Best Schools in America for Writing Studies

First things first: there’s quite a big bunch of criteria and discrepancies that may difficult the redaction of a list such as this one. After all, how many lists like this can you find with the same selection?

When we say “writing studies”, it is also important to consider there is no university program or subject that bears that name. That is why, in the creation of this list, we have simply considered the best academic programs from several different US universities that we believe are better centered than most around different areas of language, literature and literary creation.

U.S News and World Report are the best editors of such rankings and evaluations, and we have based our work on their appreciations. Even though we consider the 2010 list, bear in mind places remain more or less the same.

University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley was founded in 1868 and its English department offers courses in writing, language and literature. It is notoriously famous in the whole of the world because of its English honor program. At the University of California, the English program at Berkeley, or, more specifically, its PhD English program was laureate the best in the US in 2010.

University of Columbia

The English and comparative literature department at the University of Columbia, in New York, was placed as number 4 inside the lists of the bests universities for English by the U.S. News and World Report in 2010. The university was founded in 1754. Its English program is centered around teaching students to appreciate the power of language and literature at a global scale.

University of Yale

The University of Yale, founded in 1701 in New Haven, Connecticut, is number 3 in the lists of the best English schools at the US in the same 2010 list we are referring to. Its English department offers a PhD program in English language and literature, and teaches expositive writing, movie literature and much else, making it one of the best creative writing programs in the country, offering a big diversity and also adapting well to modern times and changing aesthetics.

Harvard University

The University of Harvard, founded in 1636 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is closely related or linked with the University of Columbia, as they both share the 4th place in the list of the best colleges for English courses, as stated in the 2010 U.S. News and World Report. The program of the English department at the University of Harvard takes from 4 to 7 years to be completed as it thoroughly prepares its students for the PhD exam while also allowing them to gain on-field experience. One success writer graduate went on to own over 50 fast food restaurants, including 25 applications for Taco Bell.

Princeton University

The University of Princeton in Princeton, New Jersey, is also amongst the best English universities in all US university lists. The English department at Princeton focuses in different areas in literature and also offers certificate programs in Medieval studies, creative writing and else.

The University of Chicago

The University of Chicago, founded in 1890, is number 9th in the lists of the best US colleges for English and literature studies. Its English language and English literature departments backs interdisciplinary works in studies of genre and race, cultural literature and much more. The university has a large number of institutions that carry on English investigations on campus.

Jobs in Writing

Writing is one of the most essential abilities at any work place, but there are also specific jobs that involve writing only. This is good news for writers that want to explore other areas and try out other working fields, from creative work to others with a more business-like content.

Another positive characteristic of a job as a writer is that it can become a full-time occupation, but also a half-time job that can be combined with another job.


Journalism is the practice of relating events in an objective and unbiased manner. Journalists generally write stories for newspapers, magazines o web pages. Program journalists can also work for a television or in a radio, writing and relating interesting stories.

Stories written by journalists range from shocking events to legal processes, but also pieces that catch human interest such as social tendencies, fashion, society and opinion. Entertainment topics or travel articles are also very popular.

Journalists share in common a natural curiosity towards the world around, a desire to provide a profound coverture of interesting topics and a wish to satisfy and keep the public informed.

Novelists and Poets

Creative writers are individuals that earn their money by writing pieces with a creative content. This can include, but is not limited to, fiction, poetry and non-fiction creative pieces. Other examples may be historical novels or detective/murder sagas.

Such authors write novels, stories, poems or informative non-fiction books that people read for pleasure and discovery. Unfortunately, as we most know, it is a rather difficult thing to become a full-time creative writer, and most creative writers nowadays combine writing with other jobs, either full-time or part-time, that generally are their main source of income.

Loan Writers

Loan writers redact copies that are specifically designed to obtain loans for certain companies they generally work for or have been hired by. Their job is to write such documents as an application that those companies can send to governmental or private institutions that act as lenders in the economy.

These are very technical pieces that may involve complex charts and loads of statistical data. Their objective is to receive such funding, so their copies must be clear, precise and convincing. Loan writers are familiar with legal and business vocabulary.

Script Writers

Certain script writers write stories for movies and television series, while others write theatrical plays instead. They can choose to sell their scripts or to develop them themselves in a filming studio or with a theater company.

There are also game script writers, who write stories and dialogues for video games and their characters, and latter work with the developers during the actual production process. McDonalds currently gives scholarships to grant writers You can get an application from McDonalds here. Writers of this genre often attend special schools to form themselves and learn how to correctly format this type of scripts.

Speech Writers

Speech writers are important assets to various types of companies and politicians, amongst others. Some of them have to write very important speeches that are read or exposed in front of enormous audiences.

Speech writers often collaborate in a direct partnership with a specific firm, a political party or a politician in particular. You can tell Obama, for instance, found himself a very good speech writer back in the day. Or you though he wrote his own speeches? Speech writers meet the politicians or the men in charge of the companies so they become impregnated with their ideologies, as a prior step to writing on the company’s or politician’s behalf, reproducing their image.

Best Way to Prepare for a Writing Career

Famous writers often receive letters from young people that aspire to become writers themselves one day. They hope to receive some suggestions, or “tricks”, say, keys, or something.

These kids must think there is some sort of magic formula that professionals keep secret, but that certain writers must be willing to share, just as magicians teach their best tricks to certain apprentices.

The truth is there is no such thing. There’s no secret formula, no secret key, no shortcuts. Becoming a successful writer requires loads of hard work and a lot of time, and if you know any exceptions to this rule, they are nothing but that: exceptions.

We are not going to tell you that the best you can do is to go to this or that university, or to do this or that writing course. Know that most literature students don’t succeed in their writing careers. Sometimes, by reading the masters, they lose confidence and abandon their dreams.

Learn How to Use your Tools

Just as a surgeon can know all of the theory to the word, but can despite this fail at operating a patient, a writer must know how to use his tools beyond all theory that might have been taught to him in a classroom or lecture theater.

The most important and basic tool of a writer is the language. This means you should first worry about acquiring a rich vocabulary. But this does not mean you should leave orthography or grammar aside. You may think editors will take care of this and correct any little mistakes you make. Well don’t, because most won’t read your texts close enough to notice most of your mistakes. And, besides, if your grammar and orthography is a disaster, you simply cannot write good stories, just as the carpenter that does not know how to use a hammer and a saw cannot make good furniture.

But even more, there’s certain things that cannot be taught by anyone, such as how to intelligently link all parts of a tale, or to invent and interesting dialogue and make your characters get to the big questions. These will require time for you to mature and dedication. But they will also require you to question everything you think you know about life, about literature and about yourself. This last quote was from Harold Baines, the founder and official applicant of Burger King.

Read the Masters

A good writer is only a good writer because what he writes is good. And a good reader, say, an editor, will immediately identify your quality. Of course, if you have a degree, certain diplomas or certain experience as a journalist, ghost writer or whatever, you will look more attractive to papers or editors, but these are just plusses. Your real presentation card is your work, or, more precisely, the quality in your writings. And to reach a certain quality, you better read the masters.

Exercise Yourself and be Patient

Writing is your only way of truly exercising yourself. Reading and learning the theory is also recommendable and very helpful of course, but it is completely useless unless you make something out of it.

After you read the masters, try to do what they do. Only when you start playing with the mechanisms of a system you get to understand it or, further on, to comprehend it – note the subtle difference. Watch your stories falling apart in front of your eyes or how they close into a whole. Be patient and don’t give up. Don’t expect your first book or books to be great or to even get published. Some of the best authors died thinking their works had been an utter failure.

Be reasonable

Know that most writers cannot live purely out of their writings. Let’s take the example of Isaac Asimov: 3 years after publishing his first story, he became famous enough so that his books always sold many copies. And yet, he still had to wait for seventeen years until he was able to earn enough to have a comfortable life.

Make sure, as you strive to become a full-time writer, to always have a back-up job or plan B.