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2023 Best Online English Degrees

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 8/15/2023
2023 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in English Badge

For those who love the written word, an online bachelor's degree in English may be the perfect choice. In addition to learning how to analyze all types of writing from many time periods and geographic regions, students develop a wealth of other marketable skills. Working individually and in teams, English majors learn to present their thoughts and ideas in an organized fashion, expand their cultural literacy, and master the art of research. 

A bachelor's degree in English can be the first step on the path to becoming an author, technical writer, public relations specialist, editor, or many more options. Some students also use this degree as a foundation for an advanced degree, including an online MFA, online masters in creative writing, or a law degree

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2023 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in English Badge
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Online English Bachelor's Degrees You May Be Interested In

2023 Best Online English Degrees

RankSchool Salary Score Median Starting Salary
# 1 #1 Metropolitan State University of Denver 91 91 $35,317
# 2 #2 American Public University System 90 $34,898
# 3 #3 University of Maryland Global Campus 88 $34,441
# 4 #4 Southern New Hampshire University Online 86 $33,843
# 5 #5 Arizona State University 78 $32,214
# 6 #6 University of Minnesota - Online 73 $31,451
# 7 #7 University of Phoenix 70 $31,030
# 8 #8 Washington State University 62 $29,808
# 9 #9 University of Massachusetts - Lowell 62 $29,796
# 10 #10 West Virginia State University 61 $29,654

#1 Metropolitan State University of Denver

  • Salary Score: 91
  • Median Starting Salary: $35,317
  • Locations: Denver (CO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver), which is a public university, has been designated a Hispanic-serving institution. Students who want to earn an online Bachelor of Arts in English can opt for an additional concentration in literature, film, and media studies. The program requires the completion of 120 credit hours, which most full-time students achieve in four to five years. MSU Denver has a 59% acceptance rate and a 36% graduation rate.

This degree program includes courses in English literature, writing, linguistics, and diversity. Students enrolled in this online program can participate in the school's annual writing contest and annual undergraduate conference for English majors, and they may submit contributions to the school's literary magazine.

#2 American Public University System

  • Salary Score: 90
  • Median Starting Salary: $34,898
  • Locations: Charles Town (WV)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The American Public University System (APU) — a private, for-profit university — offers a Bachelor of Arts in English with optional concentrations in either literature or writing and communication. The degree requires 120 credit hours, and the school's year-round format structured on eight- to 16-week classes may allow some students to earn their degree in four years or less. APU accepts all applicants and has an 18% graduation rate.

All English majors take core courses in various literary periods and genres. Those pursuing the literature concentration take additional lit classes, such as Monsters, Heroes, Romance, and the Human Condition Through the Centuries, while those in the writing concentration explore creative writing, technical writing, and journalism.

#3 University of Maryland Global Campus

  • Salary Score: 88
  • Median Starting Salary: $34,441
  • Locations: Adelphi (MD)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Through the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), students can earn an online Bachelor of Arts in English with one of two optional areas of focus: American literature and British literature. The degree requires the completion of 120 credit hours, which some full-time students achieve in four years. This public institution accepts all applicants and has a graduation rate of 28%.

Some of the core courses in the program include Introduction to Women's Literature, Renaissance Literature, and Contemporary Global Literature. Major-related electives include African American Authors from 1900 to Present and Shakespeare Studies. English majors are also required to complete an advanced seminar in literature and writing. Graduates are prepared to pursue careers in publishing, public relations, education, and more.

#4 Southern New Hampshire University Online

  • Salary Score: 86
  • Median Starting Salary: $33,843
  • Locations: Manchester (NH)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), which is a private, nonprofit institution, offers several online options for earning a degree in English. Students can select a Bachelor of Arts in English Language & Literature with optional concentrations in literature or professional writing; a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing & English with optional concentrations in screenwriting, poetry, nonfiction writing, or fiction writing; or a Bachelor of Arts in General Studies - Concentration in Writing and Creative Expression. All programs require 120 credit hours, which some full-time students complete in four to five years.

Depending on the program, courses cover various literary genres and periods as well as types of writing. Coursework is designed to help students develop their attention to detail, research abilities, and communication skills.

#5 Arizona State University

  • Salary Score: 78
  • Median Starting Salary: $32,214
  • Locations: Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Arizona State University (ASU), which is a public institution with extensive online programs, offers an online Bachelor of Arts in English. Graduation requires the completion of 120 credit hours, which some students achieve in four to five years of full-time study. ASU has an 85% acceptance rate and a 52% graduation rate.

At ASU, students access their online courses through the Canvas learning management system. Composition, literary analysis, and English literature are among the core courses, and students must also fulfill a foreign language requirement. Graduates have pursued careers as communications specialists, writers, teachers, and more.

#6 University of Minnesota - Online

  • Salary Score: 73
  • Median Starting Salary: $31,451
  • Locations: Minneapolis (MN) (and 4 others)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Minnesota, which is a public institution, offers an online Bachelor of Science in English. The 120-credit hour program is designed to help students hone their writing and editing abilities while also developing problem-solving, research, and communication skills. Online learners will take classes in ancient and modern literature, as well as English grammar and usage. English majors are required to choose a minor or an additional major that will assist them in meeting their career goals.

The university uses the Canvas learning management system to deliver its online courses. Students use the system to access lectures and readings, submit assignments, and communicate with peers and instructors.

#7 University of Phoenix

  • Salary Score: 70
  • Median Starting Salary: $31,030
  • Locations: Nationwide
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Phoenix is one of the largest private, for-profit online schools. It offers a Bachelor of Arts in English that requires the completion of 120 credit hours. The program is designed to prepare graduates for careers in creative communications, such as public relations or freelance writing. Courses include Rhetoric and Critical Thinking, Literary Interpretation and Analysis, and Survey of American Literature to 1860.

At the University of Phoenix, students take one course at a time. Each course takes five weeks, so online learners can complete 10 back-to-back courses in a single year, using the Canvas learning platform. The school provides career and academic support services.

#8 Washington State University

  • Salary Score: 62
  • Median Starting Salary: $29,808
  • Locations: Pullman (WA)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

A public university, Washington State University (WSU) offers two ways to earn an English degree online. Designed for students who plan to go into professional or technical writing, the Bachelor of Arts in English program focuses on rhetoric and writing skills. Data literacy is also an important component of this degree. WSU's Bachelor of Arts in Humanities - English program gives enrollees the chance to create a more customized, interdisciplinary learning path that will help them meet their individual career goals.

WSU students access their online courses through Canvas. Online learners can take advantage of the school's student services, which include career development, academic advising, e-tutoring, tech support, and library assistance.

#9 University of Massachusetts - Lowell

  • Salary Score: 62
  • Median Starting Salary: $29,796
  • Locations: Lowell (MA)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

At the University of Massachusetts (UM) - Lowell, a public university, students have two options for earning an online bachelor's degree in English. The curriculum for the Bachelor of Arts in English includes core courses in British and American literature, the history of the English language, and rhetoric and composition. The Bachelor of Liberal Arts - English is aimed at those students who'd like to take an interdisciplinary approach to studying language. The curriculum includes courses in literature and writing, as well as courses in social sciences, STEM subjects, and humanities.

Online UM students access course materials through the Blackboard learning system. The school offers a number of student services, such as academic advising, career development, and tutoring.

#10 West Virginia State University

  • Salary Score: 61
  • Median Starting Salary: $29,654
  • Locations: Institute (WV)
  • Accreditation: HLC

West Virginia State University (WVSU), a state-run school, offers an online Bachelor of Arts in English – Technical Writing. The program's curriculum features a mix of courses on rhetoric and composition with a wide range of literature courses exploring topics such as American literature, adolescent literature, Black poets, and women writers. WVSU's online program is designed to develop marketable skills that can be used in professional writing, publishing, and communications careers.

At WVSU, online students use the Moodle learning system to view course materials, complete homework assignments, and participate in class discussions and critiques.

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Overview of Online English Degrees

As an English major in the humanities, you'll spend time analyzing, reading, and writing about various forms of text and literary genres written or translated into the English language. Studying English and literature generally includes a historical approach to learning. This means you'll be spending time reflecting on various literary movements throughout the centuries, their impact on society, and how they continue to influence how we express ourselves today.

As an English major in the humanities, you'll spend time analyzing, reading, and writing about various forms of text and literary genres written or translated into the English language.

English degrees are valuable because they can help you develop strong critical and creative thinking skills, broaden your intercultural awareness and appreciation of diversity, help explain the human condition, and cultivate your communication skills. These soft skills are imperative to navigating the workplace and problem solving, following instructions, building relationships, communicating effectively, and leading and mentoring others. Moreover, skills cultivated in an English degree program can apply to virtually any occupation and industry.

Over 50,000 individuals earned English degrees in the U.S. during the 2019-20 school year, including the following graduates:

  • 38,000 who earned bachelor's degrees
  • 7,900 who earned master's degrees
  • 1,300 who earned doctoral degrees
  • 3,400 who earned associate degrees

Can I Get an English Degree Online?

Unlike other areas of interest that may require in-person clinical training or lab time, the best online English programs are offered by an array of accredited schools in a fully online format. Many of the best online English bachelor's degree programs are even available from colleges and universities you have already heard of, including online schools that are highly respected for their rigorous academic standards. Some schools even offer the exact curriculum and coursework to online students as they do to students at their brick-and-mortar school locations.

This means that, yes, you can absolutely earn a bachelor's degree in English online and even on your own schedule, potentially. That said, you'll want to take the time to compare the best online English programs as well as the different degree types available in this field of study.

What Is the Difference Between a BA in English and BA in English Literature?

If you're trying to decide whether to major in literature or English, you should first decide on the areas of language you are personally most interested in. For example, those pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Literature tend to focus on the study of literary themes and their impact throughout history, as well as famous literary authors and how their writings impacted the era in which they lived. Students who pursue this degree program will also spend time delving into historical texts, writing essays, and participating in discussions with their professors and peers.

English majors take literature courses as well, but they also study grammar, linguistics, and rhetoric. Pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English also means studying the means of digital communication, including through social media and various online platforms. English degrees also emphasize critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which help students become more thoughtful, careful communicators once they enter the workforce.

How Quickly Can You Get an English Degree?

Earning a bachelor's degree in English typically requires four years of full-time study, but it's possible to graduate on a faster timeline. For example, some schools let students transfer existing college credits they have toward this degree, which helps them save both time and money. There are also accelerated program options, as well as self-paced learning, or asynchronous, options that let you complete your program at your own pace.

Also, note that many accredited institutions of higher learning take additional steps to make getting started easier, such as not requiring specific college entrance exams or a minimum GPA to apply.

Common Classes in an English Degree Online

The best online English degree bachelor's programs offer courses that adequately prepare students for the workforce. They do this by offering classes that are meant to bolster student's communication skills while building vital skill sets employers seek out in the hiring process.

Some of the most common courses for English majors include the following:


English majors need to learn effective communication skills that will be required in their future careers. This course introduces students to various communication concepts, such as context and messaging. Students also explore the history and development of the communication profession, plus how communication issues can be discovered and resolved.

Creative Writing

English students also need to take a creative writing course, which helps them tap into and develop their artistic and inventive side. This course forces students to put some of their most outrageous ideas on paper and use various storytelling techniques in order to bring curious tales to life. Students who take this course also learn the basic elements of most stories, including concepts like conflict, plot, resolution, and theme.

English Grammar

Grammar is the study of the proper use of words and punctuation in the English language. Students in this course learn how to properly formulate sentences as well as the most common grammar problems and how to avoid them. In addition to online lectures, this course can also include grammar exercises and quizzes meant to help students hone their skills.


This course introduces students to the inner workings of the human mind as well as how psychology relates to the business world. Topics covered include the scientific method, history of psychology, and human development, to name a few. Students often walk away from this course with a greater understanding of people and how they operate and interact based on the environment around them.

Public Speaking

English majors also need to take a public speaking course, which teaches them communication techniques that translate well in front of an audience. Since public speaking is a common requirement in a number of professional fields, this course can help students gain the confidence they need to excel in the workplace. This class is offered entirely online, so students can learn how to effectively communicate in a virtual format using learning platforms, like Skype and Zoom.

Are you still undecided about pursuing an English degree? Compare our lists of similar programs, including the best online history degrees or best online psychology degrees. Interested in news and reporting? Check out journalism.

English Degree Concentrations

If you decide to earn an English degree online, you can choose from several concentrations to help you get your foot in the door in a specific industry. The following concentrations are just some examples of how you can tailor your online program to the field or industry you hope to enter later on:


This specialty prepares prospective teachers to teach English, manage a classroom, create lesson plans, and explore and apply various teaching methods. It also helps prepare students for state certification and licensure. Alternatively, a bachelor's in education is also available.

Technical Communication

This concentration builds technical writing skills to enable students to write about technology and use technology to write. The curriculum can include editing, web design, and document design.

Creative Writing

Creative writing concentrations encourage students to explore writing fiction, poetry, drama, and nonfiction. If students desire to delve into these genres in greater depth, they may decide to pursue a creative writing degree instead.


A concentration in linguistics helps students develop awareness and understanding of linguistics' various components, including syntax, phonetics, phonology, semantics, morphology, and sociolinguistics.

What Can I Do With a Bachelor’s Degree in English?

An online English degree can lead to more careers than one might think and in many different industries. This is mainly due to the fact that English majors learn so many skills during their programs, which can include reading comprehension, effective communication, research skills, organizational skills, and empathy.

Some of the most common jobs for English majors include the following:


Annual Median Salary: $63,350
Job Growth: -5%

Editors use their knowledge of the English language in order to read content and check it for accuracy and grammatical errors. These professionals are also charged with fact-checking information before publication and assigning stories based on reader preferences or current events. While many editors work for newspapers, others work for professional organizations, publishing companies, and especially digital platforms that publish content.

Market Research Analysts

Annual Median Salary: $63,920
Job Growth: 19%

Market research analysts use their research and comprehension skills in order to study the market conditions as they relate to the sales of a specific product or service. They tend to use various statistical software programs in order to do so, and they create predictive models and reports that help companies understand who will buy their products and when.

News Analysts, Reporters, and Journalists

Annual Median Salary: $48,370
Job Growth: -9%

News analysts, reporters, and journalists report the news and other relevant information to audiences — whether through the written word, radio, television, or other means. They explore topics that may be assigned by an editor or discovered on their own, and they conduct research and interviews in order to get to the bottom of a story.

Technical Writers

Annual Median Salary: $78,060
Job Growth: 6%

Technical writers use their mastery of the English language in order to create how-to guides, manuals, and other types of content for consumers. This often requires them to consolidate complicated information in a way that is easy for regular people to read and understand. Technical writers may also study product samples in order to gain a full understanding of the material they need to create. While many technical writers find work in professional, scientific, and technical service industries, others work in manufacturing or publishing.

Writers and Authors

Annual Median Salary: $69,510
Job Growth: 4%

Writers and authors create all kinds of content for clients and self-publishing, which can include fiction and nonfiction scripts, advertising copy, short stories, essays, books, digital content, marketing content, and more. They may craft a project based on an outline supplied by a third party, but they might also create entirely new content on their own. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that well over half (62%) of writers and authors are self-employed, industries that hire writers include educational services, publishing companies, and other professional organizations.

Benefits of Choosing an Online English Degree

As you begin looking for the best online English programs, you may have a few nagging thoughts in your head. For example, is English a useless degree? And, does it make sense to pursue this specific degree program online?

Professionals with an English degree tend to find high levels of job satisfaction.

While the value of any degree is determined by how you use it, you should know that English degrees are incredibly common for a reason. Mastery of the English language is an important skill in several important fields, including communications, marketing, public relations, and more. Not only that, but English degrees directly correlate to a number of rewarding careers, such as those listed above.

Professionals with an English degree tend to find high levels of job satisfaction as well. For example, Career Explorer reports that authors experience "very high" levels of job satisfaction overall. In fact, job ratings from current authors put this job in the top 7% of all careers combined in terms of on-the-job happiness. Other English major jobs with high levels of job satisfaction include editors and television writers.

With all this being said, there are certainly some downsides that can come with pursuing an English degree online. For example, you'll need to have a certain amount of discipline and drive to complete a program at home and on your own.

Learning online can also come with specific challenges for people who need to network and build relationships in order to stay on task. For example, it can be difficult to connect with peers when you are learning virtually and only communicating with others via message boards and online chat.

Is an English Degree a Good Fit for Me?

To determine if an English degree is a good fit for you, consider the following:

You may be exposed to various genres, texts, and authors, many of which may be unfamiliar to you and not always enjoyable. This may not be easy if you aren't an avid reader. A lot of the subject matter can also be challenging to get through and can be triggering if you've experienced trauma in your life. However, it can also develop more profound empathy for others and promote greater self-awareness.

English degree classes tend to be smaller, which can feel comfortable if you're naturally introverted. However, you also have to feel comfortable sharing your work, some of which you may think is intensely personal. Because there are fewer students, you may be asked to contribute more often to discussions and engage with others which can be difficult for some. The upside to this is that you'll have opportunities to make friendships that could last a lifetime.

You may not earn as much as other majors once you graduate. English majors earn an annual median salary of $51,000 compared to $60,000 for all other occupations. You may also experience higher unemployment. For example, a 2018 report published by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) found that English language and literature was the only field of study where bachelor's degree-holders experienced lower-than-average salaries and higher-than-average unemployment. However, your job outlook may be brighter if you apply your degree to a job in business or management or use it as the first step towards a master's degree in a more lucrative field.

FAQs About Online English Degrees

What Is the Best Degree in English?

The best degree in English is the one that's affordable, convenient, and helps you meet your educational and career goals — our rankings can help you choose the best program for you. At the graduate level, consider the best online english master's programs.

Are English Degrees Hard?

English degrees aren't necessarily harder or easier than other degrees, but having an interest in language and literature will help. Earning an English degree takes patience and reflection to fully understand and think critically about what you are reading and writing to appreciate the nuances and meanings hidden behind the words you see on a page.

Can You Get an English Degree Online?

You can get an English degree online through many colleges and universities across the U.S. Attending school online may work for you because it can be convenient and affordable, and the nature of what you'll be studying lends itself to working autonomously with minimal distractions.

What Is an English Degree Good For?

Aside from honing your reading comprehension and writing skills, an English degree is good for developing other soft skills applicable to many occupations. These skills include critical and analytical thinking, awareness of diverse perspectives, creative problem-solving, research, emotional intelligence, and understanding of human nature.

What Else Should You Consider?

There are several factors to consider when choosing an English degree program, and we've identified some of the most critical to help you get started.

Online vs In-Person

Online colleges can be convenient and affordable and provide scheduling flexibility because classes are often asynchronous, allowing you to participate at any time. On-campus programs are more structured because you have to be on campus at certain times throughout the week, which may be difficult, but it also can be fun if you want to participate in campus life.


Institutional accreditation is crucial because it makes transferring credits back and forth between other accredited schools easier. Additionally, employers who require degrees often prefer they are from accredited institutions, and it's a requirement for federal financial aid. An English degree program may also be programmatically accredited by the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA).

Entrance Exam Scores

Acceptance into schools may depend on your SAT, ACT, GMAT, or GRE scores. For example, the Ivy League schools, such as Harvard and Yale, require exceptionally high scores, while a public state university may accept lower scores or waive the requirement altogether. Therefore, your score on these entrance exams may determine where you're accepted.

Graduation and Retention Rates

Higher graduation and retention rates may reflect how well schools treat students beyond their initial recruitment efforts. It's great if a school can entice students to apply and enroll, but it's even better if they can keep them there through graduation. You can research these rates at the College Board or College Scorecard.

Student Reviews

What others have to say about their experience with a program can speak volumes. Student reviews can offer insight into the quality of instructors, the rigor of a program, and the overall university experience. 

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