Online Masters Degree in Literature: Program Overview

Find out about online literature courses and in which master's degree programs they're most commonly offered. Get course descriptions, program info and online requirements to make an informed decision.

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Essential Information

Online master's degree programs in literature are not offered by many schools. Online degree programs in English are more common, however, and these fully online programs typically place high emphasis on the study of literature. Students explore literary theories and literary criticism while studying works from various genres and time periods. Some schools also offer specialized concentrations, such as children's literature.

Applicants must have a bachelor's degree to enroll in the master's program, preferably in a related field. Online students must also have access to Microsoft Office Suite, Adobe Flash and Acrobat Reader.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • American Literature
  • British Literature

Master of Arts in Literature

An online Master of Arts in Literature program teaches students to analyze works of literature from different cultures and places, including both British and American literature. A master's degree program in literature is intensive to the arts, and students take courses in literature, writing, genre fiction and novels. In order to be eligible for this program, students must have a bachelor's degree at minimum, preferably in English or a related field. Only a handful of online master's degree programs in literature are available, but some related English degree programs exist as well.

Program Information and Requirements

An online master's degree program in literature takes about two years to complete. Degree programs in this field are available fully online with no on-campus requirements. Typically, courses are available through several distance-learning formats, including a virtual classroom set-up that allows students to interact with instructors and fellow classmates. Online videos allow students to watch lectures by logging into the school's Web-based course management system, such as Blackboard or Angel. Course management systems are also used to access other coursework and turn in assignments.

To complete an online degree program, students must have a working computer and reliable Internet access. Required software programs may include Microsoft Office Suite, Adobe Flash and Acrobat Reader.

Course Topics

Online courses in a Master of Arts in Literature program can be completed at the student's own pace.

Medieval Literature Genres and Themes

This course familiarizes students with common genres and themes in Medieval literature. Topics of study include epic works of literature, romances and poems, allegorical works and the legends of King Arthur.

American Literature

In this course, students learn about American literature from the Colonial period to the present. They examine literary movements, period genre and common literary figures.

Literature from the Caribbean

This course focuses primarily on 20th-century literature from nations in the Caribbean, including Jamaica, Belize, St. Lucia and Grenada. Students examine common literary themes and influences on literature of the past and present.

Short Story Writing

In this course, students analyze and critique classic and modern short stories. Students also write their own short stories and critique the work of their classmates, helping one another to improve.

Children's Literature

What makes children's books sell? In this course, students examine the key components of a children's story, genres in the field and quality standards in children's books.


Career Information

An online master's degree program in literature can lead to a number of career opportunities in education, writing and library science. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for librarians was $56,880 in May 2015 (www.bls.gov). Authors and writers made a median annual salary of $60,250 and editors earned a median annual wage of $56,010 during the same period. The BLS states that, between 2014 and 2024, the demand for librarians should grow 2%, the demand for writers and authors should grow 2%, and the demand for editors should decrease 5%.

Though master's degree programs in literature are not commonly found online, students can complete an English master's degree program with a concentration in literature online. Students use distance-learning tools, such as virtual classrooms, online videos and a course management systems, as they study various forms of literature, writing and literary analysis.

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