The Best Online Bachelor’s in English Programs

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English is a broad academic field that covers how the language is spoken, written, and interpreted. A versatile degree, students who graduate with a bachelor’s in English will leave school prepared for a variety of career opportunities in the fine arts, business, education, and more. According to recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), English is one of the most popular undergraduate majors in the United States, and more than 50,000 bachelor’s degrees in English were conferred during the 2013-14 academic year.

At some schools, English majors are required to choose a degree specialization. Students with a passion for reading and analysis may pursue a concentration in literature, while those with creative aspirations may pick creative writing or book publishing. Many English majors eventually become teachers in secondary and postsecondary schools, as well.

Today, many students are choosing to earn their bachelor’s degree in English online. Distance programs follow the same rigorous curriculum as classroom-based options, and lead to the same number of job opportunities after graduation. The asynchronous (or self-paced) structure of most online English degree programs is also ideal for students with part-time jobs, childcare duties and other commitments that may interfere with full-time on-campus learning.

Read on to learn more about English as an academic discipline, and to discover what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with an English degree.


Like many liberal arts programs, an English degree won’t directly prepare you for many lines of work; you may be able to parlay your writing chops into a career in journalism or as a freelancer, but most graduates don’t pursue a literary career. Instead, an English degree will help you build critical skills: you will learn how to read carefully and write effectively, naturally, but you’ll also develop strong analytical and critical thinking skills. These abilities lend themselves well to careers in virtually any field. The myth that liberal arts majors can’t find jobs after school is just that; a myth!


Online bachelor’s in English programs offer a flexible alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar education. Students will be able to access course readings and lectures, participate in class discussions, submit written assignments, take exams, and communicate with their professors from home. Current e-learning technology also allows them to study on the go using a laptop, tablet, smartphone, and other devices with Wi-Fi capabilities.


Again, it really just depends what you want to do. If you want to become an English teacher, you’ll need a teaching license. If you want to work in marketing, your analytical and critical thinking skills will surely be an asset in most agencies. If you want to work in SEO, your reading and writing abilities will be more than adequate preparation. And of course, you can pursue traditional careers in publishing, journalism or digital media as well.


Choosing a program is a very personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school’s strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online English programs in the United States. If you want to study English, and you value the opportunity to take classes online, read on to learn more about the top online English programs in the country.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Location Description
1 University of Central Florida 77.26 3/5 Orlando, FL

Located in Orlando, UCF is one of the largest universities in the country. The school is home to 63,000 students and consists of 13 colleges. Students interested in an English degree can apply to the College of Arts and Humanities, which offers an online bachelor's program in the subject. Classes cover the study of literature, writing, and language. Course topics range from Victorian-era poetry to contemporary fiction.

Online students at UCF can take advantage of a number of support services, including online access to the university's library and a writing center that offers real-time consultation with tutors.

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2 University of Illinois at Springfield 76.72 2/5 Springfield, IL

UI's Springfield campus offers a bachelor's degree in English online. Distance learners in the program have access to many of the same amenities that on-campus students enjoy, including tutoring services, IT support, and more than 85 student clubs and organizations. Courses are delivered through Blackboard and are taught by the same esteemed faculty members as on campus. The school offers an "e-tuition” program in which out-of-state students receive generous breaks on their tuition bills.

Distance learners may also choose to pursue a concentration in English literary studies. This 34-credit sequence analyzes literary theory and research methods.

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3 University of Massachusetts-Lowell 66.02 2/5 Lowell, MA

Comprised of five campuses and an online division, the University of Massachusetts system provides an estimated $6.1 billion in annual economic activity throughout the state. UMass Online offers 139 degree and certificate programs, almost all of which are available completely online. Students can earn an online bachelor's degree in English through the Lowell campus's Division of Online and Continuing Education.

UMass Lowell's online bachelor's in English features a variety of courses. Students examine traditional genres and styles while also being encouraged to create and improve upon their own writing. The online curriculum also contains foreign language and world-ready tracks that expose students to Lowell's seven Essential Learning Outcomes (ELOs) -- a fundamental part of every degree program at the school.

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4 University of Colorado Denver 65.40 2/5 Denver, CO

With over 450 online courses to choose from, UCD combines a quality education with flexible learning options to provide students with a challenging and rewarding academic experience. The school's English writing program features courses taught by the very same experienced professors who teach classes on-campus. This online English degree boasts a robust student-to-faculty ratio of 17:1, ensuring that students get personalized attention from their professors.

Distance learners have access to the school's experiential learning team. This service aims to help students find real-world applications for their degrees, such as internships, study abroad opportunities, and other creative work experiences.

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5 The Baptist College of Florida 64.81 2/5 Graceville, FL

The Baptist College of Florida, located in Graceville, is currently the only college to operate with the direct support of the Florida Baptist Convention. The college offers an online bachelor's degree in English that introduces advanced literary theory topics in the context of fundamental Christian thinking and values. Distance education is delivered through MyBCF, an online system that allows for direct communication between students and faculty members.

In addition to general education courses that cover conventional topics such as American literature, students also complete a biblical/theological block of courses. Here, they analyze topics and themes in Christian literature.

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6 University of Memphis 62.74 2/5 Memphis, TN

Memphis offers a bachelor's degree in English that can be completed entirely online. The program features two concentrations: African American literature, which focuses on analytical reading skills and critical thinking; and professional writing, which helps students develop their communication and professional skills. Online students can choose to pursue either one of these tracks.

UofM Online provides a variety of support services. Online students have full access to library services, including online catalogs and InterLibrary Loans, and the school also provides an online chat system that directly links to on-campus librarians. In addition to standard career services, students may also use Focus 2, an online assessment tool that gauges your academic and professional interests.

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7 University of Houston-Victoria 62.12 2/5 Victoria, TX

The University of Houston offers a BA in Humanities-English that can be completed entirely online. Delivered through Blackboard, courses in this online program are identical to the ones taught on-campus. In addition to the English degree, students with an interest in education may also choose to pursue a secondary teacher certification.

All students, regardless of their major, are required to complete 42 credits of core courses in subjects such as mathematics and communications. Once these general education requirements are accounted for, candidates are free to pursue major-specific courses and earn their degree.

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8 Southern New Hampshire University 59.88 5/5 Manchester, NH

Based in Manchester, SNHU offers more than 100 comprehensive and regionally accredited bachelor's degree programs, including a BA in English language & literature. Coursework is divided into six nine-week terms and the asynchronous format allows students to complete assignments at their convenience.

Online students can take advantage of the school's various assistance programs. SNHU Career services help distance learners develop and pursue their professional goals, while academic advisors are on hand to help students map out their degree. The school's online writing center provides feedback and tutoring help on specific assignments.

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9 Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College 59.06 3/5 Saint Mary of the Woods, IN

With more than 40 years of experience delivering remote education, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College has the second oldest distance education program in the country. The school supplies students with a well-rounded education grounded in the liberal arts. Its BA in English is one of 15 online bachelor's degrees; students can also pursue a minor in English.

To graduate, students must complete 125 credits, earned through general studies, English, and elective courses. SMWC's online students can connect with fellow classmates through the school's peer mentor network, where older students provide guidance to underclassmen.

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10 National University 56.05 4/5 La Jolla, CA

National University was established in 2001 as part of a network of nonprofit higher education institutions. In addition to 28 campuses, National University also offers many of their degree programs online, including an English degree. This program uses interactive learning tools like e-mail, digital lectures, and online readings to create an engaging and flexible online learning experience for students.

The curriculum focuses on a range of topics from composition to linguistics. Students inclined towards creative writing can complete NU's concentration in creative writing, and students with an interest in graduate study can take advantage of the school's BA-to-MFA transition program.

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11 University of Maryland-University College 54.77 2/5 Adelphi, MD

Located just minutes from Maryland's flagship university, UMUC is home to more than 90 online degree, specialization, and certificate programs, including an English program. Courses cover literature from various time periods, from the Renaissance to the 19th century to contemporary fiction. In order to help students maximize their career potential, UMUC also recommends pursuing a minor in a related field, such as communication studies or marketing. UMUC offers a variety of online resources to students, including information sessions and webinars where distance learners can learn more about a selected topic or field.

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12 Mercy College 53.72 3/5 Dobbs Ferry, NY

Mercy College offers a BA in English that can also be completed entirely online. The program is an excellent fit for prospective educators, as aspiring teachers can major in English before pursuing their teaching certification through Mercy's Teacher Education Program. Students have access to support services through the College's online resources, such as academic advising, financial assistance, and career services. Students can also get help from the school's Personalized Achievement Contract (PACT) program, a nationally recognized mentoring program that provides students with a personal mentor to guide them through their college experience.

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13 Nicholls State University 52.95 2/5 Thibodaux, LA

Nicholls State offers a BA in English through its Department of Languages and Literature. As part of the program, students must pursue a concentration in literary studies. Online students take classes in an accelerated format, and complete courses in as few as eight weeks. Nicholls State uses Moodle to facilitate its online course content. Virtual advising is available through Google Hangout for students who need it.

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14 Indiana University-East 52.85 2/5 Richmond, IN

Indiana is comprised of eight campuses and an online division that features hundreds of online classes and more than 100 online academic programs, including a degree-completion offering in English. The program comes with an emphasis in technical & professional writing and is intended for students who have already completed at least 60 semester hours (either through a community college or a separate university).

Distance learners benefit from a number of learning tools, from the unlimited storage space known as Box to IUware, a service that grants students access to various software programs from companies such as Microsoft, Adobe, Thomson Reuters, and more. Online tutoring and technical support help is available as well.

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15 Southwestern Assemblies of God University 51.22 4/5 Waxahachie, TX

Southwestern Assemblies of God was founded after a merger between three religious schools in Texas. SAGU offers a variety of programs online, including a popular bachelor's degree in English. Courses in this program belong to one of three major groups: literature, writing, and TESOL (teaching English as a second language). Courses are available through the Blackboard learning management system. Students also have access to MySAGU, an online portal where they'll find announcements, assignments, and other important information. SAGU has three learning centers dedicated to math, writing, and achievement. These resources feature online workshops and tutoring services.

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16 California Baptist University 50.43 4/5 Riverside, CA

California Baptist's online department features a variety of programs that provide a quality education with a Christian foundation. The school's online BA in English program helps distance learners develop essential skills like problem solving, literary analysis, and reading comprehension. In addition to standard topics, such as American and world literature, courses also cover Christian values in literature.

CBU's online programs were ranked 23rd in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in 2015. Students enrolled in these programs have access to personal advisors, the latest technologies (Blackboard 9.1, Webex, and more), and an immersive, interactive online community that encourages cooperation and collaboration between students.

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17 Eastern Oregon University 47.31 3/5 La Grande, OR

Students at EOU may enroll in either a BA or BS program in English/writing. Both programs prepare students to become creative thinkers and excellent communicators, and coursework focuses on literature, rhetoric, and a variety of other essential topics related to the major. In order to ensure that students do not struggle academically, EOU provides a variety of tutoring and academic advising resources. At EOU, each distance learner is matched with an experienced and knowledgeable mentor who helps them build a custom degree program.

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18 Granite State College 46.92 3/5 Concord, NH

Granite State caters to working students, with a host of certificate and degree programs that are designed specifically for students with busy schedules. To help students earn their degree on time, GSC offers multiple initiatives and services intended to benefit working students, including online courses, on-campus offerings at nine conveniently-placed campuses, and a credit award system for students with prior class experience.

The English program provides an introduction to essential literary texts and then teaches students how to analyze literature. The program concludes with a capstone project -- a comprehensive final assignment that allows students to thoroughly examine a selected topic and demonstrate the knowledge and critical thinking skills they've developed in school.

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19 Columbia College 44.56 3/5 Columbia, MO

The online BA in English degree at Columbia College is ideal for students interested in exploring literature and developing their writing skills. A well-rounded curriculum and an experienced faculty ensures that graduates will leave school ready for a variety of professional opportunities. The degree is offered through Columbia's Language and Communication Studies Department. Online classes are held in a series of five eight-week sessions and are hosted on Desire2Learn, an online delivery system that allows for asynchronous learning. Students in need of assistance can also seek help from an on-call online staff

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20 Chaminade University of Honolulu 41.35 3/5 Honolulu, HI

Chaminade offers nearly two dozen online programs at both the undergraduate and graduate level, including a bachelor's degree in English. Courses cover expository writing, English literature, and a mix of other topics. Students conclude their program with a senior seminar. Though not required, distance learners are strongly encouraged to pursue a specialization in either writing or literature & criticism.

Online education at Chaminade is conducted by the Office of Professional and Continuing Education (PACE). Courses are offered in an accelerated format: the school's standard calendar consists of four terms, each containing 10-week sessions.

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21 University of Houston-Downtown 40.49 2/5 Houston, TX

While the Victoria campus offers an online BA in Humanities-English program, the downtown campus of at UH offers a BS in professional writing. This career-oriented degree teaches students an array of valuable skills and techniques, including business communication, document preparation, and professional use of social media.

Online students have access to myUHD, an online portal where they'll find important information concerning class materials, course schedules, and communication portals. Online students also have access to several on-campus student services, including the professional writing internship program.

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22 University of Maine at Presque Isle 39.97 2/5 Presque Isle, ME

Maine Presque Isle offers a series of online courses and programs that are among the cheapest in the state ($220 per credit hour for in-state students). Online classes are offered year-round, and include two summer sessions. All online students are assigned an advisor who is responsible for both teaching classes and tracking a student's progress. All UMPI online students receive access to MaineStreet, an online portal exclusive to University of Maine students. Online students also receive a school e-mail address, which they can use to access school services like Blackboard and the university library.

UMPI offers an online bachelor's degree in English with an impressive array of course offerings. Regardless of which classes you choose, students can expect to develop strong composition, professional writing, and literary analysis skills.

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23 Ottawa University-Ottawa 39.59 3/5 Ottawa, KS

Ottawa has provided a rigorous and faith-based education or 150 years. The school offers an impressive range of online programs, including a BA in English. Distance learners are exposed to the various elements of the English language, from critical study (including environmental literature and expository writing) to more personal and introspective classes devoted to creative writing and the literature of personal discovery.

Students enjoy access to the same resources that are available to on-campus students. Through the MyOttawa platform, students can research press releases, access online classrooms, and review the many career services that the school offers.

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24 Judson College 39.02 3/5 Marion, AL

The Marion campus of Judson College hosts a variety of online academic programs, including an online BA in English. Unlike traditional degree programs, Judson's curriculum includes a number of unconventional topics, such as public speaking and appreciation of theater. This online English degree program also includes a library internship wherein students acquire valuable real-world experience.

In addition to satisfying the requirements of their major, students at Judson must either declare a minor or complete an additional 15 hours of higher-level electives. The school delivers its courses primarily through Moodle, but other delivery methods include video, phone, and email.

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25 Adams State University 38.14 3/5 Alamosa, CO

Adams State provides students with the opportunity to earn an online bachelor's degree in English/liberal arts. The program is divided into three sections: general education, English/liberal arts, and general electives. Seniors are also expected to submit a portfolio demonstrating the quality and growth of their work in their time in school.

Distance learners at Adams State can access the school's digital library resources, which can serve as an invaluable learning tool as they earn their degree. Students can also take advantage of on-campus programs such as open houses and the campus bookstore.

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4 to 5 years
Program Costs
$10,000 to $25,000 in annual tuition
Popular Minors and Dual Areas of Study
LIterature, Creative Writing, English Education, English as a Second language (ESL), Linguistics, Marketing, and Human Resources
There is no programmatic accreditation for this major field of study at the undergraduate level. Students should defer to the regional/national accreditation of their four-year college or university.

Job Placement

Traditionally, college graduates with English degrees have endured higher-than-average unemployment rates. A 2014 survey by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) found that, from 2009 to 2012, the unemployment rate for experienced college graduates with an English degree ranged between 6.2% and 6.5%. A recent report from the NCES suggests that this trend for English degree-holders subsists, though employment prospects have improved slightly for this population; college graduates with an English degree between the ages of 25 and 29 now face a 5.9% unemployment rate.

The table below compares unemployment rates for experienced English degree recipients against majors in other related fields.

Bachelor’s Degree Field of Study Unemployment Rate for 25- to 29-Year-Old Degree Recipients
English Language and Literature 5.9%
Marketing and Marketing Research 5.0%
Commercial Art and Graphic Design 5.6%
Liberal Arts and Humanities 5.7%
History 5.8%
Sociology 5.1%
History 5.8%
Fine Arts 6.6%

Source: ‘Employment Outcomes of Bachelor’s Degree Recipients’ by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

As the table indicates, the unemployment rate for English language and literature majors is comparable to the unemployment rates for other liberal arts fields of study. The survey’s average unemployment rate for all degree fields is 4.8% and the national unemployment rate for all occupations is currently 4.9%

Earning a Living

The NCES survey also found that English language and literature degree-holders between the ages of 25 and 29 earn an average annual salary of $39,510. However, due to the variety of career pathways you can take with an English degree, it’s important to remember that your salary expectations stem in part from your degree specialization. Using data from the 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report, the table below features median annual earnings for different English majors at two key career benchmarks.

Bachelor’s Degree Field of Study Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years)
English Literature $44,100 $74,300
Professional and Technical Writing $42,700 $72,400
Linguistics $44,500 $67,800
Linguistics $44,500 $67,800
English Language and Literature $40,400 $68,200
Creative Writing $38,900 $65,900
Secondary English Teacher Education $37,800 $63,700
English Teacher Education $35,900 $58,000

Source: The 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report

Of the seven degree fields listed in the table, English literature majors have the highest rate of career growth during their first 10 years on the job, with an 80.8% salary increase between the entry-level and mid-career stages. Most other specializations saw a salary increase of about 70%.

Your major is just one indicator for your future career prospects, however. Salaries will also vary depending on your specific job title, as well as other factors like your location, and the size of your company. The next table highlights the career salary growth projections for five of the most common career pathways for English majors.

Occupation Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 Years) Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years) Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)
Technical Writer $49,979 $61,620 $66,258 $75,534
Writer/Author $43,000 $53,000 $53,000 $72,000
Journalist $35,837 $45,114 $55,441 $62,664
Editor $41,940 $52,652 $57,527 $61,762
Associate Publisher $48,000 $79,000 $93,000 $97,000

Source: PayScale

Associate publishers had the highest rate of career salary growth, with a 102% increase between the entry-level and late-career stages. Journalists ranked second with a 74.9% earnings increase after 20 years in the workforce. The other three careers recorded healthy salary growth, as well, with writers and authors at 67.4%, technical writers at 51.1%, and editors at 47.3%.

Career and Further Education Opportunities

College students who leave school with a bachelor’s degree in English will be qualified for dozens of entry-level positions in a variety of industries. Below, we covered four careers that many English majors pursue after they leave school.

Writers and Authors: Writers and authors develop, compose, and edit content for various media platforms, such as books, magazines, movie and television scripts, songs, and online publications. Their work often includes extensive background research through reading, interviews, and site visits. Many of these professionals work on company writing staffs, while others are employed as freelancers.

Technical Writers: Technical writers compose content used in manuals, brochures, guides, and other materials that explain complex information. They study and evaluate various products and services before producing descriptive copy, and they use consumer feedback to modify their future output.

Advertising, Promotions and Marketing Managers: These professionals oversee product launches, marketing campaigns, and other promotional activities designed to boost public interest in various goods and services. Their job includes meticulous research into consumer demographics and trends, market activity, and other factors that affect the way products are bought, sold, and advertised.

Interpreters and Translators: These professionals use their bilingual skills to translate written or spoken words from one language into another. Many interpreters and translators working in the U.S. specialize in one commonly spoken second language, such as Spanish, French, Chinese, or Japanese. Jobs in this industry are expected to soar in the coming years; the BLS projects that these positions will grow by 29% between 2014 and 2024.

Occupation Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years)
Writers and Authors $60,250 2% (+3,100 jobs)
Technical Writers $70,240 10% (+5,300 jobs)
Advertising, Promotions and Marketing Managers $124,850 9% (+19,700 jobs)
Interpreters and Translators $44,190 29% (+17,500 jobs)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Professional Organizations

Making connections and learning all you can about your industry of choice is critical to your professional development. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you’ll find three of the country’s most prominent organizations established for professionals with a background in English. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.

  • Society of Professional Journalists: Founded in 1909, the SPJ today represents roughly 7,500 members nationwide. The organization’s flagship magazine is published 10 times per year, and the website features jobs leads, professional development courses, and an extensive resource library.
  • Association of Writers and Writing Programs: The AWP offers membership, career resources, and advocacy to writing professionals across the country. The organization represents more than 550 college writing programs and 150 national writers conferences.
  • Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators: This organization offers training, grant support, and advocacy for writers and illustrators that produce work for young audiences. The SCBWI maintains more than 80 local chapters across the globe.
Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about your financial aid options.


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