2021 Best Online Masters in English Programs

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Recent surveys have shown that employers look for skills in literacy and written communication when hiring, so an online masters in English may help put you ahead of the competition.

Online Masters in English Programs

A masters is often desirable throughout the commercial spectrum and may prepare you for a career in teaching, public service, publishing, marketing, and more. In your studies, you may learn about literature, writing, research, rhetoric, theory, and diverse cultures.

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If you love reading and writing, an online masters degree in English may prepare you for an interesting and versatile future.

Online Master’s in English Programs

Technical Writer working in a cafe

A master’s in English can be a very useful degree that provides both a foundation for many career paths and the opportunity to specialize.

Your degree may expand your current understanding of fiction, drama, poetry, and nonfiction. It may teach you to analyze and interpret all forms of literature and give you the skills you need for scholarly research and inquiry. It may also improve your composition skills, if you wish to write professionally.

In pursuing your degree, you may learn about the history, culture, and thought processes that go into the creation of celebrated literature. Your coursework may cover how to analyze texts with authority and confidence. This may help you further develop your critical thinking skills in many areas.

You may also learn how to communicate your findings to your target audiences, whether they be students, colleagues, or the general public. Many online English masters programs combine these basic courses with opportunities for you to select an area of concentration that best fits your interests.

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Many students seek master’s degrees in English in order to pursue teaching careers or move into educational administration where salaries can be higher. A masters may increase your chances of getting hired in these rewarding careers.

In many states, a master’s degree in English may also satisfy the teaching credential requirement. This degree can help prepare you for careers in marketing, advertising, public relations, publishing, government, and nonprofit administration.

You may also find well-paying positions in technical writing, where you may translate complicated scientific, digital, or financial concepts into simple, understandable English. Technical writers prepare how-to manuals and other instructional materials that communicate complex information.

This online degree in English can also help prepare you to work as an editor for a publishing house, newspaper, magazine, or online publication. Your advanced knowledge of grammar and composition may help place you as a copywriter, content producer, or social media provider for blogs or online magazines.

Careers with a Master’s in English

Careers with a Master’s in English

A master’s in English is a highly versatile graduate degree, and it may make you a desirable candidate for many positions.

You may pursue teaching, writing, and editing career paths. You may also gain the skills to work in business, government, or the nonprofit sector. A masters may also prepare you to go on for a doctorate.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are a few career options that you may pursue with an English degree:

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers $118,430
Technical Writers $74,650
Writers for Religious, Grantmaking, Civic, Professional, and Similar Organizations $70,400
Writers and Authors $67,120
Editors $63,400
High School Teachers $62,870
Public Relations Specialists $62,810
Middle School Teachers $60,810
Editors for Newspaper, Periodical, Book, and Directory Publishers $58,260
Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts $49,300

The above information mainly shows the average salaries for people holding bachelors degrees. Graduates with master’s degrees can often expect higher salaries, which can increase exponentially with experience and success in the field.

You may also make a sound living writing for other media industries or freelancing for publications. If your goal is to teach the subject you love at the university level, then your masters may also give you entry in doctoral programs.

Master’s in English Curriculum

Your online masters in English literature program generally begins with core courses that introduce key concepts in literature and composition.

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You may learn how to criticize and analyze literature and how to study theory and rhetoric. You may also learn to produce original writing and to understand critical concepts. Each university creates its own master’s program, so curriculum may vary widely. Here are a few of the courses that could be included in your curriculum:

  • Theory of Literature: You’ll study major literary and cultural theories that lead to advanced analysis of historical and modern works.
  • Composition and Teaching: In this course, future teachers learn the theory and practice of writing instruction by studying different approaches that stress cognition, expression, and social interaction.
  • Literary Criticism: This course reviews major movements of literature, from historical works to modern masterpieces, and assesses the strengths and weaknesses of each.
  • Significant Authors: You’ll study major authors who impacted literature by learning about their themes, styles, and distinguishing features.
  • Creative Writing: You’ll learn about different techniques and styles and then complete assignments that will be critiqued by experienced faculty members.
  • Shakespeare: You’ll study a sample of tragedies and comedies to learn the techniques of this master writer and better understand his impact on future playwriting.
  • American Literature: This course examines the roots, evolution, and impact of key writers throughout American history.
  • Black Literature: You’ll read and understand African-American literature, including its beginnings in Africa and the Caribbean, slave narratives, and modern male and female writers and their influence.
  • Modern Literature: You’ll learn where literature is now and how it evolved by studying history, sociology, political, and intellectual influences of writing post-World War II.
  • English Grammar: This course analyzes English grammar and usage to give you the tools you need to analyze sentence structure and create clear language and style.

In addition to courses such as these, many English masters programs include practicums, where you may use your new skills in various workplaces. Some programs require the writing and defense of a thesis. You may work closely with faculty on culminating experiences that can aid your transition from student to employee.

Admissions Requirements

Master’s in English student studying online

Universities have similar admission requirements for masters in English degrees that usually include the following:

  • Undergraduate degree: A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university and supporting transcripts are often required.
  • Minimum GPA: A minimum GPA of 2.5 may be required, but the minimum GPA may vary across universities.
  • Standardized tests: Standardized tests may be required, but a growing number of universities no longer require them because they believe there are better indicators of future success.

Personal essays, letters of recommendation, and writing samples are all possible requirements as well, depending on the program. You may want to carefully read the admissions requirements for programs of interest to you. It can also help to keep the various deadlines in mind.

Accreditation

Online Master’s in English Accreditation

A degree’s accreditation status may be a vital element for entry into professional success. Accreditation tells employers that the university you attend has faculty, facilities, curriculum, and institutional elements that assure your education meets standards set by experienced educators.

It’s your future, so you may want to protect it with the quality assurance guarantees that come with regional accreditation. The Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) provides more information about accreditation and the organizations that reward it to academic institutions.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Online Master’s in English Financial Aid

Financial aid can help qualifying students pay for tuition, books, and related costs. You may start exploring your financial aid options by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. FAFSA is a government program, and it has a user-friendly website that can help guide you through the application process.

In addition, every university has a financial aid office. The staff can often answer your questions and direct you to additional resources that may help you pay for your graduate education.

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You may also inquire about scholarships and fellowships. Many public and private organizations provide opportunities for promising students to receive funds to pay all or part of their education costs. You may also check with your current employer to see if they have programs to assist as well.

What Can You Do with a Masters in English?

Public Relations Specialists working in an office

While you may pursue a master’s in English in order to teach at middle or high school levels, this multipurpose degree can also lead to a variety of careers.

Most employers need well-written materials in order to communicate with target audiences. You may enjoy working in marketing, public relations, or advertising. You could also choose to learn technical writing so you can make complex scientific, financial, or computer-related terms more easily understandable.

If you’re an aspiring writer or author, your master’s in English can help polish your writing and provide the foundation for you to tell your own stories to the world. It may also lead to careers in journalism, broadcasting, or publishing.

A master’s in English can be a useful degree. It is often in demand in education and industry as well as in countless creative channels.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Masters in English Online?

writer working in a cafe

Earning a masters in English online requires the completion of 30 to 40 credit hours and take around 1 to 2 years to complete.

How long it takes you to complete your degree depends on the number of units you are able to take per semester. If you take a full load of 15 units, you may complete your MA in English online in 4 semesters.

It is quite common to take about 2 classes per semester in order to balance your school, work, and family life. Taking this route may allow you to finish in about 5 semesters. If your program offers summer or winter courses, taking those may help speed your completion time.

Is a Masters in English Worth It?

Advertising team in a meeting

Yes, a master’s in English degree is worth it for many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting 4% job growth in media and communication occupations over the next 10 years.

Common English careers in this field include positions in education or in advertising, public relations, news, or technical fields. There may also be opportunities in publishing for writers and editors. If you hold a masters degree, you will usually start with a higher salary and often earn more with experience.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also projects the rate of job growth for all masters degree holders to be 15%, which is significantly higher than average. Opportunities abound for those who possess this in-demand, versatile degree.

Universities Offering Online Master’s in English 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

Arizona State University

Because Arizona State University’s Master of Arts in English program helps improve students’ analytical, communication, critical thinking, and creative skills, it can prepare them for jobs in a wide variety of fields. These include jobs in nonfiction and creative writing, public service, marketing, and management. There are ten total classes.

Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.

East Carolina University

East Carolina University

East Carolina University offers a Master of Arts in English with several distinct concentrations. However, only two of them can be pursued online: Technical and Professional Communication and Multicultural and Transnational Literature.

Both are 33 credit programs that include research, concentration-specific, and elective courses. The GRE is not required for admittance.

East Carolina University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Eastern New Mexico University

Eastern New Mexico University

The Master of Arts in English program at Eastern New Mexico University can be taken on-campus or 100% online. The program requires 27 credits of traditional coursework and a 6 credit thesis project. Some courses include American, Victorian, and Southwest literature, animal, gender, and trauma studies, poetry, and creative writing.

Eastern New Mexico University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Gardner-Webb University

Gardner-Webb University

Gardner-Webb University’s English masters program is a cohort program that only accepts new students in the fall semester. There are available concentrations in writing studies, English education, and literature studies. The program is a good choice for students looking to improve their teaching skills or go into a communications-related field.

Gardner-Webb University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Heritage University

Heritage University

Students interested in English at Heritage University have a couple of different options. They can earn graduate certificates in English, Master of Teaching degrees with an English focus, or Master of Arts in English degrees. The MA degree is ideal for students hoping to become editors, journalists, researchers, or professors.

Heritage University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Louisiana Tech University

Louisiana Tech University

Louisiana Tech University has an online Masters in English program with a concentration in Technical Writing and Communications.

The school also offers a graduate certificate in this field. The program is designed to teach students about all the different aspects of technical communication, including text formatting, oral communication, graphics, documents, and reports.

Louisiana Tech University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Mercy College

Mercy College

Mercy College’s English masters program is considered to be one of the leading online literary programs in the nation. It’s a good choice for students hoping to continue on to doctoral programs or for students hoping to become writers or critical researchers. Heavy emphasis is placed on advanced methodologies of literary criticism.

Mercy College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Morehead State University

Morehead State University

The Master of Arts in English program at Morehead State University is a 30 credit program. Its curriculum includes various classes on creative writing, advanced literary study, linguistics, and technical writing. Students benefit from the flexible curriculum, small class sizes, and the ability to work at their own paces.

Morehead State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Murray State University

Murray State University

Students in Murray State University’s Master of Arts in English program will take 30 credits of advanced-level coursework in all aspects of English. It can potentially be completed in only 2 years. It’s a good choice for students pursuing doctoral degrees who love literature or want to become postsecondary professors.

Murray State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

National University

National University

Students in the Master of Arts in English program at National University can benefit from the school’s 4 week courses. This allows them to take one class at a time, one month at a time and earn their degrees faster. Critical writing, reading, and research skills are all key curriculum components.

National University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Northern Arizona University

Northern Arizona University

Northern Arizona University offers three concentrations with its online English masters program.

Students can select rhetoric writing and digital media studies, literature, or professional writing. These concentrations cover the entire scope of English, with the exception of English education. There are various financial aid options available to students who qualify.

Northern Arizona University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Northwestern State University

Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Northwestern State University’s English masters program includes five different concentrations: literature, teaching English to speakers of other languages, generalist, writing and linguistics, and folklife and southern culture.

There are 24 credits of coursework required. Additionally, students can select the thesis option or write two papers and take an additional elective.

Northwestern State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Ohio University

Ohio University

Courses in Ohio University’s Master of Arts in English program are between 7 and 8 weeks long, and the entire program can be completed in as few as 4 semesters. There are 8 required courses, and students can also earn credentials to teach dual enrollment through the College Credit Plus program.

Ohio University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Old Dominion University

Old Dominion University

Students at Old Dominion University can earn their Masters in English with a concentration in Professional Writing entirely online.

It’s a 30 credit program focused on the practice, theory, and dynamics of professional writing. The curriculum includes courses in management writing, visual rhetoric, document design, digital writing, and new media theory.

Old Dominion University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Slippery Rock University

Slippery Rock University

Slippery Rock University’s Master of Arts in English program is a 30 credit program that can be completed entirely online. It provides students with strong foundations in professional and technical writing and writing instruction. There are several collaborative projects and hands-on field experiences that allow students to gain valuable, real-world experience.

Slippery Rock University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University

The English masters program at Southern New Hampshire University includes a capstone course as well as a “teaching writing” course, and it allows students to choose their courses of study from a wide range of literary periods.

Courses are also designed to develop soft skills—like leadership, collaboration, communication, and creativity—in students.

Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University’s online Master of Arts in English program is the exact program that on-campus students take. It includes the same courses, the same instructors, and the same quality of education. It’s only delivered in a different format. The main focus of the 36 credit program is on literature. There’s no GRE requirement for admittance.

Texas Tech University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Central Florida

University of Central Florida

University of Central Florida’s 33 credit Masters in English program includes a few different concentrations. Students hoping to earn the degree online must select the Technical Communication concentration.

It’s an excellent program for students hoping to pursue careers as technical writers and editors, international communications professionals, web content specialists, or publications specialists.

The University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Louisiana – Monroe

University of Louisiana Monroe

The Master of Arts in English program at University of Louisiana – Monroe focuses heavily on literature from all over the world and throughout various time periods. Students will take courses on medieval literature, contemporary literature, and everything in between the two. There are concentrations in Creative Writing and Literary Studies.

The University of Louisiana at Monroe is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Memphis

University of Memphis

Students enrolled in the University of Memphis’s Master of Arts in English program can choose the ESL concentration if they’re hoping to earn their degrees online. The school doesn’t charge out-of-state tuition to non-residents, and students have the option to participate in short-term teaching experiences in the Czech Republic.

The University of Memphis is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

University of Nebraska – Kearney

University of Nebraska - Kearney

University of Nebraska – Kearney offers its Master of Arts in English program on-campus or online. Students can choose from four concentrations: Childhood and Youth Studies, Creative Writing, Literature, or Composition, Rhetoric, and Language.

Courses are delivered through a mixture of workshops, directed reading, lectures, and seminars. This program doesn’t grant teaching licensures.

The University of Nebraska at Kearney is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Texas – Tyler

University of Texas at Tyler

University of Texas – Tyler’s English masters program helps students hone their research, critical thinking, analytical writing, and textual interpretation skills. Students have several options in the program. They can take it online, on-campus, or in hybrid format, and they can choose a thesis or non-thesis path. The non-thesis path requires extra courses.

The University of Texas at Tyler is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

University of West Florida

University of West Florida

Students in the Master of Arts in English program at University of West Florida can specialize in Creative Writing or Literature and can choose the thesis or non-thesis track. Students get plenty of face-to-face interaction with teachers through the school’s video-conferencing service. Live courses are held exclusively in the evenings.

The University of West Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Valdosta State University

Valdosta State University campus

Valdosta State University has a Master of Arts in English Studies program that’s designed specifically for language arts teachers.

The degree can provide professional development or potential certification advancement for current teachers. The curriculum includes plenty of advanced English and literature courses on composition theory, creative writing, grammar, and rhetoric.

Valdosta State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Wayland Baptist University

Wayland Baptist University

Wayland Baptist University’s Master of Arts in English program helps prepare students hoping to enter doctoral programs. It’s also a good choice for students hoping to teach at the postsecondary level or to become professional writers in various fields. Courses focus on rhetoric and composition, creative writing, literature, and research.

Wayland Baptist University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Getting Your Master’s in English Online

Getting Your Master’s in English Online

An online master’s in English is a key that may open many doors. The ability to communicate is a valued asset in today’s job market. Nearly every industry needs employees who are able to tell its stories.

An online English degree is respected and tailored to meet the needs of busy professionals who want to further their education. This graduate degree may lead to teaching, writing, and numerous career paths where the written word is needed and appreciated.

Whether you want to advance your current career or transition to a new career path, an accredited master’s degree in English may help take you where you want to go.

Ready to start your journey?
Maureen Rubin
WRITTEN BY
Maureen Rubin
Maureen has a Juris Doctor, MA in public relations, and a BA in journalism. She is an Emeritus Professor of Journalism at California State University, Northridge and enjoyed a career working in public information at non-profits, and in Congress & the White House. She welcomes an opportunity to share educational information with readers.