Literature Degrees

In a literature degree program, you'll read and analyze stories, novels and poetry from a variety of historical time periods and cultures. Bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs are available in literature. Explore typical coursework and specializations in this field, like world literature. Get info about online programs, and review the job options and salary potential for those with literature degrees. Schools offering English Language & Literature degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Degree Programs Are Available in Literature?

Literature degree programs are available at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral level. Bachelor's degree programs are available in English literature or literature, language and writing. Master's programs are available in arts, literature and culture, as well as comparative literature. You can also earn a doctoral degree in comparative literature or literature and creative writing.

Degree Levels Bachelor's, master's and doctoral
Learning Environment Traditional classroom; fully online and hybrid programs are available
Prerequisites Varies, depending upon program of study; bachelor degree programs require a high school diploma or equivalent
Possible Careers Teacher, writer, editor
Median Salary (2018)$62,170 (Writers and Authors)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)8% growth (Writers and Authors)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Are Online Programs Available?

Some online literature programs are available at the bachelor's and master's levels. Some programs are offered entirely online; others include a combination of online and campus-based courses. You'll watch videos, complete assignments and access your syllabus through an online software platform like Blackboard or Angel. You can interact with your professors and classmates through discussion boards. You may be able to work on group projects and check your grades online as well.

What Will I Learn?

Some bachelor's programs require completion of an associate's degree prior to admission, but for most you'll only need a high school diploma. Your core courses may teach you how to read, write and interpret poetry, short stories or novels; you'll also study world literature, American literature and British literature. Some schools allow you to select a specialization in literature or writing.

Master's degree programs may include courses in avant-garde literature, religious poetry or children's literature. Additional topics might include Greek mythology or English Romanticism. You may have to research, write and defend a thesis pertaining to a literature topic in order to graduate.

Admissions requirements for doctoral programs vary; many programs require a bachelor's degree, while others may require a master's degree in literature or English. Additional prerequisites could include proficiency in a foreign language and submission of a writing sample. You'll need to write a dissertation in order to complete most doctoral programs. Common courses might include:

  • Political implications of literature
  • Ancient Greece and Rome
  • Translating literary documents
  • Literary theories
  • Medieval Latin texts
  • Worldwide storytelling techniques

How Can I Use My Degree?

Earning a bachelor's or master's degree in literature might prepare you for employment as a writer or editor. You could work for a newspaper, magazine, information services company or educational organization. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), editors earned a median annual salary of $59,480 in 2018 ( During the same period, writers and authors earned a median annual wage of $62,170.

Completion of a doctoral program may lead to work as a college professor. In 2018, postsecondary English language and literature teachers earned a median annual salary of $66,590, as noted by the BLS.

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:

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