Master's Degrees in Literature: Online and Campus-Based Programs

Literature master's degree programs allow you a high level of flexibility in choosing a specialization; for example, you could study literature from a particular historical period, world region or genre. Read about what you might study in a master's program, and learn about admission prerequisites and employment prospects. Schools offering English Language & Literature degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Will I Study in a Master's Degree in Literature Program?

A wide variety of graduate literature programs are available. You can choose to narrow your focus, concentrating, for example, on the analysis of children's literature, examining things like 'boy books' versus 'girl books'. If you choose to pursue comparative literature, you might study topics like modern versus classic novels, folklore or even mythology. You could also study translations of texts to and from English, or the impact of other cultures on English literature. You might choose to focus solely on British or American literature or specialize in literature from another part of the world.

To enhance your literature studies, you can take complementary classes in additional subjects. For example, you can take education classes if you want to teach. You might take history classes if you want to focus on a particular time period, to better understand a piece of literature's historical context. Other areas could include communication, art or even film.

Concentration Options Children's literature analysis, comparative literature, British or American literature
Prerequisites Writing sample, bachelor's degree with minimum number of English credits; proficiency in another language may be required for certain programs
Online Availability Online programs are available with possible on-campus requirements
Career Options Librarian, writer, book critic, editor, teacher
Median Salary (2018)$62,170* (for writers and authors)
Job Outlook (2016-26)8% growth* (for all writers and authors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Prerequisites?

Prerequisites are usually the same for on-campus and online programs. Many programs require the completion of a minimum number of upper level English classes at the bachelor's degree level, and some require a major or minor in English, literature or related topic. Depending on your field of interest, you may need to demonstrate proficiency in a second or even third language. Many programs will also require you to submit a writing sample. The writing sample is usually 10-20 pages of your best work and can be fiction, non-fiction or even poetry.

Can I Complete the Program Online?

There are programs that offer courses online but also include some on-campus requirements, and other programs that are available completely online. If you choose to complete your degree in person, you may have more course options to choose from, as some of the classes offered on campus may not be offered online. As a result, it may take you longer to complete your degree than if you attended the program in person.

Whether you attend online or in person, you will have to meet the same graduation requirements. You will need to complete anywhere from 33-40 credit hours. Most programs can be completed in less than three years if you attend full-time, and in no more than five years if you attend part-time or online. Many programs have thesis and non-thesis options, and you may also have to pass a comprehensive examination to complete the program.

What Can I Do With This Degree?

Though you may think you are limited to career choices like writer or teacher, some graduates with a master's degree in literature go on to become editors, book critics and even librarians. You may be surprised to discover that what you learn during the program can be applied to many professions. Many of the skills you develop, like being able to conduct efficient research, think critically and write persuasively, are skills employers in many professions seek in applicants. You might also choose to continue your studies through a doctoral program in the field.

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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