US Literaute

Find out what you'd learn in a U.S. or American literature degree program, including those available at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Explore some job options that you could pursue after earning a degree in U.S. literature.

Is U.S. Literature for Me?

Career Overview

U.S. literature, or American literature, is part of the English field of study and explores the richness and diversity of American authors and their writing. In an American literature degree program, you explore notable American authors, such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner. You develop critical thinking skills, a detailed knowledge of the English language and an ability to express yourself well in verbal or written form.

Career Options

With the skills and knowledge obtained through a degree program in American literature, you're prepared to pursue an advanced degree in law, medicine, library science or another related area. You may work as a reporter, copywriter, correspondent, editor, researcher or publicist. Your duties may include writing newsletters, advertising copy, business reports, speeches, scientific reports or magazine articles. You may be a teacher from the elementary to high school level or earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and become a literature professor.

Employment Projections and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that, as of May 2013, postsecondary English language and literature teachers had a median annual wage of $60,920, while editors earned $54,150. In the same month, reporters and correspondents had a median annual wage of $35,600. According to the BLS, postsecondary teachers will see a 19% growth in jobs nationwide between 2012 and 2022, while editors can expect minimal or no change in employment during the same 10-year period. A 13% decrease in employment is projected for reporters and correspondents from 2012 to 2022, as reported by the BLS (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in U.S. Literature?

Undergraduate Programs

U.S. and American literature degrees range from the bachelor's to the doctoral level. In a bachelor's degree program, you'll learn about high-profile authors and significant literary works from the 1800s to the present day. In particular, you'll have the chance to study the 19th- and 20th-century American novel, early American literature and the literature of the South. Courses in critical reading and writing can also be found in a U.S. literature program.

Graduate Programs

Completion of a Master of Science in Teaching with a concentration in English education program can help you obtain your state certification as a grade 6-12 teacher, as required by the majority of public schools. In addition to more in-depth studies of historical periods and genres, degree requirements include a written exam and thesis. If you have your eye on a professorship position in a university, you'll most likely need a Ph.D. in Literature. Degree requirements are similar to those associated with a master's program, in that you'll have to write and defend an original thesis, as well as pass comprehensive examinations.

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