Across multiple disciplines, strong writing skills feature into daily tasks needed for the job. A creative writing degree emphasizes skills in written communication, rhetoric, and textual analysis, providing a strong foundation for careers in severals fields.
Hovering around $70,000 a year, the average salary for English and creative writing degree graduates is on the rise, according to Census Bureau data. Not only does this degree offer the potential for a high salary, it also offers the opportunity to apply your skills in a range of high-paying and rewarding fields, including education, law, or advertising.
This guide will provide you with useful information about earning your writing degree, what you can expect from a writing program, employment options for graduates, admission requirements, and resources to further your research into creative writing programs.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Writing?
Writing programs often emphasize cohort- and group-based learning, wherein students work alongside the same peers for the entirety of their program. Many creative writing classes also include a workshop element that gives students an opportunity to share their work with one another and give and receive constructive feedback. Those who excel in collaborative environments might find earning a creative writing degree suits them well. While earning your creative writing degree online provides a flexible option for working professionals, an on-campus creative writing program often attracts students interested in taking advantage of the in-person, collaborative aspects of face-to-face workshop sessions. Both on-campus and online degrees in creative writing provide similar skill sets and opportunities for collaboration.
A bachelor's degree in writing grants you valuable skills in critical thinking and analysis, verbal and written communication, and reasoning and problem solving. These programs also have built-in networking opportunities through meeting other students and writers in workshops and courses. As you near graduation, you may even have the opportunity to participate in internships for creative writing majors in your local community. Once you graduate and enter the workforce, your degree in creative writing informs employers you possess important and attractive skills like time management, organization, and effective verbal and written communication. Those with a bachelor's degree earn consistently more than others entering the workforce with only a high school diploma, so getting your bachelor of arts in writing opens the door to these more competitive earning potentials.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Writing?
As the name of the major itself implies, those studying creative writing tend to be more creatively inclined. These students might also show strengths in organization, problem solving, logic, and reasoning, making them ideal candidates for careers across disciplines, not just in the humanities. The occupations outlined below account for just a few of the exciting opportunities potentially available for those with a creative writing degree.
- Technical Writers
Technical writers work on projects like manuals, textbooks, how-to guides, and academic journal articles and conduct research on their projects to ensure accuracy. They may also edit articles, checking for grammar, syntax, and diction that aligns with a specific project's style.
Median Annual Salary: $70,930
Projected Growth Rate: 11%
- Writers and Authors
This profession accounts for a writers working in all kinds of capacities, including fiction, nonfiction, travel, and freelance writers. Freelance writers often work from home, creating content for websites, blogs, and corporations on their own schedule.
Median Annual Salary: $61,820
Projected Growth Rate: 8%
- Public Relations Specialists
Working directly with public figures or corporations ensures a positive relationship between these figures and the public. Public relations specialists use their communication skills to craft press releases, speak with the media, and create content about the figures they represent.
Median Annual Salary: $59,300
Projected Growth Rate: 9%
- High School Teachers
High school teachers work with students in upper grade levels 9–12. Those with creative writing degrees primarily teach subjects like English, language arts, reading, and composition.
Median Annual Salary: $59,170
Projected Growth Rate: 8%
- Court Reporters
Court reporters possess strong writing and listening skills, as they keep detailed records and reports of trials, depositions, and hearings. This career requires some specialized training, available in on-campus and online programs. These professionals may also transcribe captions for TV programs and news stations.
Median Annual Salary: $55,120
Projected Growth Rate: 3%
How to Choose a Bachelor's in Writing Program
When it comes to choosing a creative writing program, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by all the different options; however, selecting the program that best fits your goals and needs might prove easier than you think. Creating an ideal program checklist -- including factors such as length, cohort-based or independent study, online or on campus -- allows you to easily choose between a variety of programs by seeing many of your ideal features the program offers.
Some programs may last longer than others, depending on whether you enroll part or full time, but many creative writing degree bachelor's paths take around four years to complete, including general education requirements. Universities may also provide concentrations for a creative writing program, such as an emphasis in nonfiction, poetry, or literature.
Consider whether you'd like to pursue your degree online or on campus. Online writing programs offer working professionals a flexible option for earning their degree without the worry of commuting to campus. Online programs may also prove a bit more cost effective. When considering on-campus options, location is key. Take into account the cost of living in the surrounding area of campus, as well as available employment opportunities on or off campus.
Look into whether each school has specific graduation requirements, usually either a written thesis or a capstone. Make sure each program you consider is accredited, covered more in detail below.
Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor's in Writing Programs
Apart from regional and national accreditation for an entire university, some programs within a university are individually accredited. Programmatic accreditation functions similarly to the way overall institutions become accredited; an accrediting agency determines whether the program meets certain standards and then awards the program accreditation. While many writing programs may not specifically have a programmatic accreditation, accrediting agencies for writing programs do provide a great place to start in your search for schools.
The Association of Writers and Writing Programs endorses certain undergraduate and graduate writing programs, and also provides a searchable guide of their endorsed programs. A more common agency for researching creative writing programs is the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation. While choosing a program with one of these programmatic accreditations might not be required, it does provide you with assurance that the program has been vetted and meets academic standards.
Bachelor's in Writing Program Admissions
Admissions to on-campus and online undergraduate programs are fairly straightforward, though initially nerve wracking for first-time applicants.
When applying to on-campus undergraduate programs, you can sometimes use an online tool called the Common Application, or CommonApp. With a database of over 800 colleges, CommonApp decreases repetition when applying to multiple schools because you only need to fill out one application. Some colleges may require supplemental essays outside of the CommonApp. Online admissions are often more complex, with requirements listed on each program's webpage.
Applying to between six and eight schools -- a few schools within your reach, and a few that might prove a bit more difficult to get into -- affords flexibility of choice when accepting an admission offer. Base these choices on each school's admission requirements and their individual program offerings. Consider schools where you think you might get the most out of your education.
- Minimum GPA: Most schools require at least a minimum high school GPA of between a 2.5 and a 3.0; however, admissions boards also consider extracurricular involvement, volunteer work, work history, and personal background when considering a student for admissions.
- Application: Application materials vary from school to school, but generally involve a brief personal background, information about your academic history, and a personal statement or essay.
- Transcripts: Schools require transcripts of all schools you have attended previously, both high school and any college coursework. High school transcripts are often free, but many colleges charge a nominal fee for official transcripts, ordered through the registrar's office.
- Letters of Recommendation: Some programs may require letters of recommendation from mentors or teachers who know you personally and can speak to your abilities as a student.
- Test Scores: Undergraduate admissions often require standardized test scores, such as the ACT and SAT. Schools often list average SAT or ACT scores for applicants on their admissions webpages.
- Application Fee: Schools often charge a fee along with their application, from as low as $20 to $60 or higher. Some schools may offer fee waivers for students demonstrating financial need.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's in Writing Program?
The information below takes a broad look at undergraduate writing programs' curriculum. Keep in mind the details outlined in this section vary depending on the school and the program you choose to attend.
|Fiction Writing||A fiction writing concentration emphasizes the skills you need to craft works of fiction, including novels and short stories. Students participate in writing workshops, create pieces of original fiction, and may also learn about the publishing process.||Writer/Author, Editor, Teacher|
|Poetry||A poetry emphasis in your writing degree explores all forms of poetry through study of renowned poets and allows you to craft your own emulations and original compositions. This concentration may include courses focused on different types and eras of poetry in addition to poetry workshops.||Writer/Author, Editor, Teacher|
|Literature||Focusing your writing degree in literature gives you the opportunity to study literature from different historical contexts, eras, and parts of the world. This emphasis may also contribute to your growth as a writer, as you study the writers who came before you and analyze their work through a critical lens.||Teacher, Editor|
|Rhetoric||The study of rhetoric examines the process of writing and speaking persuasively. This concentration may have a strong emphasis in studying the parts of speech and elements of composition, including grammar, diction, and syntax.||Editor, Writer, Teacher|
|Technical Writing||Technical writing looks specifically at writing within manuals, how-to guides, textbooks, and various technical/instructional materials. People who specialize in this kind of writing go on to be strong copy editors and contributors to technical publications and academic journals.||Copy Editor, Writer, Teacher|
Courses in a Bachelor's in Writing Program
The sample curriculum below constitutes just a few examples of the courses you might take while earning your bachelor's degree in writing. Actual courses and requirements may differ depending on the school you choose.
Most undergraduates in any major encounter a composition course during their studies, often required during the freshman year. This course provides foundational skills in essay writing, rhetoric, and textual analysis.
- Fiction Writing
A course in fiction writing examines the elements of successful fiction and offers the opportunity for students to then apply these learned skills to craft works of original fiction. Many fiction writing courses include peer workshops that allow students to receive feedback on their work prior to revision.
A poetry class might simply include study of the craft of poetry, or may also include writing original poetry based on skills learned from studying the work of famous poets. Students may also workshop original work, practice different poetic forms, and craft a final portfolio of original poetry.
- American Literature
Many writing majors explore literature from around the world as part of their degree, including at least one course in American literature. This course may look specifically at literature from certain time periods in American history, or act as a broader survey course.
- Technical Writing
A course in technical writing covers the elements of writing and editing technical publications, including how-to manuals, informational guides, textbooks, and professional journals. This course often emphasizes skills in grammar and copy editing, as editing is a key duty for technical writers.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Writing?
A number of factors can impact how long it takes to get a bachelor's degree in writing. Typically, undergraduate degrees take between three and four years to complete. This includes general education courses, which are required prior to completing courses in a writing major. If you transfer into a writing program after earning an associate degree, it may only take about two years to complete your major requirements. Some programs may have more course requirements than others or more intensive final projects. Both of these factors can impact your time to completion.
The more credits you take each semester, the faster you'll finish your degree. Generally, the faster you finish, the less a degree costs, because colleges charge tuition on a semester or credit-based system. Dropping to part-time enrollment, if you need to work or have other obligations, also impacts how long it takes to complete your degree.
How Much Is a Bachelor's in Writing?
Depending on a number of factors, including location, how long it takes you to earn your degree, and the number of required credits, the cost of a bachelor's in writing varies. The National Council for Education Statistics estimates the cost for tuition, fees, room, and board for one year at a public university at $16,757; this number increases for private and for-profit institutions. However, this number is only an estimate, and students' individual costs often differ.
Some universities charge per credit hour, rather than per semester. According to data calculated from the Department of Education, the average cost per-credit-hour at a four-year public university is $325, meaning a 120-credit bachelor's degree costs approximately $39,000 based on this average. Costs outside of tuition, such as housing, art or technology fees, and textbooks also affect the overall cost of a bachelor's in writing degree.
Possible options for funding your degree include scholarships, student loans, or even work study at a job on your campus. Writing programs often require a good deal of reading, so renting or buying used rather than buying new textbooks can help cut costs as well. Some schools also may offer payment plans for tuition and fees to make the cost more manageable.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Writing Prepares For
- Teaching License
Beyond your writing degree, you can become certified as an educator within your home state and teach in your subject area. The process for becoming a licensed teacher varies from state to state, but generally requires a licensure exam.
- Certified Copy Editor
Some colleges and schools offer certifications in copy editing that can serve as a great resume booster for those interested in pursuing copyediting after graduation. Online courses in copyediting also exist, like the certificate in editing offered by the University of Washington.
- Media Bistro Copyediting Certificate
As one of the most popular education sources for copyediting and writing, Media Bistro offers a special certificate in copyediting for writers interested in learning more about the process. You can complete the self-paced course in as quickly as one day.
- Copyblogger Certification
For those interested in working as freelance content creators, this month-long online course provides you with skills that can improve your writing and introduces how to tailor your writing to the needs of clients. This course is intended for those who already have some writing skills, making it ideal for graduates of writing programs.
- Medical Writing Certification
The American Medical Writers Association administers an exam certifying those who pass as medical writing certified. Students pursuing a career in medical or technical writing after graduation benefit greatly from earning this certification.
Resources for Writing Students
Purdue University's online writing lab provides a wealth of useful information on references and citation styles, including APA and MLA, as well as helpful writing tips and guides.
P&W's entirely free online database offers searchable information on writers, as well as a wide selection of their available work.
Jack Lynch of Rutgers University provides a detailed outline on the various elements of an English paper, and helpful tips on how to do well.
This simple, straightforward website displays grammar instruction and writing tips in a range of subject areas and styles, ideal for a student pursuing a creative writing degree.
Google Books offers many texts for free, in their entirety, and extensive samples of many others. The service also shows possible options for purchasing the text you searched for on the sidebar.
Professional Organizations in Writing
Becoming a member of professional organizations while earning an undergraduate degree can open a number of internship or job opportunities to you. These organizations provide a way for current students and recent graduates to network with fellow students and current working professionals, explore continuing education programs, attend annual conferences related to writing, and access members only career services and job boards. The organizations listed below cater specifically to students and graduates of writing programs.