Creative Writing Degree: Everything You Need to Know

For some of the writers out there, getting a creative writing degree might be the first step toward publishing a novel, writing a script for a production, or even teaching at a school.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Some people who have graduated with degrees in other fields have come back to get further education in the field of creative writing because they’ve developed their own passion to have a website or develop a written work of art.

I could discuss the debates that revolve around this degree, but I would rather stick to the facts and let you develop your own opinion on the subject.

creative writing degree

The Bureau of Labor Statistics Outlook for Jobs Related to a Creative Writing Degree

Although creative writing is not listed as its own profession on the BLS site, there is specific information for writers and authors which can be found here. Some of the main facts that you’ll want to know include:

  • Average yearly income = $55,940
  • Job outlook for the next decade = 3% growth
  • Proficiencies needed = Computer, writing, and editing

The writing field continues to grow as technology advances. It used to be that you would have to submit publications and manuscripts to magazines or publishers to get your work considered.

That’s no longer the case!

Today, you have the ability to create your own website, self-publish through services like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, or find freelance work through various job boards online.

Colleges Offering a Creating Writing Major or Concentration

A simple search on College Board listed 273 results for creative writing at the time of this post.

I’ve listed a few of the colleges and universities below, but be sure to check out the site for yourself! Although the degree you want may be offered, odds are that you have other things you are looking for in a college, such as being affordable or having good housing options.

  • Adams State University
  • Asbury University
  • Baldwin Wallace University
  • Butler University
  • California State University (several campuses)
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Coe College
  • DePaul University
  • Eastern Michigan University
  • Elon University
  • George Mason University
  • Ithaca College
  • Marshall University
  • Miami University
  • Oberlin College
  • Purdue University
  • Seattle University
  • Texas Christian University
  • University of Arizona

Creative writing degree

Sample Courses

Every school is going to have their own general education and degree requirements, so keep that in mind as you read through this list of potential courses you may have to take.

If you have your school list narrowed down, then try to find the creative writing degree plan for each college and look at the similarities and differences. By doing this, you’ll be able to evaluate each program and then compare it with the others on your list.

  • American Literature
  • Modern Poetry
  • Introduction to Creative Writing
  • Research for Creative Writers
  • Fiction Writing
  • Nonfiction Workshop
  • Literary Magazines
  • Writing from the Self

Creative Writing Degree: Major vs. Concentration

Some schools offer creative writing as a major whereas others only offer it as a concentration to a different major, such as writing or English. There are a few different ways to look at a college major vs. a concentration:

  1. A major is going to require more hours in the given subject
  2. If you choose a concentration, your school may only put the concentration on your transcripts rather than diploma

The other important thing to consider is that you may have more potential job options if you have your degree in a broader field, like English. Again, this is something you will want to think about and talk with possibly a career advisor about so that you can make the best choice for your future.

What Can I Do With It?

Great question! Getting a creative writing degree can lead you down several paths, but hopefully you will have found a niche that you really enjoyed writing about through your college years so that you can narrow down your search a bit.

For example, you may find that you really enjoy writing fiction over nonfiction, or you may decide that poetry is more your thing. Once you have some ideas, start using those keywords in career and job searches to see what comes up. You may find employment opportunities like:

  • Creative Media Director
  • Copywriter
  • Story Writer
  • Ghostwriter
  • Creative Editor
  • Screenplay Writer
  • Freelance Writer

creative writing degree

Make a Name for Yourself

While you are completing your creative writing degree, you’ll want to start making a name for yourself. To begin, you may want to start a simple website (affiliate link) so that you can publish your work, offer your services, and tell people a little more about you.

While you’re at it, start building your brand on social media to promote your work and network with people who have similar interests. By gaining knowledge from others and interacting with them, you’re building a community of writers who can provide you with constructive criticism, and possibly some job leads!

Remember, making a name for yourself can take some time, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t succeed overnight. Enjoy the process, take some extra continuing education courses if you need to, and put that creative writing degree to good use!

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  • Joanna @ Motherhood and Merlot
    February 24, 2015 at 11:05 am

    What a neat degree to have. I have been working on my Master’s in professional counseling and am almost finished, but I love blogging and creative writing:)

    • Tori
      February 24, 2015 at 3:08 pm

      I’m finishing my master’s in psychology but I love blogging and creative writing as well 🙂

  • Logan Can
    February 25, 2015 at 8:33 am

    This is so informative. Who could argue with that average salary? haha

    • Tori
      February 25, 2015 at 8:35 am

      I know, right? I would like to see the breakdown of how they got those numbers!

  • Amby Felix
    February 25, 2015 at 9:23 am

    I’ve considered going back to school for a minor in Creative Writing. I used to freelance as a food writer and did take some courses which were a huge help. Thank you for this info. I’m in California, and there is a pretty demanding market here.

    • Tori
      February 25, 2015 at 6:52 pm

      I would love to hear about your experience if you do go back and get a degree or minor in it!

  • rowan
    February 25, 2015 at 10:48 am

    I love your posts – I now want to be a Creative Writer!

    • Tori
      February 25, 2015 at 6:52 pm

      Aw, thanks so much for the compliment, Rowan!

  • Breanna
    February 25, 2015 at 10:54 am

    I wish I would have known about a degree like this when I was planning out my college. I ended up going in to the medical field, taking x-rays. But I know that this is not what I want to do for the rest of my working life. So I plan to start taking some online classes and jump into something else. I enjoy writing. Thank you for sharing all of this info, really opened my eyes!

    • Tori
      February 25, 2015 at 6:52 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed it, Breanna. Thanks so much for stopping by 🙂

  • Chelsie
    February 25, 2015 at 11:08 am

    Great information. I graduated with a degree in English Education, so I only had to take a few creative writing classes, but I really loved being able to take a break from my normal education classes to try something new!

    • Tori
      February 25, 2015 at 6:51 pm

      Very cool, Chelsie! What types of creative writing classes did you get to take?

  • Sagan
    February 25, 2015 at 11:39 am

    This is great info! I love how there are so many opportunities with ANY degree… sometimes you have to get creative when thinking of employment opportunities, but they really are there. A creative writing major (or a rhetoric major, like mine :)) can get you far!

    • Tori
      February 25, 2015 at 6:51 pm

      I love how you point out the flexibility that majors and degrees can offer! You are so right – just because you choose to major in business or writing or something else doesn’t mean you have to go into the jobs that everyone else is. Think about the skills that you have gained and use them to your advantage!

  • Jessica
    February 25, 2015 at 11:45 am

    I’m communications major and I love to write! I always wanted to be a journalist and my favorite was Feature writing! You can really use your imagination and emotions to get the reader to feel for the story. That always excited me! I totally get why someone would want to be a Creative Writing major. It sounds like lots of fun! =)

    • Tori
      February 25, 2015 at 6:50 pm

      I was originally a public relations major so I got to spend a lot my time in journalism classes 🙂

  • Christine Gallagher
    February 25, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    I love this post, I like to write and I am currently back in school at 43 years old and have taken a couple writing courses which were very fun actually so I can see how people love to write. Thanks for sharing

    • Tori
      February 25, 2015 at 6:50 pm

      Congrats to you for going back to school!

  • Ashley
    February 25, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    I majored in biology and chemistry in college. I hated having to take English classes because they were also so boring, but if my school had a creative writing class, I would have totally taken it. It sounds very interesting!

    • Tori
      February 25, 2015 at 6:49 pm

      I remember taking British Literature… I was so bored. I would have loved to have taken a creative writing class as well!

  • Ilona @ Ilona's Passion
    February 25, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    Great degree… but not really for me.. I struggle with writing. Sometimes I’m thinking and thinking what to write but I’m working on it. I’ve got Business Administration degree .. the second degree that I would ever choose is graphic design.

  • Jamie
    February 25, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    This was interesting. My son was just saying he is interested in writing…he will be a HS senior next year. I will forward this to him!

    • Tori
      February 25, 2015 at 8:12 pm

      I hope he finds the major that is going to work best for him! Writing can be a great major for a variety of careers 🙂

  • Nancy
    February 25, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    I admire the people who want to become writers. I never liked writing in school at all, then randomly fell into it when I started blogging 15 years ago. I’ve taken many many courses on how to better my writing, but end up slipping into my old ways (with bad grammar!) 🙁

    • Tori
      February 25, 2015 at 8:13 pm

      I think we’ve all struggled with grammar at some point. I’m so glad you still blog and don’t give up, though!

  • Kelly Wiler
    February 25, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    I’m a firm believer in people doing what their spirit truly loves, no mater what the stats and what the average pay. Great blog and info!

    • Tori
      February 26, 2015 at 10:00 am

      I agree, Kelly! Follow your dreams and pursue those things that drive you!

  • Michelle
    February 25, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    I’m totally dating myself here but I had no clue CW was a legit degree these days. Most writers I knew were journalism/English majors back in the 90’s! Great info!

  • Kimberly @ Stuffed Suitcase
    February 26, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    I always admire people who studying writing and can do it well! I really struggle with all the rules and ways to make my stories engaging.

    • Tori
      February 26, 2015 at 2:49 pm

      I think one of the biggest issues with writing is that it can be different for every field. Sometimes you have to worry about MLA, APA, or AP!

  • Jena
    February 27, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    There is a lot that can be done with that type of degree now! Very different from 10 years ago. I definitely think the internet and social media has helped that!

    • Tori
      February 27, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      I totally agree with that, Jena! Social media has truly revolutionized the writing industry.

  • lauryn hock
    February 27, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    Wow! I didn’t know that a creative writing degree had that much income.

    • Tori
      February 27, 2015 at 2:48 pm

      I think it just depends on the route you end up going 🙂

  • Megan @ C'mon Get Crafty
    March 5, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    I honestly can’t say that I knew you could MAJOR in Creative Writing specifically. I think English was as far as I knew it to go. Now I want to go back and take a bunch of classes myself!!

  • Kekai
    January 11, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    What a great article! I’ve been wanting to major in creative writing since I was a kid (I’m a junior now), and reading this further solidified my goal. I just found this site yesterday and I’m addicted to all your articles. Thank you!

    • Tori
      January 11, 2016 at 4:37 pm

      Aw, I’m so glad you stopped by, Kekai! Creative writing is such a diverse major because there’s tons you can do with it. 🙂