Best Online Master’s Programs in English

Earning a master's in English can lead to career advancement. Here, we list the top online programs available.

May 24, 2022 • 6 Min Read

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Find a program that’s right for you.

Online master's programs in English prepare learners for jobs as educators or writers. Graduates can also enroll in a Ph.D. in English program. Master's programs often include classes in British literature, American literature, and rhetoric. Students also complete electives.

Some programs let learners select between a thesis and non-thesis track. Learners planning to enroll in a doctoral program write a thesis. Admission requirements may include a statement of purpose, a writing sample, and official transcripts. Some universities also require standardized test scores or recommendation letters.

Read on to learn about online English degrees. This page explores costs, common classes, and potential careers for graduates.

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Questions About Master's in English Degrees

What jobs can I get with an English degree?

Online master's programs in English emphasize skills that graduates can apply in many careers. Degree-holders may work in the education, law, or creative fields. Career advisors can help students explore job options.

Can I complete a master's degree online?

Many top universities offer fully online English degrees. Some programs use a hybrid format with some campus components.

Can I become a teacher with an English degree?

Some graduates work as postsecondary teachers at community or junior colleges. Most four-year colleges reserve tenure-track positions for candidates with a doctorate.

AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Featured Online English Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

Why Get a Master's in English?

Online master's programs in English require learners to develop critical thinking, communication, and analytical skills. Nearly all employers expect these skills in college-educated applicants.

Students pursuing an online English degree benefit from flexibility. Many online programs run asynchronously, letting enrollees earn their degree while continuing their careers. Online learners receive access to the same career and library resources as on-campus enrollees.

How Much Does an English Degree Cost?

Master's degrees cost an average of $66,340, according to EducationData.org. Many factors influence cost, including school type and learners' residency status. Affordable online master's programs in English may charge $400-$600 per credit. Some programs offer a tuition discount to active-duty service members and their families.

Students can save money by earning a master's degree in English from an in-state public school. Prospective learners can also research universities waiving out-of-state tuition for online enrollees. Students with financial need can reduce their need for loans by applying for private scholarships.

Additional Online Student Fees

Online degree-seekers should budget for extra costs such as graduation fees and books. Schools offering an online English degree may charge students a per-semester or per-class technology fee. Learners may need to buy a new computer to meet their school's technology requirements. Many computer companies offer student discounts.

Aspiring K-12 educators and administrators should budget for a state-issued license. States charge fees for an exam, initial licensure, and renewal. Some graduates pursue a professional certification or take training classes to improve their resume. A certification may cost hundreds of dollars.

How Much Do English Majors Make?

Graduates with a master's in English earn an average annual salary of $57,000, according to Feb. 2022 Payscale data. However, salaries vary by graduates' job, employer, and geographic location. For example, postsecondary teachers working at private colleges make more than their peers at public schools. English professors in California, New York, and Rhode Island make $94,400-$124,250, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Postsecondary teachers need at least a master's degree. Earning a doctorate lets them pursue tenure-track positions. Postsecondary teachers with tenure enjoy greater job security.

Courses in Master's in English Programs

Online master's programs in English require core classes and may feature concentrations like English literature. Students in this concentration take upper-division electives in major authors and history of drama in English. Some programs let learners choose between a capstone project and a thesis.

Students pursuing a master's degree in English may take the three classes below. Keep in mind that classes vary by program.

  • Narrative Strategies in the Novel

    Learners examine English and American novels' narration use. Students compare different narrative techniques and consider their impact on the story. These exercises help degree-seekers understand why authors make specific narrative choices. Class content depends on the professor's professional interests.
  • History of Drama in English

    Authors and writers immerse themselves in the English language's literary tradition. Degree-seekers analyze major works from the 16th century to today. Class topics may include Shakespeare, the Romantic Era, and significant contributions by American writers starting in the 19th century.
  • Major Authors

    Learners study one English-language author in depth. Degree-seekers analyze the author's themes, literary sensibility, and evolution as a writer. Other class topics cover that author's techniques. Enrollees examine the author's impact on English-language literature. The author changes each semester, offering a unique educational experience for every class.

Common English Specializations

Many online master's programs in English feature concentrations. Some schools refer to them as specializations or tracks. Concentrations let degree-seekers customize their education toward academic or career goals. Enrollment counselors can help students choose the right concentration.

Many degree-seekers concentrate in literature, creative writing, or rhetoric and composition. However, specializations vary by program. Students should check with their prospective schools for the latest concentrations and class offerings.

  • Literature

    Aspiring novelists, literary critics, and professors choose this concentration. Aspiring high school teachers may also choose this specialization. Degree-seekers take classes in classical and contemporary literature, literary criticism, and literature's historical traditions. Students planning to enter a doctoral program write a master's thesis.
  • Creative Writing

    This concentration helps students develop their creative thinking, critical thinking, and research skills. Many learners further specialize in fiction, poetry, or screenwriting. Typical classes include literary editing, reading as writers, and reading and writing across the genres. Top programs feature published professors from different areas of expertise.
  • Rhetoric and Composition

    This concentration qualifies learners to work as postsecondary writing instructors or technical writers. Graduates may also work as editors or high school teachers. Program learning outcomes include applying critical reading skills, mastering writing best practices, and using different documentation systems. Degree-seekers complete a capstone project in the final semester.

AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Career and Salary Outlook for English Graduates

Career advisors can help degree-seekers explore career options. These advisors help students analyze career and personality assessment results. They also help learners write resumes and improve interviewing skills.

Graduates with a master's degree in English may pursue the careers below. Please note that job titles and responsibilities vary by employer. Click the embedded links for more information on each job.

  • Postsecondary Teachers

    In addition to educating students, these teachers create curricula and take professional development classes. They may also serve on academic or administrative committees. Some postsecondary teachers hold only a master's degree. Workers need a doctorate to apply to tenure-track positions. Most postsecondary teachers work for a public or private four-year college.
  • Writers and Authors

    These workers create many products for clients, such as marketing copy, scripts, and blog posts. They conduct research and incorporate an editor's feedback. Writers and authors also collaborate with clients to finalize materials before publication. Job titles for writers and authors include biographer, copywriter, and playwright.
  • Technical Writers

    Unlike writers and authors, technical writers specialize in technical communication. They create instructional guides, journal articles, and other texts aimed at helping consumers. They often work with product designers and make revisions. Senior technical writers provide feedback to less-experienced writers and ensure content standardization.
  • Interpreters and Translators

    These professionals use their mastery of English and a second language to translate texts while maintaining the original tone and style. Interpreters and translators need language fluency and cultural sensitivity for career success. Nearly a third of these professionals work for themselves. They may also work for professional or educational services companies.
Salary Potential and Growth Rate
Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
Postsecondary Teachers $80,560 12%
Writers and Authors $67,120 9%
Technical Writers $74,650 12%
Interpreters and Translators $52,330 24%

Source: BLS

Online Master's Programs in English

  1. Arizona State University-Skysong
    Location

    Scottsdale, AZ

    A public school based in Scottsdale, ASU offers an online master of arts in English that prepares students for careers in a variety of fields, such as management, marketing, copywriting, and editing.

    The 30-credit online master's in English allows students to learn at their own pace. Students can choose from electives based on their career goals. Notable courses include composition studies, linguistics, and approaches to research. Students culminate the degree with a graduate capstone seminar.

    Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also submit a personal statement, a CV, and two recommendation letters.

  2. The University of Texas at Tyler
    Location

    Tyler, TX

    Part of the University of Texas system, UT Tyler offers an online master of arts in English that helps students develop critical thinking, analysis, and research skills.

    The 36-credit online master's in English program offers small courses that facilitate individualized attention from faculty. Students can choose to complete their degree fully online, on campus, or in a hybrid format. The program offers thesis and non-thesis tracks. Non-thesis students must take additional courses.

    Tuition varies based on residence and enrollment status. All applicants must demonstrate a minimum 3.25 GPA and completion of prior coursework in English. Applicants must also submit an essay detailing their reasons for pursuing a master's in English.

  3. Mercy College
    Location

    Dobbs Ferry, NY

    A private school based in Dobbs Ferry, New York, Mercy offers an online master of arts in English that allows students to study literature from a variety of cultures and traditions.

    Mercy's 30-credit online master's in English offers courses on topics like literary criticism, advanced creative writing, and American literature. Students must pass a comprehensive exam before their final semester of the program. They must also complete a thesis to graduate. Many graduates go on to earn doctoral degrees in English. Others pursue careers in teaching or writing.

    Prospective students can transfer up to six graduate English credits toward the degree. Applicants must submit transcripts, two recommendation letters, and a writing sample.

  4. East Carolina University
    Location

    Greenville, NC

    A public university based in Greenville, North Carolina, ECU offers an online master of arts in English that allows students to tailor the degree to their interests and goals.

    Students pursuing the master's in English online can choose from concentrations in literature, creative writing, and rhetoric. All students must enroll in a research methods course based on their concentration. Students also choose electives based on their concentration. For example, a creative writing student may take advanced poetry or script writing. Students can either write a thesis or complete a Comprehensive Assessment Project (CAP) to graduate. Those pursuing a CAP must take additional English courses to complete their degree.

    Applications require official transcripts, three recommendation letters, and a statement of intent. Students applying for the creative writing concentration must submit a portfolio of original writing in one genre. This program does not require prospective students to submit GRE results.

  5. Old Dominion University
    Location

    Norfolk, VA

    A public research university located in Norfolk, Virginia, ODU offers an online master of arts in English that prepares students for doctoral programs and careers in a related field.

    The 30-credit online MA in English develops students' skills in writing, textual analysis, and document design. Students also examine the theory and practice of writing in professional environments. Notable courses include digital writing, management writing, and new media. Students culminate the degree with a portfolio project, oral exam, or thesis.

    Students living in Virginia pay less in tuition than out-of-state residents. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in English or a related field and submit a writing sample that demonstrates graduate-level writing skills.

  6. Northwestern State University of Louisiana
    Location

    Natchitoches, LA

    A public university located in Natchitoches, NSU offers an online master of arts in English with four concentrations: writing, southern culture, literature, and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Students can also pursue a general track.

    All students must take a course in bibliography and literary research. Students then choose electives based on their area of study. For example, TESOL students may take a class in syntactical theories, while literature students may enroll in a medieval rhetoric course. Students culminate the degree with a thesis or two papers. Students who write two papers in place of a thesis must also take an additional elective course.

    Applicants must submit official transcripts, GRE scores, and two recommendation letters.

  7. University of Nebraska at Kearney
    Location

    Kearney, NE

    Part of the University of Nebraska system, UNK offers an online master of arts in English that prepares students for careers in writing, teaching, and editing. Graduates can also pursue doctoral study.

    Students earning the 30-credit master's in English online study topics such as literary criticism, poetry writing, and reading problems in secondary schools. Courses take the form of seminars, workshops, and directed readings. Students must pass a comprehensive exam or write a thesis to graduate.

    Applicants must submit undergraduate transcripts indicating at least 18 completed credits of English coursework. Applicants must also submit three recommendation letters, a personal statement, and a writing sample.

  8. National University
    Location

    La Jolla, CA

    The largest private school in San Diego, California, NU offers an online master of arts in English that helps students succeed in fields within and beyond English studies. The program develops critical thinking, writing, and analytical skills.

    The master's in English online program offers small, interactive classes that facilitate individualized support from professors. Some courses last only four weeks. In these accelerated courses, students can focus on one subject at a time. Learners study topics such as rhetoric, gothic studies, and film studies. NU's program also offers opportunities for career development. For example, students can edit or write for the school's literary journal or newsletter.

    NU offers tuition discounts to military service members and their dependents. The school is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

  9. University of Louisiana at Monroe
    Location

    Monroe, LA

    Part of the University of Louisiana system, ULM offers an online master of arts in English with specializations in creative writing and literary studies.

    Students specializing in literary studies must enroll in a bibliography course. Creative writing students are required to take at least nine credits of workshops. Workshops cover either poetry or fiction writing. All students culminate the degree with a thesis. If interested in teaching, students can work as a graduate teaching assistant. Graduate teaching assistants must teach composition and complete a supervision practicum.

    Applicants must demonstrate a minimum 3.0 GPA and 30 completed credits of upper-level undergraduate English courses. Students can transfer courses from other accredited schools with a grade of B or better.

  10. Southern New Hampshire University
    Location

    Manchester, NH

    A private school located in Manchester, SNHU offers an online master of arts in English that offers some of the lowest online tuition prices in the country. The program features an asynchronous format, allowing students to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations.

    Courses focus on British and American literature. Students take courses on topics like Shakespeare, African American literature, and Victorian literature. Students can enhance their writing skills by optionally participating in the school's online literary journal and fall fiction contest. Many graduates pursue careers in areas like advertising, technical writing, and public relations. Others find careers in nonprofit administration or fundraising.

    Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA and submit a personal statement.

AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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