Earning a Master's in Creative Writing Online

What You’ll Learn & What You Can Do After Graduation

Should I Pursue a Master's in Creative Writing Online?

Writers can hone their craft and fine-tune their prose with an online creative writing degree. A creative writing degree teaches students the fiction writing and critical reading skills necessary to master the art of storytelling. Graduates who have an online creative writing degree often go on to teach at four-year colleges, but they also work in fields where employers need candidates with strong writing skills, like publishing, journalism, advertising, and marketing.

Students can choose to complete a traditional on-campus program or an online creative writing degree. Generally, working professionals or people with significant familial obligations opt for online classes, which allow them to study remotely without having to travel to campus. Read on to learn more about an online creative writing degree and the careers open to graduates.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Creative Writing Graduates

Master's in Creative Writing Salary

Not all graduates with an online creative writing degree end up in the same pay bracket. A graduate's salary depends on numerous conditions, including previous work experience, interests, and location. For example, California, the District of Columbia, and New York offer top pay for authors and writers -- authors and writers in these states receive average salaries of $85,640-$96,120. For more detailed information about what authors and writers get paid in different states, browse the table below.

Top-Paying States for Writers or Authors

State Employment Annual Mean Wage
California 7,990 $96,120
District of Columbia 1,170 $95,190
New York 7,310 $85,640
Maryland 1,020 $79,460
Alaska 130 $75,410
United States (average) 45,300 $72,120

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pay by Experience Level for Writers

  • Entry-Level (0-5 Years):
    $41,000
  • Mid-Career (5-10 Years):
    $54,000
  • Experienced (10-20 Years):
    $62,000
  • Late-Career (20+ Years):
    $74,000

Source: PayScale

Master's in Creative Writing Careers

Online creative writing degree graduates do not all end up in the same career. Many graduates go on to work in writing-related industries, such as publishing, journalism, and marketing. Students also pursue an online creative writing degree to enable them to teach English classes at the college level. Others enter a graduate program to advance in their current career. Read on to see some of the careers you can land after graduation. Keep in mind that not all of the jobs listed below require a master's degree, but an advanced degree typically puts candidates at an advantage.

Writer or Author

Annual Median Salary: $61,820

Projected Growth Rate: 8%

You don't have to have a college degree to become a writer or an author. However, many published writers have earned a master's in writing online. Writers create content for newspapers, magazines, books, and advertisements. They also work with editors to implement edits and conduct research for stories. Some work on a freelance basis, while others work on staff.

Journalist

Annual Median Salary: $39,484

Projected Growth Rate: -10%

Journalists work for newspapers, magazines, and broadcast news organizations. They report, research, and write stories on tight deadlines. Journalists cover different beats such as entertainment, news, crime, and housing. Their work setting varies. Many go on assignment to cover news. Journalists often pitch their own stories or cover stories assigned by their editors.

Digital Content Manager

Annual Median Salary: $56,591

Projected Growth Rate: N/A

Digital content managers need strong creative writing skills. Their daily duties include overseeing the content on websites. They write new content and edit existing copy. Other duties include planning ad or promotional campaigns. Most digital content managers need at least a bachelor's degree, and some have a master's degree in a specialized field.

Editor

Annual Median Salary: $58,770

Projected Growth Rate: -1%

Editors work for magazines, newspapers, TV stations, radio stations, and online publications. On a regular basis, they edit copy while checking for correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Many editors assign writers stories and work with designers to finalize published stories online, in print, or on air. They also manage staff and oversee new hires.

Advertising, Promotions, or Marketing Manager

Annual Median Salary: $129,380

Projected Growth Rate: 10%

In a field such as advertising, having strong creative writing skills helps. Graduates with an online creative writing degree excel in advertising, promotions, and marketing. On a daily basis they promote products and services by running ad and marketing campaigns. They also conduct marketing research and work one-on-one with clients to write marketing or advertising copy.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statstics / PayScale

What Can I Expect from an Online Master's in Creative Writing Program?

Graduate creative writing programs feature different structures and class offerings. Specific electives and required classes vary from college to college, and each accredited school requires a different number of credits to graduate. However, the core classes graduate students must take generally remain the same. Most coursework challenges students to strengthen their writing, reading, and analytical skills at an advanced level. Below you can find some sample courses.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Creative Writing

Reading Fiction

This course focuses on certain genres of fiction, such as autofiction or postcolonial literature. Students enrolled in this course must read novels and short stories to hone their advanced reading proficiency. They analyze the structure, pacing, and style used in stories to better understand their own writing. This class helps graduates improve their personal writing and instruction abilities.

Creative Writing Workshop

Every semester, students must take a creative writing workshop. The class format requires students to submit either short stories or novel manuscripts to their classmates and professor. Typically in groups of 10-15, writers critique each other's work. This course provides essential feedback needed to grow as a fiction writer.

Pedagogy

Students interested in becoming teaching adjuncts must take a pedagogy class. This course teaches students how to create curricula and lead classes. Students often shadow college professors, who provide mentorship. Many students go on to teach composition to undergraduate students after taking this class.

Craft

A craft course teaches students how to understand techniques used in fiction. Students consider time, voice, character, and plot, all of which authors use to propel a story. This class provides essential skills to students who want to pursue a career as a writer, an editor, or a teacher.

Translation Workshop

Graduate students who want to land jobs as translators or writers can take a translation workshop course. Students enrolled in this class learn how to use technological advancements in the field of translation. Students may practice translating academic texts, literary publications, and other works.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Creative Writing Prepares For

  • Graduate Certificate in Children's Literature: With an online creative writing degree, graduates can go on to teach. A graduate certification in children's literature appeals to graduates who have an interest in teaching children. This certification allows students to study classic children's literature. Different accredited colleges provide this certification, which may count toward professional development hours for applicants who want to become elementary school teachers.

  • Teaching Literature Certificate: Graduates who want to become English teachers can stand out during the hiring process with a teaching literature certification. In most of these certification programs, students explore the use of different theories and strategies to teach literature.

Professional Organizations and Resources

New writers can face challenges breaking into the insular field of creative writing. A writer's career can hinge on making strong connections. After earning a master's in writing online, writers may lean on their former classmates for advice and career leads. Additionally, graduates can further expand their network by joining a professional network. Organizations often host conferences where writers, editors, publishers, and agents come together. To explore some of these programs, read more below.

  • Authors Guild: Founded more than 100 years ago, the Authors Guild works to support working writers, including journalists, novelists, short story writers, and poets. Members enjoy discounted subscriptions to various magazines and access to free legal services and the Writers' Research Library.

  • International Women's Writing Guild: This organization has supported and inspired women writers from different backgrounds since 1976. Conferences and webinars bring together members. Members also pay discounted submission fees to contests and get the opportunity to pitch to agents at the Spring Big Apple Conference.

  • National Writers Union: The NWU represents freelance writers, including journalists, screenwriters, bloggers, and authors. The organization gives members contract advice, grievance assistance, and help with health insurance, and offers press passes through the International Federation of Journalists.

  • PEN America: Established in 1922, PEN America unites writers and journalists around the world and defends freedom of speech through various initiatives and partnerships. Members receive discounts to PEN America programs and access to the members-only Facebook group.

  • American Society of Journalists and Authors: Founded in 1948, ASJA brings together nonfiction writers. Joining ASJA offers access to an exclusive referral service, seminars, workshops, and marketing information.

  • Lambda Literary: Lambda Literary offers a community for LGBT writers. The organization features awards, an annual convention, and writers' retreats. Lambda Literary's website features a call for submissions, where writers can submit their work and find links to agents and publishers.

  • Kundiman: Founded in the early 2000s, Kundiman aims to create a space for Asian-American readers and writers. Students can access Kundiman's paid internship program, and the organization also offers programs, retreats, prizes, readings, and workshops.

  • Cave Canem: Based in Brooklyn, Cave Canem began in 1996 to support African-American poets. The organization provides numerous grants, master classes, fellowships, workshops, and retreats.

  • CantoMundo: CantoMundo features a community support system for poets of Latin descent. Members can apply for the CantoMundo retreat, where they attend workshops and listen to panel discussions.

  • Poets & Writers: Poets & Writers, an online and print publication, offers creative writers access to contests, reading venues, and workshops. The website provides a variety of resources, like links to literary places and information about national literary events.