Whether you are interested in creative writing, technical communication, postsecondary education, or literature, an online master's degree in English can provide you with the skills you need to advance your career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), professional editors earn a median annual salary of $59,480, while writers and authors earn $62,170.
The BLS projects little growth for the fields of communication, publishing, and journalism between 2018-2028. As a result, open positions should attract a great deal of competition. Relevant work experience, electronic and digital media skills, and a master's in English can help professionals stand out from the crowd.
This guide provides answers to some frequently asked questions, as well as a comprehensive ranking of the best master's degrees in English available online. Read on to learn more about choosing a program, common curriculum components, the importance of accreditation, and the employment outlook for graduates.
What are the best English programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:
|1||University of Central Florida||Orlando, FL|
|2||Arizona State University||Scottsdale, AZ|
|3||University of West Florida||Pensacola, FL|
|4||East Carolina University||Greenville, NC|
|5||Texas Tech University||Lubbock, TX|
|6||Louisiana Tech University||Ruston, LA|
|7||Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania||Slippery Rock, PA|
|8||University of Texas at Tyler||Tyler, TX|
|9||Minnesota State University, Mankato||Mankato, MN|
|10||National University||La Jolla, CA|
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is a master's in English worth it?
The subjective value of a graduate degree depends largely on how a program helps students achieve their goals. For professionals with an interest in expanding their knowledge in areas related to communication, writing, and literature, a master's in English can prove worthwhile.
- What kind of jobs can you get with a master's degree in English?
Depending on your work experience, interests, and skills, this versatile degree can prepare you for numerous employment opportunities. Popular career fields for graduates with a master's in English include creative writing, technical writing, journalism, communication, and postsecondary education.
- How much does a master's in English cost?
The net cost of a master's degree varies depending on the school you select. Yearly tuition costs for graduate programs in English may range from around $10,000 at in-state, public universities to approximately $30,000 at private universities.
- Is an online master's degree respected?
Yes. According to a survey by Northeastern University, 61% of human resources professionals believe an accredited online program is of equal or greater quality than a traditional degree.
2020 Best Accredited Online Master's in English Programs
University of Central Florida
|Orlando, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 73%||
The University of Central Florida is located in Orlando and serves about 68,000 students each year. In addition to on-campus academics, the institution delivers over 90 programs through distance learning, including a fully online master's in English with a technical communication concentration.
After completing this 33-credit program, graduates are well-equipped to work as publication specialists, user experience consultants, and technical writers. Coursework covers topics like proposal writing and project management.
The program requires applicants to submit GRE scores, a professional writing sample, and two recommendation letters. They also need to send in a two-page personal statement.
Arizona State University
|Scottsdale, AZ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 48%||
Arizona State University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences enrolls over 25,000 students in 235 academic programs. The college offers an online master of arts in English that helps candidates gain the writing and critical thinking skills needed to analyze the interdisciplinary relationship between English and other areas of study.
Asynchronous classes span an accelerated 7.5 weeks, allowing distance learners to graduate within a year. Required coursework includes linguistics, rhetoric, film studies, and English education. This master's in English program also requires candidates to gain reading knowledge of a foreign language.
ASU offers fall, spring, and summer entry dates. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA. Application materials include a resume, two recommendation letters, and a two-page statement of purpose.
University of West Florida
|Pensacola, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 43%||
Based in Pensacola, the University of West Florida offers over 90 undergraduate and graduate programs. Students can pursue an online master of arts in English with a specialization in literature or creative writing. Faculty deliver all program coursework synchronously.
The curriculum includes courses like history of literary theory and topics in American literature. Creative writing students also take workshops in fiction, poetry, and/or creative nonfiction. To earn their online master's degree in English, all students must complete a thesis.
Applicants need to submit adequate GRE or MAT scores, a two-page personal essay, two recommendation letters, and a writing sample (a literary analysis, creative prose, or 10 poems).
East Carolina University
|Greenville, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 65%||
East Carolina University is a comprehensive research institution that offers 70 master's degrees, including a master of arts in English with eight concentration options. Fully online concentrations include technical/professional communication and multicultural/transnational literature.
Students pursuing this 33-credit master's in English can choose from thesis and non-thesis options. Technical and professional communication students develop practical skills in copyediting, public interest writing, and managing the editing and publication process. Learners in the multicultural and transnational literature concentration focus on ethnic art traditions and colonial/postcolonial/diasporic studies.
ECU requires applicants to submit a statement of intent and three recommendation letters. In addition to general university aid, students can apply for departmental awards. Opportunities include the Ebbs Scholarship for candidates with a 3.0 GPA or better.
Texas Tech University
|Lubbock, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 60%||
Texas Tech University is one of the largest higher education institutions in the state, educating nearly 39,000 students. The school offers a fully online master of arts in English program that lets participants align the curriculum to match with their particular interests.
The curriculum includes three core literature courses, and students take four advanced courses in a specialization, such as digital humanities, social justice and the environment, or comparative literature. The program also requires candidates to learn a foreign language and complete a thesis. Students can graduate in two or three years, depending on their course load.
Application materials include a resume or CV, a 700-word statement of academic purpose, and three recommendation letters. Prospective learners also need to send in an 8-10-page writing sample that demonstrates strong critical thinking skills.
Louisiana Tech University
|Ruston, LA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
Louisiana Tech University maintains a flagship campus in Ruston and delivers online coursework asynchronously through Moodle. Distance learners can earn a fully online master of arts in English, focusing their studies on American and British literature or technical writing. Graduates can pursue doctoral degrees or find work as teachers, journalists, and publishers.
Beyond a required course in literary research and bibliography, students can pick courses that match their personal interests and professional goals. Electives include Southern literature, graphics in technical writing, and science fiction. The program offers a thesis and a non-thesis track.
In lieu of standardized test scores, master's in English applicants can submit a 15-page writing portfolio. Louisiana Tech funds general scholarships and departmental awards.
Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania
|Slippery Rock, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 67%||
Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania offers more than 40 graduate degrees, many of which students can earn remotely through the Desire2Learn platform. These offerings include an entirely online master of arts in English that candidates can complete within 15 months. With an emphasis on writing, this degree prepares graduates to work in areas like business, translation, technical communication, and nonprofit administration.
The curriculum of this 30-credit master's in English covers topics like rhetorical theory and literary/cultural studies. Students explore digital writing and publishing, learning about the archival practices of new and hybrid media. Through a capstone consultancy course, candidates collaborate with local organizations to perform research and/or implement interdisciplinary writing instruction.
Applicants need a minimum 2.75 GPA and must submit two recommendation letters and a three-page essay detailing their career objectives.
University of Texas at Tyler
|Tyler, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 45%||
The University of Texas at Tyler oversees affordable and career-relevant programs, offering more than 85 undergraduate and graduate degrees, including a master of arts in English. Students can complete a fully online curriculum or create a hybrid learning experience by taking some classes on campus.
Students pursuing this online master's degree in English take a bibliography and research methods course. Additional classes include contrastive linguistics, the American Renaissance, and studies in Romanticism. Students also choose a thesis or non-thesis track.
UT Tyler maintains fall and spring entry dates. Applicants need a minimum 2.5 GPA and satisfactory GRE scores. They must also submit a 500-word statement of purpose.
Minnesota State University, Mankato
|Mankato, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 50%||
Minnesota State University, Mankato provides distance learning degrees through Desire2Learn, including several master of arts in English options. Distance learners can choose from fully online degrees in technical communication, literature and English studies, and English education.
Courses vary depending on the degree pathway. For example, the technical communication track includes coursework in online documentation, desktop publishing, and communication for STEM professionals. Students who pursue the English education option gain advanced literary analysis skills, preparing to teach English at the K-12 and college levels.
To apply to these master's in English programs, prospective students need to submit a personal statement and two recommendation letters. They should also submit a 10-20-page analytical writing sample focusing on a literary research topic.
|La Jolla, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 36%||
Based in La Jolla, California, National University enrolls about 17,000 students in 75 academic programs, including a master of arts in English. Students in this program can choose between fully online and hybrid delivery methods.
Core classes include theoretical foundations and American literary traditions. Master's in English students can also complete a specialization in rhetoric or Gothic studies. Faculty deliver online classes through four-week sessions.
NU offers monthly start dates and accelerated classes. The university prefers candidates with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Applicants with a GPA between 2.0 and 2.49 may still be accepted if they have strong GRE scores.
Choosing a Program
Will This Program Provide Me With the Skills I Need to Advance My Career?
Employers in many sectors value professionals with strong communication, writing, and critical thinking skills. Earning an online master's degree in English also helps students develop research and collaboration skills, preparing graduates to pursue careers in a variety of disciplines.
Do I Need Previous Work Experience to Get In?
Applicants must have a bachelor's degree, preferably in English. However, work experience is not necessary. The best online master's degree in English programs list prerequisites on their websites. Experience in the field may be helpful, but students can apply immediately after completing their undergraduate degree.
How Do I Find the Right Online Program for Me?
Research and preparation are key to finding the right online English program. Applicants should thoroughly research several colleges before applying to a specific program. On each program's website, students can find information about the curriculum, expected learning outcomes, tuition, and fees.
Can I Work While I Complete My Online Master's in English?
Online master's in English programs are usually flexible and accessible to working students. Many programs allow students to complete coursework asynchronously, which is beneficial for learners with personal and professional commitments. Most online programs require 15-20 hours of work per week.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master's in English Program?
Students pursuing an online master's in English complete assignments, projects, and discussions. Many online programs use discussion boards to help students interact, and learners can speak to instructors through email/chat or on the phone. Read on to learn more about common features of online English programs.
Concentrations Offered for an Online Master's Degree in English and Creative Writing
Students engage in in-depth study of classic and contemporary British, American, and world literature, with a focus on criticism, analytical writing, and literary theory.
Careers this concentration prepares for: educator, author, publisher
- Technical Communication
This concentration explores theoretical and practical concepts in technical writing and usability, teaching students to make technical ideas accessible and impactful to a variety of audiences.
Careers this concentration prepares for: technical writer, technical editor, publications specialist
- Creative Writing
This popular concentration helps writers advance and hone their craft through study of written works and collaborative workshops with other students. Writers may focus on an area like fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or screenwriting.
Careers this concentration prepares for: author, poet, screenwriter
Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in English
Although credit requirements and available concentrations vary between schools, students can expect to encounter the following subjects in their master's in English program.
Students participate in advanced study of British, American, world, author-specific, era-specific, and/or form-specific literature.
Writing, Rhetoric, and Theory
Students advance their own knowledge and learn how to instruct others in various English disciplines. Coursework often discusses composition, technical and scientific writing, comparative linguistics, and literary criticism and theory.
Research and Bibliography
This course focuses on scholarship methods, ways to approach various literary research problems, and descriptive and analytical bibliography.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master's in English?
The length of an online master's in English program depends on its requirements. Most programs take two years to complete. Transfer credits and a student's enrollment status can also affect completion time.
Students in self-paced programs work asynchronously, completing assignments at their convenience. They may speak to their instructor if they have questions, but self-paced students complete the majority of the work by themselves. Online students often interact with instructors and peers through email and discussion forums. Many online programs use cohort formats, in which groups of students complete the same course sequence in lockstep with each other.
Accreditation for Online Master's in English and Creative Writing Degrees
The primary difference between regional and national accreditation is the type of schools these agencies work with. National accreditation is usually reserved for religious, vocational, or trade schools, while regional accreditation is for four-year colleges and universities. Credits from regionally accredited institutions tend to be readily transferable, and degrees from these schools are often held in higher esteem. Six accrediting agencies oversee regional accreditation in the U.S.
Agencies that monitor nationally accredited schools focus on programs and standards that prepare students for the workforce. Nationally accredited schools tend to be less expensive, but they may not be widely recognized. These programs are reviewed every 3-5 years.
The U.S. Department of Education manages government funds awarded to public and private universities and oversees adherence to federal laws and regulations. The Department of Education works closely with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), which handles accreditation policy and procedures. For a list of accredited institutions, visit the CHEA's website.
Employment Outlook for Master's in English Graduates
Master's in English Careers
Graduates who earn an online master's degree in English work in education, writing, and publishing in a variety of roles.
Authors create written works, such as essays, short stories, and graphic novels. Their work is published and available in bookstores and libraries.
Median Annual Salary: $62,170
Projected Growth Rate: 0%
- English Teacher (Postsecondary)
English professors help students improve their reading, writing, and comprehension skills through the study of classic and modern literary works.
Median Annual Salary: $66,590
Projected Growth Rate: 4%
Journalists create nonfiction articles for publications such as magazines and newspapers. They conduct interviews and research story developments.
Median Annual Salary: $43,490
Projected Growth Rate: -10%
- Technical Writer
Technical writers help create instructions and supporting documents describing how to use various types of products.
Median Annual Salary: $71,850
Projected Growth Rate: 8%
Editors review pieces of writing by checking facts and revising content to prepare work for publication.
Median Annual Salary: $59,480
Projected Growth Rate: -3%
The nation's largest professional organization for independent nonfiction writers, ASJA offers professional development resources and benefits, including networking opportunities, seminars, workshops, and job market information.
NWU is the only labor union in the nation representing freelance writers who work in all genres, formats, and mediums. Membership benefits include contract advice, grievance assistance, pro bono legal services, press passes, and vision and dental insurance.
The world's oldest and largest professional association dedicated to advancing the field of technical communication, STC encompasses global professional chapters, student chapters, and special interest groups. Membership benefits include publication access, continuing education opportunities, and an online career center.
ACES is the nation's leading organization of editing professionals, educators, and students. The organization strives to improve both writing quality and editing professionals' quality of life. Membership benefits include global networking, best practices training, and other exclusive resources.
Financing Your Online Master's in English Program
The U.S. Department of Education provides loans, grants, and scholarships to help students finance graduate education. Students need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to ensure they qualify for government funding. Special payment assistance programs are available for government workers and military personnel.
Approximately 66% of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.
Completing the FAFSA is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. This FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.
Learn about the changes that have taken place in distance learning and the different funding opportunities available to online students.
This link provides a comprehensive list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single parents.
Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.