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Best creative writing colleges

author782author782 Posts: 6Registered User New Member
edited March 2013 in Other College Majors
Hey I'm looking for colleges and universities with the best creative writing and english programs. I've heard that at many colleges you can major in english with an empthasis in creative writing, something like that I'm interested in too. Also I've heard many different opinions but does anyone know the quality of the creative writing and english majors for USC( southern california) and Vanderbilt? I want to be an author and I'm really just looking for the best programs out there. Any suggestions?
Post edited by author782 on
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Replies to: Best creative writing colleges

  • jinglejingle Posts: 1,197Registered User Senior Member
    What are your stats? If they are high, perhaps look at Cornell, Johns Hopkins, UVA, Princeton. Iowa has a fabulous MFA program and a good English Dept. but I don't know what their undergrad cw program is like (in general, though, if you're serious about creative writing, a strong MFA program is a plus for you, since you will be able to meet, hang out with, and learn from more advanced writers.)
  • author782author782 Posts: 6Registered User New Member
    Yeah my stats are high, I just didn't know if there was a list of ranked programs.
  • jinglejingle Posts: 1,197Registered User Senior Member
    Google "best MFA programs"--Poets and Writers list a top 50--these will be excellent on the undergrad level as well. I see that Vanderbilt is listed at #18. There are also LACs that have strong creative writing programs, e.g. Kenyon, that won't be on this list.
  • zapfinozapfino Posts: 2,488Registered User Senior Member
    Take a look at these guidelines for undergrad creative writing programs:
    AWP- Director's Handbook

    It might be useful to compare programs that interest you in terms of these guidelines.
  • Leisie93Leisie93 Posts: 52Registered User Junior Member
    I think that SUNY Purchase has a great program, with portfolio required.
  • bfw611bfw611 Posts: 71Registered User Junior Member
    Take a look at Oberlin College. They have a Creative Writing major.
    I believe at Purchase you might only be able to get a BFA rather than a BA. At Oberlin, you can get a BA.
  • spdfspdf Posts: 955Registered User Member
    Knox College has a nationally-ranked creative writing program. Creative Writing is one of the most popular majors at Knox.
  • weihuangweihuang Posts: 1Registered User New Member
    Can go to business to find inspiration.
  • Cherry31416Cherry31416 Posts: 49Registered User Junior Member
    If you are looking to be an author, don't be an English major.

    I know, sounds strange, right? I'm serious on this one. Your whole four years will be basically sapped writing creative "assignments" for nothing more than a grade and no further worth of your time. When you finally graduate, you'll be so sick of the process that you'll be thrilled to make a career out of flipping burgers, sad to say. Unless you want to write "literary fiction," which most people outside of the intellectual upper crust don't care to read (this is about 95% of the "normal" population), do something else for a major (and maybe for a living) that incorporates work in the humanities, and you can write in your spare time.

    John Grisham studied law; that's why he writes such gripping tales about the courts. L.J. Smith, who writes "The Vampire Diaries," worked as a legal secretary. (OK, so both know a lot about bloodsuckers, if you know what I mean.) J.K. Rowling studied foreign languages, but she wanted to be an English major. Maybe if she had, she'd be a miserable Scrooge or more like Snape instead of the magickal Muggle mum every wannabe wordsmith wizard wishes to be. (Snape speaks German, by the way...Bruce Willis can tell you that.) Stephenie Meyer got a B.A. in English but was a full-time mom before "Twilight" made her a gazillionaire. (Her kids won't have to worry about Financial Aid.) Hell, Kurt Vonnegut was a used-car salesman about 40 miles from where I live right now!

    Creative writing isn't like any other kind of subject that can be "taught," per se, unless, for example, the student wants to write in a foreign language (usually English) that he/she doesn't fully understand. But mechanics of grammar are just that -- mechanical -- and one must possess not only a talent for, and appreciation of, the myriad nuances of language, but a desire to make these words come to life. Otherwise it's just that, words on a page, black-and-white symbols without any soul.

    It all depends on what you're after, and apologies if I sound biased, but this is how I'm starting to feel as a writer myself. If it's "respect," so to speak, literary honors and high-ranking accolades, then by all means go for the BA or BFA, MFA, Ph.D., etc. The way I've come to think, Ph.D. stands for "Piled High and Deep." Not only your assignments, paperwork, research articles, etc., but the stuffy air rife with methane that goes along with the supposed prestige of "academia nuts." I'm not suggesting anyone write juvenile Pokemon fanfic or anything, but it's like what if they gave a war and nobody came? I'd be more than happy with a few comma splices here and there, mass-market paperbacks, and a legion of regular-folk fans, rather than a blue-ribbon thesis that I felt "compelled" to write (or forced, that is).

    Not to brag, but one of my professors said that I should apply to Brown's creative writing program. Another has said I could win a Pulitzer, that I should be an adjunct at Oxford, yada yada yada and all that jive talkin' from the underbite. If only I'd give it the effort, they say, ah, well, eff'it -- "all your theses are belonging to dust." Now say "theses" with a lateral lisp, and that's about the size of it.

    Consider this a constructive opinion, by the way. Better to have an infinite reserve of mutual rewards than an abundance of crisp greens that grows from rich fertilizer!
  • Eternal IcicleEternal Icicle Posts: 513Registered User Member
    A lot of colleges offer Creative Writing tracks to their English major. (Like Pitzer College) Or have precedent of students self-designing their own creative writing majors, (like my college: Scripps College).

    I think USC is best known for it's graduate screenwriting program...
  • author782author782 Posts: 6Registered User New Member
    As for Cherry I understand how no one can teach you to be a writer. Ideas come from your mind, soul, and experiences which no MFA program can teach you. However, what a writing program can teach you is how to better let your ideas out and most MFA programs let you publish a novel or poetry book by the time your done with your degree.

    Thanks everyone for your replies, I was wondering also if there are any people who actually have an MFA or Phd, (which I eventually would like to get in writing so that I can teach college english as my job while i write on the side) Did anyone have the same plan as I do, and did it turn out ok for them?
  • jinglejingle Posts: 1,197Registered User Senior Member
    I have a PhD in English and teach it on the college level. I've posted elsewhere about how to prepare for grad school in English. The creative writing track is somewhat different but at some schools, e.g. Cornell, you can do an MFA/PhD simultaneously.

    Cherry's right that you don't need to major in English to succeed as a fiction writer but he/she is wrong that it will hurt. If you are going to be writing a lot anyhow, you might as well be getting intelligent feedback from established writers, many of whom teach at universities. Most MFA programs have poets, fiction writers, and so on coming through on visits all the time, which can be very exciting and informative for young writers.

    The difference between "academic" and "nonacademic" writing is pretty porous, and a lot of "trade" writers have a LOT of English training, though they don't necessarily trumpet the fact. One of my friends, a Harvard BA/Yale PhD, employed as an English professor at a research university, is regularly on the NYTimes best seller list, under a pen name, as a writer of women's historical romance. She tells me the most successful romance writers tend to have Ivy or similar academic credentials; they're not the stereotypical high school dropouts with a flair for words.
  • author782author782 Posts: 6Registered User New Member
    Thanks everyone for all the feedback. One other thing, is it possible to get a college teaching job with only a mfa in creative writing, or should i really go the extra 4-6 years to get a phd for college teaching?
  • jinglejingle Posts: 1,197Registered User Senior Member
    An MFA suffices if you want to teach creative writing. However, most good schools will want to see high-quality publications in addition to the degree. In other words, it's not the MFA that gets you the job; it's your fiction or poetry.

    The PhD is the normal minimal credential if you want to teach English literature at the college level.
  • fedoraCfedoraC Posts: 1Registered User New Member
    Let me know if you need any assistance in getting jobs after you are done with your course. I'll be more than glad to help you.
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