Top 10 Colleges for Aspiring Writers

You better gear up if you’re looking into the creative writing program at Emory University in Atlanta. On top of a standard application requiring reasons for applying to the program, students must submit a manuscript to secure a spot in the advanced poetry and prose courses. The select few who do get accepted can apply for the Grace Abernethy Scholarship just for being a creative writing major. If you decide to pursue playwriting, you’ll thrive with Emory’s unique joint Theater Studies major. See ya on Broadway.

Imagine writing for Quarto, the same literary magazine that once featured J.D. Salinger. Edwidge Danticat and poet Louise Gluck also top the list of notable formerQuarto contributors. Columbia’s program cultivated Pulitzer Prize winners, Poet Laureates and notable authors such as Mitch Albom, Langston Hughes, Jack Kerouac and Patricia McCormick. Prepare to join an alumni network of stars.

Have you ever heard of a literary magazine for medical students? Doubtful. University of Virginia in Charlottesville goes above and beyond the traditional literary magazine with themed publications in humor, sports satire, female experience, Asian American culture and medical student literature. Who knows, you may discover your inner comic with all these opportunities to write. UVA boasts famous screenwriter alums such as Tina Fey, plus Pulitzer Prize winners and authors such as Claudia Emerson and Henry S. Taylor.

Not to mention, the poetry workshops can’t be beat. “The workshops both improve writing skills and expose you to many different styles through interactions with the other members of the class,” said Ben Ford, an English major at UVA.

Learn from the best. New York University’s Master Classes program offers fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction courses taught by famous writers. There is one condition: a manuscript submission. The work will pay off though; learning from the best of the best, such as Zadie Smith and Eileen Myles, will transform your writing from amateur to advanced. NYU encourages studying abroad with its creative writing courses in Florence, Paris and New York, with full immersion and seminars featuring famous writers.

If you’re looking for your creative writing niche, start with Oberlin College in Ohio. Classes cover the usual poetry, fiction and nonfiction topics, but you can also take classes in translation, screenwriting, short stories and travel writing. If you’ve already found your inner poet, however, let it be known that Oberlin’s Emma Howell Poetry Prize will award you $1000.

Why not reap the rewards of your creativity? You deserve it. Washington University in St. Louis awards up to eleven scholarships to creative writers. Washington U classes cover a vast variety of creative writing styles, such as historical fiction, rewriting poetry, memoirs, microfiction, cultural identity and medicine. Scholarships coupled with building on the creative writing sector of your choice means more bang for your buck.

If you know you want to pursue screen writing, secure your seat at Brown University in Providence. Brown’s already impressive alumni network flaunts a remarkable number of screenwriters and playwrights, including Josh Friedman (War of the Worlds), Mark Heyman (Black Swan), John Krasinski (who knew the cutie from The Office studied playwriting?), Academy Award winner Kurt Luedtke, (Out of Africa), Emmy Award winner Robin Green (The Sopranos) and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrights. Add in a full range of screenwriting classes and prepare for the big screen.

Seminars at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore dig deep. You can choose from a selection of forty classes on setting the scene, outdoor stories, nature writing, science writing and point of view. To build on your seminar experience, join JHU’s literary magazine, Thoroughfare. The publication’s impressive website will encourage you to submit pieces and read peers’ work.

Just to be accepted into the creative writing program at University of Texas in Austin, you must already have completed English prerequisites, met the GPA requirement of 3.33 and submitted an essay with a general application. Talk about competitive. UT features in-depth classes for those studying playwriting and screenwriting, such as narrative structure for television and film and theatre history. Alumni authors include Nobel Prize winner J.M. Coetzee and Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson & the Olympians).

Editor-in-chief Rachel Abbott of UT’s literary magazine, Analecta, digs the program, especially the first class of the fiction track. “I liked that it challenged me to write longer pieces than ever before, and the workshop setting gave me the confidence to share my writing with others,” she said. She’s looking forward to advancing her fiction skills, while also experimenting with poetry or screen writing.

No other school compares to the creative writing program at University of Iowa in Iowa City, starting with the rigorous admissions process. UI requires a strict GPA limit of 3.33, portfolio submission and prior coursework. Writing courses cover just about every niche imaginable: business, culture, the environment, science, social change, sports and humor. A lengthy list of scholarships makes the possibility of traveling the path of Pulitzer Prize winners and Poet Laureates— Rita Dove, Tennessee Williams, Tracy Kidder and Robert Hass— even more of a reality.

Student Leslie Caton, intern for The Iowa Review, took full advantage of UI’s extensive creative writing program. In just her first she she attended a Q&A for students with essayist Phillip Lopate, voted on the Essay Prize in a class taught by Nonfiction Writing Program director John D’Agata, and learned how to inhabit, interview and write about others in an Immersion Writing course. “Being part of a community of such talented writers, teachers and students keeps me excited about writing and pushes me to improve my craft,” she said.