While some degrees have a clearly defined career path that limits graduates to a specific profession, a broad range of opportunities are available to those with a master's-level understanding of the English language. Graduates of master's degree programs in English tend to have highly developed oral and written communication skills — abilities that can be used in nearly every professional field.
Their mastery of the English language allows graduates with advanced degrees in English to work across multiple industries, including but not limited to marketing, education, business administration and arts and entertainment. Depending on their other skills, English graduates may qualify for positions as foreign language interpreters, curriculum consultants, recruiters and advertising managers.
Graduates with a master's degree in English may also have an advantage when it comes to writing or editing jobs, which feature fairly competitive markets where an advanced education can be a big help.
We'll go over some frequently asked questions about English degrees, list some of the top schools for English graduate study and run down a few of the top jobs available once you've finished your program. Read on for more info on English master's programs online.
Many colleges and universities around the country feature fully online master's programs in English. Master's degrees in English education, in particular, are common distance education options. Other institutions may offer the chance to take certain classes online and others in a traditional classroom, providing a hybrid experience that provides some of the flexibility offered by English master's programs online while retaining some of the familiarity of attending classes in a face-to-face environment.
Master's programs in English typically entail substantial amounts of reading and writing, with coursework often being devoted to discussions of the assigned material rather than traditional classroom instruction. Programs that offer concentration options in fields like English education and linguistics may also feature some lecture-style courses.
Although curriculum tends to vary by concentration, here are a few of the courses you might find on your schedule during a graduate English program:
In addition to taking all required courses for their program, students pursuing a master's degree in English must also participate in a thesis or capstone project. M.A. students typically write an extensive research paper on a proposed topic, and Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) students — typically those with creative writing concentrations — put together collections of fiction, poetry, drama or other original written work to present to the faculty committee.
How long does an online master's in English program take?
The exact length of time you'll spend earning your master's degree in English is determined by the curriculum offered at your chosen school, but most programs fall within a fairly standard range of required credits. Most graduate-level English programs require 30-36 credits, which are commonly broken out into six- or nine-credit semesters.
English graduate students typically spend 2-3 years in school en route to their degrees, although intensive or accelerated plans may also be available for students looking to shorten the calendar length of their programs.
What are the requirements to start an online master's degree in English?
Before applying to an online master's in English program, students should plan on earning an accredited bachelor's degree. Some institutions may prefer or require an undergraduate degree in English or a related field, but others can look to your application essay, writing portfolio and other admissions materials as the primary decision-makers of your quest for enrollment.
Many colleges and universities also have a basic GPA requirement for admission, with 2.5-3 being a common range. You'll also likely be asked to submit up to three letters of recommendation from colleagues or former professors.
Why earn a master's in English online?
If you're looking to advance in your existing career, chances are you won't want to leave your job for 2-3 years to earn your master's degree. Earning a master's in English online can allow you to participate in discussions and submit writing assignments without the need to show up at a physical campus, taking some of the stress out of balancing your work and school responsibilities.
Programs that don't involve much discussion or group analysis may also be offered asynchronously, allowing you to view classroom lectures and complete coursework at any time of day that's convenient for you.
The first year of an English master's program usually includes introductory courses in your chosen specialty and a primer seminar course that prepares you for the rigors of graduate study.
Seminar courses and workshops make up much of your second year, as well as the early stages of planning and outlining for your graduate thesis project.
The last two or three semesters of English master's programs are often reserved for intensive focus on your thesis, working with your chosen thesis advisor to help you stay on track and put together a high-quality project.
While nearly all English programs work to improve students' professional writing, oral communication and textual analysis skills, many also offer concentrations in specific subdisciplines that can allow you to specialize your study plan.
The following topics may be offered as degrees unto themselves or as program concentrations within a general master's degree in English:
Many of the careers available to graduates of English master's programs may not explicitly require an advanced degree, but your high-level language skills can help you stand out from the pack. Here's a short list of careers to consider:
Technical writer. Engineers, software developers and other innovators have a need for writers who can break down the technical and procedural details of a product and create clear, concise documentation that can be passed on to potential users. Having some experience or education in a technical discipline can help you land jobs in this field as well.
Journalist. Earning a master's in English, particularly after completing an undergraduate degree in journalism, can elevate your ability to effectively describe events in the news for both short- and long-form outlets. Graduates who focused on creative nonfiction while pursuing their degrees can often make use of those skills in a journalistic career.
Editor. A strong editorial presence is essential for high-visibility English language work, whether literary, technical or journalistic. Earning your master's in English either online or on campus requires extensive reading and textual analysis, sharpening your sense for proper syntax and usage and teaching you to read critically at all stages of the editing process.
English teacher or professor. Master's in English graduates can also put their expertise to use in the classroom, working to teach the basics to high school students or diving into the classics as a college or university professor. M.A. students hoping to teach may be able to concentrate their studies in English education.
Copywriter. Advertising is big business, and well-crafted language has been an essential part of advertising since the beginning. Copywriters use their writing skills to create promotional copy for companies or brands, whether it's arranging the perfect few words into a catchy slogan or writing persuasive speeches.
|State Name||Average Salary||Annual Job Openings||Projected Job Growth Potential|
|District of Columbia||$112,250||30||10.4%|
The sticker price of a campus-based or online master's in English can be fairly steep, but you may not have to bear the financial burden on your own. Here are a few options for financial aid in English master's programs:
Selection is based upon achievement in an academic area, special talent in the creative arts, demonstrated leadership and service in church, community, or school organizations, or athletic ability.
Applicant must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, AB-540 student or DACA recipient who is member of one of the following ethnic groups: African American/Black, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, or Native American/Alaska Native. Must be a full-time graduate student who has a minimum of two academic semesters or one year left to complete master's degree majoring in public relations, marketing, advertising, graphic design, marketing or public relations. Minimum 3.2 GPA, reference letter, resume, and unofficial transcript required.
Applicant must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, AB-540 student or DACA recipient who is member of one of the following ethnic groups: African American/Black, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, or Native American/Alaska Native. Must be a full-time undergraduate student majoring in public relations, marketing, advertising, graphic design, marketing or public relations. Minimum 3.0 GPA, reference letter, resume, and unofficial transcript OR acceptance letter required.
Applicant must be a graduating high school senior, undergraduate, or graduate student who intends to pursue or further a career in communications. Students must be residents of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania or Connecticut and must attend a New York university. Applicants must have a minimum grade point average of 3.2.
Applicant must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and a minimum combined SAT Reasoning score of 1050; award is merit-based. Applicant must be a full-time student majoring in English communications.
Applicant must have a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA.
Applicant must be a resident of Newberry or York counties, S.C. and have a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA.
Applicant must submit two copies of work and must be enrolled full time.
Applicants must be college juniors, seniors or graduate students. Graduating students who will take full-time copy editing jobs or internships are eligible. They must demonstrate interest in and aptitude for copy editing.
Selection is based upon essay and writing sample.
Applicant must be an incoming freshman who has demonstrated leadership abilities and has the intent to major in the arts or humanities.
Applicant must be nominated by faculty. Selection is based upon outstanding performance in English classes.
Applicant must be a Jewish undergraduate or graduate student who has been accepted to or is attending an accredited college or university program and is majoring in library science, English literature, or related field with the intention of working with underserved children to excite them through reading to pursue higher education. Applicant's parents must be permanent residents of the greater San Francisco Bay Area.
Applicant must be a current student member of LIT (which requires being in the top 35% of class, having a minimum 3.5 GPA in at least 12 semester hours of literature, having a 3.0 cumulative GPA, and being in the fifth college semester) who is sponsored by an active chapter. Selection is based upon the quality of the applicant's scholarly or creative writing as evaluated by a committee. Application and writing sample are required.
Applicants must be Pennsylvania public high school students with a 3.0 GPA who are pursuing a degree in communications or a related field such as public relations, journalism, English, advertising, or graphic arts. Students must have been accepted to or applied to a college, university, technical school or other institution of higher learning. Applicants must live within one of PenSPRA's three regions (Eastern, Central and Western).
Applicant must be a woman who is a graduate of a Nebraska high school. Application, essay, high school transcript, and three letters of recommendation required.
Applicant must have an interest in journalism and in using talent for campus organization/publication and must submit writing samples.
Applicant must have a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA.
Applicant must be an active English club member and a degree- or certificate-seeking student with a major, minor, or academic specialization in English, enrolled in at least 12 semester hours full time or nine semester hours in the first semester and student teaching in the second semester, have a minimum 3.25 cumulative GPA, have completed at least six semester hours of English at Texas A&M U - Texarkana and have a minimum 3.5 GPA in English courses, and must be a resident of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, or Texas residing in school's service area.
Whether you earn your M.A. in English online or on campus, it can open doors to a wide range of different professions. Here are a few professional certifications to think about once you're finished with your degree:
Offered at introductory, intermediate and advanced levels, this certification can sharpen your expertise in contemporary editing approaches and procedures. The introductory level tends to be focused on mechanics, while the higher levels also consider things like tone, context and audience.
Requirements: Completing the assigned courses the only stated requirement for certification, but some familiarity with editing and close reading can help a great deal in the process.
Exam Format: Each level of certification consists of a series of six or seven courses with an assessment exam at the end of each one, with the advanced level also including an online seminar class.
How long does the certification last?: No expiration date is listed for this credential.
Whether or not you studied advertising-specific writing in the course of your English education, earning this certification can help you demonstrate to employers that you understand the tools and techniques of good copywriting.
Requirements: Candidates must complete two required readings before taking the exam.
Exam Format: 80 multiple choice or true/false questions and two short essays with a two-hour time limit in total.
How long does the certification last?: No official expiration date is listed.
Web design is often considered a good pivot career for artists and designers, but strong writers with Web design skills can also distinguish themselves in the field.
Requirements: A basic understanding of internet functionality, including some familiarity with HTML and XML, is strongly encouraged.
Exam Format: Two exams of 70 and 72 questions with a 75-minute time limit for each.
How long does the certification last?: CIW certifications do not expire.
If you intend to teach English or literature at the elementary or high school levels, you'll need a state teacher certification before you can start your career. Check with your State Board of Education for details as they apply to you.
Requirements: Varies by state.
Exam Format: Varies by state.
How long does the certification last?: Varies by state.
Professional associations can help you stay on the leading edge of your field and give you access to a valuable network of established and aspiring professionals. Here are just a few of the associations for graduates with master's level English degrees: