Graduate Programs for English Majors

Graduate programs in English can broaden your career possibilities. Find out how to select a graduate school, and learn what financial aid programs are available for graduate students. Explore the variety of course topics you can study in an English program. Schools offering English Language & Literature degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Those pursuing English at the graduate and doctoral level will have a variety of programs available to them based on their area of focus. Master of Arts, Master of Fine Arts and Doctor of Philosophy programs are all available. It is recommended that you choose a school and degree program based on your desired career.

Areas Literature, Creative Writing, Academics
Programs Master of Arts, Master of Fine Arts, Doctor of Philosophy
Courses Examples include cultural literature, comparative language studies, fiction and non-fiction writing
Schools Look for a school that matches your career goals

What Master's Programs Can I Find?

Depending on your interests, many English programs offer education in several areas, including literature, creative writing and academics. As an author or student of literature, Master of Arts and Master of Fine Arts programs teach you how to develop your writing and analytical skills. These programs may be offered as a one-year degree. A language exam and a thesis might be required. For a master's degree in creative writing, you might complete a manuscript in addition to creative writing workshops and internship opportunities.

What About Doctoral Programs?

As a graduate student in English, you may also choose to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), typically leading to a career in academia. Concentrations may be available to suit your learning interests in areas like postcolonialism, feminism and African American literature. A dissertation might also be required for the completion of your degree.

What Will I Learn?

Both master's and doctoral degree programs include quite a bit of research in their curricula. Courses in literature examine many types of literary styles, eras and genres. Most graduate programs also require a proficiency in at least one foreign language. If you enroll in a doctoral program, schools generally expect you to participate in some undergraduate teaching during the program. A few examples of graduate English courses include:

  • Literature throughout history
  • Cultural literature
  • Fiction and non-fiction writing
  • Critical studies of American literature
  • Linguistic style of the English language
  • Comparative language studies
  • Bilingual and bi-cultural studies for educators

How Do I Select a Graduate School?

Your career goal plays an important factor in the type of graduate program you choose. Some schools offer more creative writing courses, while others include a higher degree of linguistic training. If your interest lies in teaching, either domestically or in a foreign country, look for a program that offers study abroad opportunities. Additionally, many schools contribute financially to graduate studies. If you're looking for a way to fund your graduate education, inquire about financial assistance, fellowships, stipends or work-study programs available to English graduate students.

What Kind of Financial Aid Can I Find?

You can find many federal and private student loans to help you pay for school. However, many schools and organizations offer graduate students free financial assistance in the form of grants, annual stipends or fellowships. Very few organizations specify an English concentration as criteria; however, many graduate schools and English departments offer awards to graduate students of English. Check with your school's English department to find out if any special financial programs are available to you.

If your interest lies in academia or teaching English in a foreign country, you may find more sources for free student funding outside of the university. The U.S. Department of Education reports teacher shortages throughout the United States, and schools often receive federal incentives for graduating new educators that may be passed on to graduate students ( Additionally, you may also directly qualify for free money from federal, non-profit and private organizations, such as:

  • Institute of International Education: foreign assistantships for English teachers (
  • Council of International Education Exchange: study abroad programs in 40 different countries (
  • International Reading Association: various literacy and teaching grants (
  • International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language: several scholarships for English language teachers (

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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