Best Master's in English Online Programs

By the OnlineU team | Updated 11/17/2021

A master’s degree program in English serves to sharpen a student’s critical thinking, writing, and research skills, as these are required to critique and compare works of literature using literary theory and pedagogy. Beyond literature, students can choose to focus their degree in language instruction, technical communication, or rhetoric and composition, among others. The following is a rankings list of 48 colleges offering the best value based on affordability and alumni salaries. Equipped with a comprehensive skill set founded in analytical problem solving and communication skills, graduates can pursue a broad spectrum of career paths in writing, as well as government, teaching, business, publishing, freelancing, and more.

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2020 Best Online Colleges Offering Master's in English Degrees

2020 Best Online Master's in English Badge

Students seeking an online master's program in English will find that these 24 colleges offer the best value based on affordability and alumni salaries. Texas Tech University is ranked #1, offering a Master of Arts in English for $6,785 per year. Graduates of the school reported a median salary of $113,771. Arizona State University, ranked #2, offers an annual tuition of only $8,512.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.

RankSchool Annual Tuition Mid-Career Salary
# 1 #1 Texas Tech University $6,785 $113,771
# 2 #2 Arizona State University $8,512 $104,728
# 3 #3 Minnesota State University at Mankato $6,411 $103,200
# 4 #4 The University of Texas at Tyler $14,328 $106,200
# 6 #6 Murray State University $8,160 $101,700
# 7 #7 Fort Hays State University $4,604 $99,100
# 8 #8 University of Memphis $11,849 $101,493
# 9 #9 University of Central Florida $11,811 $94,282
# 10 #10 Mercy College $13,455 $89,000
# 11 #11 The University of West Florida $15,700 $89,500
# 12 #12 Old Dominion University $8,925 $86,578
# 13 #13 Ohio University - Main Campus $12,744 $87,239
# 14 #14 East Carolina University $14,914 $81,907
# 15 #15 National University $10,166 $79,863
# 16 #16 Indiana University - Bloomington $8,100 $78,441
# 17 #17 Gardner Webb University $7,035 $74,000
# 18 #18 Valdosta State University $5,274 $71,675
# 19 #19 University of New Orleans $4,938 $67,900
# 20 #20 Southern New Hampshire University Online $11,286 $70,212
# 21 #21 University of Wyoming $4,185 $60,700
# 22 #22 Rutgers University-Camden $29,232 $66,900
# 23 #23 Wayland Baptist University $9,272 $58,700
# 24 #24 Tiffin University $7,875 $52,700
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo

2020 Online Colleges Offering English Degrees - Ranking Details

#1 Texas Tech University

  • Annual Tuition: $6,785
  • Median Salary: $113,771
  • Locations: Lubbock (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Texas Tech University's online Master of Arts in English offers students a broad education in the fundamentals of the discipline in addition to the opportunity to specialize their studies in preparation for further education or a particular career path. The department offers coursework in literary periods and genres, linguistics, professional and creative writing, research methods, and teaching composition. Graduation requires the completion of 36 credit hours, which can be achieved in as few as two years. Graduates of the master's in English online degree program at Texas Tech have gone on to pursue a Ph.D. in the discipline and to work in teaching, publishing, and technical writing.

#2 Arizona State University

  • Annual Tuition: $8,512
  • Median Salary: $104,728
  • Locations: Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The online Master of Arts in English at Arizona State University offers students a well-rounded education in the discipline and the opportunity to customize a plan of study unique to their interests and academic goals. The curriculum includes 30 credit hours of core coursework in literature, linguistics, rhetoric, and writing, electives, and a capstone seminar demonstrating critical reflection of what the student has learned in the program. Students are encouraged to fulfill half of the elective requirements with courses outside of the department in demonstration of the relationship between English and other academic disciplines. The online English degree requires the completion of 10 classes, with each class running seven and a half weeks.

#3 Minnesota State University at Mankato

  • Annual Tuition: $6,411
  • Median Salary: $103,200
  • Locations: Mankato (MN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Minnesota State University at Mankato offers an online Master of Arts in English with concentration tracks in technical communication and literature and English studies. Instruction in the technical communication track focuses on researching, writing, and editing professional documents, and students complete an internship and capstone course before graduation. The curriculum for the literature and English studies track includes coursework in American, British, and world literature and literary and composition theory. At the end of their studies, students must compile a portfolio or produce a research essay relevant to their studies. Both concentrations require the completion of 30 credit hours. Many program courses feature virtual meetings among peers and professors to allow for interactive conversations on the material.

#4 The University of Texas at Tyler

  • Annual Tuition: $14,328
  • Median Salary: $106,200
  • Locations: Tyler (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Students in the Master of Arts in English at the University of Texas at Tyler benefit from a broad education in the fundamentals of English, including research, literature, rhetoric and composition, and writing. Within the curriculum, students also have the opportunity to individualize their plan of study according to their unique interests and ambitions. The program emphasizes a strong foundation in research, and students are expected to produce original, researched work in a number of courses. The 36-credit hour online English degree offers the choice of a thesis or non-thesis track.

#6 Murray State University

  • Annual Tuition: $8,160
  • Median Salary: $101,700
  • Locations: Murray (KY)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Master of Arts in English at Murray State University is a 30-hour online English degree that students can complete in two years. With options to specialize in Literature, English Education, and English as a Cognate Discipline, the program is designed to advance educators and future doctoral students. The 15 hours of core coursework provide students with a secure foundation in research methods and a broad understanding of American and English Literature. Instead of a thesis project, the master’s in English online program at MSU concludes with an oral comprehensive exam over the texts on the common reading list, which can be found on their website. The coursework, though entirely online, is similar to the coursework given to MA students on campus. For unconditional acceptance into the program, applicants are required to have had an undergraduate degree major or minor in English with an overall 3.0 or higher GPA, although exceptions can be made based on other factors, such as GRE scores and letters of recommendation.

#7 Fort Hays State University

  • Annual Tuition: $4,604
  • Median Salary: $99,100
  • Locations: Hays (KS)
  • Accreditation: HLC

At Fort Hays State University, students can earn a Master of Liberal Studies degree with a concentration in Literary Arts. MLS students take a total of 31 credits, at least 18 of those hours are courses in literature, criticism, and writing in the English department. There is also a culminating experience project, which is an exploration of a chosen pedagogical or literary subject that takes place over a semester under the guidance of the coordinator of the English concentration. Students need at least a 3.0 GPA to graduate. Students who did not major in English as undergraduates can participate in this program because there is a required course that provides an overview of contemporary literary theory. All online courses are offered through Blackboard and may include videos, discussion boards, team and individual projects, and exams. While most spring and fall semester classes are 16 weeks, there are also eight-week summer sessions and occasional three-week December intersession courses. To be admitted, a student must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA for the last 60 hours of coursework, and students without sufficient English coursework can build eligibility to qualify with permission. Online student services include career services and tech support.

#8 University of Memphis

  • Annual Tuition: $11,849
  • Median Salary: $101,493
  • Locations: Memphis (TN)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language with a concentration in ESL online at the University of Memphis requires 30 hours of coursework and three hours of thesis work. The curriculum is designed to build expertise in cross-cultural communication, second language acquisition, instructional methodology, and language structure. The flexibility of asynchronous course delivery allows students to maintain work and family schedules while completing their degree anywhere and at any time. In addition to this online English degree, students can earn a graduate certificate in teaching English as a second/foreign language by taking an additional 15 credit hours, primarily in linguistics. This program is for teaching English to post-secondary students and adults. There is an option for students to complete part of the certificate requirements abroad in the Czech Republic. All online MA students have access to library services, tech support, academic advising, and career services.

#9 University of Central Florida

  • Annual Tuition: $11,811
  • Median Salary: $94,282
  • Locations: Orlando (FL) (and 7 others)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

At the University of Central Florida, the Master of Arts in English allows for a concentration in Technical Communication. This online English degree requires at least 33 credit hours, with the choice of a thesis option or a non-thesis option. Full-time students taking nine credit hours in the fall and spring terms and six in the summer should be able to graduate in two years. UCF’s online classes are held to the same standards as on-campus classes and are taught by the same faculty. The online MA curriculum is designed to build mastery in theoretical and applied ethics, usability, and technical writing skills. Coursework prepares students for careers in areas like publishing, international communications, editing, technical writing, user experience consulting, and creating web content. Students applying to this program are not required to have a bachelor’s degree in English; however, applicants do need a recent GRE score, official transcripts, two academic letters of recommendation, a one- to two-page goal statement, and a 10-page professional writing sample. UCF provides a range of online support services, including technical and IT support, web course support, email, library services, tutoring, and a career services department that includes goals coaching, job search resources, and job preparation.

#10 Mercy College

  • Annual Tuition: $13,455
  • Median Salary: $89,000
  • Locations: Dobbs Ferry (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Mercy College offers an online Master of Arts in English that requires 10 three-credit courses for a total of 30 credits. Mercy recommends master’s students take two courses per semester, although three are required for full-time status. Either track qualifies students for financial aid. Most students graduate in 1.5 to 2.5 years. Students may start classes in the fall, spring, or summer semester, and applications are accepted all year round. All students are required to take a core theory course, a comprehensive exam, and a final thesis course – otherwise, the program allows for flexibility in course selection. All classes are taught by the same faculty who teach on campus, and the curriculum helps prepare students to teach, to progress to Ph.D. programs, or to move into careers that require research, critical thinking, and strong writing skills. The entire MA can be earned online through the virtual Blackboard environment. This allows students in any time zone to access coursework. Admission requires an online application, a writing sample, two letters of recommendation, and official transcripts. GRE scores are not required. Through the Mercy Connect web portal, online students can access services such as calendars, email, campus life, library services, and technical support.

#11 The University of West Florida

  • Annual Tuition: $15,700
  • Median Salary: $89,500
  • Locations: Pensacola (FL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of West Florida’s Master of Arts in English offers specializations in Literature and Creative Writing. The program requires students to complete at least 33 credits to graduate, and there is both a non-thesis track that requires a comprehensive exam and a thesis track. All graduate faculty have terminal degrees as well as publishing and teaching experience. The MA curriculum is designed for students continuing to a Ph.D. program, who enjoy literature, or who have career goals in publishing, writing, editing, nonprofit administration, teaching, or any profession requiring high-level critical thinking and writing. Course delivery is synchronous, and students must attend live video lectures in the evening. Through this format, students get to interact with professors and classmates. Electives are available through recordings. Admission requirements include an application, official transcripts showing at least 20 hours of upper-level coursework in English, a two-page statement of purpose, three academic letters of recommendation, a writing sample, a GRE verbal score of 153 or higher, and an analytical writing score of at least 4.5 or an official MAT score of 413. Online courses are hosted through Canvas, which has its own help resources. The university also offers IT and e-learning assistance. MA students can also work on one of two UWF literary journals.

#12 Old Dominion University

  • Annual Tuition: $8,925
  • Median Salary: $86,578
  • Locations: Norfolk (VA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Master of Arts in English in Professional Writing at Old Dominion University requires 30 credit hours to complete. After taking the four required core classes, students can choose the remaining coursework according to their interests. ODU’s MA degree offers three final exam options: a comprehensive oral exam, an oral exam and portfolio project, or an oral exam and thesis project. The curriculum teaches professional textual analysis, document design, and writing skills, and students examine the theory and practice of professional writing in a range of settings. Course offerings focus on topics like management writing, digital writing, visual rhetoric, and new media. Professors are available for virtual meetings. Although some courses are delivered synchronously with scheduled class meetings, others are asynchronous with set deadlines for assignments. Admission requires two references, GRE scores, official transcripts showing an English degree or at least a 3.0 GPA for non-English majors, an essay, and a 5- to 10-page writing sample showing readiness for graduate work. With permission from an advisor, some students take up to 12 graduate credit hours before being accepted into a program. This online English degree provides several support services, like library access and technical help.

#13 Ohio University - Main Campus

  • Annual Tuition: $12,744
  • Median Salary: $87,239
  • Locations: Athens (OH)
  • Accreditation: HLC

At Ohio University, the master’s in English online program requires 32 credit hours. With courses being seven to eight weeks long and offered sequentially, students can take one class at a time, which is two per semester. The program always starts in May, and most students finish in 16 months (four semesters). The curriculum for this MA in English is tailored for working professionals and teachers looking to teach dual-enrollment college-level classes, including those in Ohio's College Credit Plus program. The OU online courses are taught through the Blackboard learning management system, which uses email, online chat, and discussion forums to create a collaborative and asynchronous educational environment. Students can login anytime and work at their own pace, as long as they meet assignment deadlines set by professors. GRE scores are not required for admission. Required materials include an online application, transcripts for a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA, two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, a 4-12 page scholarly writing sample, and a resume or CV. The IT department offers Blackboard support and free virus protection software. Other support services include a career center, library access, and success coaches.

#14 East Carolina University

  • Annual Tuition: $14,914
  • Median Salary: $81,907
  • Locations: Greenville (NC)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

East Carolina University offers an online Master of Arts in English with concentrations in Technical and Professional Communication or Multicultural and Transnational Literature. The MA requires 33 semester hours and has a thesis and non-thesis option. Students may begin coursework during the fall, spring, or summer session, as space allows. The curriculum for the Technical and Professional Communication concentration focuses on technical editing and publishing, research design and methodology, communication media and technology, teaching and training, and communication within a range of specific professional contexts. The curriculum for the Multicultural and Transnational Literature concentration focuses on American and world literature from global, transnational, national, regional, and local perspectives. This is an interdisciplinary program that incorporates political, artistic, historical, environmental, and other perspectives and explores literary interpretations. To apply, prospective students submit an application form and fee, official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of intent. GRE scores are not required. All resources available on campus are available to distance learners, such as the online bookstore, the library, IT assistance, and job preparation. Graduate students are encouraged to attend conferences with faculty, though there are limited funds available for travel.

#15 National University

  • Annual Tuition: $10,166
  • Median Salary: $79,863
  • Locations: La Jolla (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

National University offers an online Master of Arts in English. There are two specialization options, Gothic Studies and Rhetoric. In this program, students take one intensive course per month. There are nine required one-month courses and one required two-month capstone course, so year-round students can finish in 11 months. With ongoing enrollment and monthly start dates, students can begin their master’s in English online at any time. In small, interactive courses, students are taught to apply literary criticism and analysis while interpreting texts through both oral and written discussion. The Gothic Studies curriculum examines Gothic works from 18th-century fiction to contemporary horror film and fiction. The curriculum of the Rhetoric specialization includes the study of literature, but also covers cultural productions such as speeches, cinema, and other forms of media. The accelerated one-month classes allow students to take breaks without losing progress, and the asynchronous format allows for flexible work schedules. Discussions allow for interaction between students and professors, collaborative wiki projects, literary blogging, and one-on-one video conferencing with professors.

#16 Indiana University - Bloomington

  • Annual Tuition: $8,100
  • Median Salary: $78,441
  • Locations: Bloomington (IN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Indiana University – Bloomington’s online Master of Arts in English is taught by multiple IU campuses in a consortial model that allows students to learn from a variety of professors. This degree requires 36 credit hours and has a stackable structure. Students begin by earning a 20-credit-hour English graduate certificate in communication studies, composition studies, language and literature, or literature. Next, they take eight hours of core courses and eight hours of elective courses to complete their MA degree. This structure is for community college and dual-credit teachers seeking to meet the Higher Learning Commission's instructor qualification standards, and they can select whichever part or parts of the program they need. IU’s online courses are asynchronous and are compatible with full-time work schedules. Admission requires a 250-word personal statement, a BA degree in English, and a related education degree or two years teaching secondary school composition or literature. Prospective students must finish at least three certificate program courses with a 3.5 GPA or higher before transitioning into the English MA, which further requires two letters of recommendation. Online student services include an IT support center, which is available via phone, chat, or email; and a variety of academic support services.

#17 Gardner Webb University

  • Annual Tuition: $7,035
  • Median Salary: $74,000
  • Locations: Boiling Springs (NC)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Gardner-Webb University is a private, Christian, Baptist-related school offering a Master of Arts in English online degree with concentrations in English Education, Literature Studies, and Writing Studies. This is a cohort program of 30 credit hours, designed to begin in the fall. Students can complete the degree in two years, which includes summer semesters. The curriculum focuses on developing a professional and scholarly identity, which requires strong analysis, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking skills. The program concludes with students completing a capstone project of publishable quality in their area of concentration. The coursework is student-centered, allowing for flexibility and convenience. For admission, students need to apply online, pay an application fee, submit official undergraduate degree transcripts showing a 3.0 or higher GPA as an English major, submit a 250-word statement of purpose, and provide a 2,000-word academic or professional writing sample. Students without substantial undergraduate English coursework and without a major in a related field, such as communications, will be evaluated individually. Students in the Education concentration need to be teaching to complete their capstone. Students should investigate procedures and requirements for teaching licensure in their area. Some districts require the approval of online programs in advance.

#18 Valdosta State University

  • Annual Tuition: $5,274
  • Median Salary: $71,675
  • Locations: Valdosta (GA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The 36-credit online Master of Arts in English Studies for Language Arts Teachers (MAESLAT) at Valdosta State University can be completed in two years, with students taking two courses per semester, including summers. New cohorts are admitted each fall, spring, and summer semester. The MAESLAT curriculum contains 27 hours of required courses in the discipline’s major subfields of composition, creative writing, linguistics, literature, and rhetoric. Additionally, students will take nine hours of 8000-level elective courses and an oral and written comprehensive exam. Although some courses are completely asynchronous, others require live interaction with professors and/or classmates once every two to three weeks. However, all courses are designed to work with the schedule of full-time educators. For admission, prospective students apply online, pay a fee, and submit official transcripts, GRE scores (153 verbal or 4.0 analytical), two recommendations, a cover letter, and a VSU medical form. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in English or English Education with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The MAESLAT online degree program is designed to qualify graduates for the Georgia Professional Standards Commission’s certification upgrades for middle-grade language arts and secondary English.

#19 University of New Orleans

  • Annual Tuition: $4,938
  • Median Salary: $67,900
  • Locations: New Orleans (LA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The online Master of Arts in English at the University of New Orleans requires 33 credit hours to complete. Most students graduate in two to three years, depending on the number of classes and whether summer courses are taken. This online English degree offers a choice between three concentrations: American Literature, British Literature, and Professional Writing. A portfolio capstone project is required, and students have the option to write a thesis. New students may begin in the fall, spring, or summer. The program starts with four core courses that introduce graduate English studies and cover the three concentration areas. Then students take three courses in their chosen concentration and four additional English electives. Most graduates proceed to doctoral study or law school, teaching, professional writing, or technical writing. Admission is based on GPA, official transcripts, a 7- to 20-page writing sample (this can be a selection of shorter papers), a statement of purpose, and the online application. Most MA students have undergraduate English degrees, but those without may be conditionally admitted. Online students have full access to the UNO library’s online resources. Coursework reading material is usually delivered electronically.

#20 Southern New Hampshire University Online

  • Annual Tuition: $11,286
  • Median Salary: $70,212
  • Locations: Manchester (NH)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

Southern New Hampshire University’s Master of Arts in English is comprised of 36 fully online credits. Most students graduate in two years, although students willing to take two courses per 10-week term can finish in 15 months. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis for the five term start dates, and application decisions are made in days. The degree includes a course on teaching writing and a capstone course. With 24/7 access, the online coursework is convenient for any schedule. Students interact with professors and classmates through discussion boards, weekly assignments, and other online tools. Applicants must submit official transcripts showing an undergraduate GPA over 2.75, a personal statement, and an online application. Exceptions can be made in some cases. Available online support services include a writing center, technical support, an online library, career services, SNHU Wellness, and the Online Accessibility Center. Special MA opportunities include an online literary journal, livestream readings from published writers and students, and a fiction contest with a scholarship prize.

#21 University of Wyoming

  • Annual Tuition: $4,185
  • Median Salary: $60,700
  • Locations: Laramie (WY)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The online Master of Arts in English at the University of Wyoming combines three one-week summer residencies with six online classes during the fall and spring semesters. The degree takes three years, including two final semesters of thesis coursework. The curriculum covers a variety of English studies topics in a course rotation that periodically changes. Students do not choose their classes, but rather progress through each course as planned from the summer they begin their studies. MA graduates have gone on to PhD programs, community college or high school teaching, law school, marketing and public relations, business, and nonprofit work. This online English degree is offered through hybrid instruction and video conferencing. Classes are small to allow for additional interaction and discussion. Admission requires an online application and fee, a CV or resume, official undergraduate transcripts with a minimum 3.0 GPA, a critical writing sample, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. Online student services include career and academic advising, IT help, disability support services, library services, and a veterans services center. MA students can apply for funding.

#22 Rutgers University-Camden

  • Annual Tuition: $29,232
  • Median Salary: $66,900
  • Locations: Camden (NJ)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Rutgers University – Camden offers a 30-credit Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) with a concentration in Creative Arts and Literature. Students working full-time can complete their degree in two and a half or three years taking only two classes a semester. Students who can take three classes per semester will be able to finish the program in two years. When they have completed their coursework, students demonstrate their acquired skills and knowledge in a capstone project in their area of concentration. Courses are given in subjects like film, music, visual art, and writing workshops. The Rutgers MALS degree is offered in a 100% online format. Classes are small, and class discussions, responses to readings, and assignment submissions all take place online. Admission requires an undergraduate degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher (or an explanation for a lower GPA), two academic recommendations, a writing sample, and a personal statement. Support services are offered for all aspects of e-learning to ensure coursework is easily accessible and convenient.

#23 Wayland Baptist University

  • Annual Tuition: $9,272
  • Median Salary: $58,700
  • Locations: Plainview (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The online Master of Arts in English at Wayland Baptist University is a 37-hour program with a thesis and a non-thesis track. This online MA helps prepare students for doctoral study, professional or creative writing, or entering another field. Coursework ranges from romanticism to literary theory, to teaching English as a second language. Thesis students take six thesis hours and complete an oral defense, while non-thesis students take two additional courses. Both tracks require students to take a comprehensive written exam. To apply, students must have a bachelor’s degree with at least 12 upper-division English credit hours and at least a 3.0 GPA in all English classes. The application also requires a writing sample and two academic letters of recommendation. The IT department offers a range of assistance, including e-learning tutorials, email setup, live chat, an online contact form, and phone support. Other student services include the bookstore, the library, and advising.

#24 Tiffin University

  • Annual Tuition: $7,875
  • Median Salary: $52,700
  • Locations: Tiffin (OH)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Tiffin University offers a 30-hour Master of Humanities degree with an English concentration. Students can choose between a capstone project or a comprehensive exam. The MH can be finished in one and a half years by full-time students and in two and a half years by part-time students. The 15-week semesters begin in May, August, and January. With a strong balance between literary studies and creative writing, this concentration can help graduates proceed into careers in writing, editing, copywriting, blogging, education, marketing, advertising, and public relations. The professors provide a comprehensive English curriculum through a 100% online environment with plenty of flexibility for any schedule. Most classes have final assignments in the form of presentations and papers, but exams can also be given online. Students should login regularly to keep up with discussion boards or to check on announcements, but the only time requirement is to meet class deadlines. A demonstration of the online classroom is available on Tiffin’s website. It is free to apply, and there are trained online advisors to answer questions. Resources available to online students include the online university library, academic support and guidance services, skill-building workshops, and free access to Grammarly.

Master’s in English Degree Overview

An online master’s degree program in English provides prospective students with a broad base of knowledge in the areas of literature, writing, and rhetoric. Graduates develop advanced skills in critical analysis, research methods, textual interpretation, and analytical writing that apply to various career fields, including teaching, government, writing, and editing.

Program Requirements

The majority of master’s programs in English require that applicants have a cumulative 3.0 GPA of upper-division undergraduate coursework. Other application requirements can include official transcripts, GRE test scores, letters of recommendation, writing samples, and a letter of intent. To graduate from a master’s in English program, students must complete 30-36 credits of graduate coursework with a cumulative GPA of 3.0.


Online master’s degree programs in English include a variety of courses, including writing, rhetoric, literary theory, linguistics, research methods, and early and modern American and British literature. Specialized courses are available in technical communications, linguistics, teaching, and other interdisciplinary literary studies. Students may be required to complete a thesis, capstone course, or final examination to graduate. Full-time students can complete a master’s degree in two years, while part-time students may need additional time.

Choosing a Program

Before selecting a master’s in English program, students should evaluate the program and school accreditation, faculty credentials, and cost. Students should also consider class flexibility, noting whether coursework follows an asynchronous or synchronous format, and the support and resources available to online students. Additionally, students should select a master’s in English program that offers several courses or a specialization track in their area of interest.

Financing a Master's Degree in English

Students in an online master’s degree in English program can apply for financial aid by filling out a FAFSA annually to receive federal loans or grants. Prospective students should also check what graduate scholarships their university or specific program offer to enrolled students. State programs and professional organizations may also offer scholarships and grants.

The TEACH grant is a federally-funded program through the U.S. Department of Education that provides $4,000 a year to students who take coursework to begin a career in teaching. Upon graduation, recipients must agree to teach in a high-need field and work in a school that serves a lower-income community for four years.

Is Accreditation Important for Online Master's Degrees in English?

Accreditation is an important factor to consider when deciding to enroll in a postsecondary institution. It is a voluntary process that ensures that universities, colleges, or individual programs meet the minimum standards of educational quality and academic rigor. Accrediting agencies are usually private educational organizations that conduct peer evaluations to determine whether universities or colleges meet an established set of criteria. Postsecondary institutions and programs can become either regionally or nationally accredited.

The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) periodically reviews accrediting agencies to ensure they are effectively enforcing their standards. The USDE also provides an online database of legitimate accrediting agencies in the United States. Enrolling in an accredited institution or program can assure students that they will qualify for federal financial aid, transfer credits to another university, and be eligible for employment in their chosen field after graduation.

What Specializations are Available for Online Master's Programs in English?

A master’s program in English with a general focus will require students to take courses in a broad range of topics within the discipline. Completing a specialization or concentration will allow students to take additional courses in an area of interest. Not all of the master’s in English online degree programs may offer all of the following specializations.

Literature: With this specialization, students take courses in literature from a particular time and place, such as early or modern English and British literature, Victorian literature, American literary realism, or world literature. Students will also learn literary theory and study and analyze major works of literature by applying methodologies in literary criticism. Graduates are prepared to pursue doctoral work in literature, teach at the junior college level, or take on writing or editing careers.

Professional Writing/Technical Writing: Students in this specialization will learn theoretical and applied skills in written and technical communications. Students who choose this specialization will take courses on writing for specific audiences and objectives, produce different types of documents and reports, apply research methods, and format text and graphics within a document. Students who complete this specialization are prepared to begin careers in various fields, including government and business, or take on any communication-related job.

Rhetoric and Composition: In this specialization, students will learn about the theory and history of rhetoric and writing. Students will study different rhetoricians and analyze texts from the classical ages to the present. Other courses include methods in teaching composition. Graduates can continue their education by pursuing a Ph.D. in the fields of rhetoric or composition, which will make them eligible to teach writing at the college level.

English as a Second Language (ESL): Students who undertake the ESL specialization are prepared to teach English to non-English speakers in the United States or abroad. Graduates are qualified to apply for a state teaching certification to work in public schools as an ESL instructor. Students take courses in second language learning and acquisition, assessing language ability, language structure, theory and practice of language, and language instruction methodologies.

Linguistics: Students electing to take a linguistics specialization will learn about theoretical and applied linguistics, including psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics. Many of the required courses may overlap with an ESL concentration. In general, students pursuing linguistics will take courses in semantics, syntax, phonology, morphology, pragmatics, and language instruction. Students can go on to perform doctoral work in this field or teach English to nonnative speakers.

What Kind of Certification is Available for Graduate Students Studying English?

Graduates of a master’s program in English can work in a wide variety of careers involving writing, editing, communications, or teaching. Additional certifications are only required if graduates plan to work as teachers in the public school system. If graduates choose to teach in community colleges, certification is optional.

Teaching Certification: State certification is required to work as a teacher in a primary or secondary public school institution. Certification requirements vary by state, so prospective teachers should determine the specific requirements for the state in which they plan to teach.

The U.S. Department of Education provides a directory of state education departments and agencies by state. States may offer both traditional and alternative pathways to become certified. Prospective teachers may need to complete an approved teacher preparation program and earn endorsements in the subject matter they plan to teach, such as ESL or English.

Graduate Teaching Certification: While community college teachers are not required to have any teaching credential, many graduate certificate programs provide teaching preparation for those without a teaching background. Students take courses in adult learning, instructional methods, and course design for adult learners. Some programs may require an internship in a community college.

Frequently Asked Questions for Online Master's in English Degrees

What can you do with a master’s in English?

Graduates of a master’s program in English are qualified to work in various careers involving writing, editing, communications, research, or teaching. Graduates go on to work in government agencies or many industries, such as business, journalism, law, or education.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, high school teachers can expect a median pay of $62,870 per year and jobs in this field are expected to grow at a rate of 8%. Postsecondary teachers earn $80,560 per year in median pay. Projected job growth in this field is 12%, which is faster than average. Writers and authors can earn $67,120 per year as a median salary. Job growth in writing is projected to stay the same or show little change because of popularity and strong competition in this field. The median annual wage for editors is $63,400 and the number of jobs is expected to increase by 5%, which is slower than the national average. While employment in online editing is rising, the decrease of traditional print publications might affect job growth rate.

What are the best online master’s degree programs in English?

We have ranked the top online master’s degree programs in English in terms of affordability and value. In general, students should look for these factors when choosing a master’s program: accreditation, tuition cost, faculty reputation, and graduation rates.

Is an online master’s in English the same as an on-campus degree?

Yes, unless otherwise noted, an online degree program is taught by the same faculty and follows the same curriculum as classes on campus. A diploma will reflect the institution’s name but will not indicate that the recipient completed the degree online.

This website offers school details to prospective students as an informational resource. The appearance of a school listing on this website should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the school by this site.

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