Frequently Asked Questions

F‌requently Asked Questions

The mission of Coastal Carolina University's Master of Arts in Writing program is to make individuals more proficient writers in three related areas: creative writing, composition, and rhetoric, and editing and publishing. While these fields can be viewed as distinct disciplines, this degree links them by emphasizing the common elements of effective writing—while also allowing for intensive exploration of a particular area of interest. Students learn to make sophisticated judgments regarding content, tone, style, and diction; learn to utilize technology for presentations, web pages, visual media and print documents; and learn professional procedures to prepare and submit manuscripts for publication. Our program is specifically relevant for teachers, aspiring creative writers, and those who write in professional or technical settings. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for a range of professional and academic opportunities after school or for continued study in MFA or PhD programs.                         

Am I eligible for the MA in Writing program if I don’t have an undergraduate degree in English?
Yes. While an undergraduate degree in English or another writing-intensive discipline will best prepare you for CCU’s graduate program in Writing, all undergraduate majors are welcome. 

What is the deadline to apply to the program?
Students may begin the program in either the fall or spring semester. The deadline for the spring semester is November 15. Students interested in beginning the program in the fall semester should know that to ensure full consideration for a fall graduate assistantship, we strongly encourage you to complete your application by January 31. However, we will accept fall applications on a rolling basis throughout the spring and summer.

Do I have to submit a writing sample?
Yes. Your writing sample should be creative, academic, or professional in nature and should demonstrate strong critical thinking. It should be a piece (or collection of pieces) that you believe best showcases your writing skill. An essay you wrote for a previous academic course or project is acceptable. If you are interested in creative writing, your 20-page sample should include works of fiction, poetry, and/or creative nonfiction.

May I submit several shorter samples if I don’t have a 20-page document to send?
Yes. You may submit one 20-page paper or several shorter papers that total 20 pages. 

I haven’t been in school for a long time. Do my recommendation letters have to come from professors?
No. Recommenders should be people who know you well and have worked with you in an academic or professional context. They may be professors, colleagues, supervisors, or anyone else who can attest to your credentials. Personal recommendations from friends or family members will not be considered.

Is there a language requirement?

If I don’t have a background in English, will I survive in the program?
Yes. Although the program builds on the knowledge you already possess in English and writing, the courses explore new topics.

Are there graduate assistantships?  
Yes. Qualified students may be awarded teaching, writing, or tutoring assistantships that will pay in excess of their tuition bills and give them significant professional experience prior to graduation. Graduate assistantships are limited. Apply early.

Where do the graduate assistants work?
Assistantships are available for the Department of English, the Office of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, and the Writing Center. Other assistantships may also be available. Please contact the Coodinator of the MAW Program or Office of Graduate Studies with further questions or to express interest.

How long does it take to complete the program?
Graduation from the MA in Writing program requires completion of 33 credits. Students who attend full time can complete the entire program in two years or less. Students who attend part time must complete all requirements within six years of matriculation.

May the program be completed on a part-time basis?
Yes. The program is designed to accommodate part-time students with flexible course scheduling and individually-arranged internship opportunities. Students must complete all degree requirements within six years of matriculation.

I am already enrolled in a graduate program at CCU. May I enroll in the MA in Writing program concurrently?
Yes. Current CCU graduate students who meet our admission requirements may apply for and enroll in the MA in Writing program. Credit for graduate courses taken in other departments will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis only.

When are classes held?
MA in Writing graduate classes are held in the afternoons and evenings during the academic year and general graduate courses are offered over the summer that can be taken to fulfill elective requirements. 

Do you accept transfer credit for previous graduate work?
Transfer credit for graduate writing courses taken at another school will be considered on a case-by-case basis only. No more than six credits can be transferred from another institution.  

What is the difference between an MA in Writing and an MFA?
The short answer is that, like the MFA, the MA in Writing is a master’s level degree, but unlike the MFA, the MA in Writing it is not a terminal degree (the highest level of education someone can achieve within a specific discipline). Although some programs offer a PhD in creative writing, the MFA is the considered the terminal degree for the arts (creative writing, visual, and performing arts). The MA in Writing is not as intensely focused as the MFA or PhD, but it will prepare students to move on to those programs if they so choose.
Do students have to declare a focus?
A focus is not necessary. It is strongly advised, however, that you base your coursework on your goals for the program, be they current or future employment ambitions or a desire to move on to higher studies. The program’s diversity is one of its strengths, and all workshops are offered to all students. This breadth of instruction allows students to take classes in creative writing as well as composition and rhetoric studies and editing and publishing.

How many classes are offered each semester?
Four to five classes are typically offered each semester.

What is the learning focus for students, writing or teaching?
Students in the program have varied interests and goals. Some want to teach; some are teachers. Some want to be writers; some are writers (actually, they are all writers). Some are here for a credential, and some are here purely for personal enrichment. 

How old is the program?
The inaugural session began in the fall of 2010. Coastal Carolina University was founded in 1954 as Coastal Carolina Junior College and became an independent university in 1993. CCU. is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award the baccalaureate degree and master's degree. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Coastal Carolina University. All other inquiries about the University should be directed to Coastal Carolina University, PO Box 261954, Conway, South Carolina, 29528-6054, or, 843-347-3161, not the Commission.

How large are the classes?
Classes are currently capped at 12 students. Class sizes are oftentimes smaller.

Does the program offer opportunities for students to interact outside of the classroom?
Students have the ability to participate in many university-wide organizations and publications. The instructors urge students to help build a community of writers and scholars.

For what type of careers are graduates of the program well suited?
Graduates of the program will be well suited for an array of career choices, depending on their individual goals and coursework. Students are encouraged to speak with their advisor and Career Services early-on in their studies.

What do your graduates end up doing with their degrees?
Some teach at the college level. Some continue their education, working toward the terminal degree in creative writing, composition and rhetoric, or literature. Some use their writing expertise in the business or professional setting. Some work on various writing projects outside of business or academia.

What are the benefits of this degree as opposed to a master’s degree in English?
An MA in English course load is literature-heavy. The MA in Writing at Coastal Carolina University offers some courses in literature, but its emphasis is on developing your writing skills. Students take courses in literature, creative writing, editing, and the pedagogy of writing and writing instruction. 

If I am interested in teaching at a university, will I be able to do so with this degree?
Each university will have its own requirements for teaching, but in general an MA will enable you to teach at the university level. The MA is not the terminal degree, however, so you may be limited to teaching introductory-level English, Communication, and/or Journalism courses. The MFA and PhD degrees would allow you to teach higher-lever courses in your discipline.

If I receive this degree, should I consider pursuing an MFA as well?
Again, this would depend on your individual goals, but if your goal is to teach creative writing at the University level, then yes, you should consider an MFA. Many of our students have been accepted to MFA programs after graduating with the MAW.

Will this program prepare me for doctoral studies?
Yes. The skills you will learn in terms of both research and writing will prepare you for an array of advanced opportunities. Talk to your advisor early to discuss your options and determine which courses are the best fit for you.

Are there many other MA in Writing programs in the country?
Yes. Many master’s level writing programs exist, but each program differs in terms of course offerings and requirements.

Do students need a student identification card?
All students at Coastal Carolina University are required to have a photo identification card, called the CINO card. The first card is free. Visit the CINO Card Office in Baxley Hall.

Is there an orientation?  
Yes, all graduate assistants must attend orientation, plus a meet-and-greet is held at the beginning of every fall semester for all MAW graduate students.

Are parking decals required?  
Yes. Parking decals are required for all MAW students and those who do not have a graduate assistantship must pay $75.00 for the academic year. Parking decals may be purchased online.

Where is CCU located?
CCU is located in Conway, S.C. The campus is less than 11 miles from Myrtle Beach, S.C. For information about the Conway, Myrtle Beach, and the Grand Strand area, visit the Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

If I moved to Conway, S.C., where would I live?
Some students live in Conway; some live at the beach. For more information, start here: