How Can You Specialize a Master’s in English Degree?

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Updated August 4, 2020

A graduate degree in English provides diverse opportunities after graduation, and the ability to specialize a Master's in English degree further prepares graduates for different positions and concentrations within the field. Whether interested in writing for a newspaper or teaching at a college or university, there is an option for everyone.


One of the most common specializations within a graduate degree in English is the literature concentration. Depending on the university, most specializations are categorized by location and/or time period. For example, a student might choose to specialize a master's degree in English in Medieval, Renaissance, or British literature, which is sometimes categorized further by century, with common options being the 18th and 19th century concentrations. American literature is another common option, and this concentration is also sometimes divided by early and modern.

Rhetoric and Composition Studies

Rhetoric and composition is a concentration path that is popular for students who are considering continuing on to pursue a doctorate, preparing to teach, or considering options to work in research. Some common course work in this concentration involves the critical study of language in every area from academia to politics. Common course work in this concentration includes exploration of classical rhetoric, rhetorical theory, applications of rhetoric, narratives in theory, teaching rhetoric and composition, and research methods in composition and language studies. Some rhetoric and composition specializations might also offer further concentration on specific areas such as digital media.

Scientific and Technical Communication

The scientific and technical communication specialization prepares students for various positions after graduation. While this option can include teaching, many graduate students in this concentration will pursue careers in various industries. Scientific and technical communicators are skilled and knowledgeable in taking technical or scientific information and preparing various reports, publications, manuals, and training materials for both experts and novices. Course work in this concentration might include science and technology rhetorical studies, technical communication projects, and publication management. Additional information on this field can be found at the Society for Technical Communication.

Professional Writing

Professional writing concentrations prepare graduate students for similar positions as scientific and technical communication options, including positions such as editor, proofreader, publications manager, or director of communications. In this concentration, course work is typically designed to provide students with experience and knowledge in writing in specific professional areas. Courses include writing in the sciences, news writing, health care communications, web design, writing for digital media, organizational communications, and advanced technical writing.

Creative Writing and Journalism

In creative writing and journalism specializations, the focus of curricula is designed to help graduates begin careers as writers in various positions for employers such as newspapers, television and radio studios, publishing companies, editing firms, and online media. Course work in creative writing specializations might include poetry writing, writing non-fiction, and advanced fiction writing. Journalism specialization courses are likely to include digital news, social media and journalism, data visualization, and feature writing.

Related Resource: Specialize and MBA

The various opportunities a graduate degree in English encompasses is a draw for many students. For whatever interest a prospective graduate student has, from working in broadcasting to developing rhetorical theories, there is an option to specialize a Master's in English degree to help prepare for a challenging and rewarding future career.

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