English Literary Studies

Learn how an English literary studies program can lead to a career in academia or publishing. Find information about job growth and salary here, and make an informed decision about your education.

Are English Literary Studies for Me?

Overview of the Field

The study of English literature and language can lead to a variety of careers across a wide-range of fields, such as teaching, publishing marketing or public relations. An undergraduate program can also help you prepare for graduate studies and a position as a college or university professor.

Career Options

Although some of the careers associated with an English language and literature major can be extremely competitive, such as editing and technical writing, your skill-set and interests may be compatible with new and emerging fields like Internet publishing. You might also consider a more traditional field, such as teaching.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities are expected to increase by an average rate for kindergarten, elementary and middle school teachers nationwide between 2012 and 2022. As reported by the BLS in May 2013, elementary and middle school teachers earned median yearly salaries of $53,590 and $53,940, respectively. A slower-than-average increase in job openings is projected for high school teachers from 2012-2022, while those at the postsecondary can look forward to a faster-than-average growth in employment in the same period. As of May 2013, high school teachers had a median yearly income of $55,360, while postsecondary teachers of English language and literature were paid $60,920 a year.

Many English majors go on to become editors and writers, who earned corresponding median yearly salaries of $54,150 and $57,740 in May 2013, as reported by the BLS. The BLS has projected a slower-than-average growth in jobs for writers between 2012 and 2022; editors can expect minimal change in employment in the same period (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Become an English Literary Studies Specialist ?

Educational Options

It can take as little as two years to earn an associate degree in English. English bachelor's programs take about four years to complete, while master's programs are generally two years in length. Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in English programs can take anywhere from 3-7 years beyond a bachelor's degree, depending on full-time or part-time enrollment and the length of the dissertation process.


As an English student, you'll most likely take courses in composition, literary theory and linguistics. Many schools allow for concentrations in medieval or world literature, creative writing or technical writing, among other subjects. Aspiring elementary, middle school and high school teachers with a specialization in English also take required education courses and complete student-teaching experiences at the bachelor's and master's degree levels.

Complimentary Areas of Study

Some students also choose to complete diplomas or certificates in complementary fields, including public relations, communications or ethnic studies. For instance, an ESL teaching certification program can prepare you for state licensure, while a certificate program in technical writing can help you acquire the skills you need to write complex content for non-technical readers. You can also expand your understanding of English literary works through free online literature courses.

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