Online Master’s Degree in English

English is a humanities discipline that involves the close study of literary works and history. Students pursuing a master’s degree in English usually have passions for reading fiction and writing. A graduate degree in English is ideal for individuals hoping for a career in writing, publishing, teaching, or journalism. It is also a common focus for those hoping for a career in academia and university teaching, though a doctorate is required for most university positions.

Most English master’s degree programs require 30 or more hours of coursework and research. On average, students take two to three years to complete graduate English programs if they enroll in the program full time. Some may take longer if they take fewer than three courses, or nine credit hours, at a time. Completion times may fluctuate based on individual circumstances and varying program requirements.

Classes for an Online Master’s Degree in English

A master’s curriculum in English will include courses in research and writing, analysis, literary theory, and a thorough review of literary works from varying periods and regions, depending on the degree’s focus. Many master’s programs focus on British and American literature, while others may focus on poetry or literature from other regions, like Russia, South America, or Africa. Most courses are built around lectures and discussion, and grading is determined by class participation and performance on writing exercises and critical papers. Students develop analytical writing skills, research methods, and documentation skills. Common courses might include:

  • Bibliography and Research Methods
  • Critical Pedagogy
  • Post-Colonial Studies
  • Studies in Literary Translation
  • The American Novel

A final paper, or thesis, is required to complete most master’s degree programs in English. In many cases, students will satisfy a set number of course hour requirements with independent research. They will produce a paper presenting their research and analysis to a group of faculty members. Some programs may not require a thesis for completion, but very few English programs offer the option to take comprehensive exams.

A Career as a Graduate with an Online Master’s Degree in English

Master’s degree holders in English can take their career in many different directions. Many graduates enter writing-focused fields like advertising, public relations, marketing, or journalism. Some enter publishing as editors or copywriters while others work for any number of businesses and industries as content managers or content strategist. Editing is popular field for English graduates and many provide editing services full-time or on a part-time, contract basis. Editing can be a competitive field and the industry is not expected to grow in the near future, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Teaching is another popular field for English master’s degree holders. Some find teaching positions at public or private schools and others may find faculty positions at community colleges. In rare cases, graduates may find faculty or staff positions at colleges or universities, although a doctorate degree is required for most positions at this level. A master’s degree is not required for most English teaching positions or for other common careers for English majors. However, an online master’s degree in English may further develop critical thinking, analytical skills, and writing abilities to make for a more marketable job candidate.


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