Best Colleges and Universities for English Degrees

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The best English and literature degree programs at the best colleges are those with rich histories of influence, proven through the work produced by the program’s faculty and alumni. Beyond demonstrating scholarly impact in the field, the best English degree programs maximize your opportunities to interact with outstanding Literature faculty.

Key Takeaways

  • Graduates of any English degree can further pursue degrees in law, education, grant writing, healthcare, literature, communications, and even the video game industry.
  • Through the English Literature track, graduates gain a comprehensive understanding of literature, theory, and criticism involving cultures and intellectual traditions.
  • English majors who have a strong command of the English language increase their employability and job prospects immediately.

Featured Programs

Reading, writing, and critical theory are the fundamental components of an English language degree programs. Students can pursue a literature program major or a creative writing minor, depending on their academic goals.

When looking for education abroad programs or planning to pursue graduate degree programs, a master’s degree or Ph.D. in English degree benefits students interested in this field.

Postsecondary English language and literature teachers are most frequently employed in universities, trade schools, and junior colleges. English majors coming from a public or private university who have excellent communication, creative and professional writing, research, and critical thinking skills, are in high demand among employers.

It is possible to pursue a variety of careers with an English degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median salary for English language degree and literary teachers is $75,930.

A bachelor’s degree in English (also referred to as an literature major in many schools) is an excellent starting point for a career in journalism, education, publishing, and a host of other exciting and creative fields. English majors at the best colleges, refine their writing skills, engage in critical reading, and explore the connection between literature and a vast array of other disciplines, including philosophy, history, and business.

Many English majors with a bachelor’s degree go on to earn a master’s degree to enhance their career possibilities.

The best colleges for English / literature are those which are regionally accredited, which offer a full array of literature and English concentrations, such as creative writing, and which give you the chance to work with the best and most influential professors and classmates.

Degree popularity: English bachelor’s degrees are the 23rd most popular undergraduate degrees across all student demographics, ranking much higher for women at 15th versus 39th for men. It’s most popular among White women for whom it ranks 14th, followed by Hispanic women for whom it ranks 24th, according to the number of degree earners reported by the National Center for Educational Statistics

Frequently Asked Questions About English Bachelor’s Degrees

Mastering the English language has value well beyond the field of literature. Gaining greater depth, versatility and confidence with the English language will make you a better writer, a more confident speaker, and a more perceptive listener. These skills will pay dividends in fields such as public relations, marketing, teaching, and human resources, just to name a few.

In fact, the most influential literary scholars go on to achieve acclaim as bestselling authors, prominent professors, noted historians, and more. Today, top influencers in English are breaking new ground in historical fiction, graphic novels, poetry, and much more.

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Literature is an excellent major because it can provide a pathway into countless fields and career opportunities. If you’re looking for a well-paying and secure job, a literature degree is a great place to start. As an English major, you’ll be doing more than just reading literature. The primary objective of an English major is to achieve greater appreciation and understanding of the written word. This means you’ll learn how to deconstruct literature in search of meaning, character and culture; and to explore the innovative ways that language can be used as a form of expression. In short, you won’t be a passive participant in your reading. As an English major, you will learn to read actively, with thought, insight, and analysis. This means that literature majors bring strong communication, critical thinking, and creativity to a wide range of employment settings.

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Your concentration will determine many of the courses you’ll take as an English major. Likewise, you will be required to take a number of requisite courses on foundational topics such as Literary Critical Analysis and Comparative Literature. However, as an English major, you will also have the chance to develop your curriculum around the themes, cultural traditions, and literary periods that most interest you. Examples of traditional literature courses include:

  • Translating World Literature
  • Narrative Negotiations
  • Dreams and Literature
  • Children’s Literature
  • Creative Writing
  • Rhetoric and Composition
  • The Ancient Greek Hero
  • Persuasive Writing and Public Speaking

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The English degree is actually quite versatile. Earning a degree in literature can qualify you for a number of stimulating jobs in both practical and creative fields. In some cases, you’ll get a chance to use your compositional and communication skills, whereas in other instances, you’ll use what you have learned to help others navigate the English language. The following are among the most popular jobs for literature majors:

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The Best Colleges and Universities for English Degrees

Best English Major Research Universities

  1. Harvard University
  2. Courses taught during Harvard’s English program include Literature Today, Middle English, and Literary Methods, just to name a few. The program offers three concentrations: Creative Writing, Comparative Literature, and English. Harvard University seeks academic excellence in all their programs and their English program is no exception.

  3. Columbia University
  4. Columbia University offers an English and Comparative Literature degree. Courses include Literary Texts, Critical Methods, and Prose Fiction.

  5. Yale University
  6. Yale University’s English major includes courses such as Renaissance Literature, Laboring Through the Middle Ages, and Lincoln in Thought and Action. All students are required to complete a senior essay as their final project. Yale also offers students the opportunity to study abroad and provides a rich network for future career opportunities.

  7. Stanford University
  8. Stanford University’s English undergraduate program empower students to analyze literature from three main categories: poetry, narrative, and methodology. Courses include Narrative and Narrative Theory, Poetry and Poetics, and History of Philosophy.

  9. Princeton University
  10. Princeton University offers courses such as Difference and Diversity, Theory and Criticism, and Literature and Culture in their English program. Aspiring English majors at Princeton should expect rigorous core classes and the development of excellent communication skills.

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Best English Major Liberal Arts Colleges

  1. Wesleyan University
  2. Wesleyan University is a private liberal arts school located in Middletown, Connecticut. Courses in Wesleyan’s English major include literary theory, creative writing, and literary geography. Students can expect many different ways to boost their literary ability with opportunities to study abroad, win literary awards, or join an excellent honors program.

  3. Amherst College
  4. Amherst College’s literature majors can expect a well rounded education with courses such as Introduction to Playwriting, Decolonial Love, and Creative Thesis Workshop. This particular English program has very high research activity, as students are invited to dive into texts to grasp the true meaning of pieces of literature.

  5. Williams College
  6. English majors at Williams College will take courses such as American Girlhoods, Literatures Against Work, and Poetry and Politics. Students are given the opportunity to create individualized written plans as to how they would like to complete their major to ensure that they will reach their desired outcome.

  7. Swarthmore College
  8. Swarthmore College offers English majors courses titled Literature and Law, The Rise of the Novel, and Victorian Literature and Culture. The program aims at culturing imaginative reading, deep questioning, and compelling communication.

  9. Barnard College
  10. Students majoring in English at Barnard College can pursue concentrations in American Literature, Creative Writing, Film Studies, or Theatre. High caliber faculty members seek to give students the best training possible as they study the English language and literature.

Go to The Best English Major Liberal Arts Colleges

Best English Major Online Colleges

  1. University of Missouri
  2. The University of Missouri is a public university aimed at promoting research and training students to be active global citizens. English majors at the University of Missouri can pursue one of three tracks: Literature, Culture, and Media, Creative Writing, or Language and Linguistics.

  3. Texas Tech University
  4. Students seeking an English degree at Texas Tech University can expect to walk away from the program with a strong knowledge of literary heritage and the ability to implement their creativity. TTU’s English program has three concentrations for students to choose from: Literature and Language, Creative Writing, and English Teaching.

  5. University of Memphis
  6. The English Department at the University of Memphis allows for one of the following concentrations: African American Literature, Creative Writing, Literature, Professional Writing, and TESOL. The English program is one of the most popular programs at the University of Memphis.

  7. University of Central Florida
  8. The University of Central Florida’s English degree program seeks to stay up to date with rising technologies and trains students to be effective communicators about and through technology. UCF offers a creative writing, literature, and technical communication track for students depending on their interests.

  9. Marshall University
  10. Marshall University strives to set its English students up for success with internship programs and opportunities to write in literary and scholarly journals. The university also brings a variety of authors to campus to meet students and build connections that could be useful to students as they enter the career field. While Marshall University has a traditional English program, it also offers bachelor’s degrees in creative writing, literary studies, and professional writing.

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Career Outlook for Students with English Degree

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English Language And Literature

Degree Level: Bachelor's

  • Location: The U.S. (Private Schools)
  • Avg. Starting Salary*: $28,223
  • Avg. Salary after 4 Years*: $39,964
  • * denotes ‘annually’

Career Salaries

CareerJob GrowthAvg. Salary
English Language and Literature Teachers, Postsecondary1.14%$69,035
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education1.03%$61,619
Proofreaders and Copy Markers-4.17%$45,885

Average Career Salaries

Bottom 10%MedianTop 10%
$42,191$61,170$92,879

Promising Job Markets

StateCost of LivingAvg. Salary
#2 New York5% higher than average$80,873
#3 Oregon11% higher than average$85,325
#4 Utah4% higher than average$69,470
#5 Connecticut18% higher than average$84,385
#6 Vermont13% higher than average$79,130

Top Industries

IndustryAvg. Salary
Ambulatory Health Care Services$86,430
Local government, including schools and hospitals$78,320
State Government, excluding schools and hospitals (OES Designation)$78,095

The Best English Schools in Your State

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