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Professional writers are the minds behind the content we read every day. Some specialize in creative compositions, such as novels, short stories, theatrical scripts, screenplays and songs. Alternatively, technical writers produce how-to-guides, product manuals, brochures and other materials used by consumers. Other writing majors find their calling in the field of journalism, crafting articles and editorials for newspapers, magazines and academic journals. Regardless of their specific job title, most writers begin their career as undergraduate students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in writing.

A large number of colleges and universities offer degree programs dedicated to writing, but many others offer English degrees with a writing concentration track. Most writing degree programs involve a large amount of workshopping, where students compose drafts and then submit them to fellow students for peer-review. Other courses cover topics like grammar and composition, comparative literature, editing and publishing. Many of today’s students are choosing to earn their bachelor’s degree in writing online. Web-based programs offer the same rigorous curricula as brick-and-mortar options, leading to the same number of job opportunities after graduation. The asynchronous (or self-paced) schedule of many online writing programs is also ideal for students who have part-time jobs, childcare duties and other commitments that may interfere with campus-based learning.

Learn more about what you can do with an online bachelor’s degree in writing and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.

Choosing a Program

WILL AN ONLINE WRITING DEGREE PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?

Online writing degree programs are designed to build on the fundamentals of English grammar and composition that most students first learn in middle and high school. Courses will cover methods and techniques for crafting comparative essays, academic research papers and speeches, as well as short stories, poems and other creative works. The best online writing degree programs also incorporate vocation training in areas like technical writing, copywriting and grant writing. In recent years, many writing programs have also started to include elements of web marketing, blogging and social media.

WILL AN ONLINE WRITING DEGREE PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?

Online bachelor’s in writing programs offer a flexible alternative to traditional, classroom-based education. Students are able to access course readings and writing tutorials, participate in virtual class discussions with fellow students, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors from the comfort of their home computer. Current e-learning technology also allows them study on the go using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other Wi-Fi-compatible devices.

WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY WRITING BACHELOR’S DEGREE?

Job availability to graduates of an online writing bachelor’s program will largely depend on their area of specialization. Students with Those with a background in technical writing often find work quickly, producing or managing content for manufacturing and retail companies, marketing firms, nonprofit organizations and government agencies. Students who focus on creative writing may also find employment in content-producing roles while they work on literary submissions for book publishers and literary journals. Jobs in journalism ― both print and online ― are widely available to writing majors, as well. Other common pathways for writing majors include careers in editing and publication, marketing and education.

WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE WRITING DEGREE PROGRAMS?

Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school’s strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online bachelor’s degree in writing programs in the United States. If you are considering an online bachelor’s in writing, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific bachelor’s degree requirements and offerings.

Accredited Online Writing Degree Programs

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RankSchool NameRanking ScoreRelative CostGraduation RateLocationDescription
1 University of Central Florida71.7569%Orlando, FL

An online creative writing bachelor’s degree can open up a wealth of new opportunities, and graduates who earn a creative writing BA from the University of Central Florida take on jobs in a range of industries and roles. While some find work in education, editing and publishing, management, or law, others go on to pursue graduate study.

Creative writing BA candidates analyze non-fiction prose, fiction, and poetry from numerous periods and cultures, including Native American literature, modern American poetry, and gothic literature. Students also produce their own works in all three genres, examining the fundamentals of composition and style. The 120-credit program also includes 36 hours of general education coursework in math, science, and other fields.

Applicants must complete and submit an online application and residency affidavit. Prospective students should also provide official transcripts demonstrating a GPA of at least 2.0, two math courses in college algebra or higher, and two courses in English composition with a minimum grade of C in all four, foreign language competency at high school level or above, and SAT and/or ACT results with writing scores included.

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2 Missouri State University - Springfield65.2555%Springfield, MO

The public Missouri State University system consists of four physical campuses, including its main campus located in Springfield, Missouri. MSU’s online bachelor of science in professional writing degree imparts broadly-applicable skills in editing, writing, project management, and publication production. Graduates of the online writing degree program go on to work in a variety of industries and fields, including healthcare, education, government, law, and business.

Major requirements for the bachelor’s degree in writing include introductory coursework in college composition, technical, and professional writing. Students develop strong language and grammar skills, exploring creative writing through poetry, playwriting, fiction, and nonfiction. The program culminates in a public affairs capstone, which may be fulfilled through focus coursework in technical or professional writing, or a technical writing internship.

Applicants should submit transcripts demonstrating a GPA of 2.50 of higher, or a minimum of 2.75 for last 30 hours of coursework. All professional writing majors must declare a minor or second major.

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3 Arizona State University - Skysong63.5020%Scottsdale, AZ

Operating through five campuses in the Phoenix metropolitan area, ASU is the largest public university in the country by enrollment, with a student body of over 80,000. U.S. News World & Report named ASU the “Most Innovative School in America” for 2016, based on the development of its curriculum and technology. The online writing degree at ASU is defined as a technical communication degree. Students in the program learn to produce, design, and manage technical information, studying principles of effective visual and written communication in order to make complex technical material understandable to all audiences. In addition to skills in drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading, students also learn to collaborate effectively, meet the needs of specific audiences, and evaluate information.

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4 Southern New Hampshire University57.7558%Manchester, NH

Located in Manchester, New Hampshire, SNHU was founded in 1932 as an accounting and secretarial school. From those humble beginnings, SNHU has grown into the largest provider of distance education in the country, serving an online student body of more than 60,000. The school’s massive online education program offers two distinct writing degrees: a communications degree with a professional writing specialization, and an online creative writing degree with concentrations in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and screenwriting. The professional writing degree focuses on written communication strategies for business, including public relations and digital media. The creative writing program helps students develop their storytelling skills, with options for either a general degree or specialization in one of four tracks -- making this one of the best online creative writing programs available.

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5 Central Washington University55.7552%Ellensburg, WA

Based in the town of Ellensburg, Central Washington University is a public, four-year institution that offers twelve web-based undergraduate programs, including a bachelor of arts in English with a 74-credit professional and creative writing specialization.

Unlike many writing programs online, CWU combines a literature-liberal arts foundation with specialized coursework in professional and business writing, editing, publishing, and creative writing. This interdisciplinary approach gives students the freedom to shape their major to their personal and professional interests, combining coursework from other academic fields with required courses such as poetry and poetics, English grammar, and rhetoric for professional writers.

Prospective students must finish two years of a foreign language in high school or one year in college before earning their bachelor of arts in writing. Once admitted, degree candidates complete a virtual orientation program, and may take advantage of online tutoring and career services.

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6 University of Colorado Denver - Anschutz55.2548%Denver, CO

Founded in 1912, UC Denver serves more than 18,000 students through two campuses in the Denver area. The school also offers a substantial selection of quality online programs, with online students at UC Denver boasting an even higher graduation rate than on-campus students. The school offers an English writing degree online, preparing students for work in fields such as business, advertising, publishing, entertainment, and the nonprofit sector. Along with written communication, the degree emphasizes skills necessary for success in writing-based fields, including independent work, time management, critical reasoning, research, and creative thinking. Online students an UC Denver also have access to the school’s experiential learning program, which connects students with internships and other opportunities to gain applicable job experience.

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7 The University of Texas at El Paso52.5039%El Paso, TX

Located in El Paso, Texas, near the U.S.-Mexico border, UTEP is a major educational institution in West Texas, ranking as one of the top colleges awarding degrees to Hispanics. The U.S. Department of Education also ranks the school as the lowest net tuition cost among public research universities. Founded in 2015, UTEP’s distance education program is new, but it maintains the level of academic quality that has come to characterize the school. UTEP’s online writing degree emphasizes writing and communication in a corporate setting, giving students the tools necessary to create corporate communications materials such as reports, brochures, internal communications, speeches and online content. Students also gain strategies for effective public relations, learning to control a company’s message through media outlets. Graduates are prepared for careers in advertising, marketing, public relations, technical writing, and other related fields.

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8 Minnesota State University - Mankato49.0051%Mankato, MN

Located about 75 miles southwest of Minneapolis-St. Paul, MNSU is a major education center in Minnesota, serving nearly 18,000 students through on-campus and online programs. The flagship college of the Minnesota State Universities and Colleges system, the school’s mission is based around values of integrity, diversity, access, responsibility, and excellence, preparing students for both professional careers and lifelong learning. Students earning their technical writing degree online from MNSU study technical communication or business communication along with related courses in research, editing, and technical documentation. Students in the program can also select a relevant technical minor for specialization, choosing from fields such as automotive engineering technology, environmental science, community health, or manufacturing.

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9 University of Arkansas at Little Rock43.5030%Little Rock, AR

While many colleges offer creating writing programs online, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s bachelor of arts in professional and technical writing emphasizes rhetorical and written literacy. The 120-credit program develops practical document design, editing, and writing skills through an exploration of language and rhetoric, persuasive writing, nonfiction, and technical composition. Students may pursue concentrations in nonfiction and technical writing. The program culminates in a rhetoric and writing colloquium, which integrates concepts in rhetorical and writing theory with a focus on professional development. While the bachelor’s degree in writing program is presented entirely online, students have full access to the same academic and library resources as their on-campus counterparts.

Applicants must submit ACT or SAT scores, official high school transcripts, and college transcripts, if applicable.

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10 University of Houston - Downtown41.7516%Houston, TX

One of four institutions in the University of Houston system, UHD serves students in the bustling downtown area of Houston, Texas, with a student body of over 14,000. UHD ranks as one of the top regional colleges and top regional public universities in the West, according to U.S. News & World Report. UHD offers a technical writing degree online that prepares students for writing careers in fields such as business, industry, media, and government. The degree is professionally focused, preparing students to create both digital and print media, from business documents to social media posts. Online students who are able to can also complete writing internships to gain hands-on experience in the field of their choice.

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What Else Can I Expect From an Online Writing Program?

Time to Complete

4 to 5 years

Credit Hours

60 credits total/30 credits per year

Program Costs

$8,000 to $25,000 in annual tuition

Popular Minors
  • English (General)
  • Literature
  • Editing and Publishing
  • Technical Writing
  • Journalism
  • English Education
  • Communications
  • Theater
  • Film Studies
Accreditation

There is no programmatic accreditation for this major field of study at the undergraduate level. Students should defer to the regional/national accreditation of their four-year college or university.

Employment Outlook for Writing Degree Graduates

Job Placement: Bachelor’s in Writing

Historically, writers and authors have faced stiff competition in the job market. Most fiction and nonfiction book publishers receive hundreds of manuscripts on an annual basis, but publish roughly 10 to 20 titles per year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected this industry will grow 2% between 2014 and 2024, a difference of 3,100 jobs. Job prospects are much more favorable for technical writers, copywriters and other vocational writing occupations. Additionally, writing degree-holders often find work through blogs, online magazines and other web media.

According to a 2014 survey by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW), experienced college graduates with a bachelor’s in ‘composition and speech’ face an unemployment rate of 4.7%. The following table compares unemployment rates for ‘composition and speech’ majors and other recipients of writing-related degrees.

Source: From Hard Times to Better Times’ by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW)

As the data shows, ‘composition and speech’ degree-earners face lower unemployment rates than all of the other listed undergraduate fields. Additionally, this 4.7% rate is the only one listed on the table that falls below the unemployment rate of 4.9% for all occupations nationwide.

Earning a Living

Students who graduate from online bachelor’s in writing programs typically enjoy the same earning potential, whether they specialize in technical writing, journalism or creative writing. The latest Payscale College Salary Report noted that students who major in professional technical/writing, journalism, general writing and creative writing earn comparable annual salaries. The results of this survey are listed in the table below.

Bachelor’s Degree FieldMedian Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years)Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10-20 years)
Professional and Technical Writing$42,700$72,400
Journalism$41,200$69,400
Writing$38,000$67,000
Creative Writing$38,900$65,900

Source: The 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report

Of the bachelor’s degree fields listed on this table, professional/technical writing majors earned the highest salaries at both the entry-level mark and mid-career marks. However, all four groups experienced 10-year salary growth in the range of 69% to 76%.

In addition to major fields of study, salary expectations for writing degree-holders also depend on the employee’s specific job title and experience level. Other factors to consider include company size and city/state of employment. Using PayScale data, the next table features career salary growth projections for five of the most common writing career pathways.

OccupationMedian Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years)Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years)Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 years)Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)
Writer/Author$43,000$53,000$53,000$72,000
Technical Writer$49,979$61,620$66,258$75,534
Journalist$35,837$45,114$55,441$62,664
Copywriter$44,601$55,436$60,754$59,376
Editor$41,940$52,652$57,527$61,762

Source: PayScale

Of these five careers, journalists experienced the highest rate of career salary growth: a 74.9% increase between the entry-level and late-career stages. Writers and authors placed second, with a 67.4% increase in earnings after 20 years in the workforce.

Career and Further Education Opportunities

Students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree in writing will be qualified for dozens of jobs, although individual eligibility will depend on their area of specialization. Four common professional pathways for writing degree recipients are highlighted below.

Writers and Authors: Writers and authors produce creative content for books, magazines, literary journals and advertising media. According to 2014 data from the BLS, two-thirds of writers and authors are ‘self-employed’; most of these individuals work for multiple clients on a freelance basis. Roughy 25% also work a part-time schedule.

Technical Writers: Also known as ‘technical communicators’, these professionals translate instructional materials into readable, user-friendly content. Their job entails extensive research into products and services in order to effectively write about them. The work of technical writers can be found in product manuals, brochures and other promotional materials, as well as online.

Editors: Editors are responsible for reviewing and approving written materials before they are published in print or online; many editors have a writing background. The editing process involves key steps like proofreading, fact-checking and, if applicable, modifying the content to meet certain stylistic guidelines.

Reporters, Correspondents and Broadcast News Analysts

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