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The 20 Best Online Master’s in English

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Updated: February 28, 2024, Reading time: 25 minutes

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People who are passionate about language and literature can see their interest turn into a career by earning a degree in English. Those who already hold a bachelor’s degree in English may want to consider advancing their education.

A master’s in English degree program is worth considering if one wants to enhance their professional portfolio, grow in one role, and advance their career in their chosen field. This humanities degree primarily prepares prospective students to acquire essential skills to conduct research and present information in an organized and concise way.

This advanced degree program can offer a wealth of employment opportunities in a wide range of fields. They can take up positions in communications, marketing, management, research, and even law.

However, most English graduates often proceed to attain essential roles in the academe. Teaching at colleges and universities is a common outcome, which allows them to pursue a rewarding and well-compensated career or take on a doctoral degree.


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Overview

Pursuing a graduate degree can be difficult as it is more demanding than a bachelor’s degree. Fortunately, many colleges and universities offer online master’s in English that are designed for working professionals and other busy students who can take advantage of the flexibility and convenience of online programs.

This means online courses are readily available, and they can often work on their degree requirements at their own pace. An online English degree master’s program has the same quality as its traditional counterparts.

Quick audio summary:


Methodology

A Master’s in English program may feature specializations, allowing graduate students to tailor their learning experience according to their career goals. At times, they might also be allowed to fit in additional courses around themes that interest them.

On our list are the leading online master’s degrees featuring the English discipline! Each of the prestigious schools on our list was picked based on these criteria:

Curious about how our ranking process works? Please see our Methodology page.

Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Best Online Master’s in English Degree Programs

masters in english

Harvard University Extension School

Harvard University Extension School

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in Extension Studies, field: English

Through their Extension School, Harvard University offers a Master’s Degree in English, which deservedly is among one of the country’s best online master’s in English degree programs. The program’s official degree title is the Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in Extension Studies, field: English. Coursework for the program is offered both online and on campus.

Harvard University’s master’s degree online program contains a total of 12 courses, equivalent to 48 credit hours. The program helps deepen students’ understanding of fiction, poetry, and drama while at the same time gaining skillsets in the analysis and interpretation of literary texts.

The program is also designed to provide students with an enhanced knowledge of the philosophical, historical, and cultural forces that shape literary works, as well as teach them crucial skills required for clear communication of ideas and entering critical conversations.

The program has a choice of a thesis or a capstone track, and students also have the option of earning the program’s included graduate certificate in American Literature and Culture.


University of Nebraska Kearney

University of Nebraska Kearney

Kearney, Nebraska

Master of Arts in English

The University of Nebraska Kearney campus offers a Master of Arts in English program, one of the best online Master’s in English for actively practicing teachers who are interested in gaining further professional and/or personal development, as well as those who are seeking academic preparation for an eventual Ph.D. in English. The program is offered both online and in on-campus formats.

This Master’s in English program comprises a total of 36 credit hours. It features opportunities for interactive learning through its coursework, which includes seminars, workshops, and directed reading. Students in this graduate online degree choose one of the four following focus areas on offer:

Likewise, students can choose to complete the program’s optional thesis.


Ohio University

Ohio University

Athens, Ohio

Master’s in English (MA in English)

Ohio University’s Master of Arts in English is offered as a fully online master’s degree program that is ideal for working professionals to gain crucial skills in creative expression and communication, as well as those who have the desire to pursue their passion for literature and composition. It is also ideal for teachers who are looking into teaching in dual-enrollment settings.

This master’s in English program has only one start date per year, that is, every summer. The program, though, is relatively short and can be completed in at least four semesters/16 months, with students taking the 7 to 8-week-long courses one at a time.

The program’s curriculum includes courses on literary history and analysis, composition and rhetoric, as well as creative writing. There are a total of 8 courses, which equals 32 credit hours. Students can also apply to transfer in up to 8 semester hours upon enrolment, subject to approval by the program director.


Indiana University

Indiana University

Bloomington, Indiana

Master of Arts in English

Indiana University offers a Master of Arts in English degree program, which is designed to provide broad training in the main areas of English Studies. This online master’s program is offered 100% online as a consortial program offered on several Indiana University campuses.

This online master’s in English contains a total of 36 credit hours. The curriculum includes a specific focus in the following areas: Linguistic structures, history of the English language, reading strategies & literary practices, as well as approaches to composition and writing instruction.

The program also includes courses that develop archival research skills as well as discussions on the state-of-the-art in the digital humanities. The program also features a stackable structure that is ideal for teachers in dual-credit and community college settings who need to meet the instructor qualification standards set by the Higher Learning Commission.


Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University

Manchester, New Hampshire

Master of Arts in English

Southern New Hampshire University’s Master of Arts in English expands students’ analytical, creative thinking, and communications skills, which are all highly valued, highly versatile skill sets that are readily transferrable to other disciplines.

The program also helps expand prospective students’ career possibilities in writing-related fields such as technical writing, public relations, fundraising, as well as advertising & marketing. This online degree program is offered online, where students enjoy 24/7 online access to coursework.

The 36-credit hour program starts off with a strong, in-depth foundation in British and American Literary works and features a curriculum that contains both traditional and non-traditional topics in a wide variety of literary periods that include graduate studies in the American Renaissance, Shakespeare, Post-colonial encounters, American Modernism, and the Black Literary Tradition. The curriculum also includes a teaching writing course and culminates in a capstone course.


University of New Orleans

University of New Orleans

New Orleans, Louisiana

Master of Arts in English

The University of New Orleans offers a Master of Arts in English in an online format, designed with the goal of making the program more accessible to students. The program accommodates varied career plans and goals of its students, such as those planning to pursue a Ph.D., those in technical writing and professional communications, or those in teaching roles. The program has a total of 33 credit hours. All of the coursework can be completed online; however, nine credits of courses may be taken on campus.

Typical students in the program have undergraduate degrees in English. In contrast, students from other academic backgrounds can be admitted to the program, provided they take additional coursework that provides them with sufficient academic background. Depending on the student’s course load, the program can be completed in 2 to 3 years.

The online degree program has two possible concentration areas, namely Literary and Cultural Studies and Professional Writing. The master’s in English program concludes with a capstone requirement, which is typically a portfolio of the student’s written works. Students may also choose to complete a thesis on top of the required portfolio.


University of West Florida

University of West Florida

Pensacola, Florida

Master of Arts in English

The Master of Arts in English offered by the University of West Florida is ideal for those seeking skillsets that are transferrable to other industries, including creative/technical writing, publishing, journalism, film and television, business, and public relations. This online master’s program can be completed in around 24 months, with 16-week long courses that add up to a total of 33-36 credit hours.

The UWF MA in English has both a thesis and non-thesis track that students can choose from. The program requires students to participate in real-time online lectures using the university’s free video-conferencing service. Online classes are typically held in the evenings in order to facilitate attendance by working professionals, and class sizes are strictly limited to 20 students to ensure the maintenance of a high quality of interaction.

The online Master’s in English program’s coursework includes canonical and non-canonical fiction and nonfiction works, and students get to receive exposure to a broad range of exposure to texts from a range of historical periods and cultures. The University of West Florida has accreditation from the SACSCOC-Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges.


Murray State University

Murray State University

Murray, Kentucky

Master of Arts in English

Murray State University’s Master of Arts in English degree program is designed primarily for teachers in high schools and middle schools, prospective post-secondary instructors, students who want to pursue subsequent doctoral work, as well as persons who simply possess a love for literature. The program is available fully online and consists of a total of 30 credit hours.

The program’s curriculum provides students with a solid foundation in research methods, as well as wide coverage of literary works in both the American and English/British literary traditions. The program takes as little as two years, following the traditional self-contained master’s degree in English track for students who already hold bachelor’s degrees.

Two other routes to earning the MA in English degree are also on offer by Murray State: a 4+1 BA+MA Accelerated program that can be completed within five years and an MA+DA Accelerated program, which is a 72-credit hour program that allows students to earn the MA and a Doctor of Arts in English Pedagogy (Literature specialization).


Slippery Rock University

Slippery Rock University

Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania

Master of Arts in English

The MA in English degree program offered by Slippery Rock University prepares students with skill sets that they can apply to write for a variety of fields, such as business, education, law, and translation, governments, and non-profits, as well as in the field of technical writing.

The 15-month program contains 100% online coursework, which adds up to a total of 30 credit hours. The curriculum features extensive research and practical applications and also covers literate practices in reading and writing through the use of both traditional and new media. The master’s in English curriculum also includes learning experiences in digital writing and contemporary publishing practices.

Students may specialize in the study of writing in any discipline or profession, while the program includes nine required courses and a 6-credit hour capstone experience within their chosen areas of interest.


Bowling Green State University

Bowling Green State University

Bowling Green, Ohio

Master of Arts in English

Bowling Green University offers an MA in English degree program that is ideal for those who intend the MA to become a terminal degree in preparation for a career such as English teaching and/or writing-related roles, such as professional writers or editors and publishers. The program is offered primarily online, with coursework accessible even to international students, although local students can also choose to take some courses face-to-face.

Bowling Green’s English Master’s Degree program offers three distinct specialization tracks.

The English Teaching specialization is ideal for those who are preparing for/are involved in English teaching in High Schools, AP Programs, two-year colleges, or dual-enrollment programs.

The Professional Writing and Rhetoric specialization is designed for those interested in careers in professional/technical writing in business and industry or in teaching professional writing at two-year colleges.

The Individualized track is akin to a General MA in English and features coursework that is organized by individual students in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator. All three tracks add up to 31 credit hours each and feature self-paced asynchronous coursework.


Arizona State University

Arizona State University

Tempe, Arizona

Master of Arts in English

Arizona State University offers a Master of Arts in English degree. This online program allows students to delve deeper into the advanced and diverse areas of English studies. It also incorporates related competencies to the study of language and literature, including cultural studies and linguistics. Students are expected to gain essential skills that they can make use of in a variety of markets, from education and management to marketing and public service.

The master’s in English curriculum covers topics such as literary theory, rhetorical analysis, writing styles, and research approaches. Students can choose among elective courses that will help them meet their personal and professional interests. Some of the online courses include Magical Realism as a Global Genre, Composition Studies, Approaches to Research, Linguistics, and more.


Wichita State University

Wichita State University

Wichita, Kansas

Master of Arts in English

The MA in English Literature at Wichita State University is available in a hybrid format. This means students have the option to complete the program online or in person. It is specially designed for teachers and busy professionals who want to further their studies and gain a comprehensive knowledge of English and American literature.

One distinction of this program is the opportunity for students to train and master the principles of literary criticism and the use of bibliographic tools.

The program requires the completion of 30 credit hours, including a master’s thesis or a master’s portfolio. For students interested in intensive, independent research, the thesis option is the best choice. On the other hand, students who want to develop documents that are reflective of the diverse work completed within the program.


University of Central Florida

University-of-Central-Florida

Orlando, Florida

Master of Arts in English – Technical Communication

The University of Central Florida students pursue a Master of Arts in English, majoring in Technical Communication. The program equips students with the skill to transform technical concepts into engaging ideas using clear language and human terms. This master’s degree is available online, making it accessible to busy working professionals.

Students will be able to draw upon their critical-thinking skills to make technical ideas both accessible and impactful. They will be equipped with theoretical and applied skills in technical writing, ethics, and usability, among others. This program prepares graduates to pursue careers in education, government, nonprofit, and corporate settings.


Kansas State University

Kansas State University

Manhattan, Kansas

Master of Arts in English

Kansas State University is one of the regionally accredited schools that offer a Master of Arts in English, which also happens to be fully accessible online. It is a good choice for those who want to advance their knowledge and skills when it comes to children’s literature. It is also a great foundation for those who want to pursue their passion for creative writing, whether it is fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction.

Both synchronous and asynchronous courses are available, which means students can earn their degree full-time or part-time at their own pace. There are five tracks that students can choose from to help them meet their career needs. This includes creative writing, cultural studies, children’s literature, literature, composition, and rhetoric. To earn the program, a total of 30 to 33 credit hours must be completed.


East Carolina University

East Carolina University

Greenville, North Carolina

Master of Arts in English

Designed to help graduate students meet their goals, the Master of Arts in English program offered at East Carolina University has four concentrations for students to choose from, two of which are available online. It includes Multicultural and Transactional Literature and Technical and Professional Communication. The program can be customizable according to one’s interests. This can be done by combining approved English studies courses.

The degree can be earned within two years, but students also have the option to extend their studies for convenience as long as they maintain an active, part-time schedule. Students can take part in a robust internship program that will equip them with hands-on experience aligned with their chosen concentration. East Carolina is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).


University of Wyoming

University of Wyoming

Laramie, Wyoming

Master of Arts in English

The Master of Arts in English at the University of Wyoming is a flexible, innovative graduate program that combines the traditional study of literature, rhetoric, and culture with training in teaching and public-facing research. Students are able to customize the curriculum to suit their academic interests and career goals. Not only will they gain a solid foundation in English studies, but they can also specialize in one or more tracks.

The available concentrations include:

The online MA program gives students an opportunity for a fully funded graduate assistantship that includes free tuition and a living stipend, among other benefits.


Truman State University

Truman State University

Kirksville, Missouri

Master of Arts in English

Truman State University offers a Master of Arts in English degree program that covers literature, literary studies, pedagogy, creative writing, composition theory, and linguistics. Students are allowed to personalize their course of study according to their interests and professional goals.

They can also choose a culminating capstone project that will suit their aspirations, with options including a thesis, portfolio, or creative project.

Since the degree program is offered online, students can take classes that fit their schedules. They can earn the degree online on either or full-time basis. For financial aid, a graduate assistantship program is available, allowing students to develop their skills while receiving tuition assistance by applying for the position of Graduate Administrative Assistant or Graduate Teaching Assistant.


Gardner-Webb University

Gardner-Webb University

Boiling Springs, North Carolina

Master of Arts in English

The Master of Arts in English offered by Gardner-Webb University features three concentration options. It includes literature studies, English education, and writing studies. Students may consider this online master’s degree if they want to pursue career advancement in the fields of publishing, writing, and teaching.

It is required for students interested in the program to hold a bachelor’s degree in English or an equivalent degree from a related field. Some of the courses included in the program curriculum are Literary Theory, Teaching of Writing, and Introduction to Graduate English Studies, among others.


Mercy College

Mercy College

Ferry, New York

Master of Arts in English Literature

Students who want to expand their horizons can earn an MA in English Literature offered at Mercy College. This 30-credit degree program is fully available online and provides students with a strong foundation in English Literature. Students can expect to learn theory and advanced methodologies of literary criticism. They will also cover British, American, and other world literature.

Students will be guided by dedicated doctoral faculty who are experienced in their fields. Personalized learning is guaranteed since each student is assigned a personal mentor to support them throughout their graduate journey.


National University

National University

San Diego, California

Master of Arts in English

National University also offers a Master of Arts in English degree program that is available online. This master’s degree helps students develop advanced critical reading, research, and writing skills that will allow them to participate with other English studies scholars and professionals in applying disciplinary knowledge beyond the English Studies field.

A variety of elective courses are on offer, including 17th and 18th-century literature, Romanticism, Gothic, and Harlem Renaissance. The program can be completed faster because of its innovative course design.

Master’s Degree Programs in English

Career Opportunities for Graduates of Online Master’s Degree Programs in English

Aside from deep knowledge of literary works, Master’s in English degree programs teach communication, analysis, and critical thinking skills that are readily transferrable to a variety of industries, disciplines, and roles. Let’s take a look at some career opportunities open to graduates of these programs.

Teaching Roles

Graduates commonly occupy teaching roles in High School and Middle School, in Community Colleges, or in dual enrollment classes, teaching not only English and Literature but also Professional/Technical Writing.

Professional/Technical Writing

Graduates also occupy technical writing roles and careers in various organizations and also as copywriters or speechwriters.

Novelist

Some graduates may also take their passion for creative writing and strike out as novelists, writing for one or more genres, or even as professional ghostwriters.

Publishing Industry

The publishing industry also has a variety of roles for graduates of English master’s degrees, notably careers as editors who help hone and craft others’ manuscripts into publishable works of both fiction and nonfiction.

Law

The writing and communications skillsets in English online Master’s programs (along with the critical thinking and analysis skillsets) make these programs a good preparation for pursuing a degree in law and for occupying legal assistantship roles.


Common Specializations in English Online Master’s Degree Programs

Since English is a broad subject area, it is not surprising to find that many online master’s in English programs offer specializations. This helps prospective students prepare for the specific career goals they have in mind, allowing them to pursue particular positions and concentrations in the field.

Rhetoric

This specialization often involves the critical study of language in various disciplines, from academia to politics. It is ideal for those who want to pursue a doctorate degree, teach at a university, or pursue research work. Some of the courses in this specialization include narratives in theory, classical rhetoric, applications of rhetoric, teaching rhetoric, and research methods in language studies.

Gothic Studies

In this specialization, students can study a broad range of Gothic topics in both the core and elective courses. They will be asked to explore the themes and structures in various texts and media. They are also expected to learn about the critical and theoretical approaches in Gothic studies. Some of the courses in this specialization are Dark Romanticism, American Gothic, Graveyard Poetry, Gothic Literature, and so many more.

Literature

Considered one of the most common specializations in a master’s in English program, Literature can often be categorized according to location or time period. There is Medieval, Renaissance, and British literature. The latter is categorized by century so that students will find the 18th and 19th centuries in their British literature options, among others. American literature also features in this specialization, with choices between early and modern.

Scientific and Technical Communication

Students pursuing a career in teaching may want to consider going for the Scientific and Technical Communication specialization. This concentration provides them with skills and knowledge on technical or scientific information, honing their skills in preparing reports, publication manuals, and training materials. Students can expect courses such as publication management, technical communication projects, and rhetorical studies in this specialization.

Professional Writing

The Professional Writing specialization is designed for students who want to take up positions in various professional areas, including editor, publications manager, proofreader, and director of communications. They can expect courses such as web design, writing for digital media, news writing, organizational communications, and technical writing, among others.

Creative Writing and Journalism

For those who want to begin writing careers in television, radio stations, publishing companies, newspapers, and digital media, the creative writing and journalism specialization is an ideal choice. They will learn how to write in various formats, such as poetry non-fiction, and fiction, in most creative writing concentrations. Journalism courses often include feature writing, social media, and data visualization.


Essential Skills for Online Master’s in English Students

Pursuing an online master’s in English degree often requires knowledge and skills that one can build upon. It will be quite helpful if interested students can employ existing skills that will guide them in completing the required coursework and successfully earning the degree. This includes the following:

Best Online Master's in English - fact

Frequently Asked Questions

Is an online Master’s degree in English worth the academic investment?

Generally, a master’s degree in English language leads to a fulfilling career teaching college-level literature at universities. Beyond the academe, diverse career opportunities are also available, from writing, marketing, and more. Students pursuing their chances at professional development and growth will want to consider earning this degree program, whether they wish to be technical writers, community college teachers, or secondary school teachers.

Since most online master’s degrees in English cover topics such as complex, literary, and cultural language-related ideas, students will be able to practice interpreting and articulating their ideas. This is a good way for them to improve their communication skills along with other valuable abilities such as creativity, reading, and analytical competency.

The main advantage of a master’s in English program is the chance to choose among a broad range of career opportunities. A master’s degree in English can equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills that are in demand in today’s world. This includes copywriting, editing, management, public service, and education. They can expect to improve their research abilities and hone their critical thinking skills.

What’s the completion timeline of an online Master’s of English degree program?

Some of the best online master’s in English degree program usually takes about two years to complete. However, the length of time largely depends on the degree requirements and whether students are enrolled part-time or full-time.

On average, the program requires 36 to 48 credits, but it can be as much as 72 credits in some cases. If the school allows transfer credits from a regionally accredited school, it will help students reduce the time it takes to earn the degree.

Most online Master’s in English students complete the coursework at their own pace, which can impact the program duration a lot. Still, there are universities with accelerated master’s online programs to allow faster degree completion. To be safe, students must finish the degree within five years, as it’s often the grace period given to earn the program in many colleges and universities.  

What are the most common admission requirements for online Master’s programs in English?

Most universities set certain admission requirements for interested students. When it comes to an online master’s in English program, the prerequisites and application requirements may vary. Typically, students are required to hold a bachelor’s degree. sometimes, this requirement also includes meeting a minimum undergraduate GPA.

Other schools have entrance exams in the form of the GRE or GMAT. It is not uncommon to find admission requirements, such as prerequisite courses, that must be completed before one can start the master’s program. Some may require students to submit undergraduate transcripts.

More often than not, interested applicants will be required to submit the following: 

How much do online Master’s programs in English cost?

A wide variance exists in terms of the total cost; however, a good starting point to get an estimate is to take the per-credit-hour cost multiplied by the total number of credit hours. Typical Master’s in English programs can cost between $400-$800 per credit hour and contain 30-31 credit hours.

As a whole, it is best to consult directly with particular colleges and universities to get the most accurate overall cost figures and to know what they offer on top of federal student aid to offset and manage costs, such as grants, scholarships, or even tailored payment plans.

Key Takeaways

A Master’s Degree in English typically contains courses that celebrate and analyze the rich literary tradition of the English language from all parts of the world, as well as college-level courses that teach skillsets in effective and engaging creative and technical communication, as well as critical thinking and analysis.

While some of the best online Master’s in English degree programs use literature and language-related skills as their starting point and core content, the creative communication/expression and critical thinking skills they teach are highly transferrable to other disciplines and professional settings.

The nature of the coursework involved in typical English Master’s degree programs lends well to delivery through online/distance learning. Prospective students also have a relatively wide range of choices in terms of campuses that offer online Master in English degree programs.

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