Skip to content
Home » How to Get a Creative Writing Degree: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a School

How to Get a Creative Writing Degree: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a School

If you’re looking for a way to become a full-time writer, but don’t want to go the traditional route of getting an office job, learning to code, and applying for grants, here’s a creative writing degree that could be just what you’re looking for.

Degree Overview

A bachelor’s degree in creative writing may not sound like a traditional route to becoming a writer, but that’s because there isn’t a typical path to becoming a writer. While there are many ways to become a published author, the field is highly competitive, and few writers start from the bottom and work their way up.

A creative writing degree can help open up a variety of doors for you, both in terms of your knowledge and also your network. You could end up working in a variety of different creative fields, including publishing, journalism, or advertising, but beyond that, you’re networked with hundreds of other writers who are also looking for opportunities in this field. It’s a great place to start.

Elements To Keep In Mind

While a bachelor’s degree in creative writing may sound like a great idea on the surface, there are a few things you need to keep in mind before applying.

  • Financial Aid
  • Required Coursework
  • Study Abroad
  • Dress Code
  • Pro Bono Work
  • Transition To Teaching
  • Vocational Training
  • Career Prospects

We’ll discuss each of these points in more detail below.

Financial Aid

If you’re applying for financial aid, don’t expect to get money just because you’re a great artist and want to pursue your creative writing degree. While it’s always nice to get financial aid, it doesn’t always mean you’ll be able to pay for your college education. Many people who apply for financial aid aren’t eligible, and even if they are, the odds are against you.

Your best bet is to apply as early as possible. That way, you’ll have more time to see if you’re accepted and don’t have to worry about paying for your college education upfront.

Required Coursework

Just because you have a bachelor’s degree in some other field doesn’t mean that you’re automatically qualified to become a writer. Even if you’ve had some training in the field, you’ll still need to complete some intensive coursework in order to become a professional. Some of the courses you’ll have to take include English, Literature, and Creative Writing.

If you don’t have a background in writing, you’ll need to do some serious studying in order to be able to write professionally. While it’s always great to have a variety of skills, in this case, you may need to focus on your writing ability, alone.

Study Abroad

If you’re willing to travel, you may be able to get a grant to study abroad. There are plenty of opportunities for you to study abroad while you’re earning your bachelor’s degree, although you should do your research before applying.

You’ll have to put your name on a mailing list and wait for letters to come pouring in. Some of the scholarships offered are highly competitive and could lead you to study in some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the world. However, you should keep in mind that once you’re gone, you’ll have to figure out how to pay for your education in the States. You could opt to work while you’re studying, but you should weigh that against the possibility of getting a grant that could help fund your entire education.

If you’re unable to study abroad, you have some other options. You could look into taking a more traditional approach and getting a teaching degree. With a good teaching degree, you could become a university instructor, which could then lead to a career in academia or even a school system. You might also be able to get a part-time job teaching English as a second language, which could then lead to a full-time job. If none of these options appeal to you, you could also consider getting a graduate degree in non-fiction writing, which would then prepare you to write your first book.

Dress Code

Dress codes are pretty flexible at most universities, especially larger schools, so you may be able to get away with pretty much anything. However, if you want to present yourself as a serious student, you may need to opt for something more conservative. The key is to look for the school that suits your needs best. Sometimes, it’s worth paying a little more for a school that’s a bit more relaxed.

Pro Bono Work

If you have a strong interest in the arts and are willing to do some pro bono work, you could get a merit scholarship or grant that covers your tuition and room and board. Many people who are awarded these funds go on to become successful professionals in their chosen fields. If you’re not sure what pro bono work is, it’s basically when you do work for free (or nearly free) for the good of your community. You can provide legal assistance to those who can’t afford a lawyer, help with research for an historical figure, or mentor a student.

Transition To Teaching

If you’ve had some training in the field and would like to teach, you could get a job as a high school English teacher or at a community college. When you’re first starting out, you may need to go through a rigorous process to get hired, which could include either taking additional classes or going back to school for a master’s degree. Once you’re in the job, it’s a great option as long as you still want to pursue your creative writing degree. Community colleges often offer part-time degrees, so while you’re working your way up the ladder, you can continue to pursue your degree.

If you decide to teach, you should look into the various teaching styles and curriculum options offered at your school as well as the testing requirements. The earlier you enter the teaching profession, the better, as there are plenty of opportunities to advance with experience.

Vocational Training

If you’re looking for additional training to better yourself or your career, you could opt to take a few courses or get certifications that are often required for advanced positions. Many large companies are even offering in-house training programs, so if you’re looking for a leg up in the world of work, these programs may be a great option for you.

If none of the above options interest you, you could also become a journalist and pursue a career in writing news articles, feature stories, and even some advertising. Depending on your interest, you could get a job with a newspaper company or work for a small business owner who’s also a writer. In addition to journalism, you could get involved in the nonprofit sector as an evaluator of non-profits or get a job with a legal agency handling case files for attorneys. 

Career Prospects

With a bachelor’s degree in creative writing, you’ll be able to pursue a variety of careers. However, you may not find a job right away, especially since most employers are looking for writers with experience. If you don’t have any experience, getting a graduate degree could be your best bet. Many advanced degree programs, such as my MA in Creative Writing, provide excellent job placements, so even if you don’t get a job right away, you’ll have options.

If you’re unable to graduate school, finding a good literary agent could be key to getting your work published. More and more companies are paying for content, so if you’re able to connect with an agent, they could help you get your work published. In addition to getting your work published, an agent could also help you get into a network of professionals who could offer advice and guidance on your career.

Final Thoughts

If you have a creative writing degree but no job, don’t give up. You may be able to get a job in an office setting, but you may also be able to get a job that doesn’t require you to sit behind a desk. While getting a job might not be easy, it’s definitely doable. Don’t forget about all the doors that your degree could open up for you, both now and in the foreseeable future. Be sure to keep your contacts nearby in case you do end up getting a job in a field that you’re not familiar with.