An English degree offers a versatile foundation for careers in business and beyond. The analytical thinking, communication skills and literacy English majors build serve them well in management, government, media and teaching careers.
English: the academic discipline
English majors study language, literature and the craft of writing. The discipline overlaps history, sociology, linguistics and cultural theory. In the course of reading, analyzing and writing about literature, English majors build their critical thinking and communication skills. In addition, an English degree fosters broad cultural literacy. Graduates learn how to learn and solve problems--critical skills in any life pursuit.
Online degrees in English
English is one of the pillars of an online liberal arts degree, along with history, mathematics and science. The degree is available online or on campus at every level of the post-secondary system, from associate to doctoral programs.
- Associate of Art. The A.A. in English focuses on general education and communication skills, often in view of specific career applications such as public relations, advertising, corporate communications or broadcast media.
- Bachelor of Art. The four-year B.A. in English is the most versatile career qualification, as it builds the transferable skills employers value most: critical thinking, problem-solving, written and oral communication. The B.A. in English, like some other bachelor's degrees, could also serve as an entry point into law (J.D.) or less commonly, MBA programs.
- Master of Art. The M.A., a two-year graduate program, features advanced courses and a research-based thesis. The degree offers a stepping stone into teaching, nonprofit management jobs or applied writing roles such as technical writing.
- Master of Fine Arts. The MFA in English or creative writing focuses on studio practice in fiction, poetry or literary criticism writing.
- Doctor of Philosophy. The terminal degree in English requires original scholarship and prepares graduates for university professor jobs.
The online format lends itself well to English studies, since coursework revolves around activities supported by the virtual classroom: essay writing, lectures, discussions and reading.
Career paths with a degree in English
English graduates face a world of opportunities for their core skills. Popular career paths include:
- Communications. Careers in communications include public relations, advertising and marketing, web or technical writing, broadcast media, and publishing. Writers can expect faster-than-average job growth of 15 percent through the 2008-2018 period, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Business. English majors do well in business administration and management roles, which require analytical and communication skills. Popular business tracks for English graduates are marketing and human resources.
- Education. Depending on the level of the degree, English graduates may teach literature, writing or ESL at the K-12, community college or university level.
- Government. English graduates have the critical thinking and people skills to excel in agency administration, grant writing and qualitative research jobs.
Online degrees in English offer versatile preparation for the labor market. A solid foundation in the liberal arts serves graduates well in any pursuit in which outside-the-box thinking and solid communication is an asset, from entrepreneurship to classroom teaching.
English at a glance
- Salary: Writers earned an average wage of $65,960 in 2010.
- Job outlook: Areas of growth in commercial writing include technical and web content writing.
- Top earning careers: English majors can go on to high-earning careers in law and business, via professional J.D. or MBA degrees. Lawyers commanded an average salary of $129,440 and marketing managers, $122,720 in 2010.