We’ve ranked the 30 best online English degree programs. Compare top schools and see what you could be doing after graduation.
English is an educational path that can branch off into many fields, including linguistics, communications, journalism, library sciences, and public relations. You might need specialized skills to qualify for certain jobs, but an English degree can get you started on many career paths, making between $30,000 and $70,000 per year.
Types of Online English Degree Programs
English degrees can be general studies of language, or they can involve an emphasis on something like education or journalism. You can also pair an English major with a related minor, or you can use a bachelor’s degree in English as the foundation for a master’s degree in something else.
Click on the major that appeals to you to jump to that part of the page.
Each of these majors will prepare you for a different but rewarding career path.
English – General
English degrees are heavy on reading and writing. You won’t spend the entire time with your nose buried in a book, but you should be comfortable with analyzing texts, writing essays, and diving deep into speech and grammar.
You’ll learn a lot of communication skills in an English degree program. You’ll learn how to express yourself and how to interpret things that have been expressed to you. If you’re preparing for a career in marketing, publishing, or public relations, you’ll get familiar with the media and how it operates.
English degrees are also increasingly global. You’ll find a lot of classes that explore other countries and cultures, usually through their media.
You might find yourself watching subtitled movies, dissecting international news articles, and reading books that have been translated from other languages.
“Creative writing” is a broad term that can be applied to any kind of non-technical or non-academic writing. It could include books, movies, poems, plays, and short stories.
There are ample careers for creative writing. Since there’s creative writing involved in just about every industry, you could become everything from a TV screenwriter to a marketing professional who creates slogans and jingles.
One thing to note is that creative writing can be a very competitive field. Lots of people want to become the next J.K. Rowling or Quentin Tarantino, but there are only so many jobs to go around. In fact, the occupational outlook for writers and authors is on the decline; the number of available jobs is shrinking.
This doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker for you, but it’s something to consider as you plan for the future.
Film studies is a major in its own right, but you can also combine it or concentrate on it with an English degree. As its name implies, it’s the study of movies, and it can teach you everything that you need to know about a career behind the camera.
Do you want to become a famous director? Film studies can help you evaluate and understand all of the techniques that make people great.
Do you prefer working behind the scenes? Maybe you’ll find a niche interest like animation, production, sound mixing, scriptwriting, or special effects.
Film studies can prepare you for work in many creative industries, especially if you pair it with an English degree. You don’t have to head for the bright lights of Hollywood. A film studies major can also work in theater, television, radio, and print.
Literature is one of the most common concentrations of English majors. It can provide the necessary foundation for a number of jobs:
If you’re a bibliophile, you’ll love a degree program that involves so many books. You’ll spend a lot of time analyzing, debating, interpreting, and writing about literature.
Even if you aren’t Shakespeare, however, you can learn a lot from the literature courses in an English degree program. There’s more to it than just grammar lessons.
Humans communicate through the written word every day, and you can learn how to understand it and how to use it to serve your own interests.
Technical writing is the opposite of creative writing. It’s used for things like instruction manuals, scientific journals, corporate briefs, how-to guides, and other professional documents.
Technical writing is a bit drier than other types, but it can be extremely lucrative. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, technical writers make an average of $71,850 per year or $34.54 per hour.
They also have better job security. Unlike other writing fields that are losing jobs, technical writing will grow by eight percent in the next decade.
If you’re interested in technical writing, you can find employment in everything from private companies to government agencies. People always need good writers to convey their ideas to the public. It’s a career path to consider if you have a talent for it.
Courses for an Online Bachelor’s Degree in English
What kind of homework can you expect while getting an English degree? While there can be fun electives like “The Vampire in Literature and Cinema” and “Invented Languages: Klingon and Beyond,” here’s a more conservative look at your potential course map.
Composition: Composition is one of the tenets of an English degree. You’ll need it for both writing essays and breaking down the books, plays, and poems that are assigned to you, so it’s a very versatile skill. You’ll start with basic composition classes in freshman year and progress to more advanced ones in later years.
Linguistics: Linguistics is the study of language. There are general courses devoted to things like syntax and phonetics, and there are specialties for particular interests:
- Semiotics: the study of signs and symbols
- Dialectology: the study of dialects
- Speech-language pathology: understanding speech on a cognitive level
- Psycholinguistics: understanding speech through a psychological lens
- Computational linguistics: the speech of science and technology
Linguistics is a big field with its own major, but if you have a general love of words and how they work, linguistics can be a big boon to your English degree.
Literature: There are many literature courses that you can take as an English major. The entry-level classes will teach you how to read, analyze, interpret, and dissect texts, and the more complex classes will show you how things like history and politics intersect with the written word. For example, Comparative Literature is a common college course that will have you read books and plays from different countries to gain a deeper cultural understanding of them.
Creative or Technical Writing: Many colleges offer classes in both creative writing and technical writing. You can explore both types, or you can commit to one if you already have specific career plans. There’s some overlap between them, but their particulars can be quite different, especially as you get more advanced.
Textual Analysis: Textual analysis is a skill that you’ll often use as an English major, so it’s only fitting that it’s offered as a course. It might not be called “textual analysis,” however. It might be combined or supplemented with other topics like logic, rhetoric, critical thinking, literary analysis, or just English I and II.
What Jobs Can You Get with an English Degree?
An English degree can prepare you for work in many different industries. Sometimes, the degree itself is enough; other times, you’ll need to use it as a stepping stone for more advanced degrees, licenses, and certifications.
As for your paychecks, the National Association of Colleges and Employers has determined that $36,180 is the average starting salary for English majors. Some jobs will pay more than others.
- Technical writer ($69,850 per year)
- High school teacher ($60,320)
- Digital content specialist ($58,506)
- Librarian ($57,680)
- Editor ($57,210)
- Webmaster ($54,862)
- Interpreter and translator ($46,120)
- Journalist ($40,771)
- News reporter ($40,309)
- Freelance writer ($40,000)
- TV production assistant ($31,819)
- Announcer ($30,830)
It’s important to note that these are median salaries and not maximum salaries. For example, the annual salary of a news reporter can range from $27,804 – $66,777 depending on experience, but the median salary comes out to be $40,309.
Professional Organizations for Those with an English Degree
Here are just a few organizations that support English majors.
- American Communication Association (ACS): geared toward communications students, but English students can benefit from its scholarly reserves as well. It’s a small organization, but unlike many others, it’s free. There are no dues or membership costs.
- Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP): a far-reaching organization that offers everything from national conferences to a monthly publication called The Writer’s Chronicle. It’ll be a great resource for aspiring writers.
- Rhetoric Society of America (RSA): focused on the study of rhetoric. It welcomes students of every discipline, and it even has student chapters scattered across American college campuses.
- Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI): for authors of children’s books and young adult novels. They have an entire network that hosts lectures, workshops, conferences, and other special events for fellow tradesmen.
- Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ): a large, “broad-based” organization that offers everything from ethics courses to job training opportunities. It has student resources as well as professional ones.
- Authors Guild: a group of people who support, educate, and advocate for authors. Membership benefits include a digital resource library and legal help for those in need.
You don’t have to join a professional organization to get a degree, but they can be a big help in terms of resources and career opportunities after you graduate.
Accreditation for an Online English Degree
You should always look for an accredited school when seeking a degree. For starters, schools need to be accredited to be eligible for federal financial aid, and accredited schools have also met objective educational standards for quality.
Most colleges are accredited by regional boards. There are six, and they cover the entire U.S. based on regions. For example, the Southern Association of Colleges covers many states below the Mason-Dixon line, and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges covers the northeast coast.
There are also special accreditation boards like the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) or the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC).
If you plan on majoring in English with an emphasis on something like education or journalism, these accreditations are the ones to look for on your college’s website.
Financial Aid for English Majors
The biggest source of financial aid for college students is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It can be applied to any major, and it offers both grants and loans.
You’ll also want to look into scholarships. You can get them for having good grades, coming from a low-income family, or being an “underrepresented” student like a racial minority or a first-generation college applicant.
There are also scholarships meant specifically for English majors:
- The Lammont Belin Arts Scholarship is offered to students of the arts, including music, literature, photography, dance, drama, and creative writing.
- The Bill Gove Scholarship is funded by the National Speakers Association and awarded to students who are majoring in English, journalism, or communications with an emphasis in speech.
These are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more scholarships for English degrees, so don’t be afraid to seek them out.
Questions Related to Earning an English Degree Online
Here are our answers to a few more questions you might have.
What Is Bachelor’s Degree in English?
A bachelor’s degree in English is a four-year degree that will teach you about literature, speech, communication, composition, textual analysis, and more.
Depending on your areas of interest, you can get a general education in English studies, or you can specialize in something like film studies or creative writing.
Is an English Degree a BA or BS?
You can obtain either a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in English. Much of the coursework will be the same, but since the B.S. is more technical, it can better prepare you for work in an academic or scientific field.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor’s Degree in English?
It takes most people around four years to get a bachelor’s degree in English. However, there are some factors that can speed up or slow down your education:
- Specialization: If you want a dual degree in English and another related subject, you’ll need to take more credits and spend more time in school.
- Acceleration: If you want to graduate in the quickest amount of time, you should look into accelerated degree programs. For example, Arizona State University offers a three-year fast track for its English program, and Eastern Kentucky University offers a five-year fast track for a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree program in English.
- Licensure: If you want to become a teacher or librarian, there are additional certifications that you’ll need before you’re considered employable.
Talk to an academic advisor if you want more information on the length of a degree program. They might be able to recommend other things, like summer semesters or high course loads, to get you out of school quickly.
Are There Any Affordable Online English Degree Programs?
There are many affordable options for online English degrees. In fact, it’s usually cheaper to get an online degree than a campus-based one.
You can avoid a lot of student fees when you’re online. You won’t have to pay for living in a dorm or eating at a cafeteria, and you can sidestep a lot of little costs like student parking as well.
Some schools will waive out-of-state tuition when you’re an online student. For example, students enrolled in the “e-campus” at Oregon State University pay the exact same tuition regardless of their residency status.
These are all important things to consider when you’re trying to budget for college.
List of Schools Offering an Online English Degree
We’ve included accredited colleges and universities that offer one or more online bachelor’s degrees for English majors.
Major James P. Etter founded the American Military University in 1991 and has expanded to build the American Public University System in 2002.
The school now offers a B.A. in English, which teaches students to organize their thoughts and ideas. Students can also explore English and American Literature, allowing them to express their opinions with eloquence and clarity.
- BA in English
APUS is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Arizona State University or ASU is a research university with five campuses across the metropolitan area and four regional learning centers across the state.
ASU’s online B.A. in English provides students with a robust cross-discipline selection from the university’s English Department. It focuses on teaching students how to express complex ideas through different modes of communication.
- BA in English
Arizona State University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
Bowling Green State University or BGSU is a research university in Bowling Green, Ohio, with a 1,338-acre academic and residential campus.
Students who enroll in the university’s B.A. in English will learn how imaginative texts can address cultural concerns and shape the world. They will also learn how to evaluate, interpret, and create print, aural, and visual texts.
- BA in English
BGSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
California Baptist University is a liberal arts university in Riverside, California. It started accepting students in 1950 and is now one of the most popular schools for students who want to earn an English degree.
The university’s B.A. in English teaches students how to be well-rounded and well-versed in writing, evaluating, and expressing themselves through literature.
- BA in English
California Baptist University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
Central Washington University or CWU is a university in Ellensburg, Washington. The university consists of four divisions and different degrees for students, including a B.A. in English.
This program is a 74-credit degree that combines liberal arts with courses in creative, business, professional, scientific, and technical writing, together with the best practices in editing and publishing.
- BA in English – Professional & Creative Writing
CWU is accredited by Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Clarion University of Pennsylvania is one of the 14 universities that make up the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
The university is known for its online B.A. in English degree that develops the reading, analytical writing, and creative thinking of students. The program offers courses that focus on self-expression, together with literary insights, values, and opinions.
- BA in English
- BS in Integrative Studies – English
Clarion University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Known initially as Clayton Junior College, Clayton State University now has a fast-growing undergraduate, graduate, and professional program, including a B.A. in English program.
It offers three tracks for students in secondary English education, literature, and writing. The program aims to develop competent professionals in the field of journalism, business communication, and public relations.
- BA in English – Secondary Education
Clayton State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Columbia College or Columbia College of Missouri is an independent liberal arts college that operates 40 campuses in 14 U.S. states.
The university’s B.A. in English program provides students with a deeper foundation for graduate study and career preparation. It focuses on developing skills fundamental to all areas of liberal arts studies and literary study.
- BA in English
Columbia College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
East Tennessee State University or ETSU is one of the universities that make up the State University and Community College System of Tennessee.
It offers a B.A. in English Literature that aims to develop their students’ communication and interpretative skills. This program also provides a more in-depth understanding of self-expression through English Literature and creative writing.
- BA in English Literature
East Tennessee State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Eastern Oregon University or EOU is a university in La Grande, Oregon that offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and off-campus programs, including an online English degree.
This program aims to deliver a balanced combination of courses in literature, writing, and media. The goal of the university is to develop professionals with advanced critical and creative thinking and practical communication skills.
- BA in English/Writing
- BS in English/Writing
Eastern Oregon University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Granite State College is an educational institution in Concord, New Hampshire, and is a member of the University System of New Hampshire.
The school offers English Language Arts for students who are looking for a flexible English degree program. It provides a pathway to a career in Early Childhood Education, Early Childhood Special Education, and Elementary Education.
- BA in English Language Arts
Granite State College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Heritage University is a university in Toppenish, Washington that offers associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees.
The university has an English program that teaches various courses on multiculturalism, liberal arts, English, and communication. The Literature & Languages Department also offers students the chance to take lessons in different subjects such as history, philosophy, music, and dance.
- BA in English
Heritage University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Indiana University East or IU East is a university in Richmond, Indiana. It currently has over 4,000 students across 60 academic degree programs, including an online degree in English.
Students with a GPA of 2.0 and 60 transferable credits only need to take 20 classes at IU East to complete the program and earn their widely acknowledged degree.
- BA in English, Technical & Professional Writing
IU East is accredited by Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Known initially as King College, King University received its new name to acknowledge the growing number of on-campus and online degrees that it has.
The university’s online B.A. in English program offers flexibility for students to earn a widely applicable degree. The coursework includes an in-depth study on various subjects such as world literature, adolescent literature, grammar, and style.
- BA in English
King University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Louisiana State University or officially Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College is a research university in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
They offer an online B.A. in English program that includes courses in public speaking, creative writing, poetry, and literary history. This program also develops the students’ oral communication, together with their critical, creative, and analytical thinking.
- BA in English
Louisiana State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Mercy College is an educational institution in Dobbs Ferry, New York, with satellite campuses in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Yorktown Heights.
The school offers a degree in English, which fosters the ability to communicate effectively and think critically. The coursework on this program provides a way for students to discover, enjoy, and reflect on various literary works.
- BA in English
Mercy College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Nicholls State University is one of the universities that make up the University of Louisiana System.
They offer a flexible online English program with a concentration in film studies, literary studies, creative writing, and writing and rhetoric. A degree in English from NSU assures that a student possesses excellent written and verbal communication skills.
- BA in English
Nicholls State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Pat Robertson founded the Christian Broadcasting Network University in 1977. It became Regent University in 1990 and started to offer off-campus and on-campus associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.
Regent’s B.A. in English provides a comprehensive study of words and how they work in language and literature. It also aims to cultivate skills in writing and critical thinking.
- BA in English
Regent University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Rogers State University traces its roots back in 1909 as the Eastern University Preparatory School. It now operates branch campuses in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and Pryor Creek, Oklahoma.
Their English degree explores the world of written and literary culture. The university provides students with the opportunity to develop their critical thinking skills with emphasis on the English language.
- BA in Liberal Arts – English
Rogers State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College or SMWC is one of the oldest colleges in Indiana. The school offers a degree in English that focuses on teaching how to communicate effectively and creatively.
The coursework provides a more profound understanding of the contributions of women to literature. Students of SMWC only need 43 credit hours to earn their English degree.
- BA in English
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Southern New Hampshire University is one of the fastest-growing universities in the U.S. because of its online program and open enrollment policy.
Students can earn their degree in English Language & Literature with only a high school diploma and minimal on-campus obligation. The program focuses on developing creative thinking, together with practical verbal and written communication skills.
- BA in Creative Writing & English
- BA in English Language & Literature
Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Thomas Edison State University is an online-focused institution that has served the state’s adult population since 1972.
Their B.A. in English helps adults who are planning a change in career or advancement in education. The program explores the broad spectrum of literature and advanced writing, which develops the student’s knowledge in traditional liberal arts disciplines and proficiency in English.
- BA in English
Thomas Edison State University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Troy University was founded in 1887 as Troy State Normal School and is now the flagship of the Troy University System. The school is offering associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.
Their B.A. in English program explores different aspects of literary art, including advanced grammar, world literature, and American Literature before and after 1875.
- BS in English
Troy University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Central Florida is a research university in Orlando, Florida. It is currently the largest university in the U.S. in terms of enrollment. They offer more than 20 online bachelor’s degree programs, including B.A. in English Literature.
This course allows students to delve into the study of linguistics, theory, and rhetoric within historical and contemporary literature.
- BA in English – Creative Writing
- BA in English – Technical Communication
The University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Colorado Denver is the largest research institution in Colorado and has granted more graduate degrees than any other educational institution in the state.
The university offers a fully online B.A. in English Writing, Rhetoric, and Technology, which develops practical written communication skills that aim to inform, educate, instruct, persuade, and sell.
- BA in English Writing, Rhetoric and Technology
The University of Colorado Denver is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Maryland Global Campus is an online-focused institution that offers classes and programs for more than 90,000 students worldwide.
The university offers 120 academic online courses, including a degree in English, where students learn literature and writing. This program aims to improve students’ cultural literacy and ability to recognize excellent literary art.
- BA in English
UMGC is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of Massachusetts Lowell or colloquially UMass Lowell is one of the research universities that make up the University of Massachusetts system.
The university offers 120 bachelor’s, 43 master’s and 25 doctoral degree programs, including a widely acknowledged degree in English. This program exposes students to a rigorous curriculum based on British and American literary traditions.
- BA in English
The University of Massachusetts Lowell is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
The University of Memphis started accepting students in 1912 and now has more than 22,000 students enrolled.
The university’s Department of English in the College of Arts and Sciences offers an online B.A. in English program, which requires at least 120 credit hours. Students can concentrate on either the African-American literature or professional writing.
- BA in English
The University of Memphis is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Valley City State University or VCSU is one of the institutions that make up the North Dakota University System. VCSU offers over 80 programs, including an English degree that requires the completion of the General Education Core.
VCSU students can choose from four specific concentrations; technical writing, professional writing, general English, or literary studies.
- BA in English – General
- BA in English – Literature Studies
- BA in English – Professional Writing
- BA in English – Technical Writing
- BS in Education – English Education
- BS in English – General
- BS in English – Literature Studies
- BS in English – Professional Writing
- BS in English – Technical Writing
Valley City State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Western New Mexico University was founded in 1893 and is known to cater to a student body diverse in age, language, and culture.
Their B.A. in English prepares students for various career paths by helping them develop critical thinking and practical communication skills. The coursework inspires students to read, critically analyze, and create written works of art.
- BA in English
- BS in English
Western New Mexico University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Is an English Degree Worth It?
Yes, an English degree is worth it. After graduation, you could be making between $30,000 and $70,000.
English degrees are worth a lot more than their reputation would suggest. They can prepare you for a wide variety of jobs, especially if you narrow down your interests and specialize, and some English programs out there are quite affordable.
They’ll put you right on track for a rewarding, long-term career that utilizes your unique skills.