Graduate Degree Programs for Writers: Online and Low Residency

Online Degrees
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My first course outside of the classroom happened through old-fashioned mail. The first was a high school history correspondence course and the second in a college-level marketing course that I took after college to learn more about marketing. These worked well for me with no lectures to follow and missed out conversations.
Over the years, I took several online graduate level courses and completed a certificate program in Internet Technologies from New York University (NYU). I loved taking all the courses through a web-based course environment and from NYU. I love where I live, but I valued the opportunity to take classes at a respectable university out of state without moving or traveling. Besides, I felt connected to New York because my dad hailed from Brooklyn and I still had family there.
I started an MBA program at Dallas’ SMU, which added a small campus within a few miles from my house. This campus held all the required courses while you had to go to the main campus for other classes. I attended for one semester and burned out. It took too much time away from family on the weekends and I worked full-time in a corporate job.
It worked out because I’d rather get an master of fine arts (MFA), master in liberal studies (MLS) or something focusing on communications, literature or journalism. Over the years, I’ve watched for distance learning programs in these areas so I have the information available when I’m ready to go back to school.
Note some are low residency programs. These give you the opportunity to go to the campus several times a year for a week or two. Also, colleges appearing in this list do not imply any kind of quality. The list lets you know what’s available to help you find the school that best fits your needs.
List updated when more colleges pop up. If you’ve attended a program or know of one, please in comments.
Low-Residency Programs
Goddard College MFA in Creative Writing. “The low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program is a 48-credit, rigorous, student-centered program for writers who choose to live their lives and hone their writing skills at the same time. Each semester in the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing Program begins with an eight-day residency at the Goddard College campus.”
Naropa University MFA in Creative Writing: “The online Creative Writing degree requires 49 total credit hours, a combination of online workshops, online literature seminars, online elective studies, contemplative practice, summer residence at the Summer Writing Program and at-home manuscript.”
Pacific University MFA in Writing: Located in Oregon, the program helps experienced writers grow in building a portfolio of fiction, nonfiction or poetry and celebrates writing as an art that has the potential to make a difference in the world. The program consists of two annual residency sessions.
Southern New Hampshire University MFA in Fiction and Nonfiction: Low-residency program lets you write at home and meet peers and faculty online. The residencies occur in the summer and winter.
Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing: Two sessions per year residency program with the opportunity of attending a residency in Slovenia instead of Vermont. Available tracks include poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction and a concentration in translation. Dual-genre study options available including study in Writing for Children & Young Adults.
Online Programs
Drexel University MS in Communications. Focuses on technical communication with studies in writing, editing, message design, software documentation and ethics. Graduates can go on to pursue careers as technical writers, computer documentation specialists, or training specialists. Students develop a professional exit portfolio based on course work and professional assignments.
Ellis College MA Communication Arts. Ellis College offers two MAs. One in advertising and public relationships. The other in journalism.  “The Master of Arts program in Communication Arts is an interdisciplinary program that incorporates sound theoretical principles of research, reporting, writing, and cultural studies to achieve effective professional results.”
Full Sail University MFA: “In the Creative Writing Master of Fine Arts Online Degree Program, storytelling is not merely taught as it relates to the typical output mediums of print and publishing.” Offers several areas of focus.
The New School MA in Media Studies. “As a student in the program, you explore traditional disciplines, develop a strong commitment to research and critical analysis, and create and develop media, perhaps transcending traditional formats. It is through the unity of practical and theoretical work that scholars can contribute to the notion of media literacy and our understanding of the modern world. The New School’s 39-credit master’s degree program integrates the studyof media theory and management with production practices.”
Texas Tech Master of Arts in Technical Communications. “This master’s degree combines study of the history, theory, research, and genres of technical communication with practice in applying this knowledge. The thesis option requires students to complete 24 hours of graduate courses in technical communication and electives or a minor, 6 hours of research methods, and a thesis. The nonthesis option requires students to complete 36 hours of graduate courses in technical communication, electives, and a minor. Students who elect the nonthesis option must pass a comprehensive portfolio examination in the semester of graduation.
“The master’s degree in technical communication is also available online. Application and admission processes and degree requirements are similar to those for the nonthesis option for the degree. All distance students must complete 36 hours of graduate coursework in technical communication, language- and communication-related electives, or a minor. One of the courses requires a substantial independent research project that could result in an article for publication. Prospective students are advised to consult for details of degree requirements and the course schedule.”
Texas Tech Doctor of Philosophy in Technical Communication & Rhetoric: “Designed for students with an interest in rhetoric, writing, technical communication, and composition. The degree in TCR requires 45 hours of graduate work in rhetoric and technical communication beyond the bachelor’s degree. An additional 15 hours may be used for a minor in a related field. Credits earned on a master’s degree count toward these totals. This degree prepares students for positions in a wide range of college and university writing programs. This degree program requires courses in qualitative and quantitative research methods. The program emphasizes five broad areas of scholarship in its scholarship, coursework, and initiatives: a) Rhetoric, Composition, and Technology, b) Technical Communication, c) Rhetorics of Science and Healthcare, d) Technology, Culture, and Rhetoric, and e) Visual Rhetoric, New Media, and User-Centered Design.”
Utah State University Master of Science in English, Technical Writing Specialization. “There are more than sixty professional directions in professional and technical communication, and our program instructs broadly enough to allow you to choose from most of the most interesting professional directions. In our program, in addition to learning to write professionally, you may design webpages, create technical animations and videos, program special effects for computer applications, study websites for usability, publish book length manuscripts, and create games in two- and three-dimensions.”
University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) Creative Writing and the Americas: Offers a bilingual online Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program. The goal of this unique bilingual program is to prepare writers for the publishing marketplace and for teaching and editing careers, both in the United States and Latin America.

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