Beyond mere words, English majors are interested in storytelling. The following 10 Best Online Master's Degrees in English allow students to author their own educational and professional story. 

English majors are often faced with the dreaded question, "What are you going to do with an English degree?". While teaching is a common and respectable answer, it is not the only possibility. English majors – particularly those with advanced degrees – can also move into roles that integrate original research, effective writing, and critical thinking and analytical skills.

The following 10 Best Online Masters' Degrees in English are designed to build these skills and allow students to put them to work when examining literature and linguistics. A few of the programs listed prepare graduates to teach at the community college level.

Some programs on the list focus on literary theory and analysis. Others encompass a wide range of career-building skills or allow students to pursue their own specific interests. But all programs listed share the common factor of online instruction, allowing students to complete them either fully or partially online.

No matter the context in which they use their words, successful English degree holders are competent storytellers. They may guide students in exploring stories as community college instructors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, college-level educators earned a median salary of $78,470 in 2018. The demand for postsecondary instructors is growing at a rate of 15 percent, which is much faster than average, as enrollment in postsecondary institutions grows.

English degree holders may otherwise apply what they've learned to craft their own stories. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that writers made a median salary of $62,170 in 2018. The writing workplace is growing at a projected rate of eight percent, which is as fast as average. While writing is a competitive field, the increasing amount and accessibility of information and online platforms may benefit writers in digital media.

Methodology

The staff of Grad School Hub has compiled the following 10 Best Online Master's Degrees in English for the 2019-20 academic school year based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Data contributed from sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics, and the U.S. Department of Labor plays a significant role in how graduate degree programs are ranked because institutional transparency is essential for deciding which career path is right for you. Based on this data, GSH organizes information into five weighted categories, which are:

  • Alumni Feedback: 20% 
  • Continued Enrollment: 20% 
  • Degree Selectivity: 10%
  • Graduate Expenses: 25%
  • Projected Annual Salary: 25%

A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible through our Ranking Methodology page. 

Here are the 10 Best Online Masters' Degrees in English for 2019 – 2020!

#10 – Texas A&M University – Commerce

Master of Arts in English; Master of Science in English

Commerce, TX

Website

Students can pursue either a Master of Arts or a Master of Science degree in English at Texas A&M University – Commerce. The only difference in degree is that the MA requires demonstrated proficiency in a foreign language. Students can follow a 30-credit program which includes a written thesis, or a 36-credit program that includes a written research project. Final projects may address topics composition, children's literature, composition, and/or linguistics. Students also have the option to add a focus on Creative Writing. The degree program can be completed entirely online, entirely face-to-face, or in a blended format. 

Texas A&M – Commerce was founded in 1889 as a teacher training college. The campus is located in Commerce, Texas, about an hour from Dallas. The public research university operates six additional learning locations in the Dallas metroplex and surrounding areas. Notable Commerce alumni include bestselling children's writer Michael Sampson and prolific American West writer Bill O'Neal. Many of the university's online courses are offered asynchronously, so students can work at their own pace. Students may often complete online programs while living internationally without needing a visa. 

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,748 in-state; $21,198 out-of-state 

#9 – University of Nebraska at Kearney

Master of Arts in English

Kearney, NE

Website

The University of Nebraska at Kearney awards a Master of Arts in English degree program. The program is suitable for those who wish to pursue advanced study in literature or careers as English teachers. The English MA with a Writing emphasis can be completed entirely online. It requires 36 credit hours of study. The MA curriculum covers topics in creative writing, global literature, and pedagogy. All students must take courses in literary criticism, and U.S. and world literature. The Writing emphasis offers courses in areas including creative nonfiction, drama, fiction, and poetry. Students have opportunities to engage in independent readings, seminars, and workshops. All students must complete an exit exam to complete the program.

UNK was founded in 1905 as a state teacher training college and is now a public university and a member institution of the University of Nebraska system. The university's Department of English offers programs with an emphasis in Children's and Adolescent Literature, Creative Writing, Literature, and Writing. Notable alumni include poet Gary Dop and sci-fi novelist Stephen Lawhead. U.S. News & World Report ranks UNK No. 10 among public universities nationwide and No. 25 for its online graduate programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,512 in-state; $13,742 out-of-state 

#8 – Northern Arizona University

Master of Arts in English – Literature

Flagstaff, AZ

Website

Northern Arizona University offers a Master of Arts in English – Literature. The degree program educates students on literary traditions and explores their personal interests in English. It requires a minimum of 36 credit hours of study. The curriculum covers topics in literary research methods, literary theory, and rhetorical theory. Elective offerings include American Literature and the Environment, Chicano/Chicana Literature, and Shakespeare. The program can be completed on-campus or online. Graduates are prepared for doctoral study and for careers in editing, public relations, publishing, and teaching.

Northern Arizona opened in 1899 as a teacher training school. Now a public research university, NAU has a main campus in Flagstaff, branch campuses across Arizona, and an online campus. NAU Online offers two program paths: traditional and competency-based. It is the first public university to offer competency-based online programs, which award academic credit for experience. The competency-based path allows students to choose when they start, set their own schedules, and pay a flat subscription rate. The traditional path includes deadlines, a semester-based course schedule, and tuition based on credit hours. The New York Times bestselling author Diana Gabaldon is an NAU alumnus. 

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,564 in-state; $25,828 out-of-state 

#7 – University of Louisiana at Monroe

Master of Arts in English

Monroe, LA

Website

The University of Louisiana at Monroe awards a Master of Arts in English. The degree program examines a wide range of literary styles and time periods. It requires 33 credit hours of study. Students can specialize in Creative Writing or Literary Studies. Sample online course offerings include English Literature Before 1800, Milton, and Writing in the Sciences. Some courses are offered in a hybrid format, with one-third of the coursework completed online. Hybrid course offerings include the American Novel, American Prose, and Shakespeare's Comedies History. 

ULM was established in 1931 as a junior college. Today, it is a public university with the main campus in Monroe, Louisiana, and an online campus. ULM Online offers courses in eight-week sessions, which allows students to complete courses at an accelerated rate. The university's English department publishes a bi-annual literary journal called Turnrow. It also includes The English Studies Society, a faculty-sponsored literary club that organizes readings and literary festival visits, and sponsors and edits chapbooks. The university's Monroe campus is home to a writing and tutoring center and computer-assisted composition classrooms.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,554 in-state; $20,654 out-of-state 

#6 – Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

Master of Arts in English

Slippery Rock, PA

Website

The Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania offers a Master of Arts in English. The online degree program focuses on contemporary literary practices in reading and writing. Students may choose to specialize in writing in any discipline. The degree requires 30 credits of study. The curriculum consists of nine required courses, six credits in a specialty area, and a culminating capstone experience. Course offerings include Digital Writing and Publishing, Evolution of Writing, and Literary and Cultural Studies. The program spans 15 months of study. Graduates are prepared for writing careers in fields such as business, education, government, technical writing, translation, and more. 

SRU was founded in 1889 as a teacher training school. It has since evolved into a comprehensive public university. The university's English Department publishes an award-winning student-run literary magazine, SLAB, or the Sound and Literary Art Book. The magazine recently won the National Program Director's Prize from the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. Each year, students travel to major cities nationally to showcase SLAB at the AWP creative writing conference. The department also publishes an online literary and cultural magazine called RockScissorsPaper.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,757 in-state; $14,615 out-of-state 

#5 – University of New Orleans

Master of Arts in English

New Orleans, LA

Website

The University of New Orleans offers a Master of Arts in English. The degree program provides advanced study in literature and writing. The degree requires a minimum of 36 credit hours of coursework, which can be completed entirely online. The core curriculum covers American literature, British literature, professional writing, and rhetoric. Students must concentrate on either Literary Studies or Rhetoric and Professional Writing. Students may choose to take up to nine credits on campus. To culminate the program, students can complete either a comprehensive exam and a written thesis with defense, or complete two comprehensive exams. All students must The program can be completed in two to three years.

Established in 1956, UNO is a public research university located on the lakefront in New Orleans, Louisiana. It publishes a weekly student newspaper called The DriftwoodThe university has offered master's degrees in English since 1965. The MA program includes a graduate seminar series each semester, with some seminars held online. Among UNO English faculty is a Guggenheim fellow, an award-winning African poet, and a manual writer for the U.S. Navy. Graduate of the MA program goes on to work in a variety of fields, including editing, marketing, publishing, teaching, and more.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,771 in-state; $13,607 out-of-state 

#4 – University of Texas of the Permian Basin

Master of Arts in English

Odessa, TX

Website

The University of Texas of the Permian Basin offers a Master of Arts in English. The degree program can be completed entirely online. The degree requires 36 credit hours of study. It requires courses in American and British literature, and students can customize the remainder of their program plan with electives. Course offerings include Literature and Mythology and Topics in Drama: Melodrama. Students are encouraged to publish their writing in scholarly journals and to participate in conferences. Students also have opportunities for teaching assistantships. The program can culminate in an article, thesis, or final project. Graduates of the program are prepared for doctoral study or careers in college teaching, editing, publishing, and research. 

UTPB was established in 1973 and grew rapidly due to the current oil boom in Texas' Permian Basin. The public university is located in Odessa, Texas. It is a member institution of the University of Texas System, which includes 14 institutions. Through the UT Online Consortium, many online program courses are available for cross-campus enrollment through other UT institutions. U.S. News & World Report ranks UTPB No. 32 among public institutions nationwide.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,260 in-state; $7,100 out-of-state 

#3 – University of Texas at Tyler

Master of Arts in English

Tyler, TX

Website

The University of Texas at Tyler offers an online program leading to a Master of Arts in English. The degree program can be completed entirely online, entirely face-to-face, or through a hybrid format. It requires 36 credit hours of study, which can be completed on a thesis or non-thesis track. The non-thesis track requires additional courses in lieu of a thesis. MA course offerings include Bibliography and Methods of Research, Shakespeare, and Studies in Composition. Students can expect to study various topics in literature, rhetoric, and writing. Graduates of the program are equipped to pursue doctoral study or to teach English at the community college level.

Founded in 1971, UT Tyler is a public state university and a component of the University of Texas System. In addition to its park-like main campus in Tyler, the university has regional campuses in Longview and Palestine and a location in Houston. The university prioritizes small class sizes and personalized attention, with an average student-to-professor ratio of 19:1. U.S. News & World Report ranks UT Tyler No. 81 in National Universities and No. 27 in Top Public Schools.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,292 in-state; $21,282 out-of-state 

#2 – Ohio University

Master of Arts in English

Athens, OH

Website

Ohio University offers a degree program leading to a Master of Arts in English. The program can be completed entirely online. It is ideal for working secondary school teachers seeking careers at the community college level. The curriculum consists of eight courses totaling 32 credit hours. Courses span seven weeks and are offered in sequence. Course examples include Cross-Cultural Literature, Medieval Literature, and Renaissance Drama. The curriculum culminates in a master's essay. Students can begin the program in the summer and complete it in as few as 16 months, or four semesters. While no residencies are required during the program, students are encouraged to attend on-campus commencement in May.

OU was chartered by an act of the United States Congress in 1804. Located in Athens, it is the oldest university in Ohio and the eighth-oldest public university in the United States. OU is a space-grant institution. It is home to several research centers, including the Charles J. Ping Institute for the Teaching of the Humanities, the Edward Stevens Center for the Study and Development of Literacy and Language, and the Institute for the Empirical Study of Language. U.S. News & World Report ranks OU No. 91 in both Top Public Schools and graduate-level English programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,192 in-state; $21,656 out-of-state 

#1 – Arizona State University

Master of Arts in English

Tempe, AZ

Website

Arizona State University offers Grad School Hub's top-ranked online master's program in English. The university's Master of Arts in English degree program can be completed entirely online. The curriculum consists of 10 courses, totaling 30 credit hours of study. Each course spans seven and a half weeks. The core curriculum covers comparative literature, literary theory, writing and rhetoric, and more. Students can create a plan of study that aligns with their interests in areas including cultural studies, film and media, education, and linguistics. Students can culminate their program through an applied project, capstone seminar, or thesis. Graduates of the program are prepared for careers related to editing, education, research, and writing.

Established in 1885 as a teacher training school, ASU has since grown into one of the largest public universities in the United States. It operates five campuses across the Phoenix metropolitan area and four regional centers across Arizona. Washington Monthly ranks ASU No. 58 among all universities nationally. In 2018, The Wall Street Journal conducted a poll of corporate recruiters, which ranked the University fifth in the nation for producing qualified graduates.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,822 in-state; $28,336 out-of-state