Writing Degrees: Bachelors, Associates & Online Course Info

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What will you learn in a writing degree program? Read about the degree requirements, pros and cons of an associate's and bachelor's degree, as well as potential careers in the field.
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Study Writing: Degrees at a Glance

Degrees in writing can prepare you for a career in the arts, business or eduction, or for entry into a higher-level degree program. Writing programs are ideal for students interested in reading and writing, and who wish to learn more about effective written communication. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), writing careers are not growing as quickly as other careers (www.bls.gov). However, online publications are becoming increasingly popular, so employees with skills in Internet writing are in high demand.

Associate's degree Bachelor's degree
Who is this degree for? Students interested in a freelance writing career, or pursuing a career in writing or who intend to transfer to a four-year degree program Students interested in starting a career in freelance writing or in the arts, education or in business
Common career paths (with approximate median salary)* -Writer or author ($55,420)* - Technical writer ($63,000)*
-Writer or author ($55,420)*
- Reporter, correspondent or broadcast news analyst ($36,000)*
Time to completion2 years full time4 years full time
Common graduation requirements - About 90 credit hours of study
-Independent study course
-Approximately 90 credit hours of study
- Internship
Prerequisites - High school diploma or GED
- High school diploma, GED or associate's degree
Online availability UnavailableAvailable

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010).

Associate's Degree in Writing

Associate's degree writing programs may be titled similar to 'writing' or 'professional writing and communication'. In these programs, you complete courses in subjects like poetry, prose, journalism or professional writing. Upon graduation, you may be able to transfer earned credits to a bachelor's degree program, or can start a career working for your self or writing for print or online publications.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Provides training in writing for multiple types of genres and publications
  • Prepares you to pursue a bachelor's degree in writing or a related field
  • May allow you to choose elective courses in a concentration of your choosing

Cons

  • All credits may not transfer
  • Lack of internships means that hands-on experience is not included in program curriculum
  • May not prepare for salaried jobs, which typically require a bachelor's degree

Courses and Requirements

In an associate's degree program, in addition to general education courses, you take courses in different types of writing modes and marketing, and may even complete an independent study. You may also complete classes covering different types of writing formats, such as novels, poetry, short stories and drama. Examples of courses include:

  • Writing about literature
  • Nonfiction writing
  • Layout and Design
  • Mass media and society
  • Editing
  • Magazine writing
  • Technical and business writing

Online Degree Options

Online programs in writing are rare. An in-person program allows you to receive constant feedback about your writing style, as well as any editing you perform.

Stand out with this Degree

Print publications are increasingly becoming replaced by online publications. Therefore, being familiar with the Web and writing on the Web can help you stand out against your competition. Completing courses in Web page building, graphic design or multimedia production can provide you with knowledge about the Internet and Web writing and help you stand out to employers.

Bachelor's Degree in Writing

A bachelor's degree in writing prepares you for a career in business, education and, of course, writing. Many times, these programs are titled 'professional writing', 'English writing' or 'arts, writing and literature'. In these programs, you learn how to read and write well and think analytically. During your studies, you study literature as well as different writing styles and usually complete at least one internship.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Learn about a wide range of professional writing styles and techniques
  • Internships in multiple fields, such as public relations and journalism, can help you get your foot in the door with employers
  • Help you develop a portfolio of work to show to employers

Cons

  • May not make you eligible for positions that require work experience in addition to a degree
  • 4-years of study required to complete program
  • Lack of specialization options may make it impossible to concentrate on a particular type of writing

Courses and Requirements

In most programs, you complete both literature and writing courses. Literature courses may focus on American, British or world literature. Additionally, some programs include courses in topics like translating, creative writing, electronic journalism, freelance writing, TV news and writing for the Web and Web content strategy. Other writing courses include:

  • Advanced composition
  • News writing
  • Nonfiction writing
  • Editing
  • Technical writing
  • Short story authorship

Online Degree Options

Online writing bachelor's degree programs usually have some in-person attendance requirements. This means that you may have to travel to campus for one or more courses while in the program. Overall, online programs include the same courses and requirements as in-person programs.

Stand out with this Degree

Due the increase in online publications, knowledge of computers, online publishing software, Web content creation and editing as well as electronic journalism can help you get a step ahead of your competition. Developing knowledge about computers and software, particularly as they pertain to Web publishing, can make you more attractive to employers.

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