Aspiring writers need more than natural talent to break into the industry. Some of the most successful, talented, and prolific writers in the US had a college education. A degree in creative writing is a great place to start, regardless of your preferred genre.
There are some excellent schools that can help you kickstart your writing career. However, finding a robust and exciting writing program among the thousands of schools across the country can be challenging. When selecting a school, know as many facts as you can about different institutions to help you make the right college decision.
To help you find the best school for you, we have researched different colleges and universities and prepared a list of the top 10 US schools for aspiring writers.
Criteria for Ranking Writing Schools
- Diversity of class options — Schools that offer diverse writing genres and interesting classes rank high. Such educational settings have resources and adaptations that benefit writers.
- General school reputation — Students appreciate learning in a highly accredited institution with a well-established English department. Also, they will need to take other classes unrelated to creative writing, hence the need for the other parts of the school to be great as well.
- Extracurricular opportunities — A good writing school allows writers to learn outside the classroom. Hence, the ranking considered the extracurricular activities offered, such as internship programs, literary magazines, and reading clubs.
- Alumni — The last criterion considers the school’s prestige by determining whether it is known for turning out celebrated writers. Although this factor may not affect the kind of education you get, the brand name can help aspiring writers in their careers.
Top 10 Writing Schools in the US
Northwestern University — Evanston, IL
The faculty roster at Northwestern University has many acclaimed authors and an unparalleled number of successful authors like Chris Abani and Sheila Donohue. Other published writers from the school are short-story writer Karen Russel and A Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin.
Extracurriculars at the school include the student-run literary journal, internship opportunities in Chicago, and the annual English department writing competition.
University of Iowa — Iowa City, IA
The University of Iowa is a premier college for aspiring writers. Students choose from a wide range of topics and learn from established professors and other great writers.
The school is famous for its nonfiction writing program, Summer Writing Festival, and Patient Voice Project. The most famous project is the Iowa Writers Workshop. Alumni of the writing program include Roberts Frost, the author of The Road Not Taken.
Emory University — Atlanta, GA
Emory University takes a personalized approach to developing great writers, including intimate reading sessions and writing contests to beef up your portfolio. The university offers a range of genres, such as poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction.
It has beautiful, lush campuses that inspire creative writing. Notable graduates from the school include bestselling author Mike Sager, President Jimmy Carter, and Journalist Carl Hiaasen.
Columbia University — New York, NY
This Ivy League school has a top-tier creative writing program and a top journalism program. Writing classes at the school combine intensive workshops, seminars, and teaching opportunities in genres like fiction, screenwriting, and dramatic writing.
The college also benefits from its location in New York City, which is home to many publishing houses, talented authors, and literary journals. Notable alumni include Allen Ginsberg and J.D. Salinger.
Williams College — Williamstown, MA
This private liberal arts college places creative writing as a central feature of the entire English degree. The classes require students to complete many creative writing assignments, which is good for beginners.
So if you often browse on the internet, “I need someone to correct my essay,” you don’t have to worry anymore since Williams College holds regular intimate workshops to help students refine their writing and editing skills.
Oberlin College — Oberlin, OH
This small liberal arts college in Iowa offers many advantages you will not get in the other schools. They have highly qualified teachers and dozens of courses designed to nurture the creative writing skills of beginners.
The school connects students to exciting research openings, part-time jobs around the world, and internships. Alumni include writer and actor Lena Dunham.
Brown University — Providence, RI
This is the school you go to if you want to learn digital, screenwriting, and cross-disciplinary writing. Brown University has a highly-ranked and highly-esteemed writing program. It boasts a vibrant literary community that organizes regular readings, performances, and festivals.
The school has an open curriculum at the undergraduate level to encourage students to explore their passions and intellectual curiosity. The English department has working professionals with numerous published articles and books.
Hamilton College — Clinton, NY
Hamilton College is another small college that has produced great writers, such as the legendary Ezra Pound. The writing curriculum emphasizes small classes along with superior writing and reading skills.
Students have an opportunity to explore their interests inside and outside the classroom. There are lots of internship and publishing opportunities for students.
Washington University in St. Louis
This is another good option for aspiring writers. You can pursue a certificate course in creative writing or join the MFA program. There are many scholarships earmarked for creative writing students.
Admissions at the college are very competitive since they take only five students per track. However, once you get in, you join a community of writers that exists even after college.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) — Cambridge, MA
MIT is known for excelling in physical sciences and engineering, but it also has an excellent writing program. The most popular courses at the school are digital media, science writing, and creative writing genres.
What’s more, you get to learn how to navigate the job market as a graduate. You also get a chance to publish science works, such as data visualization projects, documentaries, and long-form content.
A great school will make your writing talent flourish. All schools discussed in this post have outstanding writing programs. Ensure that the school you select can create a solid foundation for your writing career and connect you to an amazing cluster of writers.