The independent, trusted guide to online education for over 24 years!

10 Best Online MFA Creative Writing Under $30,000

Online MFA creative writing grad at book reading

Launching a career in writing or publishing is a dream for many people who love to write. However, it can be difficult to develop the skills and the knowledge you need to get paid as a writer, which is why online MFA Creative Writing programs are there to help you get started on this journey. With some of the best online MFA Creative Writing degrees, you can keep your current life while you build the skill to become a professional.

What is an MFA in Creative Writing? In short, the master of fine arts is a terminal degree in an artistic discipline, meaning that it is the highest possible degree in that creative field. For creative writing, the degree can help develop skills that a writer can apply to many fields, including writing books or essays, working in the publishing industry, writing for business and marketing, teaching writing, or applying writing skills in many other contexts.

What is an MFA?

The curriculum in online MFA programs in creative writing will feature many seminars and workshops to actively write, give and receive feedback, and dig into the process of writing. There are also courses in craft, publishing, teaching, literature, and other topics that support your writing, but expect an emphasis on creating. Some program will allow you to work in multiple genres, but most will ask you to pick fiction or creative nonfiction, and sometimes also poetry or screenwriting as your focus. Some of the best MFA creative writing programs will have short, in-person workshops required or optional, for more intensive study.

Most online MFA creative writing programs can be completed in two years, with the shortest taking around 15 months. Different programs will allow you to complete the program more slowly, with some allowing up to seven years to write your thesis and finish. How much does MFA cost in creative writing? That can vary, with the least expensive programs coming in around $12k, and the most expensive programs costing upwards of $80k. The schools we have picked for this list all keep your price tag comfortably under $30k for your whole program. However, with different schedules and different genre options, make sure to look for the school that will best meet your needs.

GetEducated Sponsored Picks

View all online degrees

Jobs You Can Get With a MFA in Creative Writing

The strongest reason to enroll in one of the best grad schools for creative writing is to dive deeply into improving your writing. You could enroll in an MA program, which may be broader, but an MFA is considered the terminal degree and focusses more on workshopping your writing and which will allow you to teach. If you are looking for a graduate program to quickly increase your earning potential, you may wish to look at a different field entirely, though an MFA creative writing online degree can help you make more money with polished writing skills relevant to business.

There are many jobs you can get with a MFA in creative writing, including copywriting, editing, technical writing, or becoming a writing instructor. Generally, writers can expect to earn around $63,00 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but technical writers and those who work in marketing can expect to earn more. The best MFA creative writing programs can allow you to teach at the university level, but those jobs are highly competitive, and it is more likely that you might take an adjunct or community teaching job as a side gig. Yet good writing is needed in many corners of the economy, from writing for newsletters, marketing, education, professional journals, grants, reports, guides, and more, so if you improve your skills and your knowledge, there are ways to make a good living with your writing, whether or not you plan to make money with your most creative writing.

Best MFA Creative Writing Programs

The strongest reason to enroll in one of the best grad schools for creative writing is to dive deeply into improving your writing. You could enroll in an MA program, which may be broader, but an MFA is considered the terminal degree and focusses more on workshopping your writing and which will allow you to teach. If you are looking for a graduate program to quickly increase your earning potential, you may wish to look at a different field entirely, though an MFA creative writing online degree can help you make more money with polished writing skills relevant to business.

MFA creative writing rankings can be deceptive, as your chances of getting a book published or going on to do more writing is more influenced by your talent and your hard work—a degree from a better-known school does little for you if your writing isn’t good. Your experience from studying at a smaller or lesser known program may be more valuable if you find good mentor ship from the faculty, whether they are big name writers or more modest but talented teachers. Finding a program that you can afford, that fits into your schedule, and that resonates with your goals will help you to move forward to writing better. Creative writing MFA rankings may steer you towards a more expensive program that is not a fit for your style and interests.

Who Gets an Online MFA Creative Writing?

Many famous writers didn’t get their start until later in life, so there is no age limit for people who enroll in online MFA creative writing programs. No matter where you are in your life, in top online MFA creative writing programs, you will find a range of ages and types of people who all share common goals of gaining skill in writing and supporting each other. You learn a lot by reading and discussing other students’ work in a creative writing online program, and not just by getting feedback on your own writing. You will find that some people in your MFA creative writing online courses are published writers who want to improve, while others might be just at the beginning of developing their writing talent. So, whether you are just starting to think that writing is your bag, or you’re already getting paid for some writing, you can jump into one of these online MFA creative writing programs to take your writing to the next level.

Some people question whether it is worth the money to get an MFA in creative writing. After all, what can you do with a creative writing degree? It turns out that improving your writing can help you land paying gigs in lots of fields, even if you don’t get your great American novel published right away. Some people don’t even aspire to write a novel, but instead love to write nonfiction, or screenplays, or poetry. Jobs you can get with a MFA in creative writing include becoming an editor for many types of publications or businesses, writing marketing copy, becoming a technical writer, or using your improved writing skills in many industries, as people with solid writing skills are always in demand.

And if you are worried about giving up your current job to follow your writing dream, an affordable online MFA creative writing program mitigates your risks—keep working and don’t go heavily into debt to improve your writing—no matter what, you will gain marketable skills that you can use to further your career in any field.

Prestigious Choice: Southern New Hampshire University

For a customizable degree that provides real-world skills for writers, look no further than the online MFA in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). Not only does the degree program offer students four different options for concentration—fiction, nonfiction, screenwriting, or poetry—but has seminars in teaching writing that can give aspiring writers a way to pay their bills while getting their writing careers off the ground. And better yet, this flexible degree program comes with a slim price tag to save you some cash.

SNHU’s online MFA creative writing program is 100% online, boasts an inclusive community, and can be completed in as little as 15 months or taken at one’s own pace. You can apply at any time to start in one of five terms and no GRE is required for admission. Combining creativity and craft, the program can help students to start or advance their professional writing careers, and can lead to careers in publishing, education, marketing, or business. An impressive 96.5% of students would recommend SNHU, which is also home to the New Hampshire Writer’s Project and a destination for nationally recognized writers.

For those who prefer some in-person interaction, SNHU’s two-year low-residency MFA, which has January and June one-week in-person intensives, and works online the rest of the time, may be the perfect fit. Designed as a “mentorship” type program, fiction and non-fiction writers, are welcome, as are writers of Young Adult fiction, essays, short-stories, and memoirs.

With one of the lowest tuition prices around, innovative and proven curricula, financial aid for those who qualify, flexible scheduling, the ability to transfer up to 90 credits of previous work, and a community that includes very successful graduates, SNHU offers some of the best online MFA creative writing programs for writers in all genres.

Find Out More:
Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

10 Best Online MFA Creative Writing Under $30,000

  1. Concordia University – Saint Paul

    Total Cost (In-State): $18,900

    Concordia University, St. Paul offers the 100% online MFA in Creative Writing as a 2-year, 36-credit program. In addition to the opportunity to work with a number of published writers throughout the program, students will complete the program with a book-length manuscript of their own work in hand. The classes are in short, seven-week format, and meet once a week online. Applicants should have a 3.0 GPA on their undergraduate work, and the sequential program starts in the fall. The program is designed for fiction and creative non-fiction writers who want to improve their craft. With small classes and synchronous class meetings, this program is great for students from around the world who want to have “real” contact with faculty and peers without traveling to a campus.

    Find Out More:
    Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing


  2. University of Arkansas at Monticello

    Total Cost (In-State): $20,271

    With three different tracks of study – fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction – the online non-residency MFA in creative writing from University of Arkansas at Monticello offers aspiring writers a robust and comprehensive program. The innovative 48-semester credit program allows motivated and talented students to study with dedicated and successful writers in many styles and genres throughout the program. Students can move at their own pace through the program, taking as little as three credits a term or as many as 12. Applicants should have a 3.0 undergraduate GPA, but some exceptions to this rule may be made. Up to nine semester hours of transfer credit are allowed and there are student assistantships available to teach online freshman-level writing courses under the supervision of the Director of Composition. Students can take electives within or outside the department with permission from the program director. For students who want flexible curriculum and an affordable degree, UAM provides one of the best online MFA creative writing programs.

    Find Out More:
    Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing


  3. University of New Orleans

    Total Cost (In-State): $23,070

    The 45-credit online MFA in Creative Writing from University of New Orleans can be completed in as little as five semesters, including the optional one-month summer residency programs in Cork, Ireland or Brunnenburg, Italy. Other overseas destinations have included Japan, France, Austria, and Scotland. Students must choose a concentration—poetry, fiction, or nonfiction—and take workshop with different professors within their genre, as well as a couple outside of their genre. Literature classes, or background classes, are also required. Students can start in the fall or spring term, and study 100% online or choose to attend the summer residency as part of their program. With a strong emphasis on the quality of writing and small class sizes, the UNO program is designed to develop the skill of talented writers, not to change their style of writing. The UNO online MFA is a terrific program for serious writers who seek an esteemed community to support their development through the MFA, and also for those who want to spend concentrated time in person and want to travel.

    Find Out More:
    Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing


  4. The University of Texas at El Paso

    Total Cost (In-State): $23,520

    The only program with a bilingual option, the University of Texas at El Paso online MFA in Creative Writing is for serious writers intent on publishing, and is a highly selective program. Designed for those who wish to further their writing, but also want the MFA to allow them to teach, this program can be completed flexibly online. Classes are held in English, though students can opt to do their writing in Spanish. Students can begin in the fall or spring, and can opt to take classes in the summer if they wish. Most students complete the degree within three years, but some take up to five years around their busy lives. Online students may opt to come to campus for one semester to take classes in person, but must take the rest of their program online. Students from around the world are welcome, and students do not need to speak Spanish to be part of the program. This is a smart choice for students who seek a high-quality program at an affordable price that they can complete entirely from home. And for students who do their creative writing in Spanish, this is the best online MFA creative writing program.

    Find Out More:
    Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing / Bilingual


  5. Lindenwood University

    Total Cost (In-State): $23,880

    For the flexibility to write in multiple genres, Lindenwood University’s online MFA in Writing is a perfect choice. Students can opt to pick a genre concentration, or they can customize their program to suit their needs. The 48-credit program can be completed in 24 months, and the program can be done fully online or students can opt to take a mixture of online and on-campus courses to complete the degree. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Up to nine credits can be transferred from another school, and financial aid or military benefits can also be transferred to this program. The diversity of styles and flexibility to design your own program in this high-quality program make Lindenwood University’s Writing MFA an especially attractive choice for writers who want to work in multiple genres.

    Find Out More:
    Master of Fine Arts in Writing


  6. Asbury University

    Total Cost (In-State): $25,140

    Centered in the media and communication department, the Asbury University’s online MFA in Screenwriting can be completed in as little as five semesters, but most students who have jobs and families will finish in closer to three years or longer. The program requires a two-week residency program in Los Angeles, and students who have no media experience will be required to complete a course in Single Camera Production, which can be taken online or in an on-campus intensive format. All other courses can be taken online, with the option to take on-campus courses for those who live in the area. The program accepts up to 12 transfer credits, has assistantships available, and allows up to three credits to be applied from professional experience. Asbury University’s MFA program offers the best online MFA creative writing for those who seek a faith-based perspective, and is a perfect choice for students who want to pursue screenwriting as professionals or instructors.

    Find Out More:
    Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting


  7. National University

    Total Cost (In-State): $25,957

    The online MFA Creative Writing program at National University is 100% online and has a strong community of writers. National University was founded by military veterans, and the program boasts that 15% of their students are from the military, along with people with other careers who love to write and want a program to boost their skills towards publishing or being produced. Students don’t have to choose a concentration when they first start, and are encouraged to try different genres, including poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and screenwriting. National University offers rolling admission, classes that are eight weeks long, and a strong and growing alumni community. The program is friendly to genre fiction and young adult literature writers as well. Experienced and professional faculty, no residency requirement, and flexible start dates make this military-friendly program a great choice for students across the country and around the world.

    Find Out More:
    Could not look up degree for "National University" using "166"!


  8. Albertus Magnus College

    Total Cost (In-State): $27,466

    At Albertus Magnus College, the online MFA in Creative Writing has synchronous online or in-person classes three times each semester, allowing students and faculty to meet together in “real time.” Students can choose to attend full or part time, and the whole program can be completed in two years. With the majority of the program completed on the student’s own time, students can choose their own schedule to study around work and family commitments. During the program, students develop a portfolio of publishable work, as well as learning about the publishing industry, teaching, and other writing career possibilities. Applicants should have a minimum 3.0 GPA in their undergraduate work, and may start in the fall or spring terms. With up to seven years allowed to finish the program part time, the Albertus Magnus College program is great for distance learners from anywhere, and especially those who wish to complete the program slowly to fit with a busy life, or those who want to go through quickly with the full time two-year option.

    Find Out More:
    Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing


  9. Bay Path University

    Total Cost (In-State): $28,860

    For those whose passion is creative nonfiction, the online MFA in Nonfiction Creative Writing from Bay Path University would be an excellent choice. The program offers three tracks: publishing, narrative medicine, and teaching. The narrative medicine track is particularly interesting, with topics like trauma narratives, psychology of the sick, and social justice, plus internship placements that put writers in health care settings to foster use of creative writing in the medical journey. Students can enroll full or part time, with no residency requirement, and they have access to tutoring, library, and career services. Seminars with award-winning published writers, as well as literary study of the nonfiction genre are part of the program. Classes start every August, January, and May. The Bay Path University program is perfect for those who write nonfiction, want intimate online classes, and are committed to nonfiction writing.

    Find Out More:
    Master of Fine Arts in Nonfiction Creative Writing


  10. Drexel University

    Total Cost (In-State): $29,340

    With Drexel’s tagline “ambition can’t wait,” the online MFA in Creative Writing offers a jump-start for aspiring writers. This low-residency program is primarily online, with students completing three 5-day in-person residencies: the first and last residencies are on the Drexel campus, while the middle residency takes fiction writers to NYC and screenwriters to LA. There are also optional residencies in Equatorial Guinea or Haiti to further an interest in either nature writing or grassroots change. Another optional special residency happens at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to deliver original scripts, live performance, and animation to hospitalized children. The program only admits students in the fall, consists of 45 quarter credits, and is divided into four 10-week quarters per year. Up to 15 credits may be transferred into the program. Students may apply for in-person teaching assistantships to reduce tuition costs and gain teaching experience. Drexel University’s online MFA creative writing is a wonderful choice for fiction or screenwriting students who seek an affordable high-quality program with exciting options for specialties.

    Find Out More:
    Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

Start Today!

With all of these great choices, not only can you can you get an MFA online, but you can complete one of the best MFA creative writing programs and still leave money in your pocket. This list of MFA creative writing rankings contains the most affordable and respected programs that can get you an online degree on your own time. With the flexibility of an online degree, you can start on your path to becoming a professional writer today.

Browse Now

Search Over 1,600+ Schools with 30,000+ Degrees