usually no more than twelve students in each of these classes, ensuring students receive personalized teaching to really refine their writing skills and get the most out of their education.

Tips on How to Choose the Right College for You

College applications can be stressful especially if you don’t know what schools to apply to. Below, we’ll cover some tips on how to choose the right college for you. 

1. Think About Your Priorities

Consider what's important to you when picking a college. Think about location, campus size, and the programs they offer. Do you want to be close to home, or are you excited about exploring a new city? Do you prefer a big campus with many activities or a smaller one with a close community?

Also, consider your academic interests and career goals. Make sure the college you choose has the programs and resources to support your studies and help you achieve your future plans.

2. Investigate Job Connections

When picking a college, think about your future job prospects. Check out each school's career center. Ask about job fairs, on-campus interviews, and how many counselors they have for students. 

Make sure they have enough resources to support you. Career centers offer services like helping you with skills employers want, sharing job and salary info, finding internships, practicing interviews, explaining how hiring works, and connecting you with alumni.

3. Talk to Your Family

Many parents fondly remember their college days and hope their kids will have the same experience. But what worked for them might not be right for you. Talk openly with your parents about your college choices. Explain why you're interested in certain schools, like if they have a program you're excited about or offer cool opportunities like studying abroad.

Do you need help finding the right university for you? Check out our What College Should I Go to? quiz. This quiz will help you find the best college for you based on our academic profile and preferences.

FAQs: Best Colleges for Creative Writing

If you’re still wondering which program is best for you, these frequently asked questions on the best colleges for creative writing majors can help you to find your answers.

1. What College Has The Best Creative Writing Program?

According to its ranking and reputation, Brown University has the best writing programs and creative writing courses.

2. What is the Best College for Aspiring Writers?

Emory University and the University of Iowa are some of the only schools offering majors in creative writing rather than just minors or courses. For those wishing to focus solely on learning how to write creatively, these universities are the best option.

3. Which Creative Writing Colleges Offer Internships?

Duke University and Swarthmore College offer paid internship programs for their English students. Carleton College requires students to create original writing projects to build their professional portfolios, and Cornell University requires Creative Writing MFA students to edit and publish creative writing for the EPOCH Magazine.

4. What Is The Cheapest Creative Writing Program?

The University of Iowa is significantly cheaper to attend than the other best colleges for creative writing, costing only $10,964 for in-state students and $32,927 for out-of-state students. However, Columbia University offers the most extensive scholarships, as 50% of all of its students receive grants of around $63,971.

5. How Big Are Creative Writing Classes?

In general, they are relatively small compared to classes in other disciplines. For instance, each of Harvard’s creative writing courses only has about twelve students.

These small classes are great because students get to forge meaningful connections with professors (and we all know how important networking is!).

6. How Do I Decide Which Creative Writing Program Is Best For Me?

These schools are all good colleges for writing. However, the main factor you want to consider is what you wish to gain from your program! If you want to gain a lot of hands-on experience and build your portfolio, choose a school like Duke University, Swarthmore College, or Cornell.

If you’d like to save the most money while attending university, choose a low-tuition school like The University of Iowa.

7. Is Creative Writing a Good Program To Take? 

Yes! Taking a creative writing program can provide you with many skills for a future career, such as critical thinking, communication, and storytelling. 

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this guide has provided you with helpful insight into the best colleges for creative writing. No matter which school you choose to attend, these thirteen schools are the very best and will truly help you kickstart your career as a writer!

As Shakespeare said, parting is such sweet sorrow. But now that you have all the information you need on the experience, education, and cost of the best creative writing programs the nation has to offer, you can pick the perfect college and program to help you achieve greatness!

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