2019 Best Online Colleges for English Degrees
An online English degree can open up doors to many different careers. The ability to read and interpret complicated texts and to parse complicated ideas in writing is an integral skill in many professions. Career paths for those passionate about English include becoming an author, editor, copy writer, technical writer, or other type of writer. They work for publishing companies, advertising and PR firms, colleges and universities, and other information service companies. Those looking for top programs can browse our lists of the best online bachelor's in English programs and best online master's in English programs, ranked based on schools' tuition rates and the salaries of alumni reported by PayScale.
2019 Best Online Colleges Offering Bachelor's in English Degrees
The 15 schools on this list offer the best online English degrees in 2019. Leading the pack is Assumption College, with an median reported salary of $122,000 and an annual tuition of $40,208 for its Bachelor of Arts in Humanities-English/Literature. Close behind is the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, which offers a Bachelor of Arts in English degree for only $11,400 per year, making the school an affordable choice for a number of distance learners.
- Annual Tuition: $40,208
- Median Salary: $122,000
Founded in 1904, Assumption College has a reputation for providing students with a strong, Catholic-based liberal arts education. Ninety-eight percent of their enrolled students graduate within four years. Working students can opt for their online Bachelor of Arts in Humanities, which has numerous concentrations, including one in English/Literature. This program requires that students take, in addition to the core education requirements, eight English/Literature classes from a catalog of courses that covers speech, composition, writing, journalism, and many genres of literature. Faculty at Assumption College have found that online students tend to interact with each other more than in-class students, and that online conversations and friendships often eclipse those found on campus.
- Annual Tuition: $11,400
- Median Salary: $90,100
The University of Massachusetts-Lowell is an accredited public university that offers quality, affordable education to distance students of all types. Offering both an online Bachelor of Arts and an online Bachelor of Liberal Arts in English, it is a university that makes itself amenable to working adults and students who live out-of-state or in other countries. The Bachelor of Arts in English is a comprehensive degree requiring 40 courses in total, including 12-18 in the English concentration, 12 core curriculum courses, and 4-5 foreign language courses. Students wishing to test drive a course can do so online in order to experience the Blackboard learning environment.
- Annual Tuition: $10,104
- Median Salary: $84,100
Offering an online Bachelor of Arts in English for a little over $10,000 a year, Arizona State University places itself high on the college affordability list. The online Bachelor of Arts in English requires 39 courses for completion, and students have a Fast Track option. Classes are 7.5 weeks in length. ASU Online offers distance students six start dates per year, online news via the Newsroom, and comprehensive support covering admissions, library and tutoring services, and success coaching. ASU is a university with a strong sense of community, and online students can socialize via Sun Devils Connect on Facebook, join clubs, and become part of the ASU Alumni Association upon graduation.
- Annual Tuition: $11,329
- Median Salary: $73,400
Founded in 1890, Washington State University is a top-tier research university with over 250 degree programs, including 12 undergraduate online degree programs. Its Global Campus offers an online bachelor's degree in humanities with 11 concentrations, including one in English. Humanities majors have the option of picking either two or three areas of concentration. They must complete the University Common Core Requirements, as well as numerous courses in their areas of concentration. Prospective online students can request information online, attend an online information session, and receive career advice via phone or email.
- Annual Tuition: $20,280
- Median Salary: $71,200
Both public and non-profit, Troy University is a school with a storied history and a global presence. In addition to a network of physical campuses spanning Alabama and the globe, it offers online courses via its TROY Online portal, which has awarded almost 20,000 online degrees to date. Its online Bachelor of Science in English requires 120 credit hours for completion and has 9-week terms. Courses cover world literature, British literature, American literature, grammar, and writing. Students participate in discussions, forums, and conferencing, and complete quizzes, blogs and writing assignments–all online.
- Annual Tuition: $9,000
- Median Salary: $63,100
With a low online tuition rate of $9,000 a year, the University of Central Florida offers English majors good value for their money. Students can choose from one of three English majors: Literature, Creative Writing, or Technical Communication. All three majors require 120 credit hours and have in-state tuition of $179.19 per credit hour. UCF online student services include tutoring, career advice, financial aid assistance, and access to academic advisors. Prospective students can also contact the UCF Online Connect Center for general assistance with finding the right program and courses.
- Annual Tuition: $9,640
- Median Salary: $62,600
Celebrating its bicentennial in 2020, Indiana University - Bloomington honors its innovative past in part by offering students of the new millennium 120 state-of-the-art online degrees. Included in its online catalog is a 120-credit Bachelor of Arts in English, Technical and Professional Writing. Taught by on-campus staff, this degree yields a traditional Indiana University diploma. Its online format is adaptable, allowing students with hectic work schedules to choose their own school hours. IU's Credit Transfer Service assists students with transferring prior-earned credits to this program.
- Annual Tuition: $14,880
- Median Salary: $57,000
The University of Colorado Denver goes to great lengths to ensure the quality of its online courses and degree programs. Faculty attend training and workshops and receive dedicated assistance with technology and instructional design during the online curriculum development process. CU Online's Bachelor of Arts in English Writing is offered in both on-campus and online formats. It requires 36 total credit hours in the major, of which 27 credit hours must consist of upper-division courses. All courses must be taken with the letter grade option, with a C- or better. Up to six internship hours may be applied to the major.
- Annual Tuition: $28,727
- Median Salary: $56,900
2019 marks IUPUI's 50th anniversary. In those 50 years, it has grown into Indiana’s premier urban research university. Today it offers working adults and distance students an online Bachelor of Arts in English, Technical and Professional Writing. This 120-credit program costs residents $224.23, and non-residents $321.34 per credit. It requires 48 credit hours of English core courses, nine credit hours of literature elective courses, and three credit hours of language courses, and prepares students for careers in a range of professions including copywriting, information development, and technical writing. Students services for distance students include an interactive orientation, success coaching, and math and writing support.
- Annual Tuition: $14,970
- Median Salary: $55,000
University of Maryland University College is the largest online university in America, with over 90 academic programs to its name. It has distilled the online student experience into the easiest, most productive process possible. No SAT, ACT, GRE, or GMAT scores are required for admission. There are multiple start dates throughout the year. Most textbooks have been replaced with free, digital educational material, and students can convert prior certifications, military experience, vocational and technical training, and work experience into school credit. UMUC's online Bachelor of Arts in English requires 120 credits for completion, of which 90 can be transferred in. It provides students with the skills they will need to enter publishing, journalism, law and numerous other professions.
- Annual Tuition: $12,600
- Median Salary: $51,300
Regionally-accredited University of Memphis was founded in 1912 and is now home to 21,000 students. It offers numerous online graduate and undergraduate degree programs, which are taught in an asynchronous format that emphasizes deadlines over class meetings. These include a bachelor's degree in English with concentrations in African American literature or professional writing. The 120-credit requirement for the English major includes 60 general education credits, 27 major credits, 12 concentration credits, and nine elective credits. Transfer credits are accepted.
- Annual Tuition: $8,850
- Median Salary: $50,700
Public, non-profit Missouri State University offers online students a Bachelor of Science in Professional Writing for $8,850 per year. With a median return rate of $50,700 per year in terms of graduate salaries, it represents one of the best investments for 4-year English majors. The strong writing skills taught in this program prime students for careers as technical writers, grant writers, and copywriters. This program requires students to complete a professional internship of 135 hours. It is taught on the Blackboard course management system.
- Annual Tuition: $16,650
- Median Salary: $48,400
Veteran-founded and non-profit, National University makes itself amenable to all distance students and has a reputation for specializing in credentialing teachers. It offers five online bachelors degree programs in English. Online classes are delivered asynchronously in a 4-week format, allowing students to depth-study each subject. Students should research the admission requirements for each program before applying. An online registration and application process, coupled with military discounts and year-round enrollment, give special value to the programs offered by National University.
- Annual Tuition: $9,600
- Median Salary: $47,200
Private, non-profit Southern New Hampshire University Online offers English students six different bachelor's degrees to choose from–five in creative writing & English and a BA in language & literature. The creative writing & English program has a general option, plus concentrations in fiction writing, non-fiction writing, poetry, and screenwriting. Programs are 120 credits in length, and classes are taught in 8-week terms, of which there are six per year. All service members, full-time and part-time, receive a 30% discount on tuition. There is no application fee.
- Annual Tuition: $18,725
- Median Salary: $40,900
In recent years, Wichita State University has expanded rapidly, building and renovating many structures on campus, and updating its infrastructure on all levels. WSU Online now offers a comprehensive and growing catalog of degree programs. These include a 120-unit Bachelor of General Studies in English that has a foreign language option. Online students will find that this program allows them to customize their degree to fit their goals. WSU's OneStop information portal offers students 24/7 technical assistance, account assistance, and academic advising.
Comprehensive List of Accredited Online Schools - English Degrees ( 137)
Online English Degree Overview & Career Information
A bachelor’s degree is the minimum educational requirement for most careers in English. This degree may be in communications, English, comparative literature, or another liberal studies field in which students are required to complete large amounts of reading and writing. Writing experience garnered through extracurricular activities or internships with school newspapers, magazines, or yearbooks can prove helpful in landing a job after graduation. Professionals interested in one particular type of writing, such as science writing, can benefit by taking college-level coursework in that subject area.
Those looking to specialize in one type of writing, get a more extensive English background, or transfer to English from another profession can pursue a master’s or doctoral degree. Two-year master’s programs in communications, English, journalism, and related fields require intensive amounts of reading and writing, and usually the completion of a lengthy thesis paper. Doctoral degrees take five years or longer to complete. These programs are often pursued by individuals interested in a career in academia.
There are no mandatory professional certifications or extra credentials writers, authors, or copy editors need to find employment. However, skills in desktop publishing, graphic design, and digital media can give job seekers an edge, as most writing today is done on a computer and published online. Individuals interested in editing positions will benefit from also possessing business skills, since many editors also manage business aspects of written publications.
Online associate degrees in English give students the opportunity to develop improved English language communication skills. Programs teach students how to write grammatically correct sentences, build vocabularies, and read efficiently. Students also build competencies for improved academic writing. Prerequisites may include reading and writing. Programs require completion of 60 credits, which generally takes two years of full-time study.
The associate degree curriculum emphasizes analytical skills, critical thinking, literary criticism, reading ability, and writing efficiency. Areas covered by the curriculum may include courses on American literature, British literature, business technical communications, college vocabulary development, composition, creative writing, developmental English, English for speakers of other languages, grammatical analysis of modern English, history of English language, literary forms and criticism, modern fiction, poetry, science fiction and fantasy, short story writing techniques, world literature, and writing journals and memoirs.
Graduates acquire a wide range of skills for effective communication in their academic, personal, and professional lives. Associate degrees in English are good preparation for upper-division studies in literature and other studies within the humanities. Students also acquire a strong foundation for careers in business, journalism, law, and teaching, which all require critical thinking, persuasive writing, and professional communication skills.
The online Bachelor of Arts in English degree provides training in written and oral communication, literature, research, and critical thinking skills. These four-year programs also contain a significant array of courses in the general arts and sciences; students complete about 120 credit hours of coursework. Applicants need a high school diploma or GED in order to apply.
Most bachelor’s degree programs in English are offered at colleges and universities. All bachelor’s degree programs have a liberal arts component in which students take core classes that may not directly relate to their majors. Most students take liberal arts classes their first two years and take classes related to their majors during their final two years. Bachelor’s degrees complete a student’s undergraduate education and are required to continue schooling in graduate settings, such as in law school or in programs that offer a master’s degree.
Writing is one of the two principal subjects that students learn in their coursework for a bachelor’s degree in English. Students learn a number of different techniques related to writing, the majority of which are related to formal academic writing. Students will learn techniques for composing different types of essays, such as compare-and-contrast essays, literary analysis essays, and expository essays. Students will also learn writing skills that pertain to several forms of academic writing, such as research papers or thesis-length works. In addition to formal academic writing, students also learn about different types of writing, such as fiction, drama, and poetry.
The other half of the coursework that most bachelor’s degree programs in English focus on is reading. Students will be taught how to read a variety of different texts for different purposes. Students will learn and exercise literary analysis skills and will likely be expected to examine texts for a variety of literary devices including hyperbole, characterization, synecdoche and more.
Graduates with a bachelor’s degree in English are qualified to teach in a number of different settings, -- including in elementary, middle, and high schools -- although further requirements must be fulfilled to do so in public schools. English majors are also qualified to accept a number of career positions related to writing.
There are two types of online master’s degrees in English: terminal degrees and progressive degrees. Terminal master’s degrees usually take two years to earn (at some schools, especially in Europe, master’s degrees can be completed in one year). These degrees require that students take classes in literary criticism and theory, learn to produce scholarly papers (usually by writing a master’s thesis on a topic of the student's choice), and take classes in the major schools of English and American literature, from Elizabethan to Victorian to modern literature. To learn more about online master's programs in English, see our master's overview which includes a list of the best programs.
An online doctoral degree in English is a challenging and extensive degree. The length of each program varies, but depending on your prior education credentials, earning a doctorate in English often requires a full-time commitment of two to six years. Students must take advanced courses in literary theory and practice researching, writing, and rewriting publishable academic papers. A doctoral program can be enhanced by participating in research or by writing a dissertation. The dissertation alone can take several months, or even several years, to complete.
Online English doctoral degree programs engage students in advanced studies and research of English language and literary studies. In most cases, applicants are required to hold a master’s degree in English. Prerequisites may include a history of the English language, American literature, and British literature. Programs require completion of 39 to 45 credits, which takes two years.
Specialization areas for doctoral students include American literature, comparative literature, creative writing, and linguistics. Many programs require students to study old English or master at least one foreign language. Students are also required to take a qualifying exam before they proceed to work on the dissertation, which must be defended in public.
There are a variety of different types of online certificate programs in English available to those who are interested. A common type of certificate program offered online is the Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate, which allows educators to get the training they need to teach students whose native language isn't English. There are also online certificate programs available in technical and professional writing. Online certificate programs can be found at colleges and universities, and are available at the graduate and undergraduate level.
The specific online classes that a student will take will vary depending on the particular concentration of their online program. Students enrolled in an online teaching-related program will take classes in linguistics and teaching techniques. Those who are in an online professional and technical writing program will take such courses as grant writing, editing, and technical writing, classes that are designed to help professionals enhance their written communication skills.
Admission to an online graduate-level program will require that applicants have a bachelor's degree, while online undergraduate-level certificates will likely only require a high school diploma. There may be additional requirements depending on the nature of the online program; for example, some teaching endorsement programs will require students to be a licensed teacher. Usually, online certificate programs are designed to be completed in a year or less. Tuition will also vary based on the school attended and can be anywhere from under $10,000 to close to $20,000 or more.
Because English departments and curricula may vary a lot in terms of the topics covered, methodologies, and the delivery of instruction, accreditation provides a dependable baseline; it lets students and their future employers know that they have received an education that meets or exceeds an established level of quality set forth by the US Department of Education (USDE).
Accredited institutions and programs go through an extensive evaluation process to ensure that they meet the highest academic standards. Attending an accredited English degree program means that you will be learning via a high-quality curriculum taught by qualified faculty members. It also means that you will more likely be able to transfer credits from one school to the next, should you decide to pursue an advanced degree. Federal financial aid is also limited to students who attend accredited institutions.
The USDE recognizes a number of private accreditation agencies as having established high academic standards for colleges, universities, and programs in the United States. These accreditation agencies evaluate the quality of academic programs and, if approved, indicate that they are capable of providing a quality education to their students. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation is recognized by the USDE as the premier association of accrediting organizations and accredited institutions, and they maintain a database of accredited programs and schools.
- Accreditation in the United States. US Department of Education. Accessed March 1, 2018. http://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation_pg2.html.
- Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Accessed March 1, 2018. http://www.chea.org/.