Writing is a versatile subject that can take many paths. Skilled writers can find themselves in any number of careers, including academia, fiction writing, publishing, editing, grant writing, journalism, marketing, communications, and public relations. If you love writing and can’t get enough of it, check out these 14 colleges known for their stellar writing programs.
1. Emory University, Atlanta, GA:
At Emory, students can pursue a major in English & Creative Writing. English majors have a lot of flexibility in their curriculum, as the only required class is poetry. Most English classes are capped at 15 students, though some of the larger ones are capped at 25. The program is quite competitive; students who want to secure a spot in the advanced poetry and prose classes. If you get accepted, you can also apply for the Grace Abernethy Scholarship for creative writing. Those who want to pursue playwriting can do a joint degree in Creative Writing and Theater Studies. Some famous Emory folks include former US Poet Laureate Queen Natasha Tretheway and faculty member Salman Rushdie.
2. New York University, New York, NY:
With NYU’s stellar location, the creativity within you can’t help but be ignited. The campus is located in the heart of Greenwich Village near all things literary, including the famous Strand Bookstore and Washington Square. Famous faculty members include EL Doctorow, Breyten Breytenbach, Zadie Smith, Junot Diaz, Mary Gaitskill, and Jonathan Safran Foer. NYU also has a fabulous study abroad program with several creative writing courses in Florence and Paris, where students can take seminars featuring famous authors.
3. Columbia University, New York, NY:
Like NYU, one of Columbia’s great assets is its location, which is full of publishing houses and literary journals. And of course, the campus is just a short subway ride away from the New York Times. Columbia has one of the top creative writing, English, and journalism programs, giving students a range of writing classes to choose from. One of their literary magazines, Quatro, once featured the work of JD Salinger. Other famous alumni include Mitch Albom, Langston Hughes, Jack Kerouac, and Patricia McCormick.
4. University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA:
UVA has a myriad of literary magazines to which students can contribute. Publication themes include humor, sports satire, female experience, Asian American culture, and medical student literature. The English department has two 2-year area-specific programs—one for students who want to concentrate on poetry and another for those who want to concentrate on prose. Students love the poetry workshops that the department offers. Famous alumni include screenwriter and actress Tina Fey, former US Poet Laureate Rita Dove, and authors Ann Beattie, Claudia Emerson, and Henry S. Taylor.
5. Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH:
Oberlin has been described as “a quirky, artsy, intellectual haven of socially, politically, and environmental students.” The description continues, “…thirty-five miles southwest of Cleveland on a rural 440-acre campus surrounded by farmland. When surrounded by cows and rolling hills, what else is there to do but write?” Some classes that you’ll find in Oberlin’s writing program that you might not find at others include screenwriting, translation, and travel writing. Poets can apply for Oberlin’s $1000 Emma Howell Poetry Prize. Famous alumni include screenwriter Mark Boal, New York Magazine editor Adam Moss, and authors Gary Shteyngart and Lena Dunham.
6. Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO:
Wash U creative writing classes cover a whole range of genres and topics, including historical fiction, poetry, memoir, microfiction, cultural identity, and medicine. The university also awards up to 11 scholarships for creative writers. Famous alumni include Mary Jo Bang, Carl Phillips, and Francine Harris.
7. Brown University, Providence, RI:
If you’re interested in screenwriting, you definitely want to check out Brown. Famous alumni include Josh Friedman (War of the Worlds), Mark Heyman (Black Swan), John Krasinski (The Office), Academy Award winner Kurt Luedtke (Out of Africa), and Emmy Award winner Robin Green (The Sopranos). Brown is also home to the famous and highly esteemed Brown Literary Review.
8. Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD:
Johns Hopkins offers a major called The Writing Seminars. Students in this program are required to explore a variety of writing forms, including fiction, poetry, reporting, and persuasive essays. There are 40+ classes that focus on a number of topics, such as setting the scene, outdoor stories, nature writing, science writing, and point of view. The university has some impressive literary magazines, including Thoroughfare and The Hopkins Review. Noted faculty members include Mary Jo Salter and Alice McDermott. Famous alumni include Gertrude Stein, Wes Craven, and John Barth.
9. University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA:
The creative writing program at University of Iowa is highly competitive. Admission into the program requires at least a 3.3 GPA, a portfolio submission, and prior coursework. Writing courses cover the whole range of topics, including business, culture, the environment, science, social change, sports, and humor. University of Iowa is home to the esteemed The Iowa Review and has a long list of scholarship opportunities for creative writers. Famous alumni include Rita Dove, Tennessee Williams, Tracy Kidder, and Robert Hass.
10. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA:
You might be surprised to see MIT on this list, especially since it’s primarily associated with the hard sciences. However, MIT has an impressive, innovative, and interdisciplinary department called Comparative Media Studies/Writing. This department’s curriculum brings together digital media, film, television, science writing, and creative writing. Some course titles in this department include Writing for Video Games, Digital Poetry, Science Writing and New Media, and Writing and Reading Short Stories, taught by the famous Junot Díaz. Díaz also teaches classes on world building and advanced fiction. MIT’s classes prepare graduates well for the competitive writing job market.
11. Hamilton College, Clinton, NY:
Hamilton has one of the best writing centers in the country. The creative writing program offers courses and workshops in poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, screenwriting, and playwriting. In the playwriting classes, students write and stage a one-act play. You can even delve into novel-to-film adaptations and learn how to write your own. Alumni include Academy Award winner Nat Faxon (The Descendents) and poet Ezra Pound.
12. Kenyon College, Gambier, OH:
Kenyon is home to the world-famous Kenyon Review and the annual Kenyon Young Writers Workshop. During the summer, students can apply for the Kenyon Review Writer’s Workshop—an intensive 8-day program in fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction. The Kenyon Review Fellows Program supports gifted young writers emerging on the literary scene. The program involves students staying in Gambier for 2 years while they complete intensive writing projects and teach creative writing courses on campus. Notable alumni include Flannery O’Connery and W.S. Merwin.
13. Princeton University, Princeton, NJ:
Some of Princeton’s claims to fame include the Lewis Center for the Arts and the biennial Princeton Poetry Festival. Students get to take part in small, intensive writers workshops and seniors can work alongside faculty members as they compile their thesis, which could be a novel, play, or collection of short stories, poems, or translations. The long list of notable creative writing professors includes Jeffrey Eugenides, Kristin Valdez Quade, Jhumpa Lahiri, Paul Muldoon, Joyce Carol Oates, James Richardson, Tracy K. Smith, Susan Wheeler, and Edmund White. Famous alumni include F. Scott Fitzgerald, Eugene O’Neill, David Remnick, Jodi Picoult, Walter Kirn, and Jonathan Safran Foer.
14. Yale University, New Haven, CT:
Yale has several claims to fame. First, its 12 residential college libraries are open 24 hours a day. In addition, it is home to the beautiful Sterling Library, Bass Library, and Beinecke Library—one of the world’s largest buildings devoted to rare books and manuscripts. The Yale Review is the oldest literary quarterly in the country, and The Yale Daily News is the nation’s oldest college daily newspaper. More Yale submissions have been honored in the Norman Mailer Writing Competition and the Atlantic Monthly Student Writing Contest than those from any other school. Famous professors include Harold Bloom, Louise Glück, Anne Fadiman, and Fred Strebeigh. Famous alumni include Paul Krugman, Sinclair Lewis, John Hersey, Thornton Wilder, and Tom Wolfe.
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