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Colleges and Universities Offering a Master's Degree in Literature

Earning a master's degree in literature is ideal for students who enjoy reading and writing. Read on for more information on choosing a literature master's degree program and the best universities for English degrees.

Master's degree programs in literature prepare students to work as writers, secondary school teachers or in any other field that requires individuals who can communicate effectively. Literature programs leading to master's degrees may or may not require that students write a thesis in which they conduct extensive research on a specific literary topic or theory.

Top 10 Schools with English Graduate Degrees

The following table details some of the top schools offering English graduate programs.

College/University Location Institution Type Graduate Tuition (2015-16*)
University of California - Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4-year, Public $11,220 (In-state)
Harvard University Cambridge, MA 4-year, Private not-for-profit $41,832
Stanford University Stanford, CA 4-year, Private not-for-profit $45,729
Columbia University New York, NY 4-year, Private not-for-profit $42,280
Princeton University Princeton, NJ 4-year, Private not-for-profit $43,450
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 4-year, Private not-for-profit $31,068
Yale University New Haven, CT 4-year, Private not-for-profit $38,700
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 4-year, Private not-for-profit $29,500
University of Chicago Chicago, IL 4-year, Private not-for-profit $51,624
Duke University Durham, NC 4-year, Private $47,590

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

Choosing a Literature School

Literature students may wish to keep the following considerations in mind when deciding on a school:

  • Prospective students enrolling in a research-based program should make sure that there are faculty members with whom they share research interests who can act as advisors.
  • Students may wish to consider available specializations in a literature program, such as concentrations in creative writing, linguistics or poetry.
  • Students who work full time or have other responsibilities may prefer applying to schools offering online and other distance education opportunities.
  • Students interested in teaching careers may seek a graduate degree program that provides them with the opportunity to simultaneously earn master's degrees in both literature and education.

Master of Arts in Literature Programs

Masters of Arts (MA) programs may be offered in literature or in English with a concentration in literature. These MA programs are typically research-based, combining advanced lectures and seminars in literature-related topics with faculty-supervised research in a particular interest area. Some programs also require students to study and demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language. In most programs, the capstone project is a research-based thesis, and students may also need to pass a comprehensive exam. While some of these programs can be completed in as little as a year, others require at least two years of full-time study. Some schools offer part-time study options and evening or online classes to meet the needs of working professionals.

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Programs

Another master's-level program that includes extensive coursework in literature is the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing. In these programs, aspiring fiction writers and poets take advanced English classes while also honing their creative writing skills through intensive workshop experiences. Many schools also sponsor reading series where professional authors and/or students share and discuss their literary work. These programs take either two or three years to complete, depending on the school.

Many of the top schools in the country offer graduate programs in English literature. Students may earn an MA in Literature, an MFA in Creative Writing or a dual degree that includes education courses.

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