List of Schools with the Best English Masters Programs

Prepare for a graduate degree in English by learning about English programs at three leading schools. Find out about degree concentration areas and school and program rankings.

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School Overviews

Master's programs in English typically include both reading and writing requirements and students may complete a thesis, essay, or research project in a specific area of interest. Columbia University in New York City, Northwestern University, and Cornell University are all highly-ranked national universities with highly-ranked master's degree programs in English, per the most recent rankings from U.S. News and World Report. Columbia has the highest ranking program and offers part-time options for graduate English students.

Columbia University in New York, NY

Columbia University was ranked fifth among national universities in 2017 and its graduate English program was ranked fourth best in the nation by U.S. News and World Report in 2013, the most current year for English program rankings. This university offers a free-standing Master of Arts through the English and Comparative Literature Department. The degree can be completed on a part-time or full-time basis and includes classes in literary analysis and medieval writing. Students must develop a 25-page scholarly essay during the course of the program. They must also demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language before graduating. Students are permitted to apply for a sequential M.A., in which they would subsequently be candidates for a Ph.D.

Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

In 2017, Northwestern University was ranked the 12th best national university, and in 2013, it had the 20th best graduate English program in the U.S., according to U.S. News and World Report. The Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern offers a full-time, terminal Master of Arts in English. This master's program is highly flexible, giving students freedom in choosing courses and research projects. Potential topics include poetry, the works of Shakespeare, and the history of English.

Cornell University in Ithaca, NY

In 2013, U.S. News and World Report ranked Cornell University as tied for #8 among graduate English programs. In 2017, the school was ranked 15th among national universities. Students at Cornell can earn a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing. This highly selective program accepts only eight students per year; four who plan to pursue a concentration in fiction and four who want to concentrate on poetry. Over the course of the 2-year program, students take courses in literature, languages, and/or cultural studies and they also get experience working as teaching assistants for undergraduates and as editorial assistants for the program's periodical publication. Master of Fine Arts students complete a book-length manuscript before graduation. Those who want to continue their studies through advanced research can apply to the joint MFA/Ph.D. program in English Language and Literature.

More Top English Graduate Schools

These schools also offer excellent master's degree programs in English.

College/University Name Distinction Location
Johns Hopkins University The Tudor and Stewart Club is among the distinguished lecture series run by the English department Baltimore, MD
New York University Pulitzer Prize and Bancroft Prize winners are among the award-winning faculty New York, NY
Princeton University English graduate school ranked 4th in the nation by U.S. News and World Report in 2013 Princeton, NJ
Stanford University English department operates the Center for the Study of the Novel Stanford, CA
University of California - Los Angeles Master's degrees are awarded in progress to the Ph.D. only Los Angeles, CA
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate English department ranked 15th in the nation by U.S. News and World Report in 2013 Chapel Hill, NC
University of Pennsylvania Students can enroll in a summer abroad program in London to study British literature Philadelphia, PA
University of Texas at Austin Faculty includes several published authors Austin, TX
Yale University English department maintains a library of student and former student writing, including articles, essays, and books New Haven, CT

Master's programs in English, as well as literature and creative writing are available at numerous schools. U.S. News and World Report identified some of the best schools in the field in its most recent graduate school rankings.

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