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Top 10 Creative Writing Schools

by DoanPhuong Nguyen, Demand Media

    Creative writing schools offer aspiring writers and poets the structure, critique and literary criticism that will help them succeed in their writing career. Across the United States, you can find creative writing schools on both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Some colleges and universities offer majors and minors in creative writing. Serious writers can also apply for a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in creative writing, which is a finite degree. MFA graduates often go on to work in the publishing industry, or they can choose to teach creative writing at a college level.

    University of Iowa

    The University of Iowa, in Iowa City, offers perhaps the most prestigious creative writing program in the United States – the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. This public university offers an undergraduate course in creative writing, as well as a Master of Fine Arts degree. The Iowa Writers' Workshop is the graduate program offered, and it is a two-year residency program that ends with creative thesis (a book of poetry, a complete novel or a collection of short stories) and the finite MFA degree. "Poets and Writers" magazine ranked the Iowa Writers' Workshop as the No. 1 MFA program in the nation for 2011. The creative writing program ranked first for individual writing programs (fiction, poetry and nonfiction) as well as first for the collective program. Graduates of this creative writing school include Pulitzer Prize winners Michael Cunningham, Phillip Roth and Phillip Schulz.

    Columbia University Program

    Columbia University has a top-ranked MFA program in creative writing and offers undergraduates the opportunity to study creative writing under the supervision of its prestigious faculty. Faculty members have won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the MacArthur Foundation. They are all published authors who actively publish books. The creative writing programs at Columbia run the gamut in literary areas, including poetry, dramatic writing, screenwriting, fiction and literary nonfiction.

    Chatham University Offerings

    Chatham University, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, offers both low-residency and full-residency programs in creative writing. Creative writers in this MFA program study a range of topics, including poetry, fiction, screenwriting, writing for children, nonfiction and travel writing.

    Rutgers University at Newark

    Rutgers University at Newark offers a nationally ranked MFA program with a studio-research program. Students have the opportunity to study literature, as well as writing. Students are asked to focus on a declared genre (literature/book arts, performance/media studies or cultural/political/ethics studies). The faculty members are literary scholars in their field. In 2007, Atlantic Monthly ranked Rutgers University as one of its "Five Up and Coming MFAs in the Nation."

    Vermont College of Fine Arts

    Founded in 1981, Vermont College of Fine Arts offered the first low-residency creative writing program in the United States. A low residency writing program allows students to write and study from home in a self-designed study. Students at Vermont College are required to meet on campus for only 10 days, twice a year. Today, Vermont College ranks in the top five for low-residency programs nationwide. More than 1,200 writers have graduated from the MFA program, and alumni have published more than 650 books in a variety of areas. Vermont College of Fine Arts offers two programs: writing and writing for young readers.

    Boston University Opportunities

    Boston University is a distinguished college that offers creative writing on the undergraduate and graduate levels. The MFA program at Boston University is an intensive one-year program. Admission is very selective. Out of the 400 applicants each year, the entering class includes only six playwrights, 12 poets and fewer than 12 fiction writers. Students in the creative writing MFA program are required to complete eight classes, including four creative writing workshops. The rest of the classes come from the Boston University graduate curriculum. Faculty members include critic and poet Robert Pinsky, poet Louise Gluck, fiction author Leslie Epstein, poet Ha Jin, and playwrights Richard Schotter and Ronan Noone.

    Cornell University Programs

    Cornell University offers creative writing programs on the graduate level. Students may enroll in the MFA or the joint MFA/Ph.D. program -- MFA in creative writing and doctorate in English language and literature. The English department accepts only 12 students into this program each academic year, so this is a very selective creative writing program. Only concentrations in poetry and fiction are offered.

    Florida State University

    Florida State University is considered one of the top 10 MFA programs in the country. Faculty members include Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners. The emphasis at Florida State University is on fiction and poetry. On the graduate level, Florida State University offers a Master of Arts, Master of Fine Arts and doctorate degrees in creative writing and literature.

    Johns Hopkins University

    Johns Hopkins University has an established graduate writing program in fiction, nonfiction, science medical writing and poetry. Alumni of this writing program have authored novels and books of poetry. Many have written for national publications, such as GQ, the New York Times, USA Today and other publications.

    University of Virginia

    The English department at the University of Virginia offers a two-year graduate program in creative writing. "Poets & Writers" magazine ranked this school’s creative writing MFA program as third in the nation. The University of Virginia is highly selective and chooses only about 10 students each year to enroll in this program. Concentrations include fiction and poetry.

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    About the Author

    DoanPhuong Nguyen has been a professional writer since 2007. Her articles have appeared in "Nashville City Paper," "Nashville Parent magazine" and numerous online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University. She is also member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

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