Online Degrees In English

An English degree can offer a versatile foundation for careers in business and other fields. The analytical thinking, communication skills and literacy English majors build serve them well in management, government, media and teaching careers.

In the course of reading, analyzing and writing about literature, English majors build critical thinking and communication skills — two skills employers are looking for, according to Newman University’s magazine, The Nth Degree. In addition, an English degree fosters broad cultural literacy. Graduates of English degree programs learn how to solve problems — vital skills in any life pursuit.

English is one of the pillars of an online liberal arts degree, along with history, mathematics and science. An online degree in English can help career changers enhance their skill sets, recent high school graduates broaden their horizons and working professionals advance in their careers.

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 graduates face a world of opportunities for their core skills. The Hamilton Project lists lawyers, judges, magistrates and other judicial workers as one of the most common occupational paths for English degree holders while managers and secondary school teachers are also among the top of the list.

Some career paths and their associated duties include:

Writers and authors:

  • Writing fiction or non-fiction matter for different media like books, newspapers, television and more
  • Conducting research to write their content
  • Working with editors and clients to fine-tune their material

English language and literature teachers:

  • Moderating classroom discussions
  • Assessing student assignments and class work
  • Preparing coursework and delivering lectures

Choose a degree that can help you meet your career goals

English majors study language, literature and the craft of writing. The discipline overlaps history, sociology, linguistics and cultural theory.

An Associate of Arts (A.A.) can serve to ground you in general education and communication skills, often in view of specific career applications such as public relations, advertising, corporate communications or broadcast media.

A Bachelor of Arts (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.

A Master of Arts (M.A.) offers a stepping stone into teaching, non-profit management jobs or applied writing roles such as technical writing.

A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in English or creative writing focuses on studio practice in fiction, poetry or literary criticism writing.

A Doctor of Philosophy in English is a terminal degree for those interested in academia.

What can I expect to learn in an online associate degree program?

Associate degrees can give you an overview of the various topics studied in an online English degree program and an understanding of the vast scope of the subject.

Typical duration: Up to two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or GED

Typical coursework: Curricula includes general education courses along with English focused coursework that helps students learn about literature, composition, and get an introduction to research methodologies. Some topics you may study include:

  • American literature
  • Composition
  • Creative writing
  • Research for English majors
  • World literature

Possible electives: Interpersonal communication; journal writing; public speaking

What can I do after earning an associate degree?

An online associate degree in English can equip you to transfer to a four year college for your bachelor’s degree. Depending on your electives and interests, you may be eligible for entry -level positions as:

  • Administrative assistant
  • Desktop publisher
  • Instructional aide

What can I expect to learn in an online bachelor’s degree program?

Online English bachelor’s degree program can teach about the language and culture of the English speaking world.

Typical duration: Up to four years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or GED

Typical coursework: Curricula can help hone your creative thinking and analytical skills, present your ideas in an engaging manner through different media and study the history and different genres of English literature. Some topics you may study include:

  • British literature
  • Business and professional writing
  • International voices
  • Literary theory
  • Shakespeare

You may also have to complete a capstone project or a bachelor’s thesis as a part of your online degree requirements.

Possible electives: Critical approaches to literature; modern British literature; world mythology

What can I do after earning a bachelor’s degree?

A bachelor’s degree is often the minimum requirement for many entry-level jobs. An English major can equip you with transferrable skills that may help you find a job in any industry. Potential occupations can include:

  • Copy writer
  • Corporate communications specialist
  • Interpreter and translator
  • Journalist
  • Publications researcher

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.

What can I expect to learn in an online master’s degree program?

Online master’s degree programs in English feature advanced topics that allow you to deepen your understanding of the language, its use and the culture surrounding it. You may be able to focus your studies in one area of your interest by choosing a specialization.

Typical duration: Up to two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree

Typical coursework: Curricula can vary depending on the master’s degree you choose and your area of specialization. Some topics you may find included in your degree program are:

  • Advanced screenwriting
  • English literature in a critical context
  • Forms and techniques of fiction
  • Introduction to digital studies
  • Studies in linguistics: compositional semantics

You may have to complete a master’s thesis as a part of your online degree program.

Possible electives: Electives can vary depending on your school and program of study

What can I do after earning a master’s degree?

A master’s degree can prepare you for a more advanced degree, entry-level roles in academia or supervisory positions across a number of industries in creative roles. Some job titles include:

  • Editor
  • Survey Researcher
  • Post-secondary instructor

What can I expect to learn in an online doctoral degree program?

A Ph.D. in English can help you develop your research skills using different forms of media, giving you a deeper understanding of language and communication.

Typical duration: Three to seven years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Master’s degree

Typical coursework: Your classes can depend on the nature of your specialization, although courses that teach research methodologies may be common across board. Some courses you may have to take include:

  • Critical race theory
  • Discourse and rhetoric across cultures
  • Empirical research methods and project design
  • Major debates in English studies
  • The digital humanities

Dissertation: After you have taken your required courses, you typically have to write your doctoral dissertation based on original research. This thesis has to be defended in front of a panel of experts before your doctoral degree is awarded.

What can I do after earning a doctoral degree?

A doctoral degree can help you enter high-level positions in research and academia as well as in a variety of different industries outside academia. Graduates of an online Ph.D. in English may find themselves working as faculty in a university or in a creative field like filmmaking. They may also be able to hold management and leadership positions in both the public and private sectors.

Accreditation

Accreditation is an important criterion for students to look at. It is a vital prerequisite when applying for federal funding and scholarships. Many colleges and universities also only accept educational credits when they are transferred from an accredited university or program. Colleges may be regionally or nationally accredited and they may hold accreditations from one or more accrediting bodies. The Commission on English Language Accreditation is an independent body that accredits college and university English degree programs.

How to find online English degrees that meet your interests

Look for online English degree programs that align with criteria that are important to you as an online student — whether it is tuition, length of program, locality, method of delivery or student services offered. Our degree finder tool can help you find the program that suits your needs.

Specializations in English

The study of English is basically a study of the culture surrounding the language which means there are numerous specializations to choose from. You may be able to focus your learning on a particular author, a literary style, a particular historical or modern era or even a form of media like digital writing. Some of specializations are:

  • American literature
  • Comparative and world literature
  • Creative Writing
  • Film, literature, and visual culture
  • Literary History
  • Literary Studies
  • Rhetoric and Professional Writing

Other resources for those aspiring to work in the field of English

English graduates may have a wide range of opportunities with the core skills they have developed. They may be able to find occupations in business, communication and education in both the private and public sectors.

The table below lists the occupations related to this field along with job openings, average salary, total employment and job outlook for 2016 to 2026 using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Employment Statistics

Writers and Authors

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers
  • Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services
  • Newspaper, Periodical, Book, and Directory Publishers
  • Motion Picture and Video Industries
  • Other Information Services
States with the highest level of employment
  • California
  • New York
  • Texas
  • Illinois
  • Florida
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA
  • Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
  • New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

Editors

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Newspaper, Periodical, Book, and Directory Publishers
  • Other Information Services
  • Radio and Television Broadcasting
  • Cable and Other Subscription Programming
  • Sound Recording Industries
States with the highest level of employment
  • New York
  • California
  • Texas
  • Florida
  • Illinois
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH
  • Columbus, OH
  • New Haven, CT
  • New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
  • New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

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