Best Colleges for Creative Writing

University Library
September 2, 2022
Thirteen Best Colleges for Creative WritingFAQs: Best Colleges for Creative Writing


Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/4/22

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.

But what are the best college writing programs? Read on to find out! This guide will list the top thirteen colleges for creative writing and focus on these programs’ education, experience, and costs.

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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. 

1. Brown University

As the number one university for Writing in the Disciplines, Brown University is the top-ranked school 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 a general English B.A. to take different types of writing courses, a Comparative Literature B.A., or a Literary Arts B.A.

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 non-fiction.

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.

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 $65,146 per year for undergraduate students.

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

2. Duke University

Ranked second as the best university for Writing in the Disciplines 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 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!

Much like Brown University, Duke University is expensive to attend, with tuition and fee costs being around $62,941 per year. However, Duke offers full-ride scholarships to select students, which can help you get your dream degree for free!

3. Carleton College

Ranking number three in Writing in the Disciplines is the prestigious Carleton College, one of the best colleges for creative writing.

Much like Duke, Carleton offers a B.A. in English where students can choose from a breadth of creative courses to enroll in, a minor in creative writing, and like Brown, 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 $62,634 in tuition and fees annually. However, this college offers various scholarships and aid to help students with these costs.

4. Yale University

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

Tuition and fee costs for Yale are $62,250 per year. To help with these costs, Yale offers financial aid, work-study, and teaching assistant positions.  

5. Amherst College

Ranking fifth in Writing in the Disciplines and second in National Liberal Arts Colleges, Amherst is another respectable school for writing majors.

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 costs are about $60,890 annually. However, Amherst offers significant financial aid based on need.

6. Swarthmore College 

Tying with Cornell, Swarthmore ranked number six in Writing in the Disciplines and third as the Best National Liberal Arts College.

This liberal arts college offers an English B.A. and 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.

Costing slightly less than the other universities, Swarthmore College costs $59,328 in tuition yearly. These lower costs and the added benefit of students being offered paid internships definitely make this college an attractive choice!

7. Cornell University 

Cornell University is another one of the best colleges for creative writing majors. It ranked number six 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.

Similar to the other universities mentioned, Cornell’s tuition and fees cost $62,456 per year.

8. Harvard University

Harvard University is a prestigious school that’s on everyone’s radar when they consider attending university. Ranking eighth in Writing in the Disciplines and second overall as one of the Best National Universities, Harvard’s prestige extends into the realm of the arts.

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.

To attend this high-ranking program it’ll cost around $57,261 a year for tuition.

9. Stanford University

As no surprise, this well-known and highly reputable university also made the list of the best colleges for creative writing!

Stanford University is ranked ninth in Writing in the Disciplines and sixth overall as one of the Best National Universities. It offers an English B.A., a minor in creative writing, and uniquely offers a Program in Writing and Rhetoric, which gives students the opportunity to pursue a writing project of their choice to gain useful research experience.

Undergraduate programs at Stanford cost $57,693 a year for tuition.  

10.  Columbia University

Columbia is located in the Big Apple, ranks tenth in Writing in the Disciplines, and ties with Harvard as the second-Best National University.

Columbia University offers an English and Comparative Literature B.A. program as well as concentrations in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Literary Translation. The Poetry concentration, in particular, is considered one of the strongest and most rigorous in the country. For graduates, Columbia also offers an MFA in Writing.

As one of the most expensive universities mentioned yet, 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 $62,850.

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!

11.  Hamilton College

Tying with Columbia, Hamilton College ranked tenth in Writing in the Disciplines and thirteenth overall in National Liberal Arts Colleges.

Hamilton is one of the few universities out there that actually offers a major in creative writing and English Literature. So, if you’d rather concentrate completely on creative writing rather than just minoring in it, this may be the best creative writing program for you!

At this Liberal Arts college, tuition is $62,050 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.

12.  University of Iowa

Ranking tenth in Writing in the Disciplines as well, and #83 overall in National Universities, 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.

With significantly cheaper tuition costs than the other universities mentioned, Iowa residents can expect to pay only $9,942 a year for tuition, and non-residents can expect to pay $31,905! For students interested in graduating from university without drowning in debt, this might be the perfect university for you!

13.  Princeton University

Despite being one of the oldest colleges in America, Princeton University consistently ranks as one of the best universities in the world. It ranks thirteenth in Writing in the Disciplines and first as the Best National University!

Princeton offers an English B.A. and a program in creative writing 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 $57,410 a year, making it one of the cheaper options 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 and the University of Iowa are some of the only colleges that offer 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 $9,942 in tuition for residents and $31,905 for non-residents. However, Columbia University offers the most extensive scholarships, as 50% of all of its students receive grants of around $62,850.

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 personalized help from their professors and are able to make better connections with them (and we all know how important networking is!)

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

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.

If you get homesick and can’t go more than a few days without seeing your beloved cat, choose a university that is close to you! The thirteen colleges listed here are located all over the states!

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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