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Online Bachelors Degree in Literature: Program Overview

Get information about online degree programs that focus on literature. Read about program requirements, course descriptions, as well as career and continuing education options.

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Essential Information

Bachelor's degree programs in literature are often offered fully online, while others are offered in hybrid formats and require students to attend on-campus classes and an orientation program. Course materials may be available in an online format as well. Students can often choose between full-time and part-time study schedules.

Applicants to these programs must have a high school diploma. Some programs also require prospective students to submit an essay, attend an interview, and pass a computer skills exam.

A bachelor's degree in literature may be sufficient preparation for working as a writer, editor, news reporter or correspondent, or elementary or high school English teacher. Teachers in public schools are required to be licensed in all states; research requirements for teacher licensing in your state before choosing an educational program.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • American Literature
  • British Literature

Bachelor's Degree in Literature

Bachelor's degree programs in literature are available online through a variety of colleges and universities across the U.S. Students explore literary classics, genres and forms from the past to the present while gaining skills in literary theory, criticism and evaluation. Programs generally require candidates to possess a high school or GED diploma when they apply; other prerequisites may include an entrance essay, a computer skills assessment exam, and an admissions interview to determine if an online program is the right choice.

General Program Information and Requirements

Online degree programs in literature are available in a variety of formats; programs may be conducted entirely online or else include a combination of online and on-campus classes, and some programs may only require an on-campus orientation session. An online bachelor's degree program typically takes four years to complete, although this can depend on the number of classes a student takes per semester.

Program requirements vary, but students typically need a computer with an operating system that is compatible with applications for word processing, online chats and videoconferencing. Reliable access to the Internet is also a requirement; programs that feature online chat sessions or file sharing may require a high-speed connection. Degree programs that feature videoconferencing may require a webcam and microphone.

Common Online Literature Courses

Coursework for students majoring in literature typically includes general English subjects, such as composition, linguistics and etymology. Major-specific curricula usually cover a broad range of topics in both English and American literature. Most schools provide online students with Internet and in-person access to the campus bookstore, where students can obtain their course materials.

English Literature

Literature programs typically contain a number of courses devoted to the literature of the United Kingdom, with a major emphasis on England. Study often includes significant early works, historical periods and English authors such as Shakespeare, Chaucer and Dickens.

American Literature

American literature coursework involves study of the country's literary history, major works and prominent writers. Authors such as Ernest Hemingway, Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau are usually included in American lit studies.

Period Studies

Most literature programs include courses in specific eras, periods or centuries that were representative in the development of literature. Period studies can encompass the Renaissance and Romanticism, as well as medieval, 18th-century and Victorian literature

Literary Genres

English literature students in this course study a variety of literary genres to learn the different composition components and themes of each genre's style. Genres can include a broad range of topics, such as feminism, post-modernism, gender, tragedies and folktales.

Literary Forms

Bachelor's degree programs in literature include coursework in types of writing and explore aspects such as construction, attributions and styles. Literary forms include poetry, novels, non-fiction, plays, personal essays and narratives.


Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), graduates with a degree in English often find work in fields where they can utilize their writing and analysis skills. An English degree may fulfill the educational requirements for entry-level positions in publishing and journalism, such as editor, writer, and reporter. Editors earned a median salary of $56,010 as of May 2015, while the median for writers and authors was $60,250 a year. During the same time frame, the median income for reporters and correspondents was $36,360.

A bachelor's degree in literature may qualify graduates to teach English at the middle or high school level if they also complete a teacher preparation program on top of the major. Specific requirements depend upon state licensing procedures. The BLS reported that the median annual salaries for middle and high school teachers as of May 2015 were $55,860 and $57,200, respectively.

Continuing Education

Many graduates with a bachelor's degree in English choose to share their love of literature by becoming college or university literature professors. Postsecondary teaching is typically a tenure-track opportunity that requires a Ph.D., although those holding a master's degree may be eligible for non-tenure positions and teaching positions in 2-year colleges. Usually, graduate students specialize in a specific genre, form or period in the course of their graduate studies.

Through online bachelor's degrees in literature, undergraduates study a wide range of genres and improve their literary analysis skills. In addition to completing reading and writing assignments, students participate in virtual class discussions.

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