If you love exploring, analyzing, and studying all types of literature, then a masters in English literature may be a fitting graduate program for you.
Students in English literature masters programs develop valuable writing, critical thinking, and analysis skills that serve them in pursuing a wide variety of career opportunities. You can explore cultures and make connections across time periods and genres by studying works from classic to contemporary.
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Read on to discover potential coursework and career outcomes associated with a masters in English lit.
Online Masters in English Literature Programs
A master’s in English literature program enables students to develop their knowledge and skills to help expand their career opportunities. It can also act as a stepping stone toward a PhD.
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By studying literature from various time periods, cultures, and genres, you can learn to think more critically and independently as well as draw conclusions from narratives. You can also learn to craft and write your own works. This often includes persuasive writing and, in many programs, a final academic thesis.
Skills that you may develop while earning a master in English literature include:
- Research skills
- Critical thinking
- Drawing conclusions
- Advanced writing skills
- Written and verbal communication
- Deductive reasoning
- Advanced comprehension skills
Typical coursework found in English literature masters programs includes courses on:
- World literature
- Medieval literature
- Creative writing
- Literary theory and practice
Some online English degree program courses may span entire genres or periods, while others will focus on the works of a single author, time, or culture, allowing for in-depth analysis of any given topic.
Developing the ability to draw conclusions and apply knowledge across settings is another fundamental discipline gained in English literature masters programs. It’s common for graduates to pursue opportunities in industries like education, publishing, marketing, communications, and public relations, to name a few.
Graduates may also use their advanced writing and editing skills to explore options as authors, journalists, and editors. Earning your masters in English literature may provide flexibility in choosing a career that aligns with your interests and career goals.
English Literature Careers & Salaries
Earning a master in English literature can help you develop advanced, versatile skills that can be applied to a range of industries.
For instance, graduates often go on to use their skills in publishing, marketing, communications, and public relations. These fields all require strong communication, critical thinking, and reasoning skills, which can be further developed while earning a masters in English lit.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median salaries of careers related to English literature studies.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Public Relations Managers||$129,430|
|Advertising and Promotions Managers||$127,830|
|Postsecondary English Language and Literature Teachers||$74,280|
|Writers and Authors||$73,150|
|Public Relations Specialists||$67,440|
|High School Teachers||$62,360|
|Middle School Teachers||$61,810|
|News Analysts, Reporters, and Journalists||$55,960|
Graduates can also use their skills for all types of writing, including technical writing, copywriting, novel writing, freelance writing, and journalism.
Graduates interested in teaching can pursue opportunities at the community college level or as an adjunct professor. Combined with a teaching license, graduates can also find teaching opportunities at the secondary school level, typically as middle school or high school English teachers.
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You could also use your masters degree as a step toward earning a PhD in this field, which could open up additional career opportunities.
MA in English Literature Curriculum & Courses
The specific curriculum varies by school, but listed below are some common courses you may come across when earning a master’s in English literature:
- Literary Theory and Practice: You’ll analyze the relationship between literary theory and practice using various critical approaches to analyze texts.
- Advanced Creative Writing: Students in this course can develop their creative writing skills by closely studying other forms and styles, including narrative and poetic forms.
- Contemporary Literature: This course focuses on reading critically through the lens of a writer, studying the literature of contemporary writers and analyzing their style.
- Themes and Genres in Medieval Literature: This course allows you to explore medieval literature through the major genres, including romances and epics.
- Studies in World Literature: Students in this course will study the literature of all ages, focusing on universal themes and diverse literary traditions.
- Critical Approaches to the Short Story: You’ll explore classic and contemporary short stories from numerous countries in this course.
- Methods and Materials of Research: Students are introduced to research and writing methods at the graduate level, including bibliography methods.
- History of the American Novel: This course explores a diverse range of American writers from the late 1700s to the present day.
- Writing for Publication: Students in this course prepare for publication by studying topics like copyrighting, the publishing industry, and writing for a target market.
- Persuasive Writing: In this course, you’ll develop convincing, persuasive written arguments by examining classic and contemporary examples.
In addition to the English courses listed above, many masters programs require the completion of a thesis.
The requirements for admission will vary by school and program, but listed below are some common requirements you may find for English literature masters programs:
- Official college transcripts
- Letters of recommendation from professional or educational sources
- Resume detailing your education, work experience, and accomplishments
- Statement of purpose describing why you want to be a part of a program
- GRE or GMAT test scores (not required by all schools)
In addition to the above, some programs may require a writing sample and an online application.
When looking into English literature masters programs, one key factor to consider is a school’s accreditation status. Regionally accredited schools are the most widely accepted since a regional accrediting agency has verified that their faculty and academic offerings meet agreed-upon educational standards.
If you are considering pursuing a PhD down the road, many doctoral programs only accept masters degrees from regionally accredited schools. Many employers also look more favorably on degrees earned from accredited schools.
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To learn more about the accreditation process and verify a school’s accreditation status, you can visit the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) website.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
As you explore your options for earning a masters in English literature, you can also look into different types of financial aid and scholarships that may be available. You might find scholarships available through individual schools or a variety of public and private institutions that offer scholarships for graduate students.
If you are currently employed, you could look into whether your employer offers any financial aid opportunities for graduate studies through tuition reimbursement or reduced tuition with certain schools. You can also explore federal grants and student loans, aid provided through your state government, or potential assistance from other government agencies.
You can explore your options and potential assistance opportunities by visiting the Federal Student Aid website.
What Is an English Literature Masters Degree?
A masters degree in English literature is a graduate program that develops students’ writing, comprehension, and critical thinking skills through literary analysis.
Many courses will focus on specific periods, cultures, or genres, including 20th-century British literature and American novels. In addition to critical thinking and analysis, you can also hone your writing and research skills and, in many programs, write and defend a thesis.
Graduates can go on to use their skills in numerous ways, including teaching, writing, and editing. You might also apply your skills in industries like advertising, communications, and public relations.
What Can You Do with a Masters in English Literature?
Graduates with a master’s in English literature have numerous career opportunities to explore using the advanced writing, critical thinking, research, and communication skills they have developed. Many graduates go into teaching, pursuing opportunities at the community college and secondary levels. Some even become adjunct professors.
Graduates interested in writing can explore opportunities as authors, technical writers, copywriters, and freelance writers. It’s also common for English literature graduates to work in fields like publishing, advertising, marketing, public relations, and communications. A masters in English literature can also act as a foundation for doctorate or PhD studies in the field.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Master in English Language and Literature Online?
The time it takes to complete your master in English literature will depend on a few factors, including your course schedule, enrollment status, and thesis requirement.
If you are enrolled full-time, including during the summer, you can typically complete a 36 credit hour program in 1 year if there is no thesis required. If your program does require a thesis, or if you are enrolled only part-time, your program may take longer to complete. Most masters programs can be completed in 1 to 2 years with full-time studies.
What’s the Difference Between Masters Degrees in English Literature vs. English?
While these two degrees may sound similar, here are some key distinctions between these programs.
|Masters in English||Masters in English Literature|
Both programs help students develop strong reading, writing, research, critical thinking, and communication skills.
Is a Master Degree in English Literature Worth It?
Yes, a master degree in English literature is worth it for many students. You could use your masters to advance in the field or to pursue a PhD program.
Earning your master’s in English literature can also help you further develop valuable skills, such as critical thinking, that can provide versatility in your career options. Graduates often pursue careers in numerous industries and occupations, including writing, editing, publishing, teaching, communications, and marketing, to name a few.
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Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6% job growth is projected overall for media and communications careers over the next ten years.
Universities Offering Online Masters in English Literature Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Arizona State University offers an online Master of Arts in English program online. Potential courses include Approaches to Research, Teaching Young Adult Literature, Graduate Capstone Seminar, and more. Elective options are also commonly offered. The program requires the completion of 10 courses that are about 7.5 weeks long each, for a total of 30 credit hours.
Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Central Washington University offers an online program for an MA in English with a specialization in either Literary Studies and Teaching or Professional and Creative Writing. Central Washington admits just 8 to 15 new applicants to its English graduate program each year. They aim to offer small graduate seminars, flexible courses of study, and meaningful interactions with faculty.
CWU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
East Carolina University offers a Master of Arts in English program online. Concentrations include either Multicultural and Transnational Literatures or Technical and Professional Communication. Internship experiences are designed to provide hands-on experience aligned with a concentration. GMAT or GRE scores are typically not required for admission.
East Carolina University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Gardner-Webb University offers an MA in English program online. Concentrations include writing studies, English education, and literature studies. A cohort system is typically used to progress through the program, with new cohorts starting every fall. The program takes an average of 5 semesters to finish, including 1 summer. The program includes an optional capstone project.
Gardner-Webb University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Iowa State University offers a Master of Arts in English. Many courses are taught in the late afternoon, evening, or online to accommodate working teachers. Specializations include Literature and Literature and the Teaching of Reading. The program requires the completion of 30 credit hours and can be completed in an average of 1.8 years.
Iowa State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Kansas State University offers an online program for a Master of Arts in English. Tracks include Children’s Literature and Creative Writing. Core courses typically include Graduate Studies in English, Seminar in Literature, Seminar in Cultural Studies, and Seminar in Composition and Rhetoric. Courses may be taught in either synchronous or asynchronous formats.
Kansas State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Liberty University offers a Master of Arts in Literature program online. The program provides a quality education in a flexible format. The completion of 36 credit hours of 8 week courses is required, which may be completed in 18 months. There are typically both thesis and non-thesis options available to earn the degree.
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Mercy College offers an online program for a Master of Arts in English Literature. Courses are designed to teach skills needed to enter careers such as post-secondary teaching, publishing, editing, advertising, technical writing, journalism, and other media.The program requires the completion of 36 hours, including a thesis.
Mercy College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Minnesota State University–Mankato offers a Master of Arts in English program online. The program requires the completion of 34 credits of courses such as British Literary History and Criticism, American Literary History and Criticism, Seminar in World Literature, and more. A capstone project must also be completed.
Minnesota State University – Mankato is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
National University offers an online program for a Master of Arts in English. Potential courses include Seminar in Literary Theory, Literary Period or Movement, Major Author Seminar, and more. A capstone project is a required part of the program. Courses are typically 4 weeks long each. The program typically offers year-round enrollment start dates.
National University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Northwestern State University of Louisiana offers a Master of Arts in English program online. Concentrations include Writing and Linguistics, Literature, Folklife and Southern Culture, and TESOL. The program requires the completion of a total of 30 credit hours, and there are typically both thesis and non-thesis options for completing the degree.
The Northwestern State University of Louisiana is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Our Lady of the Lake University offers online programs for either an MA or an MA and MFA in Literature, Creative Writing, and Social Justice. Courses are usually taught in both synchronous and asynchronous formats. The program typically offers opportunities to participate in creative writing workshops and in study abroad programs.
Our Lady of the Lake University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Salem State University offers an online program for a Master of Arts in English. The program offers opportunities to participate in internships and to fulfill requirements to gain secondary teacher licensure in Massachusetts. The program requires the completion of 30 to 33 credits, and with full-time attendance, may be finished in 1.5 years.
Salem State University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Texas Tech University offers an online program for a Master of Arts in English. Online classes are designed to be interactive so that participation in discussions and the building of relationships with instructors and classmates may be facilitated. A curriculum vitae and a 700 word statement of purpose outlining interest in the program is required with application.
Texas Tech University is accredited by the
The University of Missouri–Kansas City offers a Master of Arts in Language and Literacy program online. The program requires the completion of 30 credit hours, and is designed to help lead to a Missouri K to 12 special reading certification. Typically, 2 courses are taken each semester.
UMKC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Nebraska offers an online program for an MA in English with an emphasis in Writing. The curriculum is usually highly customizable, but common courses include US Literature through 1855, Principles of Literary Criticism, and Theory of Rhetoric and Composition. The program requires the completion of 36 credits.
UNK is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of New Orleans offers an MA in English program online. Concentrations include Professional Writing and Literary and Cultural Studies. The program typically features a portfolio as a capstone project, and a thesis may be completed if intending to pursue a PhD.
The University of New Orleans is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of West Florida offers a Master of Arts in English program online. The program requires the completion of 33 to 36 credit hours. Courses typically last 16 weeks each. Class sizes are usually limited to 20 students, so as to encourage individualized attention from instructors.
The University of West Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Wyoming offers a Master of Arts in English program online. Tracks include Literature, Public Humanities, or Rhetoric, Composition, and Writing Studies. On-campus attendance of a 1 week intensive each summer of the 3 year program is required.
The University of Wyoming is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Wichita State University offers an online program for an MA in English Literature. The program requires the completion of 30 credit hours, and either a thesis or a portfolio may be completed. The program also offers the opportunity to earn a graduate certificate in English Literature and Composition Pedagogy.
Wichita State is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Getting Your Masters in English Literature Online
Earning your masters in English literature online can allow you to develop a valuable set of skills that you can use to expand your career opportunities or further your education.
Studying literature across an array of periods and genres can allow you to explore past and present cultures while developing your analytical and reasoning abilities. You can pursue career opportunities in a wide range of industries or work toward contributing your own literature as a published author.
If you’re interested in advancing your professional qualifications and skills through an online masters in English literature, you can start exploring available programs from accredited schools today.