Delve into English Language and Literature: English Degree

An online degree in English prepares is an ideal program for students interested in the English language and related topics, such as literature and writing. A large portion of online English degrees deals with oral and written communication, allowing graduates to pursue a broad range of career paths. Due to this fact, English is currently one of the most popular bachelor's degree programs in the United States.

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English Degree Information

English is one of the more popular majors for students coming out of high school. Continuing education students can obtain an Associate of Arts in English in two years and a Bachelor of Arts in English in four. An English degree can be the foundation for careers in a wide variety of areas, including law, philosophy, politics and academia. English students frequently go on to pursue master's and even doctoral degrees.

Study Options

Continuing education students can work their way back into the academic world with a two year Associate of Arts in English online or at a brick-and-mortar university. Bachelor of Arts in English are available at all major colleges and universities as well as through most online programs. Master of Arts and doctoral programs in English are also available for students who wish to continue their English studies beyond their undergraduate programs.

Advanced Degrees

Some students will take their Bachelor of Arts in English and go on to study another discipline, while others may use their skills to begin writing careers of their own. Those who wish to use their degree to enter academia or to master literary criticism or literary research will generally opt for a more advanced degree in English, either pursuing a Ph.D. in English directly or entering a Master of Arts program in English or a related discipline.

Master Of Arts

A Master of Arts in English generally takes two years and continues the students study of both literature and writing. It prepares students for any career that requires fluency in the English language or a high level of writing skill and is a good jumping point to a doctoral degree in English that those who wish to pursue a career in academia will want to obtain.

Doctoral Programs

Many students who pursue graduate education in English have as their ultimate goal a position in academia, often as a professor of English, literature or writing at a college or university. Students will generally take four or five years to complete a Ph.D. in English that will instill expert knowledge in the English language, in writing and in critical thinking and analysis related to English literature.

Choosing A Degree

Students who gravitate toward the liberal arts will often find themselves choosing English as their undergraduate major. Continuing education students with a fondness for literature may also find themselves exploring this discipline. Students who decide to try to obtain an English degree should prepare for copious reading.

Career Opportunities

Some English majors go on to become novelists, poets or even journalists. Still others pursue degrees in other fields, going to law school or even business school. Others will go on to master's and doctoral degrees in English, writing or literature which can lead to careers as a literary critic, editor, publisher or university professor.

Earning Potential

The median salary for a full university professor is close to $100,000, while assistant professors make about $59,000 on average. Editors can make more than $87,000 per year at the highest levels, whereas the median salary for working writers is around $49,000.

Getting Your Degree Online

An English degree is an ideal degree to get online since a lot of the work will involve reading of relevant literature, something that can be done easily in the privacy of one's own home. Distance education lectures with accredited professors help fill in the gaps and ensure a top degree program in English. Masters programs can be completed in two years or less through a distance learning curriculum.

Getting Your Degree Offline

All major universities and liberal arts colleges offer a bachelor's degree in English. Studying English at a traditional institution gives the student the full college experience, which may be best for those just out of high school. A physical university provides more opportunities for interaction with professors and students, which can be a great benefit in a course of study that is often very solitary, requiring many hours of quiet reading and study. To obtain a top academic position, continuing students will often want to attend a brick and mortar doctoral program, where they can study with the best experts in the field of English, writing or literature who can prepare them to make their own contributions to the discipline in the coming years.

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English Degree FAQs

What Can I Do With an English Degree?

The most popular career paths for English majors relate to academia and writing. Students earning a master's or doctorate in English frequently return to school as college professors.

Others prefer to hone their writing skills at the professional level. Some graduates of online English degree programs are self-employed as novelists or writers. Some work at corporations, magazines and other establishments as copywriters, editors and journalists. Still others work outside the corporate realm in fields as various as screenwriting, law and politics.

What Topics Comprise an Online English Degree Program?

All English degree programs focus heavily on literary analysis and writing skills. Common classes include world literature, American literature, creative writing and journalism. Other areas of study include oral communication, history and philosophy.

Bachelor's degree programs feature a swathe of English-related subjects. Associate's, master's and Ph.D. programs offer specialized English topics.

What Are the Benefits of Earning an Online English Degree?

The online learning environment is highly conducive to an English degree program. Reading literature is a personal endeavor that students can pursue through a distance program. Most online English degree programs also feature virtual class discussions that allow students to share thoughts on various topics.

What Kind of Salary Can I Earn With an English Degree?

English degree holders who choose to work in an academic environment can expect to earn up to $100,000 annually as full-time professors. Assistant professors earn approximately $59,000 each year. The median yearly salary for writers is estimated at $49,000. Top-tier editors and copywriters can make upwards of $87,000 annually.

Online English Degree Programs

Students can pursue an English degree at the associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. Both campus and online degree programs are readily available.

Many students will earn a Bachelor of Arts in English and then move on to a related field of graduate study. Others continue on to earn a master's and Ph.D. in English.

English Student Guide

The English degree is not the study of the English language per se (courses in the English language in the U.S. are generally referred to as English as a Second Language studies), but rather of works of literature produced in English. Students read great works of English literature critically and in the context of their time and prevailing literature theory. They also learn to hone their writing and general literacy skills.

English Books

The books required for a degree in English will be tailored very closely to the specific course curriculum and the preferences of the teacher. Most English teachers will have their own similar yet distinct ideas about which books give the students the fullest understanding of English literature and literary theory. Students can expect to read the works of William Shakespeare, for example plays like Hamlet and Macbeth, as well as some of the novels of Charles Dickens such as Great Expectations and David Copperfield.î Other books English majors may encounter include The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner and Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison.

English Articles And Databases

If you're looking for articles on literary theory and the English language for your English studies, one place you may want to go is the Modern Language Association ( You can subscribe to literary journals PMA and Profession or peruse the MLA bookstore for more useful literary and language publications.

Online Literary Journals

There is a great collection of literary journals that can be found online. These generally contain a sampling of short stories from different writers that students can read to learn how to hone their craft. Some journals that you can subscribe to, buy online or even buy at your school bookstore include The Antioch Review, Ploughshares, The American Literary Review, Glimmer Train, Inkwell and the Iowa Review.

Other English Research Tools

The Modern Language Association website is a very useful resource for English students. It provides career resources, information about useful professional organizations, a guide to doctoral programs in English, a link to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, a comprehensive bookstore, information about MLA style and more.

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