For many prospective authors, a creative writing degree seems like an indulgence. It’s true that you don’t need any formal education beyond about grade school to put pen to paper and let your imagination fly. But it’s also true that without that degree, writing will likely forever be an avocation, not a career.
But what if you could find a creative writing degree that was affordable enough that it felt like a wise investment in the career you were born for?
Whether you are on the edge of picking a bachelor’s degree to launch your writing career, or thinking about going for that coveted MFA in Creative Writing to put the highest level of polish on your skills, an affordable school can be the tipping point.
Writing talent isn’t confined to the wealthy. John Steinbeck wrote with such authority about the lives of migrant laborers because he worked as one. J.K. Rowling was on welfare, working out of cafes and coffee shops, when she was working on Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone.
So, there’s no reason that a creative writing education should be available only to those who pay top dollar. That’s why we have put together a list of the most affordable creative writing degree programs at both the master’s and the bachelor’s levels in the United States today.
How We Calculated the Most Affordable Creative Writing Degree Programs in the Country
Although our list includes a broad range of different formats ranging from traditional on-campus studies to low-resident hybrids to entirely online options, we kept our affordability options close to home. Every school was evaluated in comparison to the state averages for total estimated cost where they are located. That offers the best way of putting costs in perspective and determining which schools offer a real value.
If the total cost of a degree falls below the state average, it is included on the list.
If there’s only one program in a particular state, it makes the list by default to present the available options to creative writing students everywhere.
We broke out public and private schools and calculated the averages for each group separately. With very different funding sources and features, it doesn’t make much sense to put them head to head on a cost basis.
Naturally, bachelor’s program costs are only compared to other bachelor’s programs, and master’s to master’s. For each program we feature, we give you the total estimated program cost and how far it falls below the state average, showing exactly what kind of comparative cost savings it offers.
Because most of the schools that offer an MFA in Creative Writing also host BA or BFA programs, you’ll find that we have built out our listings school by school and name both programs where each fall below the average cost in their respective category. In cases where one program is below the average and the other above, we simply note that the more expensive program is also offered there.
Going Beyond the Costs To Find the Right Program for Your Own Writing Goals
Affordability is a gift in creative writing programs, but it shouldn’t be the only element in your decision. Maybe more than any other field, creative writing programs are each unique. They have different reputations, strengths, and methods of instruction.
So, we’ve done far more than just list the schools that are most affordable. We’ve also drilled down into the elements that make them unique and give you the information you need to make the choice that best aligns with your goals.
You’ll also see immediately what formats the program comes in, so you can pick the options that fit your lifestyle and needs, whether that means a program delivered almost entirely online or one delivered exclusively on-campus.
We also pick out and note various highlights for each program, important features like:
And for each school we give you a little thumbnail sketch of how the program operates and what it has to offer you in the way of special workshops, interesting study opportunities, and all-important networking and mentorship options.
State-by-State Review of the Most Affordable BA, BFA, MA, and MFA Programs in Creative Writing
Somewhere on the list is the right school for you and your creative writing aspirations. And you can apply to any of these programs secure in the knowledge that the education you get will be an amazing value for what you are paying.
Find the Most Affordable Programs in Your State
University of Alabama (Public)
MFA in Creative Writing (on-campus)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $27,072 (in-state)
(out-of-state per credit rate: $1,431)
Only public master’s program in creative writing in Alabama.
The University of Alabama’s MFA in Creative Writing is a gem in Alabama (it’s the only grad program of its kind in the state) and a meeting ground for imaginative writers to engage in lively courses and workshops. This affordably priced program features a deep dive into a range of writing models, strategies, and forms and culminates in a thesis. You’ll spend three, intensive years as you work toward the MFA and attain your personal and professional writing goals.
University of Alaska Anchorage (Public)
BA in English, emphasis in Creative Writing (on-campus)
Total Estimated Program Cost: $24,720 (in-state)
(out-of-state per credit rate: $659)
Only public bachelor’s program in creative writing in Alaska.
The University of Alaska Anchorage’s BA in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing is your opportunity to explore a variety of written, digital, and visual texts and communication across boundaries – at a truly affordable price! Get involved by participating in one of the university’s campus organizations like the Creative Writing Club or Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society as you complete a dynamic bachelor’s degree that will prepare you for careers in publishing, education, media, advertising, and more!