Best Online Master’s in English Programs of 2021

| Staff Writers

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Online master's programs in English prepare graduates for positions that require precise, creative use of the English language. Whether graduates hope to become poets or technical writers, professors or editors, they can benefit from an online master's in English.

Prospective students who wonder what these degrees entail, what to look for in a top program, and where to find support along the way can find answers to all these questions in the following guide. Read on to learn more about the best online master's in English programs for 2021.

2021 Best Accredited Online Master's in English Programs

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Arizona State University View School Profile Scottsdale, AZ

Arizona State University offers an online master's in English program that prepares learners for careers in writing and education. Taught by a faculty of Fulbright scholars, MacArthur fellows, and Nobel laureates, students tackle courses, such as teaching young adult literature, magical realism as a global genre, and composition studies.

Students complete 30 credits before graduation. The program does not include any in-person requirements. Throughout their degree, learners complete classes asynchronously while engaging with instructors and cohorts through the university's online platform.

Prospective students must have a 3.0 GPA during their final 60 credits of undergraduate coursework and submit official transcripts. Applicants must also provide a statement of purpose, a professional resume, and two letters of recommendation.

East Carolina University View School Profile Greenville, NC

Located in Greenville, North Carolina, East Carolina University offers an entirely online master's in English. Distance learners can select from two concentrations: multicultural literature and technical communication. Typically taking two years to complete, the program requires 33 credits.

Degree-seekers also choose from thesis and non-thesis tracks. Thesis students write and defend a thoroughly researched, publishable academic paper, while non-thesis students tackle a comprehensive assessment project alongside six additional credits of elective coursework.

Applicants must submit official transcripts from all previous schools, along with a statement of purpose and three letters of recommendation. ECU no longer requires standardized test scores for admission.

Texas Tech University View School Profile Lubbock, TX

Lubbock's Texas Tech University offers degree-seekers an entirely online master's in English degree. Students choose from four concentrations: literature, creative writing, linguistics, and technical communication.

Students in the literature concentration can take courses in British literature, comparative literature, book history, and digital humanities. Creative writing students engage in writing workshops similar to those in MFA programs while completing coursework in literary studies.

Applicants must submit a resume, a statement of purpose, and three letters of recommendation. Creative writing applicants must also submit a critical writing sample of 8-10 pages. The program does not require GRE scores and reviews applications holistically.

University of West Florida View School Profile Pensacola, FL

The University of West Florida offers an online master's in English program that takes two years to complete. Through synchronous coursework, degree-seekers engage with instructors and fellow students through real-time online lectures and video conferencing.

The program offers both thesis and non-thesis tracks, and learners choose between creative writing and literature specializations. Core courses include introduction to advanced literary study and history of literary theory. Elective courses include topics in fiction, topics in rhetoric, and feminist theory.

Prospective students must typically have a minimum of 20 credits worth of undergraduate English coursework with a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA. Applicants must also submit official transcripts, a statement of purpose, and three letters of recommendation.

University of Louisiana at Monroe View School Profile Monroe, LA

The University of Louisiana at Monroe offers an online master's in English that allows students to choose between thesis and non-thesis tracks. They also choose from concentrations in literary studies and creative writing. Over approximately two years, distance learners in the program complete 33 credits of asynchronous coursework.

Core courses include English literature before 1800, modern English literature, and American poetry and prose. Students in the thesis track submit and defend a publishable piece of academic research. Non-thesis learners tackle six credits of additional coursework.

ULM requires that prospective students complete 30 credits of advanced English courses during their undergraduate degrees. Additionally, applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA in all upper-level English coursework. Students failing to meet all requirements may earn admission on a conditional, case-by-case basis.

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania View School Profile Slippery Rock, PA

Students seeking a master's in English at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania complete their degree entirely online and can finish the program in just 15 months. Preparing students for writing jobs in a variety of fields, this degree focuses on traditional academic reading and writing while also integrating new media.

Core English courses include introduction to writing in the disciplines, rhetoric theory, and literary and cultural studies. Additionally, learners gain practical, marketable skills through courses in digital writing, professional writing, and consultancy in writing in the disciplines.

Applicants must submit official transcripts and hold a minimum 2.75 undergraduate GPA. Prospective students must also submit a personal essay of 2-3 pages outlining career goals and two letters of recommendation. SRU does not require GRE scores.

Northwestern State University of Louisiana View School Profile Natchitoches, LA

Students can earn an online master's in English at Northwestern State University of Louisiana without ever having to visit campus. Degree-seekers select a thesis or non-thesis track and complete a concentration in literature, Southern culture, or writing and linguistics. All learners must complete 30 credits before graduating.

Thesis students complete 24 credits of coursework before tackling a six-credit thesis project. Non-thesis learners complete two formal research papers while taking additional elective coursework.

Successful applicants typically have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. Prospective students must submit a 500-word statement of purpose, a writing sample not exceeding 15 pages, and two letters of recommendation. NSUL gives special consideration to the written portions of the application.

Minnesota State University, Mankato View School Profile Mankato, MN

Located southwest of Minneapolis, Minnesota State University, Mankato offers a 32-credit online master's in English. Designed to prepare students for teaching positions and future doctoral study, this program takes a broad approach, covering a variety of literary topics while providing learners with the tools needed to advance in their academic and professional careers.

Core program requirements include two courses surveying the history and criticism of British and American literature. Additionally, degree-seekers tackle seminars in world literature and literary theory. Elective course options include gender in literature, multicultural American literature, and teaching college-level literature.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Prospective students must also submit a resume, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement outlining academic and professional objectives.

Ohio University View School Profile Athens, OH

Ohio University offers an online master's in English for teachers and other working professionals. Students often finish this program in 16 months, completing 32 credits before graduation.

Students complete courses in creative writing, British and American literature, and rhetoric and composition. Before graduation, all learners must complete a research essay as a culminating experience. Students transferring into this program can bring up to eight credits of coursework with them.

Prospective students must have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Applicants must also submit a writing sample, a statement of purpose, and two letters of recommendation. This program does not require GRE scores for admission.

Murray State University View School Profile Murray, KY

Kentucky's Murray State University offers a 30-credit, entirely online master's in English. Most full-time students complete the program in two years.

Students in the program complete substantial coursework in both British and American literature. Core courses include introduction to research and bibliography in addition to six credits of both American and British literature classes. As students near the end of their degree, they must complete a comprehensive oral examination.

To gain unconditional admission into the program, applicants must have an undergraduate major or minor in English with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The program offers conditional admission on a case-by-case basis after reviewing GRE scores, writing samples, and letters of recommendation.

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in English Program?

Online master's in English programs provide the literary training needed to work in roles focused on correct language and linguistics. Students who enjoy these programs value precise language and enjoy analyzing texts to better understand their meaning. In contrast to an MFA in writing, which focuses on building creative writing skills, a master's in English is more academic in nature.

Most of these programs take 2-3 years to complete and require 32-48 credits. In addition to covering core topics, such as literary research and criticism, American literature study, and composition theory and practice, many schools also offer concentrations in areas like literature, writing, and creative writing.

In contrast to an MFA in writing, which focuses on building creative writing skills, a master's in English is more academic in nature.

After completing required coursework, students write a master's thesis that examines a unique question or topic within the field using both primary and secondary research. Students who plan to teach or work as an editor may also be able to participate in an internship or practicum before they graduate.

Admission Requirements for Online Master's in English Programs

Many online master's in English programs prefer applicants with a bachelor's degree in English or a related field. Prospective students without a relevant bachelor's degree may need to complete certain prerequisite courses before starting the program.

Additional requirements include official transcripts, a personal statement, writing samples, and letters of recommendation. Students can learn more about this process by checking out our graduate admissions guide.

Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Programs.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in English Program?

Teaching Writing

Designed for students who want to learn the ins and outs of teaching English at the secondary or postsecondary level, this course emphasizes pedagogy and measurable results. Degree-seekers delve into composition studies, teaching grammar and argument, writing across academic disciplines, and understanding cultural and linguistic differences in writing.

Writing and Technology

Over the past three decades, the invention of the internet and digital media has substantially shifted how readers ingest writings, how they share it, and how it is remembered. In this course, students consider the importance of media awareness and look at new and emerging practices for conveying thoughts and ideas across new media.

20th Century Language Theories

This course introduces degree-seekers to various ways of reading and analyzing texts. Learners examine models like new criticism, formalism, structuralism, and phenomenology to better understand earlier literary criticism and findings.

Life Writing

This course teaches students to write from personal experience through autobiography, short stories, literary essays, and poetry. Learners read examples of life writing before completing several assignments designed to both mimic earlier styles and help them find their voices.

Victorian Writers and Writings

Typically offered as an elective, this course looks at overarching themes in both American and English Victorian writing. Themes of class hierarchies, moral and sexual behaviors, despair and death, and urban vs. rural life receive special attention, as does the role of modernization and social change in the evolution of this writing period.

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What Can I Do With an Online Master's in English Degree?

The liberal arts often get a bad rap for job outcomes in a rapidly digitized world, but many online-based positions require professionals who know how to write well and clearly convey messages. Schools and universities also need educated academics who can teach the next generation of writers.

While jobs for writers are projected to decline slightly between 2019 and 2029, public relations positions should continue to grow and thrive.

See where a master's in English degree can take you. Learn more about English careers.


Whether working in a K-12 or postsecondary education, English teachers and professors help students learn the ins and outs of the English language. They also teach students to analyze texts and write well. Many great writers credit their teachers for instilling an early love of language.

Technical Writing

Whether writing a dishwasher manual or editing a complex scientific journal, technical writers boast clear writing skills and the ability to translate complex topics into accessible prose. Technical writers can pursue in-house roles at academic journals or work as freelancers.


Editors play an important role in many industries, ensuring costly or embarrassing grammatical mistakes get fixed before going to print. Editors must possess a deep and nuanced understanding of grammar, syntax, and language to be effective in their roles.

Public Relations

Public relations professionals craft and manage the public personas of individuals and companies. Much of their work involves conveying the ideas and accomplishments of their clients, both orally and verbally. A strong grasp of the English language is key for these positions.


Even if students do not aspire to publish their own work, those hoping to work in publishing must understand the mechanics of language. When reviewing drafts and pitches, publishing executives must ascertain whether the material will appeal to their audience.

English Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in English Programs

Is a master's in English worth it? true

Graduates with a master's in English can pursue meaningful roles in both academic and business settings. Whether graduates aim to work as community college professors or content managers, this degree can help them achieve their goals.

What can I do with a master's in English? true

A master's degree in English leads to opportunities in myriad fields in positions that require clear language. Graduates can find work as speechwriters, editors, and postsecondary instructors.

Are English majors in high demand? true

It depends on the job. Traditional writers may have trouble finding work. Nevertheless, between 2019 and 2029, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 9% job growth for postsecondary teachers and 7% job growth for technical writers.

How much money can I make with a master's in English?

According to the BLS, writers and authors earn a median annual salary of $67,120, while technical writers make a median annual salary of $74,620.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a master's in English?

Postsecondary teachers earn a median annual salary of $80,790. The top 10% of earners brought home more than $180,360 per year. Keep in mind that university professors usually need a doctorate to teach. A master's degree is sufficient for most community college teaching positions.