Online and Low Residency Writing Programs in the U.S.

If you are aching to pen the next masterpiece but are lost in the process, a course in writing could be the antidote. It could rekindle your joy for literature and writing, show you the ropes of the craft, and instill the discipline to park yourself in your seat to toil away on a story.

An MFA, as you may know, makes for a great calling card despite being a debatable topic in writing circles. It also gives you access to some of the best instructors, helps you build a community, and shows you how to navigate the writing process, from coming up with a brilliant idea to shaping it into a story and getting it published. Armed with an MFA, you can even teach creative writing.

If you are pressed for time and prefer an alternative to full-time education, an online writing degree may be the way to go. These are some of the colleges known for their online writing degrees and low-residency programs.

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University’s specialized master’s degree in English and creative writing aims to establish a solid foundation for students in publishing, copywriting and communication. At the end of the degree, you’ll be ready take up writing as a profession. You can choose from these concentrations: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and screenwriting. The degree can be completed in 15 months and costs around $1,881 per course.

National University

National University’s MFA in Creative Writing program can be completed online and does not require you to attend any on-campus classes. You will learn to read and understand the craft of writing, critique work by other students, and do a lot of writing. You are expected to work with a faculty member on your thesis. At the end of the program, you should be able to critique and evaluate the writing of various genres and implement techniques learned in your own writing.

Full Sail University

Full Sail University’s 12-month MFA in Creative Writing program teaches you Mastery: Personal Development and Leadership, The Art of Visual Storytelling, Script Analysis and Criticism, Character Creation and Development, Episodic and Serial Writing, Film Screenwriting, Writing for Games, Storytelling and Storyboarding for Animation, Advanced Script Editing, and the Business of Creative Writing. You also get to work on a creative writing portfolio.

Mississippi University for Women

If you are keen on a low-residency MFA in Creative Writing, Mississippi University for Women has just the program for you. The program is mostly online but you’ll have to attend two short residencies and two full residencies. Workshops cover fiction, nonfiction, playwriting, poetry, translation and writing for new media. The University has tried to create a program that is flexible, affordable, personal and professional.

Sierra Nevada College

Sierra Nevada College’s low-residency MFA in Creative Writing has four distance-learning semesters and five week-long residencies. Genres covered are children and young adults, fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. An entire semester is devoted to editing your manuscript with a professional editor. You could also do an overseas residency in Jamaica or Ireland, and try to nail the Brian Turner Literary Arts Prize.

Wilkes University

Wilkes University offers a low-residency M.A. or M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Areas of study include fiction, poetry, screenwriting, playwriting, creative nonfiction, publishing and documentary films. You can either opt for eight-day campus residencies in January and June or four-weekend sessions per semester in Pennsylvania or Arizona. This is in addition to your online classes. Your work will be evaluated by professional editors and publishers. Wilkes University also hosts the two-day Pennsylvania Writers Conference.

West Virginia Wesleyan College

West Virginia Wesleyan’s low-residency MFA in Creative Writing gives you the chance to explore poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. There is also the option for a cross-genre residency. The program lasts for two years with 49 credit hours. You are required to do a 10-day residency in summer and winter, one of which can be replaced with a field seminar in Ireland. One of the semesters is dedicated to apprenticeship which can be carried out off-campus. Tuitions are around $425 per credit hour.

A program in writing broadens your understanding of literature and writing and familiarizes you with techniques that you can tweak and personalize to suit your writing needs.