Best Colleges for Creative Writing

University Library
August 28, 2023


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/10/23

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.

Whether your favorite twelfth-grade English teacher inspired you or you want to become the next J.K. Rowling, 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 learn more! This guide will list the top thirteen colleges for creative writing and focus on these programs’ education, experience, and costs.

Thirteen Best Colleges for Creative Writing

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

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.

Aerial view of Brown University campus
Source: Brown University 

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 their own independent study on their desired topic, which gives them excellent research and writing experience.

Image outlining the ranking and the writing courses offered by Brown University

While this school has an amazing reputation, it is worth considering that because it is a private university, it has expensive tuition costs! Tuition and fees alone cost around $68,230 per year for undergraduate students.

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

2.University of Iowa

Ranking second 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.

Aerial view of the University of Iowa campus
Source: The University of Iowa 

With significantly cheaper tuition costs than the other universities mentioned, Iowa residents can expect to pay only $10,353 annually, and non-residents can expect to pay $32,316! The University of Iowa is a great college for writing if you’re on a budget. 

3. Yale University

While Yale University also ranked number two in Writing in the Disciplines, it does not offer specific Creative Writing minors or majors. However, Yale offers English students the opportunity to concentrate on creative writing by taking numerous related courses.

Picture of Yale University campus with group of students in front of it
Source: Yale University 

Tuition and fee costs for Yale are $64,700 per year. To help with these costs, Yale offers financial aid, work-study, and teaching assistant positions.  

4. Cornell University 

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

Aerial view of Cornell University campus

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.

Similar to the other universities mentioned, Cornell’s tuition and fees cost $65,204 per year.

5. Harvard University

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

Picture of Harvard University's building entrance with students in front of it

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. Tuition alone at Harvard costs $54,269 a year.

6. Carleton College

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

Aerial view of Carleton College campus surrounded by trees
Source: Carleton College 

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. Carleton College costs $65,457 in tuition and fees annually. However, Carleton offers various scholarships and aid to help students with these costs.

7. Swarthmore College 

Swarthmore is tied with Carleton College for the sixth-best college for creative writing, and it was considered number three among the Best National Liberal Arts Colleges.

Aerial view of Swarthmore College
Source: Swarthmore College 

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. Swarthmore College costs $61,992 in tuition yearly. 

8. Amherst College

Ranking #8 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.

Picture of Amherst College's building with a group of students playing in front of it
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. Additionally, it offers an award-winning writing program in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts. Tuition and fee cost $67,280 annually. However, Amherst offers significant financial aid based on need.

9. Duke University

Ranked ninth 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.

Picture of Duke University building

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 $63,450 per year. However, select students can get full-ride scholarships, which can help you get your dream degree for free!

10. Princeton University

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 tenth 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. 

Picture of Princeton University's entrance with trees in front of it

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

Tuition for this prestigious school is around $59,710 a year, making it one of the cheaper options on this list.

11. Columbia University

Columbia is located in the Big Apple and ranks #11 in Writing in the Disciplines.

Columbia University offers an English and Comparative Literature B.A. program with concentrations in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Literary Translation. 

Picture of Columbia University building

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. Columbia’s tuition costs $65,524 per academic year.

However, Columbia is dedicated to reducing students’ tuition costs and states 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!

12. Hamilton College

Tying with Columbia, Hamilton College tied for the #11 spot in Writing in the Disciplines. Hamilton is one of the few universities that offers a major in creative writing and English Literature. So, if you’d rather concentrate on creative writing rather than just minoring in it, this may be the best creative writing program for you!

Aerial view of Hamilton College
Source: Hamilton College 

At this college, tuition is $65,090 per academic year. For students unable to pay these high costs, Hamilton promises to meet your full demonstrated financial need through a combination of family contributions and financial aid.

13. Agnes Scott College 

Last on our list is Agnes Scott College. The college offers an English Literature - Creative Writing major filled with courses that are “characterized by frequent discussion, prioritize originality, and emphasize student-centered workshops.” 

Picture of Agnes Scott College building with two students walking toward the entrance
Source: The Agnes Scott College Undergraduate Admissions Blog 

The college also runs the Agnes Scott College Annual Writers’ Festival, where writers flock to the campus to read their work and teach and talk to students. Almost every year, one writer runs a one-credit workshop for students.

Annual tuition at Agnes Scott College costs $47,820, making it one of the more affordable colleges on this list. 

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?

Hamilton College, the University of Iowa, and Agnes Scott College 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 Colleges Offer Writing 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 $10,353 for in-state students and $32,316 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 out of 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.

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 your perfect college and program that will help you achieve greatness!

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