Professional writers are the minds behind the content we read every day. Some specialize in creative compositions, such as novels, short stories, theatrical scripts, screenplays, and songs. Alternatively, technical writers produce how-to guides, product manuals, brochures, and other materials that consumers use. Other writing majors find their calling in journalism, crafting articles and editorials for newspapers, magazines, and academic journals. Regardless of their specific job title, most writers begin their career as undergraduate students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in writing.
Many colleges and universities offer degrees dedicated to writing, while others offer English degrees with a writing concentration track. Most writing programs involve workshopping, where students compose drafts and then submit them to fellow students for peer review. Other courses cover topics like grammar and composition, comparative literature, editing, and publishing.
Today, students often choose to earn their bachelor’s degree in writing online. Web-based programs offer the same rigorous curricula as brick-and-mortar options, leading to the same job opportunities after graduation. The asynchronous or self-paced schedule of many online writing programs may benefit students with part-time jobs, childcare needs, and other commitments that may interfere with campus-based learning.
Use this guide to learn more about what you can do with an online bachelor’s degree in writing and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to in the field.
Choosing a Program
WILL AN ONLINE WRITING DEGREE PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?
Online writing programs build on the fundamentals of English grammar and composition that most students first learn in middle and high school. Courses cover methods and techniques for crafting comparative essays, academic research papers, speeches, short stories, poems, and other creative works. The best online writing degrees also incorporate vocational training in areas like technical writing, copywriting, and grant writing. In recent years, many writing programs began including elements of web marketing, blogging, and social media.
WILL AN ONLINE WRITING DEGREE PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?
Online bachelor’s in writing programs offer a flexible alternative to traditional, classroom-based education. Students can access course readings and writing tutorials, participate in virtual class discussions with fellow students, submit written assignments, take exams, and communicate with professors from the comfort of their own home. Current eLearning technology also allows learners to study on the go using a laptop, tablet, smartphone, and other Wi-Fi-compatible devices.
WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY WRITING BACHELOR'S DEGREE?
Job availability for graduates of an online writing bachelor’s program largely depends on the specialization area. Students with a background in technical writing often find work quickly, producing or managing content for manufacturing and retail companies, marketing firms, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. Those who focus on creative writing may also find employment in content-producing roles, working on literary submissions for book publishers and literary journals. Jobs in journalism -- both print and online -- are widely available to writing majors as well. Other common pathways for writing majors include careers in editing and publication, marketing, and education.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE WRITING DEGREE PROGRAMS?
Only you can decide whether a target school’s strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online bachelor’s degree in writing programs in the U.S. When considering an online bachelor’s in writing, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific requirements and offerings.
Accredited Online Writing Degree Programs
|1||University of Central Florida Orlando, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 69%||
An online creative writing bachelor’s degree can open up a wealth of new opportunities, and graduates who earn a creative writing BA from the University of Central Florida take on jobs in a range of industries and roles. While some find work in education, editing and publishing, management, or law, others go on to pursue graduate study.
Creative writing BA candidates analyze non-fiction prose, fiction, and poetry from numerous periods and cultures, including Native American literature, modern American poetry, and gothic literature. Students also produce their own works in all three genres, examining the fundamentals of composition and style. The 120-credit program also includes 36 hours of general education coursework in math, science, and other fields.
Applicants must complete and submit an online application and residency affidavit. Prospective students should also provide official transcripts demonstrating a GPA of at least 2.0, two math courses in college algebra or higher, and two courses in English composition with a minimum grade of C in all four, foreign language competency at high school level or above, and SAT and/or ACT results with writing scores included.
|2||Missouri State University - Springfield Springfield, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 55%||
The public Missouri State University system consists of four physical campuses, including its main campus located in Springfield, Missouri. MSU’s online bachelor of science in professional writing degree imparts broadly-applicable skills in editing, writing, project management, and publication production. Graduates of the online writing degree program go on to work in a variety of industries and fields, including healthcare, education, government, law, and business.
Major requirements for the bachelor’s degree in writing include introductory coursework in college composition, technical, and professional writing. Students develop strong language and grammar skills, exploring creative writing through poetry, playwriting, fiction, and nonfiction. The program culminates in a public affairs capstone, which may be fulfilled through focus coursework in technical or professional writing, or a technical writing internship.
Applicants should submit transcripts demonstrating a GPA of 2.50 of higher, or a minimum of 2.75 for last 30 hours of coursework. All professional writing majors must declare a minor or second major.
|3||Arizona State University - Skysong Scottsdale, AZ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 20%||
Operating through five campuses in the Phoenix metropolitan area, ASU is the largest public university in the country by enrollment, with a student body of over 80,000. U.S. News World & Report named ASU the “Most Innovative School in America” for 2016, based on the development of its curriculum and technology. The online writing degree at ASU is defined as a technical communication degree. Students in the program learn to produce, design, and manage technical information, studying principles of effective visual and written communication in order to make complex technical material understandable to all audiences. In addition to skills in drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading, students also learn to collaborate effectively, meet the needs of specific audiences, and evaluate information.
|4||Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 58%||
Located in Manchester, New Hampshire, SNHU was founded in 1932 as an accounting and secretarial school. From those humble beginnings, SNHU has grown into the largest provider of distance education in the country, serving an online student body of more than 60,000. The school’s massive online education program offers two distinct writing degrees: a communications degree with a professional writing specialization, and an online creative writing degree with concentrations in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and screenwriting. The professional writing degree focuses on written communication strategies for business, including public relations and digital media. The creative writing program helps students develop their storytelling skills, with options for either a general degree or specialization in one of four tracks -- making this one of the best online creative writing programs available.
|5||Central Washington University Ellensburg, WA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 52%||
Based in the town of Ellensburg, Central Washington University is a public, four-year institution that offers twelve web-based undergraduate programs, including a bachelor of arts in English with a 74-credit professional and creative writing specialization.
Unlike many writing programs online, CWU combines a literature-liberal arts foundation with specialized coursework in professional and business writing, editing, publishing, and creative writing. This interdisciplinary approach gives students the freedom to shape their major to their personal and professional interests, combining coursework from other academic fields with required courses such as poetry and poetics, English grammar, and rhetoric for professional writers.
Prospective students must finish two years of a foreign language in high school or one year in college before earning their bachelor of arts in writing. Once admitted, degree candidates complete a virtual orientation program, and may take advantage of online tutoring and career services.
|6||University of Colorado Denver - Anschutz Denver, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 48%||
Founded in 1912, UC Denver serves more than 18,000 students through two campuses in the Denver area. The school also offers a substantial selection of quality online programs, with online students at UC Denver boasting an even higher graduation rate than on-campus students. The school offers an English writing degree online, preparing students for work in fields such as business, advertising, publishing, entertainment, and the nonprofit sector. Along with written communication, the degree emphasizes skills necessary for success in writing-based fields, including independent work, time management, critical reasoning, research, and creative thinking. Online students an UC Denver also have access to the school’s experiential learning program, which connects students with internships and other opportunities to gain applicable job experience.
|7||The University of Texas at El Paso El Paso, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 39%||
Located in El Paso, Texas, near the U.S.-Mexico border, UTEP is a major educational institution in West Texas, ranking as one of the top colleges awarding degrees to Hispanics. The U.S. Department of Education also ranks the school as the lowest net tuition cost among public research universities. Founded in 2015, UTEP’s distance education program is new, but it maintains the level of academic quality that has come to characterize the school. UTEP’s online writing degree emphasizes writing and communication in a corporate setting, giving students the tools necessary to create corporate communications materials such as reports, brochures, internal communications, speeches and online content. Students also gain strategies for effective public relations, learning to control a company’s message through media outlets. Graduates are prepared for careers in advertising, marketing, public relations, technical writing, and other related fields.
|8||Minnesota State University - Mankato Mankato, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 51%||
Located about 75 miles southwest of Minneapolis-St. Paul, MNSU is a major education center in Minnesota, serving nearly 18,000 students through on-campus and online programs. The flagship college of the Minnesota State Universities and Colleges system, the school’s mission is based around values of integrity, diversity, access, responsibility, and excellence, preparing students for both professional careers and lifelong learning. Students earning their technical writing degree online from MNSU study technical communication or business communication along with related courses in research, editing, and technical documentation. Students in the program can also select a relevant technical minor for specialization, choosing from fields such as automotive engineering technology, environmental science, community health, or manufacturing.
|9||University of Arkansas at Little Rock Little Rock, AR||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 30%||
While many colleges offer creating writing programs online, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s bachelor of arts in professional and technical writing emphasizes rhetorical and written literacy. The 120-credit program develops practical document design, editing, and writing skills through an exploration of language and rhetoric, persuasive writing, nonfiction, and technical composition. Students may pursue concentrations in nonfiction and technical writing. The program culminates in a rhetoric and writing colloquium, which integrates concepts in rhetorical and writing theory with a focus on professional development. While the bachelor’s degree in writing program is presented entirely online, students have full access to the same academic and library resources as their on-campus counterparts.
Applicants must submit ACT or SAT scores, official high school transcripts, and college transcripts, if applicable.
|10||University of Houston - Downtown Houston, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 16%||
One of four institutions in the University of Houston system, UHD serves students in the bustling downtown area of Houston, Texas, with a student body of over 14,000. UHD ranks as one of the top regional colleges and top regional public universities in the West, according to U.S. News & World Report. UHD offers a technical writing degree online that prepares students for writing careers in fields such as business, industry, media, and government. The degree is professionally focused, preparing students to create both digital and print media, from business documents to social media posts. Online students who are able to can also complete writing internships to gain hands-on experience in the field of their choice.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor’s in Writing Program?
For an idea of what you might learn within your writing coursework, take a look at the list below. Every writing program operates differently, which means each school offers varying courses. Moreover, each professor runs his or her course in a unique way. The classes below only represent a portion of what you might learn throughout your degree, but they include some of the best online creative writing courses available.
Curriculum for an Online Bachelor’s in Writing
- Short Story Writing: This course instructs students on how to write fiction in short story form. Professors sometimes run short story writing courses as workshops. Students bring in their story drafts for the class to critique. Learners study story form and other aspects of writing, such as metaphorical language, point of view, and characterization.
- Poetry Writing: Much like the short story writing class, poetry courses often operate in a workshop format. Students write poetry, critique each others' poems, and examine the craft of poetry. Professors use examples of literature from revered poets, and students learn about poetic conventions like rhyme and meter.
- Nonfiction Writing: Nonfiction writing exists in several forms, including journalism, essays, criticism, and creative or literary nonfiction. Students learn about what sets nonfiction writing apart from poetry, short stories, and novels. Learners also study how to use the creative process to bring nonfiction writing to life and make it interesting for readers.
- Screenwriting: Writing for the screen means relying heavily on dialogue, action, and drama. Sometimes, screenwriting courses focus specifically on television. This means students learn about character development and unraveling plot over several hours of content and a series of episodes.
- Novel Writing: Writing a novel might seem like an intimidating task. This course teaches students how to develop the discipline to keep at a long-term writing project. Professors also often examine the great novelists like Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, teaching structure and literary conventions using these authors’ example.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Bachelor’s in Writing?
A traditional bachelor's degree consists of 120 credits and lasts about four years. If students work full time or have family responsibilities, they often enroll in school part time. These students may take a longer to graduate. Sometimes, students opt to pursue a technical writing master's degree online after their bachelor's degree, which can demand additional time. That said, earning a technical writing degree online does not necessarily follow a conventional timeline.
Several factors affect how quickly students finish their degrees. For instance, some students may possess transfer credit from an associate degree or previous higher education experience that can shorten total degree length. Sometimes, schools administer special programs or incentives to help students finish their degrees. Accelerated and fast track options allow students to take additional credits each semester or enroll in coursework during the summer.
Accreditation for Online Bachelor’s in Writing Degrees
Accreditation acts as a guarantee of quality, as accrediting agencies review schools and programs for the highest standards of education. If the institution meets certain standards, it receives accreditation. Both students and prospective employers can be assured that a degree from an accredited university meets the highest standards in education.
Accrediting agencies come in two different forms: regional and national. National agencies serve higher education programs all over the U.S., not specific to a certain region. National accreditation agencies typically review for-profit and vocational schools. On the other hand, regional accreditation agencies serve colleges and universities in one specific region of the country. Generally speaking, regional accreditation agencies hold higher esteem than national accreditation agencies. However, some of the best colleges for creative writing possess accreditation from both.
Additionally, programmatic accreditation agencies typically review degrees that fall within a specialized field like nursing or business. Writing students should look out for degrees with accreditation from the Commission on English Language Accreditation (CEA).
The federally-run Department of Education (ED) accredits the accreditation agencies and oversees agencies acknowledged by the federal government. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) holds a similar purpose. Made up of colleges and universities, CHEA aims to self-regulate the accreditation process. These two organizations work to ensure that accreditation agencies do not exploit the process or grant accreditation to every school so that the distinction becomes meaningless. For more information, you can find a full list of accredited schools on the ED's website.
Employment Outlook for Bachelor’s in Writing Graduates
Bachelor’s in Writing Salary
Professional writers often earn more if they hold a technical writing degree, but experience matters too. Writers who have worked in a field for a while may receive a higher salary than recent graduates. The table below examines how salaries for specific positions change over time. The data, which comes from Payscale, outlines what professionals make early in their careers, during the middle of their careers, and toward the end of their careers. For some positions, a new professional and a seasoned professional may see a $20,000 difference in their annual earnings.
|Job Title||Overall Median Salary||Median Salary for Entry-Level||Median Salary for Mid-Career||Median Salary for Late-Career|
Bachelor’s in Writing Careers
Writers sometimes work for agencies, newspapers, or other organizations. They may compose copy in-house or report the news. Other times, writers work in a freelance capacity. This means they must hold excellent time management and self-discipline skills. They should also feel comfortable working on their own, although they often communicate with coworkers through email or other digital means. For more information on positions for professionals who have earned their technical writing degree online, check out the following list of potential careers.
Writers and Authors: Writers and authors take on a variety of roles. Authors usually write books or short stories, which they may publish independently, through a publishing house, or in a literary journal. They might also work as screenwriters, penning films and television episodes. Nonfiction writers record true stories, while copywriters compose pieces for advertising agencies or websites.
Technical Writers: Technical writers create content that helps consumers understand difficult concepts. Specifically, they might write an instruction manual for putting together a piece of furniture. They could also write how-to guides for equipment or warnings on product labels. Technical writers must possess a solid comprehension of their assigned topic.
Editors: Although many work for news organizations, editors can also work in a variety of different workplaces, including advertising agencies, universities, or nonprofit organizations. Editors review writing to clean up mistakes and ensure the finished product lives up to the organization's standards and tone. News editors also take an active role in reporting the news by guiding reporters on article presentation.
Reporters, Correspondents and Broadcast News Analysts: Reporters and correspondents bring news to the public for online news organizations, newspapers, or television newscasts. They must pitch stories, conduct interviews, write, and -- if working for television -- film a segment around the those stories. Broadcast news analysts appear on TV news programs to break down and interpret the news.
|Position||Median Annual Salary||Projected Growth Rate|
|Writers and Authors||$61,820||8%|
|Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts||$40,910||-9%|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Professional organizations provide a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you can find three of the country’s most prominent organizations established for professional writers. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.
- Society of Professional Journalists: Founded in 1909, the SPJ now represents roughly 7,500 members nationwide. The organization’s flagship magazine publishes 10 times per year, and the website features jobs leads, professional development courses, and an extensive resource library.
- Association of Writers and Writing Programs: The AWP offers membership, career resources, and advocacy to writing professionals across the country. The organization represents more than 550 college writing programs and 150 nationwide writer’s conferences.
- Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators: This organization offers training, grant support, and advocacy for writers and illustrators of books aimed at young readers. The SCBWI maintains more than 80 regional chapters around the globe.
Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Writing Program
Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.
Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but many overlook financing options for reducing overall student debt.
Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.
Financial aid for online learning mirrors what you might find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place and the different funding opportunities available to online students.
Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We've curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.
Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning a degree. We’ve curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.
Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.
- Best Online Bachelor's in Writing of 2017
Rank School Location 1 University of Colorado Denver Denver, CO 2 Old Dominion University Norfolk, VA 3 Arizona State University-Skysong Scottsdale, AZ 4 Minnesota State University-Mankato Mankato, MN 5 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH 6 Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Saint Mary of the Woods, IN 7 University of Houston-Downtown Houston, TX 8 The University of Texas at El Paso El Paso, TX 9 Institute of American Indian and Alaska Native Culture Santa Fe, NM