1. Harry Greene
    Offline

    Harry Greene Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2008
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Manitoba, Canada

    Writing degrees

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Harry Greene, Jun 29, 2009.

    Hey all,

    I'm going to be working towards a degree in writing part-time, and I'd like to hear any opinion on the differences between majoring in English or creative writing.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Regards,

    Greene
     
  2. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    Degrees in English Literature usually focus on critical response to literature, based on different theories, different genres, different periods/styles, and in some cases, individual titles/authors.
    Degrees in English Language focus on linguistics and the study of language (obviously).
    Degrees in Creative Writing focus on the creation of works, different theories on narrative, style, form, but not to the extent that English Literature degrees look at theories, and, obviously, there is emphasis on the practicalities of the theories. Basically you learn how fiction is constructed, what things are and why they work in the context of creating your own work.
     
  3. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    Given a choice, I would go with a degree in English. I believe that one doesn't need a degree in creative writing to be a great writer. And you can do a lot of things with a degree in English.
     
  4. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    Most universities will allow you to take both courses in Creative Writing and English Literature - they're different disciplines, but both usually fall under the umbrella of the Bachelor of Arts degree (or equivalent).
     
  5. lovely
    Offline

    lovely Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2009
    Messages:
    81
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm currently working towards a degree in Writing/Communication. My school lumps the two together. I chose that over English, because it has classes like Advance Rhetoric and Grammar, Journalism, PR Writing, Business and Technical Writing, Documentary Film, Creative Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, etc. The English degree focuses on different forms of literature such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Ancient and Modern American and British Literature, etc. We take several literature classes in writing, and they take some of the literature. They overlap a great deal, so either way you get quite a bit of both.

    The writing degree does focus more on the application than the study of works, plus in my program I get more than just writing. One piece of advice my school gives to all English and Writing majors is to at least minor in an unrelated field. This gives "expertise," which equals either a back up option or something to actually write about with knowledge.

    Just because it seems like writing is kind of limited, don't forget that it has plenty of options too. Just about any job requires some sort of writing, and good skills will really help you. It is harder to get hired, though, and it's very important to build your resume and portfolio as soon as possible. Experience in any sort of writing job really makes you more marketable if you're looking for a full-time position.

    I would also like to add that a Creative Writing degree is different from a Writing degree. Creative Writing focuses solely on just what the name says. A Writing degree can include many different forms. I agree with thirdwind. You don't need a degree to be a good writer; however, you will learn a great deal more that will teach you important skills. Plus, your assignments can be used in a portfolio. It doesn't just have to be about having the degree. The knowledge is important, too.
     
  6. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Writing and communication are emphasized in most college programs these days. The business world is suffering from too many high end workers who are unable to communicate their ideas in an organized, coherent manner.

    A couple of economic realities:

    1. Most writers are wage slaves churning out articles, ad copy, newsletters, and so on. There aren't many writers making big incomes, and many have to work a primary job to keep food on the table.

    2. College is expensive. To make it an investment rather than a black hole for your money, you need to earn enough afterward that you would not have made withhout the degree.

    Therefore, why not consider a degree that will put you in a lucrative career? Very few readers will care if a creative writer (fiction, poetry, playwright, script writer) has a degree, but if you have another career you enjoy , you can write on the side.

    That sounds like a lot. But many dedicated people work a demanding job and take on college at the same time. If you can do that, you could commit that same time and effort into writing on the side.

    So choose a college program for earning potential, in a career you could be happy in. Then you can write for love rather than for a paycheck, and you'll probably be a better writer that way.
     
  7. marina
    Offline

    marina Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Messages:
    1,280
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    Seattle
    I don't think a major in English is what anyone would consider "a degree in writing." Look at the courses for that major to see what I mean. You'll be doing a lot of writing in many college classes.
     
  8. Rei
    Offline

    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    Kingston
    You don't need a degree in English or writing to be a good writer. If there is enough of a focus in journalism, or the business end of publishing, and you would be interested in working at a newspaper or publisher, I say go for it. If think you'd be a good teacher, study whatever the heck you want. But Cogito has the right idea. These days, education is as much about employability as it is everything it always has been. If you're going to get a degree in something, you have to think about how you are going to use it.
     
  9. Gallowglass
    Offline

    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Messages:
    1,617
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    Loch na Seilg, Alba
    Considering that the good grades in English GCSEs in England are reserved for a few individuals, I wouldn't say it's that important ;)

    What's more important is rhetoric and grammar, as someone else said.
     
  10. bluebell80
    Offline

    bluebell80 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2009
    Messages:
    636
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    Vermont
    I personally would go for a degree in Psychology, with a minor in English. If you are aiming to write fiction, then a working knowledge of the human condition is amazingly helpful for that. Knowing how crazy people are can really help you write great characters with great story arcs and growth. And the minor in English to help you be a better writer overall.

    and PS with a degree in psychology you can get other jobs while you are writing...like a school councilor or a social worker, and that way you have a day job while you write.
     
  11. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    go with what cog and rei said!
     

Share This Page