Online English Degree Programs & Majors

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Choosing a university and degree program in an English-related field requires extensive research. Prospective students must consider the curriculum, online vs. on-campus options, and future applications in a variety of professions. This guide is designed to make the process easier by providing an in-depth look at traditional and online English schools at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate levels.

The ABC’s of English Degrees

By exposing students to works of great literature, English degree programs train them to become better readers, writers and critical thinkers. At the associate level, English majors study types of literature such as novels and drama. Bachelor’s degree programs impart communication and critical thinking skills through the study of English literature. Related courses could encompass grammar, composition and rhetoric. At the graduate level, students delve further into literary genres, authors, time periods and movements, and they may choose a specialization, such as English teaching.

Studying for Online English Degrees

Like the traditional classroom curriculum, online English degrees provide a foundation in critical analysis, writing, communication and literature. There are numerous English degrees offered completely online or in hybrid programs, as this course of study is well-suited to virtual learning. Students can watch lectures, read course material and submit research papers online through a course management system. Professors conduct interactive exams or allow students to download and submit exams electronically. Students interact in online forums or through programs such as Skype or FaceTime. Online English studies offer exposure to remote teamwork and electronic modes of communication, which are useful skills in the modern workplace.

Top 10 Online English Degree Programs & Majors

Rank School Location
1 Harvard University Cambridge, MA
2 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ
3 National University La Jolla, CA
4 St John's University Queens, NY
5 Mercy College Dobbs Ferry, NY
6 Wilkes University Wilkes-Barre, PA
7 Judson College Marion, AL
8 Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Saint Mary of the Woods, IN
9 Heritage University Toppenish, WA
10 New England College Henniker, NH
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Top Online Programs

Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.

Top Online Schools for English Majors

  • Methodology


    To be considered for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria:

    • Accredited at the institutional level
    • Private nonprofit or public school
    • Minimum of 1 online master’s degree in subject area

    Schools were then scored on factors such as:

    • Cost & Financial Aid
    • Number and variety of online program offerings
    • Student-teacher ratios
    • Graduation rates
    • Placement and support services offered
    • Academic/Career counseling services
    • Employment services
    • Loan default rates

    These factors were assembled for each school and rated using a peer-based-value (PBV) calculation. PBV compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or similar) qualitative score and cost. PBV denotes the overall value or “bang for your buck” of a college or degree program.

An English degree is a good starting point in a number professional industries, and it usually begins with a four-year degree. Earning that degree online allows students to continue pursuing personal and professional interests while getting their start in the career of their choice. To help find the right degree program for your needs, we did some research and have our list of the best colleges for English majors based on the student services available, programs offered and other factors.

4 Year Colleges

  1. Harvard University
    Location

    Cambridge, MA

    Students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree in English from Harvard University will exhibit a level knowledge and cultural openness characteristic to the finest learners in the country. The English program seeks to prepare its students to apply analytical skills to both contemporary and non-contemporary literature, as well as instill communicative skills that are highly valuable in the workplace. As one of the top institutions in the country, Harvard only employs the most experienced and qualified faculty members, and strives to achieve the smallest class sizes possible. Harvard students will become part of a close-knit academic community that emphasizes camaraderie, personal integrity, and intellectual advancement.

  2. Northern Arizona University
    Location

    Flagstaff, AZ

    Students who have graduated with an undergraduate in English and are interested in pursuing their next degree, but may not feel that they have time, may wish to consider pursuing their master’s in literature from Northern Arizona University, which is offered in an entirely online format. This program is designed to be flexible, allowing students to manage their other post-graduate pursuits while also completing their coursework in their free time. Students who finish their master’s degree will be qualified to teach at the community college level, and will also be eligible for positions in copywriting, editing, and publishing.

  3. National University
    Location

    La Jolla, CA

    A bachelor of arts in English earned at National University opens the door to a wide variety of career opportunities. Students will progress through a curricular program designed to instill not only literary and composition skills, but also interpersonal communication skills that will make them a valuable candidate for any job position. The BA in English will also be an excellent step for students who are interested in completing a master of arts in English after their undergrad is complete. Students will be able to interact with faculty members who have spent several years in both a teaching environment and an applied work environment.

  4. St John's University
    Location

    Queens, NY

    At just over 120 credits, the bachelor of arts degree with an emphasis in English that is offered at St. John’s University in New York can be completed in just four short years. Courses are designed to guide students through developing their communicative skills, text analysis skills, and composition skills, ultimately resulting in a well-rounded and applicable education that is guaranteed to lead to a variety of possible careers. One of the primary goals of the faculty and staff at St. John’s is to make sure students are happy and productive in their studies; that’s why several student services, including personal counseling and academic advising, are offered to ensure students get the most out of their educational experience.

  5. Mercy College
    Location

    Dobbs Ferry, NY

    A master of arts in English literature earned at Mercy College allows any eligible graduate student to broaden their understanding of literary analysis. Students will learn how to execute in-depth analysis that reveals the core themes and messages found in some of the world’s most influential literary works. In addition, students will further be able to hone their compositional skills through a variety of writing workshops. This program is also an excellent step between a bachelor’s degree and a doctoral program. Graduate students will have access to all the same student services that were available to them in their undergraduate program.

  6. Wilkes University
    Location

    Wilkes-Barre, PA

    By utilizing online learning options, students are able to pursue either a master of arts or a master of fine arts in creative writing. This is an excellent opportunity for students who are interested in continuing their education in the English field, but may feel they have extracurricular time constraints. Whether their specific interest is fiction, nonfiction, or poetry, students will progress through a program specifically designed to hone their compositional skills and reach their personal writing goals. Online students will have access to a variety of online resources to help make sure they're staying on the correct path to graduation.

  7. Judson College
    Location

    Marion, AL

    Undergraduate learning is made enjoyable with Judson College’s bachelor of arts program with an emphasis in English. Students will enter into a curriculum that can be split between traditional learning and distance learning, giving them the absolute greatest amount of scheduling control available. Course texts are also balanced, incorporating a blend of contemporary and classic literature. Graduates from this program will be prepared to either find a fulfilling career or pursue further education in a graduate level program. The Judson College campus also offers several activities for students to participate in during their free time, including intramural sports and on-campus events.

  8. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College
    Location

    Saint Mary of the Woods, IN

    Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College offers several of its programs—including the bachelor of arts in English—in an entirely online format, allowing students learning from a distance to receive the same quality education as is available to traditional learners. SMWC offers a total of more than 25 degree focusses to pursue, giving students the chance to explore a variety of interests and find the one that best fits their goals. Providing financial aid coverage to its students is one of SMWC’s foremost priorities, and approximately 95 percent of SMWC students receive coverage, culminating in nearly five million dollars in scholarships awarded every year.

  9. Heritage University
    Location

    Toppenish, WA

    Providing students with a greater understanding of literature and creative compositional writing is the primary goal of the Heritage University English Department. Graduate students have the opportunity to pursue a master of arts in English, which can be a valuable stepping stone if the student is interested in progressing even further into a doctoral program. Student success is ensured by employing qualified faculty members to develop the comprehensive education plans necessary for personal growth. Participating in recreational sporting events is an excellent way for students to regulate their wellness in their free time, while also socializing with their peers.

  10. New England College
    Location

    Henniker, NH

    Students who earn a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from New England College benefit from a combination of workshop-style classes and practicum opportunities that provide students with hands-on instruction. The structure of this program gives students a strong understanding of theories related to different genres of literature, while strengthening their own writing skills. Topics that students can study include short stories, poetry, 21st century digital writing, and creative nonfiction. Outside of the classroom, students can participate in public readings that are sponsored by the school and work for New England College’s publications, such as “The Henniker Review” and "Edge Adventure NH Magazine”.

2 Year Colleges

  1. East Mississippi Community College
    Location

    Scooba, MS

    The English department at East Mississippi Community College provides a welcoming and productive learning environment for students interested in pursuing an English degree. English students have the opportunity to pursue a number of specific interests for their degree, including literature and linguistics, ensuring that all students will find the niche they think is the most comfortable. Students will be under the instruction of faculty members who are highly experienced in their field, and will also have access to department-specific advising. For students wondering what comes after graduation, EMCC offers career counseling to prepare graduates to develop their resume and enter into the workforce.

  2. Allen County Community College
    Location

    Iola, KS

    Writers and literary buffs will be right at home studying in a bachelor’s program at Allen County Community College. This associate of arts degree prepares students to transfer into a four-year school after graduation to continue their studies in a bachelor’s program. Allen CC provides several courses that can be selected to fit well into their institution of choice’s specific program and emphasis. Most courses offered at Allen CC are fully transferrable, guaranteeing that any student in need of relocating will not need to backtrack and retake courses at their new school. Allen CC provides its students with the highest caliber of student services, helping to ensure that all students will be happy and successful.

  3. Western Wyoming Community College
    Location

    Rock Springs, W

    Students interested in honing their skills for writing and literary analysis may wish to consider pursuing an associate of arts degree in English at Western Wyoming Community College. This program is designed to prepare students to enter into a 4-year English bachelor’s program after the completion of their associate of arts degree, and provide the educational basis that is necessary for academic success. One of the benefits of studying at WWCC is its affordability. With its low tuition costs—both in-state and out-of-state—and its numerous financial aid opportunities, students are able to pursue the degree they're interested in without worrying about finances.

  4. Rose State College
    Location

    Midwest City, OK

    Earning an associate of arts degree in English from Rose State College gives graduates the option to either enter the workforce or continue their education in a bachelor’s program at a four-year school. The English program provides students with communication and analysis skills that are largely valuable to several employers. Rose State College classes are usually small, helping to ensure a closer and more productive classroom setting in which students are able to communicate any questions or comments with their instructor. Just as Rose State offers transferable credits, it also accepts credits from other institutions of higher education, helping transfer students to get a jump start on their new program.

  5. Central Wyoming College
    Location

    Riverton, WY

    If completing a four-year bachelor’s degree in English is a student’s long-term goal, they may wish to begin their education with a cheaper alternative: a two-year associate of arts degree in English earned at Central Wyoming College. After the completion of this degree, students have the ability to transfer their full degree to an institution of their choosing and progressing into the third year of a bachelor’s program. CWC prepares its English students to communicate well with their peers, as well as coalesce and refine information into productive interpretations and ideas.

  6. St Philip's College
    Location

    San Antonio, TX

    An associate of arts degree with optional elective in English earned at St. Philip’s College will help prepare students to either enter the workforce after graduation or transfer into a bachelor’s program for English at a four-year institution of higher education. These English electives will introduce student to more complex literary interpretation and creative writing opportunities, allowing them to explore their interests that might be refine into an emphasis in their bachelor’s program. St. Philip’s College offers students an education at a remarkably affordable price for both in-state and out-of-state students. Furthermore, students will also have access to financial aid options that may relieve any financial strain.

  7. Sheridan College
    Location

    Sheridan, W

    Students with future aspirations of achieving a career in the literary industry—whether as a writer, an editor, or working for a publishing company—will be able to kick off their education by pursuing an associate of arts degree in English at Sheridan College. This program emphasizes the development of writing and interpretive skills, as well as the enhancement of interpersonal communication. As is the case with several Sheridan programs, the English program can be completed in an online format. Online learning is an excellent tool for students who don't have time for traditional learning, or are maybe just looking for a new way to approach their academics.

  8. Spokane Falls Community College
    Location

    Spokane, WA

    A smart first step to earning a bachelor’s degree at a four-year school is to consider earning an associate degree at a two-year college. Spokane Falls Community College offers the educational groundwork that leads college students to success in their field of choice. Students enrolled at Spokane Falls will have the option to pursue an associate of arts in English that will prepare them to later pursue a corresponding bachelor’s degree. This program teaches students the core principles of composition and literary interpretation, as well as communicative skills that are often valued in the workplace.

  9. Pueblo Community College
    Location

    Pueblo, CO

    In as few as two short years, students attending Pueblo Community College will be able to finish an associate of arts degree in English literature. This specialized program focuses on literary theory, analysis, and composition, and prepares students to pursue a later bachelor’s degree with a similar emphasis. Students will have the option to complete many of their courses in either a fully online or a partially online (hybrid) format, allowing them to tailor their learning style to fit into their daily schedule. Students may also find academic support in the wide variety of student services offered at Pueblo CC, including student tutoring and academic advisement.

  10. Holmes Community College
    Location

    Goodman, MS

    The English & Foreign Language department at Holmes Community College gives students the opportunity to pursue their Associate of Arts degree in English. This program is typically completed in two years and equips students with the basic knowledge to enter an English-focused career in English, business, or journalism or continue their education at a four-year institution. Courses are taught by experienced faculty members who are aware of the area-specific information that will benefit students throughout their academic and professional careers.

Program Highlight: Online Bachelor’s Degree in English

Students earning a bachelor’s degree from online English schools learn to interpret literature and apply language in ethical, strategic and articulate ways. Additionally, students explore how to apply models of literature to leadership and management in a business environment. Electives could include classes in technical writing or film as literature.

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A bachelor’s degree consists of about 120 credit hours. Depending on the school, students may choose 18 hours of electives to specialize in a particular area. Full-time students can usually complete a bachelor’s degree in four to five years. In online English schools, students attend classes virtually through a learning management system, communicating with peers and instructors via email, online chat, phone or other electronic media.

Associate Online English Degrees

It takes two years to complete an associate degree in English, depending on a student’s availability. The curriculum typically includes coursework in communication, fine arts and humanities, along with general education courses in math, social sciences and physical sciences. Some programs require a foreign language as well. Associate degrees in English can be useful for graduates interested in teaching at the preschool level, complemented by studies in early childhood education.

The following table describes a few of the courses offered in an associate-level online English degree program:

COURSE NAMEoverview
Intro to American LiteratureIntroduces great writers of the U.S. from the colonial period to the present, including Hawthorne, Whitman, Dickenson and Twain.
Intro to British LiteratureAnalyzes work of important British writers from the medieval period to the present, including Chaucer, Milton, Swift, Pope and Blake.
ShakespeareIncludes a critical study of selected works of Shakespeare, including how they were influenced by social and cultural issues.
Intro to Academic WritingPrepares students for scholarly research: planning and organizing material, revising and editing reports for college courses.

Bachelor’s-Level Online English Degrees

It takes a full-time student about four years to earn a bachelor’s degree in English. Students combine literature courses with expository writing courses, with electives such as creative writing. The major lends itself to Internet-based studies because most of the work required involves reading, researching, composing, revising and editing papers. A bachelor’s degree may qualify graduates to teach English in private schools or in programs focused on adult literacy and high school equivalency (HSE or GED) diplomas.

The curriculum can vary at different colleges, but the following courses are examples of subjects found in online programs.

COURSE NAMEoverview
Contemporary LiteratureStudies how post-1950s literature around the world addresses contemporary issues. Analyzes different methods and theories of textual criticism.
Advanced Academic WritingTeaches writing skills for all types of papers, from short reports to dissertations for academic or professional purposes.
Public SpeakingPrepares students to deliver formal presentations. Includes cultural conventions and speech, perceptions of others, verbal and nonverbal messages, oral presentation techniques and persuasion.
Creative WritingStudies the tools of the craft, terms and techniques while writing a variety of poems and short stories.
Literature Research and TheoryExamines different strategies of reading, comprehending and engaging with 20th century literary texts. Covers literary criticism, such as poststructuralist theories and their legacy.
Analytical WritingApproaches issues and claims presented in visual, oral or written arguments. Teaches students to research and compose analytical and argumentative essays, with a focus on source-based writing.
World LiteratureExplores literature from antiquity to the 17th century, emphasizing the literary and aesthetic value of writing from all parts of the globe.

Master’s-Level Online English Degrees

A master’s degree in English takes approximately two years to complete, although this may vary with graduate opportunities, such as teaching or research assistantships. The degree could qualify graduates for roles as community college English instructors and for various writing careers.

Students explore British and U.S. literature in a variety of genres, authors, time periods and movements. Students explore literary analysis, literary criticism and research methods. Some schools offer concentrations in comparative literature, creative writing, linguistics or English education. Most master’s programs in English require students to complete a thesis project for graduation that they must present before a committee.

The following table presents some of the core courses in a master’s-level online English degree program:

MASTER’S PROGRAM CORE COURSESOVERVIEW
LinguisticsCovers speech sounds and patterns, including how words are formed and organized into sentences, how language is understood, and how language changes. Topics include morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, phonetics and phonology.
Medieval LiteratureExplores literary traditions associated with the diverse cultures of early and late medieval England. Includes major genres, themes and styles.
Renaissance LiteratureCovers a wide variety of literature from 16th century. Examines science, religious fundamentalism, colonialism and capitalism by reading works like Utopia and The Faerie Queene.
Rhetoric and CompositionInstructs students in writing essays, emphasizing different rhetorical modes such as comparison, narrative, description, analysis, argument, classification and cause and effect.
Writing NonfictionDevelops skills necessary for professional communicators preparing written material for print or electronic media.
Old EnglishStudies Old English, the Germanic language spoken by Anglo-Saxons in Britain from middle of the 5th century until around the end of the 11th century.
English Language HistoryExamines issues of language use, the construction of standard and nonstandard English, literary language, spelling reform, pidgins and creoles, and important variations of English around the world.
Multiethnic LiteratureExplores a selection of multiethnic literatures of the U.S. through a comparative framework. Includes fiction, poetry, autobiography, personal essays and cultural studies by African American, Asian American, Native American and Latin writers since the 1960s and 1970s.
Early American LiteratureReviews the poetry, fiction and nonfiction written in and about the United States before the end of the Civil War.

Online English Degrees at the PhD Level

An English doctorate prepares students for many roles in academia, either teaching or conducting research. Most programs take a minimum of five years to complete. The curriculum combines graduate level classes, comprehensive examinations and a dissertation, which requires significant scholarly research presented to a panel of reviewers. Doctoral students may be able to teach introductory courses in composition or literature for undergraduates. In addition to specialized studies in British and American literature, doctoral candidates also study language and composition.

What Can You Do With an Online English Degree?

An English degree provides a foundation for several types of careers. Many English majors move on to careers as teachers, editors, authors, technical communicators or copywriters. The skills in research, analysis and communication that English students develop can translate to a variety of other fields, ranging from marketing to law. The list below highlights some potential career paths for those devoted to English studies. Occupations such as teaching may require additional education or professional credentials.

Featured Careers

  • College English Language/Literature Teachers


    College English and literature teachers instruct postsecondary students on the English language and works of literature. Their focus can range from linguistics to comparative literature. They not only teach, but also conduct research on the subject matter. They can be employed by universities or colleges, on both physical campuses or in the realm of online education.

    Median Salary: $60,040

    Median Hourly: $NR

    Est. Growth: 12.2%

    No. Employed: 72,680

    Minimum Education: Doctoral/Professional

  • Lawyers


    Lawyers advise and represent people, businesses and government entities in a wide range of legal matters. Their specialties can range from criminal matters to contract law to civil matters. They draft and interpret legal documents, and represent individuals or entities in court. They also work in defense against litigation, and advise or direct litigation against other people or entities.

    Median Salary: $113,530
    Median Hourly: $54.58
    Est. Growth: 9.8%
    No. Employed: 581,920
    Minimum Education: Doctoral/Professional

  • Editors


    Editors plan, advise and review content prior to publication. They can work for individuals, publishers, newspapers, magazines, websites or trade publications. They review content for grammar and factual accuracy. In many cases, editors work closely with writers through all stages, from the planning phase all the way to final publication, guiding the course of overall projects. Many editors work in offices, but a growing number work from home.

    Median Salary: $53,880
    Median Hourly: $25.90
    Est. Growth: -2.4%
    No. Employed: 99,040
    Minimum Education: Bachelor’s

  • Technical Writers


    Also called technical communicators, technical writers create documents such as training manuals or journal articles, with the goal of making complicated content easier to read and understand. These writers develop, gather and disseminate information to employees, customers, clients, manufacturers and designers. Technical writers can work full-time as in-house employees of a business or governmental agency, or on a freelance, contract basis.

    Median Salary: $65,500
    Median Hourly: $31.49
    Est. Growth: 14.8%
    No. Employed: 46,160
    Minimum Education: Bachelor’s

  • Writers/Authors


    Writers and authors gather and create content for a wide range of media and resources, including manuscripts, books, magazines, trade publications, educational materials, movies and television programs. They can work for publishers, studios, academic institutions or work for themselves as freelancers or independent authors. They may work with a single, specific editor and publisher, or with many different professionals depending on the project.

    Median Salary: $55,940
    Median Hourly: $26.89
    Est. Growth: 3%
    No. Employed: 41,990
    Minimum Education: Bachelor’s

Popular Resources

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