Earn an Online English Degree
- $320/credit (120 credits)
- Transfer up to 90 credits
- Choose from a range of courses
- Use experiential learning to hone skills
- No application fee
- No SAT/ACT scores required
Online English Degree Program Overview
If English majors get a bad rap, why did so many of today’s greatest minds choose English degrees? Barbara Walters, John Legend, Steven Spielberg – the list goes on and on.
Do you have a talent for diving into a topic and finding intriguing connections? Do you have a natural curiosity, a love for learning and a passion for storytelling? If you answered yes to all of the above, you’re a perfect fit for SNHU’s online Bachelor of Arts (BA) in English Language and Literature.
As an English major, you’ll gain a vital skill set that’s highly sought after. That same skill set is also crucial to long-term career growth in virtually any field.
In a wide-ranging study by Burning Glass Technologies, writing ranked third among most requested “soft skills.” At the same time, 80% of employers voiced frustration at the lack of ability graduates demonstrated in this area.1 In nearly every industry, the ability to harness the power of the written word has emerged as one of the 21st century’s most critical career skills.
Like all liberal arts majors, English degree programs develop enduring skills that transfer easily to nearly every profession. This English degree focuses on many of the most valued skills highlighted in the Burning Glass Technologies report, including:
- Attention to detail
- Creativity and presentation skills
- Collaboration and communication
- Organization and research
As an English major, you might be asked to interpret implied meaning in a text or support an idea with a logical, organized argument. You might need to proofread a paper or research and document sources. You might make an oral presentation or team up with peers. In each case, you’ll be constantly improving these skills throughout your coursework.
“I think people don’t think as widely as they might about areas they can go into with an English degree,” said SNHU associate dean of liberal arts Dr. Christopher Lee. “Every professional career wants you to read something and have a comprehensive understanding of the material. Those are all the things that are learned studying English.”
Learn how to:
- Build critical thinking, research and problem-solving skills
- Develop cultural literacy across periods and places
- Analyze literary form, genre, structure and style
- Construct a logical, organized argument
- Team up with peers on group projects
This online English degree opens up a diverse range of career choices. You can take the traditional route and go into advertising, marketing or public relations. Or you can choose human resources, management, sales or nonprofit administration. With additional training and certification, you could also explore teaching as a career path.
Likewise, the program is an excellent springboard for graduate studies in history, political science or a master’s closely related to your English degree. Among your online options at SNHU are the MA in Communication, MA in English, MA in English & Creative Writing and MFA in Creative Writing.
The online English degree curriculum provides built-in career opportunities, including:
- Up to 6 credits in experiential learning or internship
- 36 free electives that let you minor in an area that enhances your marketability, such as project management or professional writing
Even a handful of marketable skills can make a big difference in today’s job market. A 2019 study by the Strada Institute for the Future of Work found a consistent trend: Liberal arts majors commonly transition from their first job into high-skill, high-demand careers in marketing, advertising and public relations.2
The Strada study also showed a gainful pattern of career moves among liberal arts majors. Whether starting out in sales, office administration or journalism, large numbers of liberal arts graduates move into marketing, advertising or PR by their third job. Another sizable portion of liberal arts majors shift to management or human resources within the same timeframe.
Both groups tend to reach their peak earning years by their late 30s or early 40s. In fact, according to the Strada study, the income growth of that age group outpaces the majority of other majors, including business, healthcare, social sciences and even STEM degree holders.
Finally, keep in mind the fast rate of change in today's job market. As automation and artificial intelligence invade the workplace, skills like critical thinking and storytelling will be in even higher demand.
“As more and more jobs become automated, new needs, new jobs and departments that haven't even been conceptualized, will emerge,” said Lindsey Ranstrom, an adjunct instructor and former career advisor at SNHU. “It is here that the liberal arts major will excel because of their ability to communicate and story tell.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, professionals with a bachelor's degree in English typically carve out career paths3 in one of three areas:
- Copywriter or content writer: Copywriters and content writers often work for advertising or marketing firms but can also work as freelance writers. Copywriters develop a craft driven by ideas or concepts. They specialize in writing short copy, such as digital ads, email marketing campaigns and social media marketing. Content writers often write longer pieces such as blog posts, ebooks and white papers.
- Public relations specialist: Working in public relations, either as a member of a large PR firm or a small private company, means being the main link between a business or agency and the general public. This requires communicating daily with internal and external groups, including customers and reporters. Job responsibilities include writing press releases, looking for opportunities to raise an organization’s profile and serving as a spokesperson.
- Technical writer: Technical writers are responsible for the instruction manuals and other materials that communicate complicated technical information to a user. The task of technical writers is to translate specialized technical information into plain language for a general reader. In other words, they have to be able to understand the technical information and processes and then write about them in a non-technical way.
Projections for job growth vary by career path. However, the BLS projects 4% overall growth through 2028 – about as fast as the average for all occupations – for media and communications roles. Professionals who can create, edit, translate and publish information over various platforms should see steady demand. And at $59,230, the 2019 median annual wage for media and communication occupations remains higher than the wage for all occupations.3
Start Your Journey Toward an Online English Degree
Why SNHU for Your Online English Degree
With no set class meeting times, you can learn on your schedule and access online course materials 24/7.
Take advantage of some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation, plus financial aid for those who qualify. We also make it easy to transfer to SNHU by accepting up to 90 credits from your previous institution.
Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution with over 100,000 graduates across the country. SNHU is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), which advocates for institutional improvement and public assurance of quality.
Recently, SNHU has been nationally recognized for leading the way toward more innovative, affordable and achievable education:
- “Most Innovative” regional university honors from U.S. News & World Report each year since 2015
- A $1 million grant from Google.org to explore soft skills assessments for high-need youth
- Recognition as a 2017 Digital Learning Innovator by the Online Learning Consortium
At Southern New Hampshire University, you'll have access to a powerful network of more than 200,000 students, alumni and staff that can help support you long after graduation. Our instructors offer relevant, real-world expertise to help you understand and navigate the field. Plus, with our growing, nationwide alumni network, you'll have the potential to tap into a number of internship and career opportunities.
You'll be part of a vibrant community excited about the many avenues to explore creative writing and literature at SNHU:
- The Penmen Review, our online journal that accepts submissions 12 times a year
- Word for Word, a bimonthly livestream event featuring published writers reading from their work
- Fall Fiction Contest, a short-story competition that offers Southern New Hampshire University scholarships among its prizes
- Student Writers Spotlight, a livestream reading showcasing the best of creative writing students
96.5% of students would recommend SNHU.4 Discover why SNHU may be right for you.
Part of our mission to expand access to quality higher education means removing the barriers that may stand between you and your degree. That’s why you can apply at any time and get a decision within days of submitting all required materials.
Acceptance decisions are made on a rolling basis throughout the year for our 6 (8-week) undergraduate terms.
How to Apply
Simply contact an admission counselor, who can help you explore financial options, answer all your questions and walk you through the application process. Start by:
- Completing a free undergraduate application
- Providing previous institutions attended – so we can retrieve transcripts for you at no cost
Test scores are not required as part of your application.
Courses & Curriculum
Our online English degree courses are taught by accomplished instructors with deep industry insights and a passion for literary pursuits. Many are published authors. Some specialize in genres such as medieval literature or young adult fiction.
The curriculum includes a mix of literature and writing courses. Students have a wide range of freedom in choosing which literature courses are most appealing to them. Among the more popular options are:
- World Mythology: An introduction to the study of mythology. Students read and discuss myths from western and non-western cultures. Students get to choose one culture's myth to concentrate on for a final project.
- Nature Writers: An introduction to the prose and poetry of major British and American writers and naturalists since the 18th century. These writers observe nature vividly and write about humanity's relationship with the natural environment.
- Romance, Revolutions and the Birth of the Novel: A survey course covering two periods in British history – the Enlightenment and Romanticism. The course covers various aspects of English literature, including the novel, the essay and satire. Themes range from civil liberties to sexuality and gender. Featured authors may include Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley and Byron.
- Popular and Contemporary Fiction: Learn what makes a book a “bestseller,” from style and pacing to clever, memorable plots. This course explores a variety of literary sub-genres, including true crime, memoir, road novel, extreme adventure, western and roots quests. Themes range from individualism to race and violence in American culture.
- Gender and Text: Learn how sexuality, sex, race, class, ethnicity, nationality, religion and other factors influence writers' depictions of gender. Topics may include women’s suffrage, feminism, third-world feminism, the LGBTQ community and queer theory. Featured authors may include Mary Wollstonecraft, Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf and Michael Cunningham.
- The Black Literary Tradition: An overview of African-American literature, with glimpses into African and Caribbean literature. Literary genres include slave narratives, poetry, short stories, fiction and plays. Featured authors may include Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Dubois, Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison and Toni Morrison.
This program also gives you a choice of creative writing workshops:
- Playwriting Workshop
- Poetry Writing Workshop
- Fiction Writing Workshop
- Nonfiction Writing Workshop
Dr. Christopher Lee, SNHU associate dean of liberal arts, points out that by reading great literature, students learn about other cultures and develop emotional intelligence and empathy. “There’s a large amount of self-knowledge you also gain,” he said. “You learn about yourself. You learn about humanity and history.”
Anchored by a curriculum that encourages collaboration, students also learn from each other. Audrey Greathouse ’15 earned her online English degree at SNHU and later went on to publish a bestselling novel, “The Neverland Wars.” She credits the program’s curriculum and her instructors with a large part of her success.
“With open arms and a brilliantly simple application process, SNHU welcomed me to a program that challenged me to think for myself, and think a lot!” said Greathouse.
Greathouse also attributes her success to the peer group she got to know throughout her studies. “For almost 3 years now, I have worked with the most ideologically tolerant and intellectually diverse collection of students I’ve ever known,” she said. “With manageable, but deeply intellectually challenging course loads in every class, I really do feel that I had an opportunity here that I wouldn’t have had with any other institution in the country.”
Talented and motivated seniors like Greathouse can petition to complete our BA in English with a senior thesis in literature. The 2-term research and writing project offers a graduate-level research and writing experience in American, British or world literature.
Curriculum Requirements & Resources
- General education courses: All bachelor's students are required to take general education classes, if not obtained in prior coursework. Through these foundation, exploration and integration courses, students learn to think critically, creatively and collaboratively, giving you the edge employers are looking for.
- Technology resources: We provide cloud-based virtual environments in some courses to give you access to the technology you need for your degree – and your career. Learn more about our virtual environments.
- Earn credits for what you already know: Did you know certain work and life experience – like industry-recognized certifications, law enforcement training and math knowledge – could save you time and money? Learn how you could get credit for work or life experience.
|View Full Curriculum in the Catalog|
|BA in English Language & Literature|
|Courses May Include|
|BA in English Language and Literature|
|ENG 350||The English Language||This course is an introduction to the following topics in English linguistics: history of English, etymology, vocabulary (morphology), phonology, dictionaries, syntax, semantics, dialects, discourse analysis, and child language acquisition. The course is designed for students who want to learn about the English language as preparation for teaching, or for becoming better writers, or for studying literature. Students will have the opportunity to research, write about, and present on a linguistic topic of individual interest such as the language of advertising or propaganda.|
|LIT 300||Literary Theory||This course is an introduction to the major schools of contemporary critical theory, and an examination of principal exponents of these theories. The student will become familiar with the most important features of psychoanalytic criticism, Marxism and feminism and examine the meaning of structuralism and post-structuralism. In addition, the course affords an opportunity to practice applying the theories to specific literary texts.|
|LIT 319||Shakespeare||Students in LIT 319 study selected Shakespearian comedies, tragedies and chronicle plays. The course also provides the students with a general overview of the Elizabethan era and the world in which Shakespeare lived and worked.|
|Total Credits: 120|
Tuition & Fees
Tuition rates for SNHU's online degree programs are among the lowest in the nation. We offer financial aid packages to those who qualify, plus a 30% tuition discount for U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty.
|Online Undergraduate Programs||Per Course||Per Credit Hour||Annual Cost for 30 credits|
(U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty)*
Tuition Rates are subject to change and are reviewed annually.
*Note: students receiving this rate are not eligible for additional discounts.
No Application Fee, $150 Graduation Fee, Course Materials ($ varies by course)
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I get an English degree online?
Absolutely! In many ways, earning an English degree online resembles the traditional campus experience very closely. Compare curricula at any given school, and you’ll likely find both the on campus and online versions involve plenty of reading and writing along with lively discussions and peer reviews.
But there are clear advantages to pursuing your English degree online, affordability and accessibility primary among them. Tuition rates for Southern New Hampshire University’s online programs, for example, are among the lowest in the nation.
Your 100% online English degree also gives you the flexibility to create your own schedule. Instead of specific class times, you’ll participate through weekly online assignments and discussion boards. This enables you to fit in each week’s assignments around work, family and other obligations as needed.
Finally, you’ll be part of a vibrant literary community that features a monthly online student journal, an annual fiction contest and regular livestream reading events.
What can you do with an English degree?
Gone are the days when English majors had 3 choices – teach, go to graduate school or throw on an apron and learn how to make lattés.
According to a recent study by Burning Glass Technologies, skilled writers are in high demand across nearly every field, even IT and engineering. The same study notes that employers are seeking writing, communication and organizational skills much more than you’d expect based on standard job profiles.1
Today, most English majors go into advertising, marketing and public relations, fields where demonstrated proficiency in organization, communication and writing are critical. Those also happen to be the skills employers request most often.
But many graduates with English degrees find their skills translate equally well to educational product design, human resources, nonprofit administration or sales.2 Solid writing skills are particularly prized in sales, where closing deals depends on strong proposals and compelling pitches.
What are the subjects in BA English literature?
Generally, you can expect a third of your coursework to fall into the general education category, which includes foundation courses in English composition as well as requirements in math, science and the humanities. Arts and sciences courses, major courses and free electives make up the balance.
Major courses in SNHU’s online English degree feature coursework in theory and practice, including:
- World Mythology
- Nature Writers
- Birth of the Novel
- Gender and Text
- The Black Literary Tradition
Your English program also gives you a choice of creative writing workshops:
- Poetry writing
- Fiction writing
- Nonfiction writing
The program also offers up to 6 credits in experiential learning or internship and 36 free electives in subjects like digital advertising or public relations, which let you focus your studies on highly marketable areas.
Seniors of exceptional ability can petition to complete our BA in English with a senior thesis in literature. The two-term research and writing project offers a graduate-level research and writing experience in American, British or world literature.
How many years is an English degree?
Generally speaking, it takes 4 years to complete an undergraduate English degree. But the answer to this question often comes down to the individual, plus 3 common factors in everyone's life – time, cost and work/family obligations.
At SNHU, many students complete the 120-credit online English degree in 4 years, although it’s not unusual to find students who finish faster. Many of those students have credits from previous coursework to apply, and you’ll want to note that Southern New Hampshire University has a generous transfer policy. We accept up to 90 transfer credits, or the equivalent of 30 courses. And with 36 free electives, our online English degree offers significant flexibility to apply credits earned elsewhere.
Just taking that first step toward your bachelor’s degree? You’re not alone, and it’s never too late to start. Mary Wroten ’18 had just turned 40 when she enrolled in SNHU’s online BA in creative writing degree program. A year later, she won our 4th Annual Fall Fiction Contest. And Amy Craton ’16 holds the record for being our oldest graduate. She earned her online English degree at the age of 94 with a perfect 4.0 GPA.
Is an English degree worth it?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand is steady and wages are higher than average for media and communication professionals, a category in which many graduates with a bachelor's degree in English find employment.3 Typical entry-level roles include:
- Advertising and promotions specialists
- Content writers and editors
- Interpreters and translators
- Public relations specialists
- Technical writers
The BLS projects 4% overall growth through 2028. Median annual wages for media and communication occupations remain higher than the wage for all occupations at $59,230 as of May 2019.3 Public relations specialists and technical writers command the highest pay, with median annual wages of $61,150 and $72,850, respectively.3
Is a BA in English tough?
Studying English at the college level can be demanding, but it offers a significant upside. BA in English majors gain one of the professional world’s most valuable skill sets: critical thinking and strong written and oral communication skills. They also gain vital life skills.
“I always heard that being a writer was hard, but I didn't realize how hard until I started rolling with it,” she said. “What's ironic is the writing part is always the easiest (for me, at least). The hardest part is the editing, the approval, the deadlines (and) the publishing process. Just writing, simply writing, is the most enjoyable and most natural part for me.”
Shreeve said she also wishes she understood the full impact of rejection. “I will admit, getting rejected a lot can take a negative toll on you,” she said. “It took me a while to grow (a) thick skin, but now I welcome rejection as a way to try and turn my writing up a notch.”
Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) as well as several other accrediting bodies.
Sources & Citations (1, 2, 3, 4)
1 Burning Glass Technologies, “The Human Factor: The Hard Time Employers Have Finding Soft Skills,” on the internet, at https://www.burning-glass.com/wp-content/uploads/Human_Factor_Baseline_Skills_FINAL.pdf (viewed April 13, 2020).
2 Strada Institute for the Future of Work, “The Real, Long-term Career Outcomes of Liberal Arts Grads,” on the internet, at https://www.economicmodeling.com/2019/01/15/the-real-long-term-labor-market-outcomes-of-liberal-arts-grads/ (viewed April 13, 2020).
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, on the internet, at:
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/home.htm (viewed April 28, 2020).
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/public-relations-specialists.htm (viewed April 28, 2020)
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/technical-writers.htm (viewed April 28, 2020)
Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.
4 According to more than 9,200 SNHU online students in survey responses from the fall of 2019.