Do you want to get a writing degree but are not sure which one would be right for you? There are plenty of different writing degrees you can obtain depending on what type of writer you want to be. Do you want to write novels, magazine articles or poetry? If so, you’re in luck. As long as you have the time, money and creativity, a writing degree isn’t far from your reach.
How to Become a Writer
There are many ways you can become a writer. The first and most inexpensive way to become a writer is to just sit down and write. Writing can be done anytime, anywhere. All you need is a notebook and pen or a computer. With a computer, you can write whatever you’re feeling in documents to read and revise later, or you can write it on the internet for everyone to see as a blog.
If you would rather have a more formalized way of becoming a writer, you can also join a writing group. There are many options available. Writing groups create a comfortable environment for writers to come together and share their ideas and writing in a judgement-free zone. They also offer opportunities for mentoring. The good news is that most writing groups are free. They meet online or in person at places like coffee shops or the library.
If you are really dedicated to the craft and feel the best way to become the writer you want to be is to get a writing degree, note that this is the most expensive option. Not only is it the most expensive option, but it is also very time consuming. Be prepared to invest a lot of time and money in a writing degree, but to receive it will be very rewarding.
What Types of Writing Majors Are Available
Do you need an undergraduate or graduate degree? If you’re still working toward your undergraduate degree and have decided to make writing your major, there are many options. First, it’s important to know that the degree will most likely be an English degree, but it will allow you to decide on your focus.
After finishing course requirements toward the degree, a student is then able to choose his focus. The focus could be in teaching writing, the publishing industry, creative writing, technical writing or journalism, for instance.
Written Communication Is Important
Another degree that is considered a type of degree for writing majors is a communications degree. A communications degree will incorporate quite a number of English courses and provide the direction you need to become the writer you have dreamed of being. Writers who are working toward their communications degree might focus their studies on speech writing, policy writing or writing geared strictly toward a business audience.
If you already have your undergraduate degree, the most familiar graduate degree for writing majors is a creative writing degree. Students who choose this type of writing major can look forward to two to three years of intense writing and critical thinking to help them become better writers.
Colleges With Creative Writing Majors
There are many colleges where you can find and obtain a writing degree. When searching for a college with creative writing majors, first start at a four-year college or university that is near your home. Most colleges will have an English program that you can enter and then choose your focus as it applies to types of writing majors.
Many of these majors do offer creative writing courses and even allow you to explore poetry, not necessarily as a poetry major, but you will have the opportunity to try a course or two. If you’re really interested in majoring in creative writing, a master’s program will give you that opportunity. A quick search of the internet will help you identify colleges with creative writing major programs that offer a master’s credential.
Each program will vary, and it’s important to really think about what you hope to achieve while in the program and what you hope to achieve after you complete the program. Any master’s program can be cost prohibitive and can require a lot of time and dedication, so keep this in mind when selecting a program.
Creative Ways to Earn Writing Degrees
Recognizing the type of dedication it takes to participate in a master’s program, some colleges offer students the ability to work on their master’s degree while working on their undergraduate degree. When this happens, not only are students fulfilling requirements for their undergraduate degree, but they’re able to fulfill requirements necessary for their master’s degree in writing.
Having the ability to work on the two degrees at once gives students the opportunity to be completely immersed in the curriculum and helps them to really improve their writing and further their ability quicker.
Some students don’t decide that they want to follow the creative writing path until after they’ve completed their undergraduate degree. When that’s the case, it’s possible to focus completely on a creative writing degree through a master’s program. There are many colleges throughout the United States and abroad that provide creative writing master's programs. The degree that can be achieved can be a Master of Arts in creative writing or a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing.
A Creative Outlet Can Also Be a Degree
When focusing completely on obtaining a master's degree in creative writing, a student is able to complete coursework related only to writing. In fact, many programs will allow a student to focus on the type of creative writing she would like to study, which may include poetry, magazine writing, romance writing, short and long fiction and young adult fiction. The courses will allow a student to read authors she may never have heard of or considered and write critical essays about the elements that did or did not work in what she read.
Students are also able to meet with other students and share their work with each other for honest and helpful feedback that can improve their writing. Most if not all programs can be completed in two years.
With the growing interest in creative writing master's degree programs, colleges and universities have created low-residency creative writing programs. While these programs can be very expensive, the pros of the low-residency creative writing program is that it allows a writer to really work on what she prefers and to do it on her own time.
Earn Your Degree from Home
Low-residency programs also give writers the opportunity to truly live their lives as a writer because much of the work is created in solitude. The work can be submitted online to an instructor who is most likely a writer and who will help guide their writing in a way that is most beneficial for the writer and also extend opportunities for the writer to improve.
The low-residency program doesn’t completely exist online because the program requires students to come to class once or twice a year for a week to 10 days to immerse themselves completely in the program. Many students find this type of program very rewarding and helpful to their creative writing.
A low-residency program allows students to apply to programs around the country and the world and work in a writer’s community in a place they never imagined. The program can be completed in as little as two years or longer depending on the needs of the writer.
Unlikely Careers for People With Creative Writing Degrees
Believe it or not, having a creative writing degree is beneficial to almost any career. As a trained and skilled writer, a creative writing degree can provide an additional edge when applying for a new position. Due to the dedication one must have to complete the degree and all of the critical reading and writing that must be done under deadline, anyone with a degree in creative writing could be a great asset at a large organization that needs someone to communicate clearly while handling multiple assignments.
Job positions for which types of creative writing degrees could be beneficial in a nontraditional arena may include human resources professionals, marketing professionals and nonprofit executives. In human resources, the position may require the individual to clearly communicate the mission and expectations of a job and the company in print and online communications. The individual might also be responsible for writing and revising employee handbooks or policies.
A marketing professional will need to do extensive research on a product and then write a strategy that can help in marketing the product or specific project. There will be a need for written content, and the marketing professional would be responsible for writing it as well.
Write About What You Care About
If marketing and human resources are not an interest for someone who has a writing degree, then maybe a career in nonprofit management would be an excellent fit. While most people think of nonprofit management as strictly fundraising, and while a huge portion of nonprofit management is raising money for a cause, there is a huge need for writers, especially creative writers.
Writers with writing degrees help nonprofit management by writing tax letters and fundraising proposals that explain the needs of the organization and how funding can move the mission forward.
A writer who has obtained a creative writing degree can be extremely helpful in writing newsletter articles, acknowledgement letters, speeches, cases for support and solicitation letters. A creative writer is needed to write a clear message while pulling on the heart strings.
Traditional Writing Careers
Traditional writing jobs are always available, and they include magazine writer or editor, a publishing professional who is responsible for finding new writing talent, English instructor, novelist or freelance writer.
Can I Make a Good Salary?
Yes, you can. Believe it or not, students with creative writing majors are capable of earning a salary that can help them afford a comfortable lifestyle. Salaries can vary depending on the stage of the individual's career.
An editorial assistant at a magazine or publishing company can expect to earn a salary in the mid to upper $30,000 range for an entry-level position. The same can be said for someone who is beginning in an entry-level English instructor role. Salaries can be significantly higher for mid-level to upper-level writing roles where earners can expect salaries in the upper $50,000 range to six figures. Six-figure earners are typically individuals who have years of experience and are in upper-management roles.
To help with expenses until reaching a higher-earning role, writers who have writing degrees can earn extra money by offering their services as a freelance writer. Freelance writers are in high demand and can help companies with employees who are specialized in many things but not creative writing.
As a communications professional in the greater Philadelphia region, Jerisha enjoys writing informative advancement communications pieces for philanthropic organizations. When not writing, Jerisha is an adjunct faculty member in the College of Arts and Sciences at Wilmington University where she guides full-time students and full-time working adults through the writing process. Jerisha holds an M.F.A. in creative writing and enjoys writing education articles and essays.