Prospective college students with a passion for writing can turn it into a rewarding career in one of several key areas.
Creative writing and journalism degrees are two of the most popular ones for writers, and a number of schools have excellent programs in these fields. Aspiring professional writers typically complete a two-year degree at minimum.
A good percentage of them go on to complete four-year undergraduate degrees, and some elect to earn advanced graduate credentials as well.
Hard-working graduates who have honed their craft can go on to successful careers in book writing, article publication, reporting and editing. Strong writing skills are also in high demand across the board for careers in many other fields.
Writing majors have a range of sources for financial aid in the form of grants and scholarships. Some awards are available from private foundations. Others come from individual colleges and government agencies.
Depending on the school and program of study, some journalism and creative writing departments may require a portfolio submission and a separate application. A number of grants and scholarships also use applicants’ current grade point averages and documented financial need as criteria for eligibility. Maximizing chances of receiving these forms of financial aid involves researching and submitting applications as early as possible.
Just as with other programs of study, finding grants and scholarships for writing degrees may take some time but is worth the effort for covering the costs of a college education. The following awards are broken down by sources as well as by specific program of study.
Studying creative writing is an intensive process designed to refine skills in expressing ideas effectively through words.
Writers and writing students of all levels want to have their work read, and a good creative writing degree program teaches them how to connect with their audiences. Popular specialties in creative writing include fiction, poetry, theatrical scripts and children’s literature. Some creative writing graduates also have successful careers in areas such as advertising and public relations.
Several schools offer both graduate and undergraduate scholarships for students who plan to enroll in creative writing programs. Each of these awards has specific requirements, and the application process can vary from one college to the next. Scholarships from both schools and private foundations may require letters of recommendation, school transcripts and at least one writing sample. Submitting all of these materials according to instructions is essential for consideration.
- The Lycoming College Creative Writing Scholarship. Lycoming is a small Pennsylvania college that offers a $3,000 scholarship to incoming freshmen and transfer undergraduate students who declare a creative writing major. The application requires a submission of five original poems or a 10-page maximum short story. Applicants have the option to submit both types of writing if they prefer, and this portfolio needs to be sent by mail to the college’s vice president of admissions and financial aid. A portfolio review in person is an additional requirement and is scheduled by appointment each spring. Interested students can review the details by visiting Lycoming’s financial aid web page.
- The Mary Helen Richardson Memorial Scholarship. This award is open to current creative writing majors attending the University of Arizona in Tucson, and selection is based on academic achievement and demonstrated good character. Students can be either undergraduate or graduate creative writing majors, and a selection committee from U of A’s College of Humanities reviews each application. More information is available on this scholarship’s web page.
- The Bill and Jane Spain Scholarship. U of A creative writing majors can apply for this award that is available through a joint endowment to the departments of fine arts and humanities. Portfolio submission is required for consideration, and applicants need to have junior or senior undergraduate standing. The selection committee gives special consideration to creative writing majors, and portfolios are examined for originality as well as skill. Additional scholarship details are available on the Spain Scholarship web page.
- The Robert and Minnie M. Torrance Scholarship in Creative Writing. This final U of A scholarship is open to upper level undergraduate and graduate creative writing majors. In addition to US-born applicants, students in the process of becoming naturalized American citizens are eligible as well. Applicants need a minimum grade point average of 3.5, and awards are also based on documented financial need. Interested students need to have at least one letter of recommendation from a creative writing faculty member. This scholarship is renewable each academic year and requires a written promissory note of eventual repayment once recipients are able to do so. More information about this award can be found at www.humanities.arizona.edu/graduate_scholarships/Torrance. Each of these described University of Arizona scholarships has varying award amounts based individual recipients.
- The Writers’ Studio Scholarship at Arapahoe Community College. This college is located in Littleton, Colorado and offers a $500 award to two deserving students per academic year. Eligible applicants must be enrolled in at least 6 credit hours at Arapahoe with a minimum 3.0 grade point average. Completion of introductory creative writing is preferred, and the scholarship application form is available on the Writers’ Studio Scholarship website.
- The Carnegie Writing Scholarship. Undergraduate students who plan to attend Lake Forest College in Chicago can apply for this award by submitting a portfolio of their best work. The selection committee looks at each portfolio for writing proficiency as well as variety. Applicants are encouraged to include several different pieces such as short stories, poems and non-fiction prose. A PDF of the accompanying application is available from Lake Forest’s website. Scholarship amounts range from $3,000 to $8,000, and applications are open to all majors besides creative writing.
- The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. This prestigious scholarship competition is open to junior high and high school students with passion and dedication to writing or art. Applicants can submit work in one of 10 categories such as science fiction, novels or humorous essays. The application process requires interested students to create profiles on the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers website before uploading their work for consideration. Awards range from $1,000 to $10,000 for scholarship winners, and applicants are judged solely on the quality of their portfolio submissions. A minimum grade point average is not required, though this scholarship is limited to grades 7-12.
- The YoungArts Competition Awards. Outstanding high school student writers are eligible to compete for one of 20 awards of up to $10,000 towards college tuition. Submitting a completed application packet also qualifies interested students for master classes in various creative writing topics. Eligible applicants need to be 15-18 years old the year they apply, and finalists are invited to compete in person at the annual YoungArts Week convention. The process requires an online application and fee of $25-$35 depending on the month of submission. Once YoungArts receives this form and payment, applicants are sent a login and link to a submission page for uploading their writing portfolios. Writers can get started by visiting www.youngarts.org/apply.
- The Go On Girl! Book Club Scholarships. This organization offers two different scholarships each worth $500. The Unpublished Writer Award is open to college-bound and current college students with interests in fiction writing. Applicants need to submit an original short story or novel excerpt of up to 2,000 words. A brief biographical statement about educational and career goals is also required. The Aspiring Writer scholarship is available to current college students who have at least attained sophomore standing and who are majoring in creative writing, English, journalism or a related field. More information about both of these scholarships’ requirements is available on the Go On Girl! Book Club’s scholarship page.
- The Hertog Fellowship at Hunter College. This New York college offers a $5,000 grant to students pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Eligible applicants need to have declared either fiction or non-fiction as a degree emphasis, and there is no formal application process. The graduate creative writing faculty selects four or five current students per year based on their current portfolios of work and academic excellence. Fellowship recipients are also paired with established professional writers as a mentors and are required to work a certain number of hours for them as assistants.
- The Norma Lubetsky Friedman Fund. This MFA award is available to Hunter College MFA candidates completing degree emphases in poetry. Grant amounts range from $2,000 to $5,000 in exchange for working under the guidance of a published poet. In addition to financial assistance, recipients gain practical experience in the editing, research and organizing tasks needed for any successful writing career. More information about this award is available at www.hunter.cuny.edu/creativewriting/aid.shtml.
- The Ohio Northern University Talent Award. Graduating high school students who have been accepted to ONU are eligible to apply for this $4,000 award. The process requires a writing portfolio submission and a letter of recommendation from a high school English or creative writing teacher. Applicants need to have declared an English major, and this award is open to any department emphasis such as creative writing, literature or language arts in preparation for teaching. The ONU Talent Award is also renewable each academic year to recipients who maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average. Applicants are encouraged to submit written work in several different genres, and further details about the application process are available on ONU’s English department website.
- The Rice University Research and Travel Grant. Writers who want to complete independent study summer projects can receive needed funding from this award. The grant is available through RU’s department of English and can range from $700 to $3,000 depending on individual project proposals. Eligible students are pursuing graduate level study in one of RU’s English major emphases. Creative writing majors have the option to apply for this award in order to complete full-length projects that require research at distant locations. Applying for this grant requires submission of a project proposal, an estimated budget and a letter from a faculty adviser. The English department gives priority to students who have not previously secured research grant funds. More details about this grant can be located on the Rice English department home page.