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Top Graduate Schools for English Majors

Read about the top-ranked schools where English majors can earn a graduate degree in their field. See what sets profiled schools apart, and get program information so that you can compare similarities among institutions.

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Graduate programs in English include a variety of specialties in English literature, including literature theory and criticism, American literature, British literature and medieval literature. The following are some of the highest ranked graduate schools offering English programs.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • American Literature
  • British Literature

School Overview

In U.S. News & World Report's latest ranking of graduate programs in English, the University of California at Berkeley still ranked #1. However, in 2016, Harvard University and Stanford University both were tied at #2.

University of California - Berkeley

School Highlight: Even though the overall program doesn't offer a master's degree, students can petition for an M.A. in creative writing after obtaining their Ph.D., if they submit a body of creative work.

In 2016, U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of California - Berkeley's English Ph.D. program as the nation's top graduate program for English. This 6-year Ph.D. program, offered through the school's English Department, includes topics in cultural and critical theory, American and British literature, and Anglophone literature. A master's degree in English is not offered at Berkeley, but an undergraduate program is available.

Stanford University in Stanford, CA

School Highlight: The school's English program boasts several award-winning authors and poets among its alumni.

In 2016, U.S. News & World Report ranked Stanford tied for second-best graduate English program in the nation. Located 37 miles southeast of San Francisco, Stanford University's graduate English program provides expert instruction in many areas of study, from Renaissance literature to post-colonial studies, and is home to a renowned creative writing program. Alumni of Stanford's Graduate School of English include U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Haas, Pulitzer Price winner Jeffrey Eugenides, and Tobias Wolfe, author of This Boy's Life. Wolfe is professor of English and creative writing at Stanford, where he has been a faculty member since 1997.

Harvard University in Cambridge, MA

School Highlight: The English department includes five specialties ranked in the top five according to U.S. News & World Report.

Harvard University ranks tied for #2 on U.S. News & World Report's list of all National Universities. Harvard's Department of English and American Literature and Language has five specialties listed in the top five in the U.S.: 18th thru 20th Century British Literature, African American Literature, American Literature after 1865, American Literature before 1865 and Medieval/Renaissance Literature. The graduate English program at Harvard leads to a Master of Arts (AM) and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) with the AM intended for doctoral students.

Top Graduate English Programs

These schools offer top rated programs in graduate English in 2016.

  • Columbia University located in New York tied at #4 on U.S. News & World Report's list of schools with graduate English programs.
  • Found in Ithaca, NY, Cornell University tied for #8 on U.S. News & World Report's 2016 ranking of English graduate programs.
  • In the city of New York, New York University English faculty members have won the Pulitzer Prize, the Guggenheim, the National Endowment for the Humanities and more.
  • Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, placed 9th on the 2016 U.S. News & World Report ranking of Top Public Schools.
  • University of Michigan located in Ann Arbor ranked in the top four (out of 120) in a National Research Council survey of graduate English programs in the nation.
  • At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in NC, students can contribute to eight journals, including Carolina Quarterly and Ethos.
  • The University of Texas at Austin is where graduate English students have access to the ninth-largest research library system in the country as well as the Lyndon B. Johnson presidential library and several research centers.

Students looking to advance their degrees in English have many great schools to choose from. The University of California at Berkeley, Harvard and Stanford happen to be the three best universities in the United States for graduate English.

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