Writers produce fictional short stories and books, write copy for advertisements, and create web content on various topics. Many industries rely on writers to communicate their organization's goals and educate consumers. Graduates with an online writing degree also work as editors, technical writers, and public relations specialists. Prospective writing majors learn how to apply to the best online writing programs and how to transition from their program to the workforce in this article. It also covers potential career paths and salary information for professionals with a writing degree.
Overview of Writing Degrees
Students earning an online creative writing degree study the writing process, learn how to write using different styles, and train to edit written work. Writing majors also strengthen their ability to write persuasive, investigative, and analytical pieces. The degree prepares graduates for careers as writers and authors, creating original works for publication such as books, articles, or for broadcast. Professionals specialize in areas such as business writing, technical writing, and medical writing. Graduates also work as editors, shaping the editorial vision of a publication or shepherding books through the publication process.
Writing programs appeal to prospective students considering careers that require strong writing skills. Some programs offer specializations in poetry, nonfiction, or screenwriting, leading to specialized job opportunities.
An online program helps working professionals earn a degree for career advancement and benefits those considering a career change. Online students schedule classes around their obligations, and the option to attend fully online allows students to pursue online creative writing degrees from the top programs in the country without relocating. Writing majors also take advantage of online programs to learn the latest communication technologies.
Prospective writing majors must first gain admission to the school and writing program. Each institution sets its own application process, which may require transcripts, standardized test scores, essays, letters of recommendation, and proof of English language proficiency for international students. Once applicants gain admission to the school, they may also need to apply to the writing program, which may require completing prerequisite classes and meeting a minimum GPA for their writing courses.
During the admission process, programs evaluate applicants on their academic promise and qualifications. First-time college students submit high school transcripts; students with college credits must submit college transcripts, but most schools waive the high school transcript requirement for applicants with at least one year of college experience. Applicants should also provide SAT or ACT scores, though many schools waive this requirement for transfer students.
The process and deadlines vary by institution, so prospective students should research the requirements for their potential programs. Some online schools provide admission advisers, who help applicants navigate the process. While many schools charge an application fee to cover the cost of reviewing the application, some programs offer waivers or do not charge a fee.
What Will I Learn?
While earning an online creative writing degree, students strengthen their reading and writing abilities through a variety of requirements and electives. Students practice different styles of writing, including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and playwriting. Writing majors also gain critiquing, editing, and analytical skills through their coursework. Graduates who earn online creative writing degrees at the bachelor's level complete 120 credits of coursework, with their writing classes making up 30-36 credits. Students also complete 50-60 credits of general education classes, which include history, natural science, communications, and mathematics.
Writing majors choose electives to complete their additional credits, which can include writing electives. These electives can help students specialize their degree or build valuable skills while earning a minor. Writing majors with a minor in English or education, for example, may pursue careers as teachers, while a minor in science or a technical field could help graduates work as technical writers.
Introduction to Composition
Many writing programs begin with an introductory course that builds foundational skills in composition. Students learn about expository, persuasive, and critical essays; analyze readings to understand strengths and weaknesses; and craft their own works. Many classes incorporate critiquing work of other students, an ability writing majors use throughout their degrees.
In critical writing classes, students strengthen their analytical, comprehension, and communication skills. They learn how to assess scholarly writings, offer critiques, and build their writing fluency. The course blends reading and writing strategies students apply in upper-level courses.
Students in nonfiction writing classes learn how to write nonfiction prose, with an emphasis on different styles of writing. The class may cover persuasive writing, biographical writing, essays, and technical writing. Students assess the method and purpose of different styles.
Classes in playwriting introduce students to the process of writing plays. The class may also cover scriptwriting for television, movies, or advertisements. Students write a play during the class, working with other students to strengthen their playwriting skills.
Poetry courses teach creative writing students about the mechanics of a poem and different stylistic choices. Students may read examples of poetry in different genres and styles while critiquing the work of their classmates. Students may complete a portfolio of poetry for their final project.
Classes on teaching writing train students to teach reading and writing skills to others. The course covers theoretical and methodological approaches to the teaching of writing, with an emphasis on pedagogical research and teaching for different age groups. Students build valuable skills which translate into careers in education.
What Can I Do with an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Writing?
Graduates from online creative writing programs gain valuable skills that translate into careers as writers, editors, and journalists. Many writing majors pursue careers in business or the publishing industry, applying their skills to promoting new products, writing copy for advertisements, or creating technical manuals for companies. Writing majors can also pursue concentrations such as technical writing to prepare for specific career paths. This section introduces the core skills gained during an online writing degree and potential career opportunities.
Students enrolled in bachelor of arts in writing programs study composition, rhetoric, and techniques. They learn about different writing theories, craft pieces in different styles, and critique each other's work. Writing majors also study different kinds of writing, strengthening their analytical and writing abilities.
While completing classes in creative writing, technical writing, business communications, and grant writing, students build transferable skills that many employers seek. Writing majors learn how to craft persuasive arguments, how to write informative copy that explains a process or idea, and how to write in different voices. After graduation, writing majors can apply these competencies when working for businesses as public relations or marketing professionals.
Almost every sector of the economy relies on writers in some manner. Careers in business, service industries, nonprofit organizations, and the government all rely on writers to communicate ideas to customers, users, or constituents. Strong writing skills help job applicants stand out when competing for positions. Writing majors find their skills and competencies in high demand on the job market.
Potential Careers and Salaries
Earning a bachelor's degree in writing prepares graduates for many career paths. Creative writing majors, for example, can pursue careers as authors, creating short stories, novellas, and novels, or as editors, working with writers to strengthen their work. Professional writers may produce white papers, web content, articles, or reports for clients.
A creative writing bachelor's degree helps students build strong communication, writing, and analytical skills, which translate to careers as journalists, technical writers, and educators. Writing majors may work as teachers, building writing and comprehension skills as language arts or drama teachers. With their strong communication skills, writing majors also work in public relations, preparing written material to promote an organization's public image. The following list of potential careers and salaries represents some of the most common career paths for graduates with an online creative writing degree.
Annual Median Salary: $58,770
Editors uphold a publication's content and style guidelines by working with writers to polish submissions. They evaluate pitches for story ideas or books, rewrite text to strengthen the finished product, and approve pieces for publication. Editors also oversee the production process.
Annual Median Salary: $70,930
Technical writers create instruction manuals, guides, and articles that communicate technical information in a clear manner. They coordinate with engineers and developers to understand a product and create guides for users. Technical writers also gather feedback from users to improve content.
Reporter or Correspondent
Annual Median Salary: $40,910
Reporters and correspondents, also known as journalists, report the news and current events through magazines, television programs, newspapers, websites, and radio. Journalists conduct research and interviews to write informative news content.
Writer or Author
Annual Median Salary: $61,820
Writers and authors work in multiple niches, creating fictional content like novels and short stories and nonfictional content like books and articles. Creative writers may also produce scripts for movies or television programs.
Public Relations Specialist
Annual Median Salary: $59,300
Public relations specialists help organizations and clients maintain a positive public image. They write press releases, respond to media requests, and write speeches for executives. Public relations specialists also use social media to interact with the public.
Will I Need a Graduate Degree for a Career in Writing?
After earning a bachelor's degree in writing, graduates pursue careers as authors, technical writers, and editors. In many fields, a bachelor's degree meets the minimum educational requirement for entry-level positions, meaning professionals do not need a graduate degree to qualify for these opportunities. Students considering a career in academia need an advanced degree. Most professors hold a terminal degree in their field, which include an MFA or Ph.D.
Professional writers gain valuable experience from jobs as writers or editors. For many writers, this experience offers another path to career advancement. Writers with several years of experience may qualify for senior writer positions, and editors can move into advanced roles with work experience.
Accreditation for Writing Bachelor’s Programs
Prospective writing majors should check a college or university's accreditation status before enrolling. Accreditation acts as a marker for academic excellence, which benefits students in several ways. Students at accredited institutions qualify for federal financial aid, and accredited degrees meet more licensing and certification requirements. Graduate programs and bachelor's programs may only accept credits or degrees earned from an accredited institution.
Schools voluntarily undergo accreditation review from independent accrediting agencies. These agencies evaluate a school's graduation requirements, student learning outcomes, and faculty qualifications. After earning accreditation, schools undergo periodic reviews to maintain their status.
Regional accreditation remains the best standard for liberal arts institutions, such as those offering writing degrees. Accrediting agencies such as the Higher Learning Commission and the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities grant accreditation to institutions in their region. Some disciplines also pursue programmatic accreditation, including business, counseling, and social work, but writing programs do not. As a result, writing students should look for regionally accredited institutions.
Writing Professional Organizations
Professional organizations help writing majors transition into the workforce, whether they pursue careers as authors, writers, technical writers, or another field. These organizations provide professional development support, including programs and workshops to develop writing skills. Students also rely on professional organizations for career resources, such as job boards and mentoring services. Some organizations, for example, connect writers with editors or provide a member directory to attract clients. These resources allow writers to expand their network and professional abilities.
Society for Technical Communication
Technical writers and other professionals working in technical communications rely on STC for its resources. The society runs a certified professional technical communicator program, which helps early career technical writers, and hosts conferences which offer networking opportunities.
American Society of Journalists and Authors
ASJA represents independent journalists and nonfiction writers, offering market information for professionals and connecting writers with editors. The society also offers mentoring, hosts seminars and workshops, and provides networking opportunities.
Writers benefit from the resources offered by the Authors Guild, including events and regional chapters with networking opportunities. The guild also provides information on copyright protections, reviews contracts for writers, and offers legal assistance for members. Members receive access to a guide for writing contracts.