Earn a Master's in English Online
- $627/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 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 order:
- Creativity and critical thinking
- Emotional intelligence
- Cognitive flexibility
Human skills are “the very capabilities that define us as human beings,” the Strada report goes on to explain. 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.
Learn how to:
- Use theoretical arguments in original interpretation of literary texts
- Demonstrate expertise in a literary subject
- Draw connections between literature and social/cultural history
- Compose essays of depth that contribute to the field of study
- Produce scholarship that promotes an appreciation for literature
The online master’s in English expands your career possibilities in a number of writing-related fields, including:
- Advertising, marketing and promotions
- Public relations
- Nonprofit administration
- Technical writing
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects stable job growth for writers and authors working in these and other fields through 2028. Median annual wages for writers and authors remain higher than the median wage for all occupations at $63,200 as of May 2019.3
Furthermore, by earning a master’s degree, you’ll be setting yourself apart from other job seekers. Just 11% of the labor force had a master’s degree in 2016, according to research by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.4 You’ll also increase your odds of attaining your career objectives: The BLS projects that occupations typically requiring a master’s degree for entry will grow the fastest, 18.4%, through 2022.4
The master’s degree in English also provides a required 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 '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.
Aside from teaching, 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.
SNHU does not guarantee that the completion of this program will result in endorsements or rank and salary increases for teachers and strongly encourages interested individuals to contact their state education licensure board prior to enrolling. SNHU provides additional information for education-related outcomes on our Licensure and Certification Disclosures page.
Start Your Journey Toward an Online English Degree
Why SNHU for Your Master's in English
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. Our mission has always been to make education accessible for all, and that starts with making college more affordable. That's why we've kept online tuition rates frozen every year since 2012.
We also make it easy to transfer to SNHU by accepting up to 12 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, Southern New Hampshire University 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 your industry. 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:
- 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 SNHU's creative writing students
96.5% of students would recommend SNHU.3 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 — with no GRE or GMAT required.
Online master's degree candidates must also submit a personal statement. Students with an undergraduate GPA below 2.75 are eligible for provisional acceptance. Based on educational background, some Master of Arts provisional students may be required to take SNHU 501 – Introduction to Graduate Studies – which will provide students with the scholarly tools to be successful in their Master of Arts program of study.
To apply, use the online application.
How to Apply
- Completing a graduate application
- Providing undergraduate transcripts
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.
|View Full Curriculum in the Catalog|
|MA in English|
|Courses May Include|
|MA in English Online|
|ENG 550||Graduate Studies in 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 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.|
|ENG 555||Composition Theory & Teaching of Writing||Students in this course will study key histories, theories, and technologies on which we ground composition pedagogies. They will research, discuss, and write about how theoretical concepts impact the teaching of writing; they will reflect on, develop, and share their own pedagogical practices.|
|LIT 500||Graduate Studies in Literary Theory||This course is an introduction to the major schools of contemporary literary 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 502||Topics in American Literature||This course traces the development of American literature from the nation's founding to the late Twentieth Century. Readings may include classics by Bradford, Bradstreet, Wheatly, Crevecoeur, Emerson, Thoreau, Dickinson, Hawthorne, Whitman, Melville, Douglass, James, Crane, Chopin, Gilman, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Hurston, O'Connor, Pynchon, Major, Morrison, Cisneros, and Alexie among others. Different authors are highlighted in each term, and all readings are situated within specific historical, cultural, philosophical, political, and literary contexts.|
|LIT 503||Topics in British Literature||This course examines major prose and poetry of English writers from the Anglo-Saxon period to the late Twentieth Century. Readings may include classics by Chaucer, Spencer, Milton, Shakespeare, Wollstonecraft, Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley, Tennyson, Eliot, Bronte, Browning, Hardy, Woolf, Barnes, Barry, and Mieville among others. Different authors are highlighted in each term, and all readings are situated within specific historical, cultural, philosophical, political, and literary contexts.|
|LIT 652||Graduate Seminar in Global Literature||This course uses a thematic approach to the works from many literary traditions outside British and American. Specific selections and authors vary each term according to the theme. This is an upper-level course involving close reading, analysis and writing in seminar format.|
|LIT 690||Master of Arts in English Capstone||Students register for this course in their final term, as a culmination of their work in the program. They satisfy the requirement by completing a thesis, submitting a portfolio of their literary-critical writing along with a retrospective evaluative essay, or passing an examination on English and American Literature.|
|Total Credits: 36|
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|
(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.
$150 Graduation Fee, Course Materials ($ varies by course)
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do with a master's degree in English?
According to a recent study by Burning Glass Technologies, skilled writers are in high demand across nearly every field.5
Today, most English majors go into advertising, marketing and public relations, fields where a demonstrated proficiency in organization, communication and writing are critical. But many master’s in English graduates go into teaching, where subject matter expertise can increase their odds of a salary bump.
Still, others find their skills translate equally well to educational product design, human resources, nonprofit administration or sales.3 Solid writing skills are particularly prized in sales, where closing deals depends on strong proposals and compelling pitches.
Dr. Christopher Lee, an associate dean of liberal arts at Southern New Hampshire University, sums it up this way. “A master's provides the same transferable core skills of critical thinking, research, analysis, reading comprehension, empathy and others ... but at a higher level of qualification for higher-level positions,” he said.
Is a master's degree in English worth it?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects stable job growth for writers and authors working in these and other fields through 2028. As of May 2019, writers and authors earned a median annual wage of $63,200, a higher wage than the median wage for all occupations.3 Public relations specialists and technical writers earned median annual wages of $61,150 and $72,850, respectively.4
Furthermore, by earning a master’s degree, you’ll be setting yourself apart from other job seekers. Just 11% of the labor force had a master’s degree in 2016, according to research by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.3 You’ll also increase your odds of attaining your career objectives: The BLS projects that occupations typically requiring a master’s degree for entry will grow the fastest, 18.4%, through 2022.3
How long does it take to get a master's degree in English?
Generally speaking, it takes 2 years to complete an MA in English. But the answer to this question often comes down to the individual, plus three common factors in everyone's life: time, cost and work/family obligations.
At SNHU, most graduate students complete the 36-credit program in two years, although it’s not unusual to find students who finish in 18 or even 15 months by taking two courses per 10-week term.
How much does a master's in English cost?
The price tag can vary dramatically depending on the institution and whether you complete your degree online or on campus.
With one of the lowest graduate online tuition rates in the country, Southern New Hampshire University offers an affordable way to advance your career. At just $627 per credit, the 36-credit online master’s in English is only $22,572.
We also have a generous transfer policy, accepting up to 12 credits from your previous institutions – or a third of your 36-credit program. By transferring 4 classes, you could save over $7,000 on your MA in English.
Can you get a master's in English without a bachelor's in English?
Yes! While a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution is a prerequisite for most graduate programs, your bachelor’s does not have to be directly related to your master’s. In other words, you don't need an undergraduate online English degree to earn a master's in English.
At SNHU, accessibility to education is at the core of the university’s mission. In creating high-quality, affordable and innovative pathways to educational success, we remove many barriers. The university has a generous transfer policy and offers credit for professional experience.
For graduate admission, a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75 is required for full acceptance to the online master’s in English program. We also waive the requirement for GRE or GMAT test scores.
What's the difference between an MA in English and an MFA?
An MA in English differs from an MFA in several ways. First is the time consideration. The MA typically requires fewer credits than the MFA.
Academically, MA in English courses are focused on studying literature and literary theory. Along with honing your writing abilities, you'll have the opportunity to develop your analytical skills while you study the various lenses through which you can view a work of literature. You'll also study how sentences are structured and how words in the English language have changed over time.
Most MA in English majors choose a professional path in advertising, marketing, public relations or teaching, fields where demonstrated proficiency in organization, communication and writing are critical.
The MFA degree path, on the other hand, is for creative writers focused on honing their craft with the purpose of becoming a professional writer or novelist. By the end of your MFA program, you should have completed a polished manuscript.
MFA programs can take anywhere from a year to four years to finish. Many MFA programs require a residency, which is a period of study with other students either on campus or at a specific site. Residencies can take place over a weekend or last several weeks.
Some MFA programs require students on a full scholarship to teach undergraduate classes. Others offer students the opportunity to teach in exchange for a discounted tuition rate. For those who plan on teaching at the university level after graduating, a program with a teaching component can provide valuable experience.
Read more about MA vs MFA.
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 Forbes, “The 7 Transferable Skills To Help You Change Careers,” on the internet, at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2018/02/09/the-7-transferable-skills-to-help-you-change-careers/#24abf00e4c04 (viewed April 24, 2020).
2 Strada Institute for the Future of Work, “Robot-Ready: Human+ Skills for the Future of Work,” on the internet, at: https://www.stradaeducation.org/report/robot-ready/ (viewed April 16, 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/writers-and-authors.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).
- https://www.bls.gov/spotlight/2017/educational-attainment-of-the-labor-force/pdf/educational-attainment-of-the-labor-force.pdf (viewed April 16, 2020).
- https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2013/article/pdf/occupational-employment-projections-to-2022.pdf (viewed April 28, 2020).
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/survey-researchers.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.
5 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).