Online English Master's Programs & Graduate Degrees

Online Masters in English programs conveniently deliver courses from across the English discipline to help students write, research and communicate effectively. Along the way, participants could hone their ability to think critically, read with a critical eye, and back up their point of view with strong research and bibliography skills.

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What Is an Online Masters Degree in English?

Most Online Masters in English programs lead to a Master of Arts (MA) in English. Distinct from an education or fine arts degree, an online Masters degree in English could provide students with more in depth expertise in the English language, literature, rhetoric and professional writing.

Online English Masters Degree Requirements

To earn a Masters degree in English online, students may need to complete up to 36 credit hours of coursework, which could include some type of capstone. Courses may be delivered in seminar form, where students closely read, analyze and write about various literary works.

When the program calls for discussion, this could be done through a chatroom or faculty-led online thread. Something that aims to keep participants active, engaged, and yet, still independent.

The capstone is the end product of a student’s work in the program. It is a requirement that could be completed through a thesis, portfolio of critical writing and evaluative essay, or by passing an exam on course material. Guidelines are set by each grad school.

Master of Arts in English Online Coursework

At the heart an online MA in English program, core topics could range from American and British literature to composition theory and teaching of writing. These main elements could provide a strong, in-depth foundation in British and American literary works, after which students often tailor the program to personal interests or goals.

Traditional and

contemporary course topics in the Master in English online program might span from Shakespeare, Victorian literature and the Renaissance to Romantic literature, American modernism, and gender and multi-ethnic studies. Preview other sample courses below, then read through school course lists to find a syllabus that sounds exciting.

  • Literary Theory: There are various literary theories that provide a lens to understand texts. Students in this course could learn some key features of psychoanalytic criticism, Marxism, feminism, structuralism and post-structuralism. Then, practice applying theory to specific literary works
  • English Language: Graduate studies in English could cover topics in linguistics, from the history of the language and origins of words to the ways language and vocabulary have morphed. Key concepts might include phonology, dictionaries, syntax, semantics, and dialects
  • Composition Theory & Teaching Writing: Students might research, discuss and write about how history, theory and technology has impacted the way writing is both composed and taught

Tailor an Online MA in English With a Concentration 

While central courses form the hub of any program, electives and concentrated study are the spokes. Some of the common concentrations for online Masters in English program include the following.

  • Literature
  • Individual Track
  • English Teaching
  • Professional Writing & Rhetoric

Literature: Avid readers might want to pursue an online Masters in English Literature to study more deeply a genre (E.g. fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and plays), author or literary period. Within this broad category, students might immerse themselves in Early American Literature, pre-1800 British Literature, the Romantic period, or the Black Literary Tradition.

Individualized Study: A flexible, student-organized degree track for those drawn to a general Master of Arts in English. Participants in this type of program typically take core courses and then, might work with an advisor to shape the rest of their degree plan through multiple electives.

English Teaching: An online Master of Arts in English with an Emphasis in Education degree program could suit current teachers and/or those who want to prepare to pursue a career as an educator. For instance, high school English teaching, middle school English teaching, AP teaching, two and four-year college teaching, or dual-enrollment programs.i

Courses could more narrowly focus on language, literature, and writing, as well as the teaching of writing and of literature. Rooted in liberal arts, students could also survey research-based pedagogical methods, diverse theories of how adults learn, and also, ways to design curricula and class lessons.

A course on how to incorporate technology into a distance learning environment might help students learn to develop courses for online instructional platforms. Students might also take a multi-media writing course to learn how to write for electronic modalities such as tweets, web pages and social media campaigns.

Professional Writing & Rhetoric: Students who want to learn how to write professionally might pursue a Masters in Writing online. Typically, aside from the craft of writing and the teaching of writing, students take courses in rhetoric. Rhetoric is art of using figures of speech and other compositional methods to persuade and skillfully communicate.

This blend of topics could help students understand key ways to think about writing today, especially in light of the digital age. Also, some schools may have course plans where students could focus on a genre of writing. Grant writing, scientific and technical, or creative writing may be on some menus.

How long could it take to complete a Masters degree in English online?

It could take a full-time student about 1.5 to 2 years to complete a Masters degree in English online, but there are variables. How many courses does your schedule allow? What are the credit requirements? These are some determinants.

Apply to Online English Masters Degree Programs

Online programs sometimes accept students on a rolling basis throughout the year for their graduate terms, or semesters. Admission to Masters in English online programs commonly requires an undergraduate degree, earned at an accredited institution.

A minimum GPA, personal statement and other material may be required apart from school transcripts, so candidates should check individual school expectations.

Employment of technical writers is projected to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026.ii

Why Consider Online Masters in English Programs?

For those who need the flexibility to create their own schedules, online Masters in English programs could be the ticket. Frequently, students get to move through coursework at their own pace. With 24/7 access to material and the online classroom, at work and busy students could complete the coursework when it’s most convenient.

What Might I Do with a Masters Degree in English?

An online Masters in English program may be sufficiently flexible to accommodate a range of academic interests and potential career paths. Some graduates may go on to choose one of four options, although this is a general overview.

  1. to work towards a PhD in English
  2. to teach in secondary schools, junior colleges, colleges, and universities i
  3. to undertake further professional training, such as in law
  4. or to pursue careers such as professional or technical writersii

MFA vs MA English

Wonder whether to choose a Master of Fine Arts or a Master of Arts in English? The two programs are distinct.

The MA in English generally provides an academic education in English literature and might train students in literary analysis. The MFA is an applied arts degree that typically offers a formal environment for students to create and workshop their own creative writing.

For those who want to meld both creative writing and literary study in one degree, a MA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, might line up with these interests. A straight online MA in English, by contrast, may not provide the formal opportunity to create fiction--instead, it usually highlights studying and writing critical essays about other people's fiction.

Search For Accredited Online Masters Degree Programs in English

Scroll through partner schools that offer English Masters Programs online. Choose the one(s) you like, then contact schools directly and quickly. Use the on-page form to get started.

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  • No application fee for April & June terms
  • Some of the nation's most affordable tuition rates, from a private, nonprofit, NEASC accredited university
  • Qualified students with 2.5 GPA and up may receive up to $20K in grants & scholarships
  • Multiple term start dates throughout the year. 24/7 online classroom access
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