Explore the 30 Best Online Masters in English Programs for 2020. Compare online master’s programs, careers, and salaries.
In an Online Masters in English program, you’ll study literature and writing. The language and critical-thinking skills that you’ll develop will help you succeed as a writer, a teacher or a businessperson.
A master’s degree in English can be a smart step toward gaining professional recognition and earning more money.
Best Online Master’s in English Programs
If you love words and the power they hold, then you may enjoy pursuing a master’s degree in English. You’ll explore how others have used words to convey great ideas, and you’ll refine your own ability to express yourself clearly, creatively and persuasively.
In an English program, you’ll study literature, including poetry, novels and plays. There may be a vast selection of literature courses from which you can choose. For example, there may be classes that focus on particular time periods, regions of the world or genres.
These literature electives will allow you to create a plan of study that truly matches your interests. Not only will you do a lot of reading, but you’ll also perform literary criticism and analysis.
Additionally, you will practice your writing skills. There may be a grammar course in which you’ll become an expert on the intricacies of English grammar. In addition, you’ll take writing classes in which you can practice your composition skills in various genres. These may include nonfiction, prose, poetry and technical writing.
During your program, you may also learn about the history of the English language. Other courses may focus on developing your speaking skills, teaching English to students or using digital technologies. There may be an internship requirement or a final paper.
Your English expertise can benefit any line of work that requires clear communication. Jobs in writing, editing and journalism are popular, but you could also use this master’s degree for a career in filmmaking, advertising, public relations, fundraising or law. Teaching is another option.
Master’s in English Curriculum & Courses
During a graduate program in English, you can expect to do a lot of reading and a lot of writing. Many of your studies will focus on literature and composition. Your curriculum may include many of the classes listed below.
- British Literature: You’ll survey the works of renowned British writers, possibly from medieval times through the modern era, and consider the contexts in which those pieces were written.
- Contemporary American Literature: This course will cover literary developments over the last several decades and the American authors who have played a role.
- Creative Writing Workshop: In a workshop course, you’ll have opportunities to write your own pieces and share them with classmates who will provide feedback.
- English Education: You’ll learn how to teach students to evaluate literature and become better writers and grammarians.
- Grammar Studies: By studying the technical side of the English language, you’ll be able to use words more clearly and effectively.
- History of the English Language: Learning about the origins of English and its development over the years will help you better appreciate this language.
- Literary Criticism: You’ll learn to read critically and present your conclusions through clear, persuasive writing.
- Multicultural Literature Studies: You may read works from around the world or study the writings of minority authors.
- Technical Writing: In this course, you’ll practice your ability to write on scientific or mechanical topics.
- Writing Poetry: This class will teach you about various poetic styles and provide opportunities to try them yourself.
English programs often include a good deal of freedom to select your own classes. While you may be required to take a set number of literature and writing courses, you may get to choose which ones you enroll in.
Master’s in English Concentrations & Specialties
While some graduate students opt to get a general degree in English, others choose to pursue a specialty within this discipline. If you enroll in a concentration track, you may find your studies more engaging or more relevant to your future career plans.
- Literature: In online masters in English literature programs, you’ll study famous works and their historical and cultural backgrounds. By refining your skills in literary analysis, you will enhance your capacity for critical thinking — an essential skill for both career advancement and PhD preparation.
- Rhetoric and Composition: To improve how you communicate information and persuade others with your words, consider studies in rhetoric. This path of study will prove invaluable if you plan to pursue a career in advertising, politics, school leadership, public relations or academia.
- English Teaching: In addition to studying grammar, composition and literature in this program, you’ll also discuss learning theories, teaching methods, curriculum selection and educational technology. This concentration can be useful for teaching English in middle schools, high schools and community colleges, but you may need state teaching licensure as well.
- Creative Writing: If you aspire to pen beloved poems, become a great novelist or cultivate others’s writing skills, then a concentration in creative writing may be for you. Through various writing workshops, you’ll enhance your natural abilities and stretch yourself to try new storytelling approaches.
- Women & Gender Studies: In this track, you’ll explore how literature has portrayed women and shaped cultural views over the years, and you’ll study the works of female and sexual-minority writers. This degree can be an interesting choice for those interested in writing, publishing, public relations, law, public policy or social work.
To pick a concentration, think about what you want to do with your degree once you’re finished with school. If you’re interested in running public relations for a women’s rights group, then a gender studies specialization could be a great fit. A degree in creative writing might be a better choice if you want to go into fiction publishing.
Master’s in English Careers & Salaries
While there is a wide variety in the types of English degrees that are available, the career paths for this field of study are even more diverse. Whether you want to be a professional writer or use your communication skills in another line of work, you will have plenty of options available to you after finishing your degree.
As you might expect, many English students choose to pursue jobs associated with writing, editing and publishing. Writers compose anything from blogs to novels, textbooks to technical manuals, film scripts to advertising copy.
Reporters and correspondents also use words to convey information to the public. Editors help refine writers’ works, and publishers prepare the finished documents for print.
Others with master’s degrees go into teaching or another job associated with education. A teaching license is required for most positions at the elementary, middle and high school levels.
At the college level, you’re most likely to work at a community college or be an adjunct faculty member; to be a full-time faculty member at a university, you’ll probably need a doctorate. School administrators may also appreciate the communication skills gained in an English program.
In addition to writing and teaching, a number of other fields can benefit from the communication and critical thinking skills that you can gain in a master’s degree program for English studies.
For example, public relations and communication professionals need to speak and write well. Sales managers, marketing representatives, fundraisers and lawyers also need those skills.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, your salary with a master’s degree in English may range from around $40,000 to more than six figures.
|English Careers||Median Annual Salary|
|Advertising or Marketing Manager||$132,620|
|Public Relations or Fundraising Manager||$114,800|
|Postsecondary Communications Teacher||$68,910|
|Postsecondary English Language or Literature Teacher||$64,910|
|Writer or Author||$62,170|
|High School Teacher||$60,320|
|Reporter or Correspondent||style=”text-align: center;”>$43,490|
The above table does not reflect a guarantee of earnings. Salaries are greatly influenced by factors like experience, education, employer and geographic region.
What’s the Expected Job Growth for English Careers?
Over the next decade, some career paths for those with an English master’s degree will have an increasing number of positions available, but others will experience a decrease in openings. When crafting a plan for your future, it’s smart to consider what the Bureau of Labor Statistics says about each job’s growth prospects.
|Career||Expected Job Growth (Next 10 years)|
|Advertising or Marketing Manager||8% growth|
|Public Relations or Fundraising Manager||8% growth|
|Technical Writer||8% growth|
|Postsecondary Communications Teacher||5% growth|
|High School Teacher||4% growth|
|Postsecondary English Language or Literature Teacher||4% growth|
|Survey Researcher||1% growth|
|Writer or Author||0% change|
|Reporter or Correspondent||10% decline|
A decrease in jobs doesn’t need to scare you off from a particular career path, but it should remind you that vying for top positions will require you to work hard and set yourself apart from other potential hires.
Accreditation for English Graduate School Programs
The best master’s degree programs are found at regionally accredited schools. These are colleges that have received the approval of one of the U.S.’s regional accrediting bodies, six of which accredit universities with graduate-level programs.
- Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
Regional accreditation is given only to institutions that demonstrate academic excellence. Schools have to show that they do a good job of educating and supporting students throughout their many programs.
As a result, you can count on getting a quality education when you attend a regionally accredited school. Because your degree will be respected by future employers, you may find it easier to land a job. Your credits will also be more likely to transfer to another program or qualify you for admission to doctoral studies.
Regional accreditation is available for online programs just as it is for on-campus ones. Choosing an accredited school is a good way to make sure that you’ve picked a quality online program.
National accreditation isn’t the same as regional. Typically, the standards for national accreditation are less rigorous, so it doesn’t garner the same level of respect. It’s perfectly fine to choose a school that has both national and regional accreditation, but don’t settle for a school that has national accreditation only.
Students in English programs often share a common love of language. To connect with others who care as much about communication as you do, join a professional organization. To develop your skills and position yourself for career advancement, look for a group that aligns with your professional interests.
- Modern Languages Association: MLA focuses its attention on the academic and scholarly side of the English language. As one of the group’s more than 25,000 members, you’ll receive a journal subscription, access to online resources and discounts for the annual convention.
- Society for Technical Communication: If you’re involved in technical writing and publishing, then you’ll appreciate STC’s member benefits, including a magazine, online webinars, discounted conference registration and the opportunity to join special interest groups.
- Authors Guild: All types of writers, including novelists, poets and journalists, are invited to join the Authors Guild for support. As a member, you can access legal support, use online resources and participate in local chapter events.
- American Society of Journalists and Authors: If you’re a nonfiction writer or publisher, then ASJA is your source for networking programs, magazines, conference discounts and political advocacy. Freelancers, in particular, will find this group beneficial.
- National Council of Teachers of English: Whether you teach English in elementary schools, colleges or somewhere in between, you can find help and support through membership in NCTE. You’ll receive discounts, online resources, a magazine and lesson plans.
- Association of Writers and Writing Programs: Creative writers and college writing teachers are invited to join AWP for quarterly magazines, industry advocacy, job and internship boards, and a membership program.
- National Writers Union: NWU is a union for freelance writers. As a member, you can take advantage of press passes, contract assistance and online networking, and there are dental and vision plans that may help you save money on your health insurance costs.
- The American Literature Association: Anyone who is passionate about studying the works of American writers is welcome to join the ALA. The group holds conferences and symposiums, grants academic fellowships, maintains a list of scholars and issues calls for journal submissions.
Most organizations require annual membership dues that support the association’s initiatives and grant you access to the various benefits. You may be able to sign up with a student rate during your grad program.
Don’t let financial worries keep you from pursuing a graduate degree. With a bit of digging, you can line up financial aid opportunities that will help you afford a master’s program.
For starters, be sure to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The results of this government application will let you know what you can expect by way of government assistance. That might include grants, low-interest loans and work-study opportunities.
Other assistance-granting organizations may check your FAFSA results as well. For example, your state may use the FAFSA to determine whether you can get grants or loans from its programs.
Scholarships and fellowships are valuable sources of assistance because they don’t have to be repaid. For either, you may qualify based on your community service, professional leadership, past academic success or future ambitions.
Private loans provide tuition assistance for many students. When shopping for a private college loan, be sure to compare interest rates since some can be high.
Your employer may provide college help as well, especially if your education will directly benefit your work.
For further help, consult your school’s financial aid department. You may be able to request a payment plan.
Is an Online Masters Degree Respected?
Yes, you can get a quality education through online courses. Schools offer comparable academics for online and on-campus programs, so you’ll learn the same sort of material, complete similar assignments and work just as hard.
Plus, your diploma won’t specify that you took digital courses, so potential employers may not even be aware that you got your degree online. Just be sure to choose a regionally accredited school for your online courses.
What Can I Do with a Masters in English?
A master’s degree in English can prove useful in many professional disciplines.
If you’re a writer, a graduate program can help you get better at your craft. You’ll become a stronger author and editor, and you’ll know more about the publishing process. You could work in news media, book and magazine publishing, or online content production.
Teaching is a popular field for English students. You could teach K–12 students or work at a community college.
Any field that needs strong communicators can benefit from your English skills as well. That includes public relations, law, marketing, fundraising and public policy.
How Much Does a Masters in English Cost?
The cost of a master’s degree can vary greatly among schools, but you can expect the tuition to be many thousands of dollars. The overall price will depend heavily on the school’s price per credit hour.
Many middle-of-the-road graduate programs in English cost around $500 to $600 per credit hour. Some are closer to $1,000. Of course, there are other schools where each credit hour is only $400 or less.
You may find the lowest costs at public universities; some even offer their resident tuition rates to out-of-state online students. Receiving financial aid or transferring in credits can help as well.
How Much Can I Make with a Career in English?
According to data from the Center on Education and the Workforce, having a bachelor’s degree in English leads to a median annual salary of $53,000. With a graduate degree in English language and literature, the median earnings increase to $68,000. The top 25% of people with this degree bring in more than $103,000 annually.
Your personal earnings may depend on the line of work you choose to pursue with this degree. Some of the top-paying careers for those with a master’s degree in English include public relations and marketing. Technical writing is one of the highest-paying jobs for professional writers.
Universities Offering Online Master’s Degree Programs in English
Each of the universities included below are regionally accredited and offer master’s degree in English online.
Providing college educations since 1886, Arizona State University has graduated more than 500,000 students. This public university has five Arizona campuses and a robust lineup of online classes. The school offers programs at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels — many of which are ranked in the U.S.’s top 25.
- MA in English
Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Committee.
An Ohio public college, Bowling Green State University educates nearly 20,000 students each year at a 9:1 student-faculty ratio. Founded as a teaching college in 1910, the school today offers degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. BGSU also has associate’s degree programs through the Firelands satellite campus.
- MA in English
Bowling Green State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Degrees at East Carolina University are available at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. This public university, based in Greenville, North Carolina, began in 1907 and now reaches nearly 30,000 students annually. Notable ECU colleges include the Brody School of Medicine and the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences.
- MA in English – Multicultural and Transnational Literatures
- MA in English – Technical and Professional Communication
East Carolina University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Eastern New Mexico University is made up of three separate campuses. The Portales campus offers programs at the associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s levels. The Roswell and Ruidoso campuses offer two-year programs. At the Portales campus, there is a 17:1 student-faculty ratio. This public university first opened its doors in 1934.
- MA in English
Eastern New Mexico University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Among Kansas’ public universities, only Emporia State University has been selected on three separate occasions as a College of Distinction. This school, which was founded in 1863, offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees as well as a handful of PhD programs. The annual enrollment is nearly 6,000 students.
- MA in English
Emporia State is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
From associate’s degrees to doctoral programs, Gardner – Webb University has educational offerings for every level of the college experience. This private North Carolina university began as a high school in 1905 and transitioned to postsecondary teaching in 1928.
GWU has Baptist roots but currently represents students from over 20 different Christian denominations.
- MA in English
Gardner-Webb University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Hamline University was the first university founded in the state of Minnesota; it opened in 1854. Offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, the school enrolls about 2,000 undergraduates and over 1,000 graduate students each year. This private university engages all students in field research, internships or other hands-on learning experiences.
- MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
Hamline University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
At Heritage University, a private school in the state of Washington, students can earn associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The college opened in 1907. Of the approximately 700 undergraduate students who enroll each year, about 85% represent the first generation of their families to go to college.
- MA in English
Heritage University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Mercy College in New York issues bachelor’s and master’s degrees and also has a doctoral program in physical therapy. This private school opened in 1950. There are four campuses, 40 online degree programs and five divisions of the college, including the School of Education, the School of Health and Natural Sciences, and the School of Liberal Arts.
- MA in English Literature
Mercy College is accredited by Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Students at Morehead State University can earn associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. A public university, MSU is part of the Kentucky system of higher education. The school was founded in 1887. Today, there are over 200 programs, and the school has an annual enrollment of more than 10,000 students.
- MA in English
Morehead State University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Murray State University has over 143 academic programs that span the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree levels. This is a public university, and it opened in 1922. Popular departments include the Arthur J. Bauernfeind College of Business and the Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology.
- MA in English
Murray State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
National University, based in California, focuses on online and on-campus courses for adult learners. This private university has graduated more than 170,000 students since opening in 1971. There are more than 75 degree programs offered. They are available at the associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degree levels.
- MA in English
National University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Northern Arizona University opened as a teaching school in 1899. These days, online or at one of the state’s many campuses, students can work toward bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.
The various schools of this public university include the College of Health and Human Services, the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and the College of Arts and Letters.
- MA in English – Literature
- MA in English – Professional Writing
- MA in English – Rhetoric Writing and Digital Media Studies
Northern Arizona University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Northwestern State University of Louisiana offers associate’s and bachelor’s undergraduate degrees and master’s and doctoral graduate degrees. Nearly 10,000 students enroll in the college’s undergraduate programs each year. There are three main campuses, three satellite sites and a wide range of online classes. This public university opened in 1884.
- MA in English
Northwestern State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
A private Catholic school, Ohio Dominican University began educating women in 1911, and the school shifted to a coed model in 1964. Approximately 1,600 students enroll annually, and, on average, classes contain 18 students. About 40 associate’s and bachelor’s programs are available, and there are several master’s degree programs as well.
- MA in English
Ohio Dominican University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
Ohio University first received students in 1809. Since that time, the school has grown to offer approximately 250 programs at the associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. Among public universities, the Honors Tutorial College at Ohio University is considered one of the 20 best honors programs in the country.
- MA in English
Ohio University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Saint Cloud State University is a public college in the state of Minnesota. Degree programs are available at all levels from associate’s to doctoral. The student body includes approximately 14,000 students. The St. Cloud campus was founded in 1869, and many online courses are now available as well.
- MA in Teaching English as a Second Language
Cloud State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania offers around 150 bachelor’s degree programs. Master’s degrees and a few doctorates are available as well. This school opened for teacher training in 1889, at which time 168 students were enrolled. The current student body of this public university includes nearly 9,000 students.
- MA in English
Slippery Rock University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Southern New Hampshire University offers courses through on-campus study and online learning. There are more than 150 bachelor’s degrees from which students can choose, and associate’s, master’s and doctoral programs are also available.
SNHU opened as a business school in 1932, and business and finance are still among the many majors offered at this private university.
- MA in English and Creative Writing – Fiction
- MA in English and Creative Writing – Non-Fiction
- MA in English and Creative Writing – Poetry
- MA in English and Creative Writing – Screenwriting
Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education, Inc.
Tarleton State University, which opened in 1899, is a public school in the Texas A&M University System. With over 13,000 students and nearly 900 faculty members, the college offers a 19:1 student-faculty ratio. Most students pursue bachelor’s or master’s degrees, but there are a few associate’s and doctoral programs as well.
- MA in English
Tarleton State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The third-largest school in the Texas A&M University System is Texas A&M University – Commerce. The school offers around 100 degree programs. Approximately 6,000 students study at the baccalaureate level. Another 4,000 students are working on master’s degrees or doctorates. This public university has been educating students since 1889.
- MA in English
- MS in English
Texas A&M University – Commerce is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Over 30,000 undergraduate students enroll at Texas Tech University each year in pursuit of one of the school’s 150 bachelor’s degrees. This public university, which opened in 1923, also offers master’s and doctoral programs. There are 12 different divisions, including the College of Human Sciences and the School of Law.
- MA in English
Texas Tech University is accredited with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Tiffin University, a private school in Ohio, was founded in 1888. The university offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees plus a PhD in Global Leadership and Change. Between the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, and the School of Criminal Justice and Social Sciences, approximately 3,000 students are enrolled at Tiffin.
- Master of Humanities in English
Tiffin University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Central Florida issues more than 16,500 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees each year. This public university has the largest on-campus student body of any postsecondary school in the U.S. Founded in 1963, UCF is made up of 13 colleges, including the College of Nursing and the College of Sciences.
- MA in English – Technical Communication
The University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Since its inception in 1931, more than 65,000 people have graduated from the University of Louisiana – Monroe. Today, more than 9,000 students enroll in this public university each year, and there’s a 19:1 student-faculty ratio. The degree programs span all levels from associate’s to doctoral. More than 35 programs are available for online study.
- MA in English
The University of Louisiana at Monroe is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Memphis was founded in 1912. This Tennessee public university offers more than 250 different bachelor’s degree programs, many of which are nationally ranked. There are also master’s degrees and doctorates available. The school enrolls around 22,000 students annually and employs more than 900 full-time faculty members.
- MA in English – English as a Second Language
The University of Memphis is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
The University of Nebraska – Kearney enrolls nearly 7,000 students each year and has a student-faculty ratio of about 19:1. For undergraduate programs, UNK offers around 170 bachelor’s degrees. In addition, there are more than 25 master’s programs from which to select. This is a public university, and it was founded in 1905.
- MA in English
The University of Nebraska at Kearney is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Texas – Tyler awards bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees through on-campus and online study. This public university opened in 1971. Today, more than 10,000 students take classes each year. UT Tyler’s divisions include the Soules College of Business and the College of Engineering.
- MA in English
The University of Texas at Tyler is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
The University of West Florida has granted over 100,000 degrees since first opening in 1963. 76% of the school’s students are enrolled in associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs. The other 24% are in graduate programs and may be working toward master’s degrees or doctorates.
Upper-level undergraduate classes at this public university usually contain around 25 students.
- MA in English – Creative Writing
- MA in English – Literature
The University of West Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Wayland Baptist University’s main campus is in Texas, but the school has 13 additional campuses across multiple states and also runs an online education program. This private Christian school has been educating students since 1963.
In addition to programs at the baccalaureate and master’s degree levels, there are a few associate’s degrees and doctorates.
- MA in English
Wayland Baptist University is accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Getting Your Masters in English Online
If you love language, then give yourself the privilege of being surrounded by words and writing in an English master’s degree program. Throughout your studies, you’ll explore great works of literature, practice your own composition skills and learn to use words in powerful ways.
Whether you want to be a writer, an editor, a teacher or a business professional, a graduate degree in English can help you achieve your goals. Apply to online master’s programs so that you can earn an English degree through flexible studies. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll have a career-advancing master’s degree in hand.