What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in English/Literature?

What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in English/Literature?

English is a surprisingly diverse academic field, one in which advanced degrees are held in high regard. Mastering in English (or earning a related degree such as a master’s in literature) is a great way to build valuable skills that are applicable in a wide range of settings.

As an English master, you’ll also have a chance to refine important skills including writing, research, and critical thinking, all while choosing an area of focus that matches your interests from technical and creative writing to editing and publishing. A master’s in English could improve your career prospects as a public school educator, qualify you to manage a public relations team, or help you ascend to the rank of chief editor for a noteworthy publication.

And if you wish to pursue a full professorship in literature or English, a master’s degree in English could serve as a stepping stone toward your PhD.

Just getting started in the field? Check out our look at the English major to find out how you can get an undergraduate degree in English.

A career in linguistics is also a natural progression for graduates with English degrees. Find out what you can do with a linguistics degree.

If you’re ready to earn your graduate degree at one of the most prestigious schools in the world, get started with a look at the Most Influential Schools in Literature.

Or read on to find out what you can expect as an English master.

Featured Programs

Why Get a Master’s Degree in English?

The reason to get a master’s degree in English can vary from one career path to the next. For instance, if you are a public school English teacher with a bachelor’s degree, your school district may require you to eventually earn your master’s degree. Even without this requirement, educators with master’s degrees typically earn more than their counterparts with undergraduate degrees.

If you’re studying to become a librarian, you will need to earn a master’s degree in library sciences. Many universities house this program within the broader English or literature department. If this is the case at your school, a master’s degree in English with a concentration in library studies will be a necessary credential.

In a wide range of other areas, including writing, editing, publishing, journalism, and business communication, a master’s degree is not required, but could significantly improve your appeal to employers. Many of these fields are highly competitive. A master’s degree could help you stand out from a crowded pool of talented professionals.

Today, top influencers in English are breaking new ground in historical fiction, graphic novels, poetry and much more.

Learn more about these and other top influencers in the English field today!

How Can I Qualify To Get a Master’s Degree in English?

There is no specific entrance exam for gaining admission into an English master’s program, though some programs may require you to complete a Graduate Record Examination (GRE). If the GRE is needed, your program may either require a general exam, or a GRE specific to the subject of English. Some programs may require you to meet a certain scoring threshold while others may merely require that you complete the exam. These requirements will vary from one English master’s program to the next.

If no GRE is required, the primary requirement for gaining eligibility into an English master’s program is completion of a bachelor’s degree from a properly accredited undergraduate school. While programmatic accreditation is not specifically required in this field, most regionally-accredited graduate schools will require that your bachelor’s degree be granted by a regionally-accredited college or university.

Some colleges may offer bundled bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, where you could earn your advanced degree in one continuous five-year program. This option could save you time and money if you already know that you’ll be pursuing your advanced degree. However, the accelerated pace of such a program may make this a challenging way to earn both degrees. Find out if your school offers this bundling option and ask about eligibility requirements. But be sure you’re up to the added challenge!

For any additional questions about eligibility, refer to your intended program and learn more about application requirements and any additional requirements such as work experience, academic performance thresholds, and referrals.

If you’re still working on building your qualifications, check out our look at the English major to find out how you can get an undergraduate degree in English.

What Kinds of Advanced English Degrees Are There?

English is a highly academic subject where an advanced degree can improve your professional standing and your access to various professional opportunities. Your career goals may determine the level of advanced degree you ultimately pursue:

  • Master of English (or Literature): Typically a two- to three-year program, a master’s degree in literature is especially appealing if you’re pursuing a career in education or academics. A master’s in English is essential if you plan to teach writing or literature at the post-secondary level. This is also a strong credential if you aspire to a leadership role in fields like journalism, publishing, or educational consulting.
  • PhD in English (or Literature): Typically a 3-5 year commitment, this terminal degree in English and literature is best-suited for those interested in becoming full university professors, literary critics, or literary researchers.

What are Some Popular English Specializations?

Your master’s degree in English will give you a chance to choose a specialization based on both your personal interests and your career goals. Whether you plan to write, edit, teach, or a little of all three, your program likely includes an area of specialization where you’ll have a chance to refine your skills and deepen your knowledge. Popular specializations include:

  • Rhetoric and Composition
  • Creative Writing
  • American Literature
  • Children’s and Adolescent Literature
  • English Literature
  • Technical and Business Writing

What Courses Will I Take as an Education Master?

Your specialization will determine many of the courses you’ll take as an English master. Likewise, your major will include core topics such as Literary Critical Analysis and Research Methods in English Literature. However, as an English master, you will also have the chance to develop your curriculum around the themes, cultural traditions, and literary periods that most interest you. Examples of common English master’s courses include:

  • American Literature in the 21st Century
  • Literary Criticism
  • World Literature
  • Instruction Methods in English Teaching
  • Creative Writing Seminar
  • Pedagogy and Practices
  • Legal Writing
  • Literature and Critical Race Theory
  • Writing, Gender and Feminist Theory

Is a Master’s Degree in English/Literature Worth It?

The answer to this question depends on your career goals. If you plan to become a librarian, a master’s degree in English with a concentration in library studies is both required and worth it. Library professionals with a master’s degree enjoy a wage premium of about 30% greater than their counterparts with bachelor’s degrees.

The same is true if you plan to become a public school English teacher. While a master’s is not required in every educational context, it will earn you more over the long run in most cases. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), preschool and kindergarten teachers with a master’s degree earned 43% more than their counterparts with bachelor’s degrees. Either way, in order to teach, you will need to earn a teaching certificate from your state, but a master’s degree in English can also significantly improve your skills and earning potential as a teacher or English, writing, literature, or any number of related subject areas

What Are The Top Jobs With a Master’s In Education Degree?

A master’s in English degree is actually quite versatile. The skills you’ll learn and refine as an English master can qualify you for a wide range of opportunities for career advancement and leadership, including these top jobs:

Curious how far you could go with a master’s degree in English? Start with a look at the top influencers in the field today!


Now that you know how to earn a masters in English/literature, check out:

Check out the full list here and get started on your path to an advanced English degree.

And if you’re still shopping for the right college, be sure to bookmark our Resources on critical issues like Accreditation, Scholarships, Financial Aid, and more!

Do you have a question about this topic? Ask it here