College English Classes and Degree Options Online

Learn about online degree program with English emphasis. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

Essential Information

Online college-level English classes are commonly offered as part of undergraduate and graduate degree programs in English; they may also be part of many other degree programs. Additionally, some institutions may offer them as stand-alone general education classes. Classes, though virtual, are interactive, so students stay connected to their professors and other classmates, even though they're not all in a classroom at the same time.

Online English programs typically result in a bachelor's, master's or doctorate degree. Completion of a degree program can lead to careers as editors, journalists, critics, creative directors or English teachers. Though every college is different, at many schools, online programs start at regular intervals, as often as every six weeks.

Degree Levels Available Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral degrees
Online Availability Blended format at Master's and Ph.D. levels
In-Person Requirements On-campus classes (MA), in-person work with advisor (Ph.D.)

Undergraduate and Graduate Degrees

Bachelor's Degree

Students wishing to enroll in an online bachelor's degree program in English must possess a high school diploma or the equivalent. Undergraduates typically study literature, poetry, communication, writing and editing. The curriculum of an online bachelor's degree program in English may include classes like:

  • Twentieth-Century American Literature
  • Writing for Publication
  • Topics in World Literature
  • The British Victorian Novel
  • Dramatic Literature

Master's Degree

A master's degree program in English typically takes two years to complete and usually requires enrollees to possess a bachelor's degree. Graduate students at some colleges take courses on campus in addition to their online course load. At the master's degree level, some schools require a specialization, such as teaching English as a second language, literature or technical communication. Students enrolled in online master's degree programs in English may take classes such as:

  • Modern British Literature
  • Literary Criticism
  • Major American Poets
  • American Writers in Perspective
  • Technical Editing

Doctoral Degree

Doctoral programs in English generally require students to possess a master's degree in English or a relevant field. Courses for an online Ph.D. in English program are often research-intensive. The courses enable students to further develop the ability to analyze literature, apply literary concepts and communicate. In many online doctoral programs, students work with an advisor from the school, either online or in person, to develop a curriculum that reflects their interests and allows them to specialize in certain areas. This gives students the power to direct their studies, particularly through online classes, which may include:

  • History of the English Language
  • Chaucer
  • Ethics in Technical Communication
  • Crime Fiction
  • Critical Reading

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