A unique blend of creative writing and professional writing ideal for writers at any stage of their career.

School of Graduate and Professional Studies

Master of Arts in Professional and Creative Writing


Graduate Admission



Why pursue a Master of Arts in Professional and Creative Writing degree at North Central College?

There’s hardly an industry that couldn’t benefit from hiring better writers. From business professionals seeking to strengthen their writing and communication skills to those pursuing an advanced English education, the online master of arts in professional and creative writing is designed to enhance the writing, reading and critical thinking skills that will help writers be successful wherever they are.

The degree honors the entirety of the professional writer who aspires to write for internal and external audiences within and beyond the workplace. There’s a strong emphasis on personal development and skill-enhancement that is applicable to multiple professions. Students will be able to build a graduate project or thesis around their passions, interests and professional goals and will receive exceptional faculty support tailored to their needs.

A Unique and Balanced Combination

The unique professional and creative writing curriculum provides a gateway to the main conversations and research that is going on in the field, while also helping students practically apply the latest writing skills. It balances both theory and practice in meaningful and engaging ways.

There are full-time technical, professional and grant writers that many corporations hire, so the program is ideal for those professional writers who understand the value of creative writing as a means to enhance their competencies. At the same time, the program is designed for creative writers who wish to enrich their professional and technical writing skills.

Our intentional, holistic program will help you develop the industry-standard skill sets that will help you become a dynamic, flexible and well-rounded writer.

Professional and Creative Writing Curriculum

  • The professional and creative writing degree consists of 12, 3-credit hour courses for a total of 36 credit hours.
  • The courses are offered in a completely online format.
  • 2019-20 Academic Calendar (PDF)

Degree Requirements (36 credit hours)

  • Introduction to Professional Writing: This foundational course introduces students to what professional writers do and how they do it, including a review of textual and visual rhetoric and a discussion of ethical dilemmas faced by practitioners in the field. Students will practice the necessary critical attitude, principles, tools, and feedback to develop and edit their own high-quality professional documents.
  • Introduction to the Writers’ Workshop and Collaborative Writing: Students learn the history, utility and methods of the writers’ workshop model, including best practices for establishing a true community of writers and for writing collaboratively in professional and creative settings.
  • Writing From Life: Students learn to transform memorable and meaningful personal and professional experiences into compelling creative work. Attention is paid to the many ways in which the professional writer leverages autobiographical experience into writing for professional markets.
  • The Public Writer: Students practice the skills required to reach the broadest possible audience with their professional and creative writing. Writers learn to contextualize themselves and their particular professional interests in the tradition of the public intellectual and rhetorician. Topics may include a representative cross section of popular professional writing, including but not limited to science/technology writing, opinion and persuasive writing, travel/environmental writing, and popular writing in history and the social sciences.
  • Revision and the Writing Process: Students learn editing in its full breadth and scope, ranging from ideation to deep revision, professional line editing and proofreading, annotated drafts, and summary feedback. Applying industry-appropriate style guides, writers discover the ideal form, content and format for their work.
  • Grant Writing: Students practice the fundamentals of professional grant writing appropriate to a multitude of professional settings while identifying specific funding opportunities relevant to their own professional practice.
  • Writing Narratives: Students study the complex ways in which narrative underlies both effective creative and professional writing while practicing the forms and strategies appropriate to multiple genres. Broader attention is paid to narrative as a means of producing and transmitting knowledge, entertainment and instruction, and interpersonal communication and creative expression.
  • Writing Proposals: Students learn to write a variety of professional proposals and prospectuses appropriate to their particular areas of interest. Guided by faculty, students construct a detailed proposal for an extended professional or creative writing manuscript or project, including an annotated bibliography, project outline and synopsis in preparation for their graduate thesis hours.
  • The Professional Writing Life: Students learn to prepare their work for submission to various venues appropriate to their interests, ranging from manuscript publication opportunities and professional conferences to other opportunities for collaboration and potential community engagement. Along the way, they learn the habits of successful writers, study freelance and entrepreneurial practices, and establish a sustainable method of their own.
  • Thesis Writing I: Working closely with their faculty thesis advisor, students draft and revise their extended professional or creative writing thesis or project.
  • Thesis Writing II: Working closely with their faculty thesis advisor, students peer workshop and polish their thesis manuscript.
  • Professional Presentation and Public Reading: Students study the fundamentals employed by successful public readers and presenters and learn strategies for developing and sustaining rapport with their audience. Students who have completed or are nearing completion of their thesis will be invited to campus each spring to give a public presentation or reading of their thesis to the wider community, and to share their professional experience with graduate and undergraduate students in a gala reading and reception. Students are able to pursue their interest or passion through this experience.

Online Certificate in Creative Writing

If you are looking to obtain an additional credential or certificate to augment your professional skills sets, the online certificate in creative writing provides you the continuing education that will meet your professional and personal passions in creative writing and publishing. 

  • The certificate is a 3-course, 9-credit hour online program. 

Certificate Curriculum (9 credit hours)

  • Creative Writing for Professional Writers: Students learn the fundamentals of creative writing in multiple genres. Emphasis is given to shorter forms that develop craft and fluency.
  • Advanced Creative Writing for Professional Writers: Students advance their knowledge of creative writing in multiple genres, developing longer-form imaginative work in multiple genres toward mastery of craft and consistency of results.
    • Prerequisite: Creative Writing for Professional Writers or Permission of Instructor
  • Publishing and Publicizing Creative Writing: Students learn proven methods for preparing, publishing, and publicizing their creative work in print or digital form. Emphasis is given to the writing of effective queries, cover letters, pitches and professional editorial correspondence. Attention is also paid to developing trends and timely opportunities across genres within the publishing industry.
    • Prerequisite: Creative Writing for Professional Writers or Permission of Instructor

Pathway to the M.A. in Professional and Creative Writing

If you want to further your study in our M.A. in professional and creative writing program, you can apply your 9-hour certificate credit to the 36-hour professional and creative writing master’s degree. Your certificate courses would replace the following master's degree courses:

  • Revision and the Writing Process
  • Grant Writing
  • Writing Narratives

Graduate Online Learning

We pride ourselves on giving personal attention to our students. Our faculty are committed to getting to know their online students and work diligently to foster community within the program. Our online programs are personal but flexible. They are rigorous and challenging, yet supportive and encouraging. Our online students will not only walk away with a meaningful degree but also a community.

Learn more about graduate online learning at North Central College.

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