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Online Master's in English MA Degree

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Register By: July 27 Classes Start: July 29

Earn a Master's in English Online

  • $637/credit (36 credits)
  • Choose from a wide range of literary periods
  • Complete in as few as 15 months, or at your own pace
  • Culminates in a capstone course
  • Includes teaching writing course
  • 24/7 online access – attend class at your convenience

Online Master's in English Program Overview

Some people are born to play with code and go on to earn advanced IT degrees. Others love playing with words and feeding their endless appetite for learning. If you fall into the second category and see a master’s in your future, SNHU’s online Master of Arts (MA) in English may be your degree.

Aside from the personal goals a master’s in English might fulfill, its focus on enduring skills will appeal to potential employers. The degree expands analytical, creative thinking and communication skills, all highly valued and highly versatile in the workplace. The same skill set, for example, can be applied to complicated administrative or operational challenges.

It comes down to those analytical and communication skills, as they immediately translate in an employer's mind to transferable, applicable skills, according to author and Forbes contributor Martin John Yate.1

A groundbreaking 2019 study by the Strada Institute for the Future of Work backs this up.2 The study notes that “human skills are in high demand across many industries.” What are human skills and which matter most? The Strada report lists the top skills, in this order2:

  • Leadership
  • Collaboration
  • Creativity and critical thinking
  • Communication
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Judgment
  • Ethics
  • Cognitive flexibility

Human skills are “the very capabilities that define us as human beings,” the Strada report goes on to explain.2 They’re also those least likely to become automated by robots – vital human skills that this master’s in English only enhances.

A master’s in English builds on the very skills a bachelor’s introduces. “A master's provides the same transferable core skills of critical thinking, research, analysis, reading comprehension, empathy and others,” said SNHU Associate Dean of Liberal Arts Dr. Christopher Lee.

Graduate students learn those skills at a “higher level of qualification for higher-level positions," said Lee.

Whether you work or aspire to work, in education, marketing, human resources, public policy or any number of other fields where problem-solving skills are in high demand, an MA in English goes well beyond reading the works of famous authors and analyzing layers of meaning. It can help you master critical thinking, enrich your subject matter expertise and multiply your earning potential.

What You'll Learn

  • How to use theoretical arguments in original interpretation of literary texts
  • A deep understanding of literary subjects
  • How to draw connections between literature and social/cultural history
  • To compose essays of depth that contribute to the field of study

How You'll Learn

At SNHU, you'll get support from day 1 to graduation and beyond. And with no set class times, 24/7 access to the online classroom and helpful learning resources along the way, you'll have everything you need to reach your goals.

Career Outlook

The online master’s in English expands your career possibilities in a number of writing-related fields, including:

  • Advertising, marketing and promotions
  • Public relations
  • Fundraising
  • Nonprofit administration
  • Technical writing

With so many different career opportunities, job growth and salary will vary for English degree holders. However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, earning a master's degree could open the door to a higher salary and lower odds of unemployment.3

Job Growth

In May 2022, unemployment rates for master's degree holders were lower than their bachelor's-holding counterparts (1.9% versus 2.2%, respectively).3

BLS cites 4% job growth for writers and authors in particular, which is on par with the national average.3


Median annual wages for writers and authors remain higher than the median wage for all occupations at $73,150 as of May 2022.3

In 2022, master's degree holders reportedly earned $1,661 each week – 16% higher than those with the highest educational attainment of a bachelor's degree.3

Understanding the Numbers
When reviewing job growth and salary information, it’s important to remember that actual numbers can vary due to many different factors — like years of experience in the role, industry of employment, geographic location, worker skill and economic conditions. Cited projections do not guarantee actual salary or job growth.

The master’s degree in English also provides a valuable credential if your career path is teaching. The program’s curriculum includes coursework in the teaching of writing, as well as the option of a 3-credit internship. Though you will need additional certification or licensure to teach at the primary or secondary level, you’ll be prepared to start teaching for most community colleges or online courses at the undergraduate level.

Danielle Kaheaku with the text Danielle KaheakuDanielle Kaheaku '17 planned to teach when she applied to SNHU to earn her master's in English and creative writing. “I chose to go back to school after a decade of working in entertainment because I want the opportunity to work with future generations of writers, editors and teachers in an instructional capacity," she said.

The program’s Teaching of Writing course gave Kaheaku the essential foundation she needed. “The course gave deeper insight into teaching a multitude of learning styles within a classroom,” she said.

Carolyn Jameson '21 also saw her MA in English as an opportunity to advance her career as a teacher.

"My employer requested that I work on my master’s degree to take over the dual credit courses in our district," she said. "Seeing the opportunity for an increase in pay and the potential to branch out into teaching at the community college level, I embraced the request."

Her degree, she said, allowed her "to teach at a community college or as adjunct faculty at a college or university," which ultimately paved the way for "additional means of income."

And those weren't the only doors it opened. "Beyond teaching, I am also more marketable in the world of publishing, content writing, technical writing, editing, etc.," Jameson said.

Your online master’s in English can prepare you for a variety of roles, including:

  • Editor: While the job market for editors is competitive, you can improve your odds with the advanced skills earned through a master's. Opportunities range from helping aspiring authors write bestsellers to editing stories for online newspapers, magazines and other publications.
  • Survey researcher/analyst: The analytical skills you’ll develop in a graduate-level English program transfer well to survey research. Demand for this area of expertise remains steady in higher education and nonprofits as well as with the military or federal government, according to the BLS.3
  • 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.

It’s also worth keeping in mind one of the key findings of the Strada Institute for the Future of Work report: “There is a discernible labor market demand for agile and resilient thinkers who have a handle on digital literacies – basic technical skills like data analysis and digital fluency.”1

That bodes particularly well for those with a master’s degree in English and a strong fluency in social media marketing, digital advertising or blogging.

Where Could You Work?

Advertising or Marketing Firms

Write emails, ads, scripts and website content as a copywriter.

Media Outlets

Work with websites or other content-heavy publishers.

Colleges or Universities

Teach in a classroom or virtually, adjunct or full-time.

Nonprofit and Government Agencies

Work as a communications director or public affairs specialist.

Start Your Journey Toward an Online Master's in English

Carolyn Jameson

Build Your Skills And Your Confidence

Carolyn Jameson '21

"I believe one of the greatest takeaways I have gained from SNHU is the confidence I carry in my writing ability and research skills. These were both developed through my graduate work at SNHU, and I am confident that I will be an asset to whichever career I pursue on this new path."

Courses & Curriculum

The online master’s in English curriculum is designed to strengthen your skills in the critical analysis of literature and provide a broad understanding of literary traditions. Our courses are taught by highly credentialed and accomplished instructors with deep insights into the field and a passion for literary pursuits.

The program provides a strong, in-depth foundation in British and American literary works. Traditional and nontraditional course topics include:

  • Graduate Studies in Victorian Literature: Nineteenth-century Britain brought industrialization, empire-building, new discoveries and social revolution. This course explores the social, political and intellectual changes reflected in the literature of the Victorian period. Featured authors include Tennyson, the Brownings, Dickens, Charlotte Bronte and Wilde.
  • Graduate Studies in Shakespeare: Study selected Shakespearian comedies, tragedies and history plays, as well as the Elizabethan era in which Shakespeare lived.
  • Graduate Studies in the American Renaissance: Examine literature from the early 1800s to the end of the Civil War in 1865. During this period, American literature developed a home-grown Romanticism influenced by European intellectual and aesthetic movements. Featured authors include Irving, Poe, Hawthorne, Emerson, Thoreau, Melville, Douglass, Dickinson and Whitman.
  • American Modernism: Explore important aspects of literary modernism in the context of American historical, social, technological, intellectual and political experience from the end of World War I to the 1950s. Study fiction, poetry and critical essays by major American authors and poets of the period.
  • Graduate Studies in Postcolonial Encounters: This course focuses on the interdisciplinary aspects of literature silenced by the colonial powers, voices known as “subaltern.” Students delve into notions of power and powerlessness, margin and periphery, first and third world, nationality, race, identity and globalization.
  • 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, novels and plays. Featured authors may include Booker T. Washington, Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, Chinua Achebe and Toni Morrison.

Yvonne Pierre ’17 said the knowledge gained from her MA in English courses has been invaluable to her. “I'm not only stronger as a storyteller; I know who I am as a writer,” she said. “I couldn't define that before I started.”

Danielle Kaheaku '17 credits her education at SNHU with giving her a new set of tools to pass on to her own students. It also made her more aware of “the nuances of thematic elements and devices in literature.”

Literary Theory was both Kaheaku’s favorite and most challenging course. “I realized that some of the theories were methods I was already using in my writing but had never before put labels on to organize my writing process, and then everything fell into place,” she said.

Your online master’s degree in English culminates in a capstone course. Students satisfy this requirement by completing a thesis, submitting a portfolio or passing an examination on English and American Literature.

"By far the best experience I had at SNHU was in my MA in English capstone course," said Carolyn Jameson '21. "My professor was amazing, informative and made the entire process of completing my graduate thesis less intimidating by breaking it down into smaller, achievable steps."

Beyond her instructor, Jameson leaned on the support of peers and mentors.

"I was grouped with classmates writing about a topic similar enough to mine that we were able to bounce ideas off one another, provide very valuable feedback, and encourage one another in the process," she said. "There were mentors available to us, as well; these were former students of my professor, and they were such an incredible resource in the writing process."

With a network behind her, Jameson felt empowered to reach the finish line.

"I felt completely supported in this journey, and not once did I feel as though I was unsure of what needed to be done. It was hands down the greatest experience I have had as a student," she said.

University Accreditation

New England Commission of Higher Education 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.

Tuition & Fees

Tuition rates for SNHU's online degree programs are among the lowest in the nation. We offer a 25% tuition discount for U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty.

Online Graduate Programs Per Course Per Credit Hour Annual Cost for 15 credits 
Degree/Certificates $1,911 $637 $9,555 
(U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty)*
$1,410 $470 $7,050 

Tuition rates are subject to change and are reviewed annually.
*Note: students receiving this rate are not eligible for additional discounts.

Additional Costs:
Course Materials ($ varies by course). Foundational courses may be required based on your undergraduate course history, which may result in additional cost.

Frequently Asked Questions

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