The best online degrees can help you prepare for a rewarding and lucrative career in any number of growing fields. The best online English programs fit the bill here as well — and for more reasons than one.
If you're on the fence about pursuing a bachelor's degree in English, you should learn about the different degree types available in this field, courses you'll take, and careers you can qualify for after you graduate. Read on to find out why online English degrees are so popular, plus how you can find the right college or university for your studies.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
English Degree Concentrations
If you decide to earn an English degree online, it's possible to choose from several concentrations that could 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:
American Literature: A concentration in American Literature can help you gain a better understanding of literary works from our country's history as well as each writing's impact on society then and now.
Composition and Rhetoric: This concentration can help students learn how to form compelling arguments for the purpose of civic engagement and self-reflection.
: A creative writing concentration helps students build their writing skills and confidence, which may prove crucial to those who plan on entering writing careers at a later date or attending a master's in creative writing
Ethnic Studies: This concentration helps students gain a greater understanding of ethnic and cultural narratives that can impact our writing as well as how to create content that is both inclusive and informed.
Film Studies: A film studies concentration can help students learn the history and theory of film, which can be useful for those seeking a career as a director or screenwriter.
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.
As you continue looking at online English degrees, you should make sure all institutions you're considering are fully accredited. This step ensures that you're only looking at high quality schools that offer this major and that you won't end up enrolling in an online school that is barely more than a diploma mill.
In the meantime, it never hurts to check out related degree programs, including bachelor's degree programs in creative writing and journalism. If you plan to pursue a terminal degree in this field of study, you should also explore the best online master's degree programs in English.
Finally, you'll want to learn as much as you can about financial aid opportunities that might apply to your program, such as grants, scholarships, and student loans.