dcsimg
You are here:

Weighing each letter: Is an M.A. in English worth it?

If devouring Shakespeare's work pentameter by iambic pentameter excites you more than a Caribbean cruise or a shiny new set of sneakers, you've probably fantasized about getting a master's degree in English. But is two years studying among peers who can chat endlessly about Tolstoy's character development worth the time and financial investment of a graduate degree?

Crafting a career with your English degree

If your ultimate goal is to build a career, you need to analyze the costs and the benefits, including education requirements, job availability and salaries. If you're dead-set on a life of literature or working as a wordsmith, a bachelor's degree in English can help you land one of the following occupations:

  • Book promoter/seller
  • Book reviewer
  • Commercial/media writer
  • Corporate communications professional
  • Editor
  • Grant writer
  • Writer

While a master's degree may not be required for these careers, the added credential can make you more appealing to businesses that employ in these areas. Not only do many English master's programs give students the opportunity to hone their craft, but some also provide inter-departmental opportunities for those interested in a more business-oriented track.

Teaching with a master's in English

For a career in academia, an M.A. in English is often a critical step toward earning a Ph.D. However, getting a master's degree without progressing to the doctoral level won't open doors to a tenure-track position at a college or university, or guarantee you a job. You can land a position at a two-year school with an M.A., but you may be competing against Ph.D holders. According to the Modern Language Association's (MLA) 2009-2010 mid-year survey, an average of 1,000 students receive Ph.Ds in English each year between 1997 and 2009, with just 400 tenure-track positions opening per year during that same period.

If your goal is teaching college-level English, the Two-Year College Association of the National Council of Teachers of English recommends that your master's degree program includes theories of learning, composition theory and pedagogy and more. Teaching needs to be grounded in research and theory. For this reason, many people who teach in secondary schools choose master's in English teaching degrees or education degrees in specialties such as reading and literacy.

Library careers are often considered an excellent choice for English majors. However, without additional library science-specific coursework, a master's degree in English may not qualify you for librarian certification requirements in your state. Typically, only Master of Library Science degree programs offer the necessary certification.

An M.A. for love, not for money

Does learning from top talent trump earning a six-figure salary? While it's smart to weigh the financial costs and benefits of any master's program--many of which take two years of graduate study to complete--who you learn from can be just as important. For example, if you have Keats, Kipling or Milton on the mind, studying under a professor with a rich publishing history in English poetry can be vital to your academic and professional growth.

Is a master's degree in English worth it?

If your goal is to enter a career that only requires a bachelor's degree, a master's degree in English may not be worth the time and money. But if you're planning to pursue a Ph.D. in English, or if you desire the degree for personal pleasure and don't mind footing the bill, dust off Tolstoy and put on your thinking cap.

Search Schools

      
Matching School Ads
  • Northcentral University

    Earn your graduate degree online with Northcentral University.

    Location:
    San Diego: 2488 Historic Decatur Rd., San Diego CA 92106
    Northcentral University Request Info »
  • South University, Online Programs

    Designed with the needs of working adult students in mind, South University, Online Programs is built on the similar curriculum offered at South University's campus locations. As a student at South University, Online Programs you will receive the same quality instruction, variety of learning options and level of service found at the campus locations.

    Location:
    Savannah: 709 Mall Boulevard, Savannah GA 31406
    South University, Online Programs Request Info »
  • Keiser University Graduate School

    For over 35 years, Keiser University has maintained a practical, hands-on approach to career education to help our students achieve their personal and professional goals. 

    Location:
    Fort Lauderdale: 1500 W. Commercial Blvd., Fort Lauderdale FL 33309
    Keiser University Graduate School Request Info »
  • National American University - Roueche Graduate Center

    The goal of earning a master’s degree should be defined by you, not by your circumstances. No matter which path you’ve chosen, a graduate degree can help you advance with your current organization, explore opportunities with a new company, or even start fresh in a new industry. When you earn your master's degree, you’re opening new opportunities for career development that can make a difference for you and your family. Through flexible class scheduling, dedicated career advisors and quality programs, NAU strives to provide a caring and supportive learning environment to ensure your success as a student.

    Location: Online

    National American University - Roueche Graduate Center Request Info »
  • Widener University

    Why Choose Widener University?

    At Widener University, we proudly cultivate challenging and culturally diverse learning environments where academics, leadership, and service come first. Our curricula are connected to societal issues and challenge students to take social responsibility for their role in today's global society.

    Location: Online

    Widener University Request Info »
  • The University of Scranton

    Since 1888, The University of Scranton has grounded its education in Catholic and Jesuit principles based on intellectual growth and integrity, all of which shape the online master’s and certificate programs.

    Location: Online

    The University of Scranton Request Info »
  • Our Lady of the Lake University

    Our Lady of the Lake University is a private, Catholic university with a deep connection to the history and community of San Antonio.

    Location: Online

    Our Lady of the Lake University Request Info »
  • Pacific Oaks College

    Pursue your education at Pacific Oaks College.
    Location:
    Pasadena: 55 W Eureka St,, Pasadena CA 91103
    Pacific Oaks College Request Info »
  • Norwich University - Online

    Earn your Master's degree online from Norwich University.
    Location:
    Northfield: 158 Harmon Dr,, Northfield VT 05663
    Norwich University - Online Request Info »
  • Washington State University

    Get your career started with training from Washington State University.
    Location:
    Pullman: , Pullman WA
    Washington State University Request Info »
  • Matching School Ads

    Quick School Search

    College & Career Search Tools

    • Careers: Unsure about your career path? Study profiles of hundreds of professions.

    • Interviews: Professors and deans sit down with our team to give you unique insights on college life.

    • Military Education: Find only Military friendly online schools and campuses.

    • Student Reviews: Know before you go. Read student reviews on over 2000 accredited colleges. Write your own experience.