Online Graduate Degrees in English: Program Options

Dec 03, 2019

Research online master's degree programs in English. Find out what you can learn in these courses and what you'll need in order to participate in online learning to determine if it's right for you.

Essential Information

Master's degree programs in English are fairly common in an online format. Some schools may offer combined programs in English and communications, fiction writing, poetry, screenwriting or education. Rarely, online doctoral degree programs in English are also available, but they aren't covered in the following article.

Students can usually complete an online English master's degree program without visiting campus, but there are some programs that offer a blend of online coursework and practical training. For example, an English education program would likely require a practicum in a school or other learning centers.

Master's Degrees in English

Online master's degree programs in English engage the theories of language, explore the relationship between language and culture and survey historical and contemporary literature. Students enhance their research, organization, analysis and presentation skills they developed as undergraduates, and further enrich their knowledge of and perspectives on cultural history. Online English degree programs at this level are commonly available. Students need to have earned a bachelor's degree, preferably in English or with a minor in English, for admission into an online graduate program.

Information and Requirements

In most cases, students can complete an online master's degree programs in English either exclusively online or as a hybrid of online and traditional classes. Some only offer a limited set of courses online and require the rest to be attended in person. Assignments generally have specific due dates, but students may access and work on them at their convenience. Audio and video lectures may be available by live stream or digital download.

A computer with an Internet connection and Web browser is needed to participate in an online English degree program. Blackboard is the most commonly used course content delivery system in these programs.

Common Master's Degree in English Courses

Online Master's Degree Programs in English generally have a base of 4-6 core courses. Subjects explored include literature, creative writing and language history.


This course explores theories of language, language acquisition and the study of language. It covers such topics as morphology, pragmatics, phonology and syntax.

English Language

Through an online graduate program, students often take a course that examines the development of the English language. Subject matter in the course covers the Anglo-Saxon era to the present.

American Writers

Students study contemporary trends in American literature and read prominent authors of the post-WWII era. Course readings are drawn from both literary fiction and genre fiction.

Fiction Writing

This course engages the theory and practice of writing fiction. Students develop their unique styles and voices through a series of fiction writing assignments.

Career Information for Graduates

An online master's degree in English prepares students to teach composition and literature at the secondary and postsecondary levels. It also has applications to careers in law, publishing and writing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that between 2018-2028, employment of secondary teachers will grow 4%, employment of postsecondary English language and literature teachers will grow 4%, employment of authors and writers will have little to no change, and jobs for editors will shrink by 3%.

The BLS notes that secondary teachers earned a median salary of $60,320 per year as of 2018, while college English professors earned a median salary of $66,590. During the same year, median earnings for writers and authors came to $60,250, and editors made a median salary of $62,170.

Continuing Education

Students who already earned online master's degrees in English and are interested in pursuing advanced academic careers can pursue a Ph.D. As of November 2013, doctoral level programs in English were rarely available online.

Online master's degree programs in English are common and can be completed either exclusively online, or with a blend of online and in-person training. The focus of these programs varies from linguistics to education to trends in American literature.

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