Top English Masters Programs

A master's degree program in English allows you to study the historical, cultural and theoretical aspects of literature. Learn more about what three of the top ten schools have to offer in areas of specialization, program customization and award winning faculty members. You will also get a list of the top ten best performing schools in the nation. Schools offering English Language & Literature degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are the Qualities of a Top Graduate English Program?

English is a broad field that offers many areas of study, such as literary theory and criticism, colonial American literature, Victorian literature, African-American literature and creative writing. As you consider master's degree programs, look for schools that are ranked in your chosen English specialty. Not all top-ranked graduate schools for English offer master's programs, so you'll want to look for schools that offer master's degrees. You may also want to consider English programs that partner with other departments - such as women's studies, history, religion and film studies - to allow you to tailor the curriculum to your research interests.

Top-ranked English master's degree programs offer award-winning faculties that have been recognized for teaching excellence as well as their contribution to literary scholarship. These programs often award prizes for exemplary graduate student work.

What Are the Top Three Master's Degree Programs in English?

Columbia University in New York, NY

Columbia University was tied for the fourth-best overall graduate English program by U.S. News & World Report in 2013. Additionally, Columbia was listed in the top ten in almost all English specialty areas included in the same report. The English faculty has received numerous awards and fellowships, and most of the professors are published authors and editors.

Graduate students can request permission to take relevant courses from other departments. Depending on the quality of their work, students pursuing master's degrees may be nominated for departmental awards. The English and Comparative Literature Department at Columbia University offers two master's degree programs:

  • Master of Arts in English & Comparative Literature
  • Master of Philosophy in English & Comparative Literature

University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA

Tied with Columbia for an overall rank of fourth place on the 2013 U.S. News & World Report list of English graduate programs, the University of Pennsylvania's Department of English ranked third for medieval and Renaissance literature and also has a highly ranked American literature program. The English department faculty has received more teaching awards than any other department at the university. Several professors have received fellowships, and most have multiple publications to their credit. The English department encourages interdisciplinary study and has close ties with other departments.

  • Master of Arts in English

University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA

In 2013, U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Virginia tenth for its graduate English program, fifth in American literature to 1865 and second in 18th-20th Century British literature. Additionally, the graduate creative writing program was ranked seventh nationally by Poets & Writers in 2012. English professors at the University of Virginia have won numerous teaching awards, literary prizes and fellowships.

With approval, students in the master's degree program have the flexibility to design their own curriculum by taking courses from outside the English department. Graduate students at the University of Virginia can choose from the following degrees:

  • Master of Arts in English Literature
  • Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

Top 10 Colleges/Universities For Master's Degrees in English

College/University Institution TypeLocation
Cornell University4-year, PrivateIthaca, NY
Indiana University-Bloomington4-year, PublicBloomingson, IN
New York University4-year, PrivateNew York, NY
Northwestern University4-year, Private Evanston, IL
Pennsylvania State University4-year, PublicUniversity Park, PA
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign4-year, PublicUrbana, IL
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor4-year, PublicAnn Arbor, MI
University of Texas at Austin4-year, PublicAustin, TX
University of Wisconsin-Madison4-year, Public Madison, WI
Yale University4-year, PrivateNew Haven, CT

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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