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Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs in English

Rankings, Salaries & Courses

Updated on: 12/04/2018
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English programs guide students toward writing excellency and literary understanding. Degree seekers learn how to organize their thoughts in specific formats, such as thesis statements for research papers and vivid settings for fictional works. They also study literary concepts and learn to analyze classical works. These insights equip learners to write for a variety of purposes, and to help others understand in-depth literary ideas.

English graduates can pursue nontraditional, online professions, such as writing for digital publications rather than print newspapers. They might also self-publish their own novels, create blog posts, and craft video scripts for web channels. Distance learning prepares English majors for these types of writing careers by giving them experience with working and communicating remotely.

This page covers online English degrees and careers, with information on job outlooks, salaries, program curricula, concentration options, and financial aid opportunities.

How Much Can You Make in an English Career?

Online English degree holders can explore careers related to book publication, speech construction, instructional guides, and marketing plans. These graduates can also write television screenplays, play scripts, biographies, and press releases, or pursue an English graduate degree to teach literary concepts in college classrooms.

The following chart provides salary and job growth details for bachelor’s-level careers in the field. English majors who want to earn more than $100,000 per year might use their program electives to prepare for a career in public relations management. Note; however, that a degree does not guarantee a particular career or salary.

Job Growth 2016-2026: -1%
Job Description

Editors review documents for grammar, accuracy, and clarity. These workers make corrections and provide feedback for writers. Additional responsibilities include choosing which pieces to publish, in what order to publish them, and how much room each piece requires. Editors perform these tasks for newspapers, books, websites, and magazines. Earning an English bachelor’s degree online prepares candidates for these positions.

Job Growth 2016-2026: 8%
Job Description

Writers may create web content, marketing content, books, or poetry, among other nonfiction and fiction works. Authors explore fictional and nonfictional subjects and research related topics as needed. For example, an author writing a story based in Norway should understand the country’s geography and customs. Companies hiring writers often look for a bachelor’s in English or a similar field.

Job Growth 2016-2026: 9%
Job Description

These specialists promote positive images for clients by communicating with media contacts and creating press releases and speeches. PR specialists decide which advertising options fit their company’s public image and guide clients in engaging with the public. Candidates should hold a bachelor’s in a PR-related field, such as English.

Job Growth 2016-2026: 11%
Job Description

These workers write instructional pieces, including how-to guides, that explain complicated concepts in simple terms. Writers may use drawings, photographs, and charts to help readers process information. Writers must update instructional guides over time, keeping consumer responses to products in mind. Candidates should hold a bachelor’s degree, and potential field experience related to the product, such as computer experience for creating software instructions.

Job Growth 2016-2026: 10%
Job Description

These managers help clients maintain positive public images by assessing goals and searching for promotional strategies. These workers explore funding options and guide interactions between clients and consumers. Managers construct press releases, pursue grants, guide company staff, and plan fundraising events. Companies require a bachelor’s for these positions, but some organizations may insist on a master’s.

Sources: BLS 2018

Salaries vary based on several factors, particularly geographical location. For instance, editors who live in high-cost areas may earn more than those in low-cost locations. Advanced degrees may further increase your earning potential.

The District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and New York pay editors more, on average, than other states, and areas near San Francisco and Redwood City also offer high pay. The District of Columbia, New York, and Virginia host the highest concentrations of editing jobs. Financial investment opportunities provide the highest pay for editors, and publishers offer the highest career concentration.

The below information helps candidates choose lucrative positions in their areas and find other living areas with employment potential.

What Courses Can be Taken for an Online English Degree?

Students working toward a bachelor’s in English encounter writing and literature courses, as well as general requirements and electives. Degree requirements may vary based on your concentration. For example, students who specialize in media writing may face coursework on constructing magazine pieces, biographical works, and internet publications, while a creative writing focus may involve poetry, screenplays, and short story classes. Still, a few common themes — such as genre examinations, literary periods, and insights on the English language — surface across programs.

Introduction to Literature

These courses present learners with foundational literature concepts, such as genre characteristics and field vocabulary. Candidates learn to determine literary meaning based on techniques, structure, and theories.

English Composition

English composition courses guide students in writing particular documents, such as argumentative pieces, or educate learners on multiple writing types, including research papers and personal essays. Candidates use this information to organize papers throughout the program and in professional settings.

British Literature

Learners explore British authors and works through historical and cultural contexts. Often, departments offer this information in two courses, requiring students to write analytical reactions to relevant pieces. Programs may also offer similar courses for American literature.

Fiction Writing

Students learn the basic elements of fiction, such as plot, perspective, character building, setting, and genres. Coursework may include examining popular fictional works and constructing original pieces.

History of the English Language

Learners explore the evolution of English, along with written works from different language periods. Students consider the historical, cultural, and social context of language, as well as syntax and semantics.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions on Courses and Careers in Best Online English Program

Students should consider their career goals in choosing an English program. For example, learners who want to teach literature might prefer programs that focus on analyzing written works, while those who want to write short stories might select a creative writing concentration. Students should account for prospective schools’ accreditation, reputation, and faculty, since these details influence degree value. Candidates should also think about program cost.

How will studying online impact my degree?

Many schools offer the same coursework for on-campus and online learners, and most English programs do not require an internship or practicum. For these reasons, students can usually complete an English degree online without issue. Furthermore, degrees and transcripts for online programs may look similar to credentials earned by on-campus learners, with no mention of distance learning. However, these details may vary by institution, so degree seekers should ask their schools for more information.

Will there be a capstone project?

Some programs require a capstone project, which require students to create a portfolio or complete a major research project. Some institutions insist that English majors complete senior seminars, while others may not require a wrap-up course at all. For specific information, degree seekers should review their department’s program requirements.

How do I decide what classes to take?

Each department requires its own set of courses for online English students, but most allow students to choose their own field-related electives. For these requirements, degree seekers should select classes that cater to individual goals. For example, learners interested in pursuing further study of Mark Twain might dedicate an upper-level English elective to a course focused on this author.

What should I look for in department faculty?

Some professional authors and writers may teach college courses. Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English under the guidance of such professors gain professional writing, publishing, and marketing insights. For instance, a hopeful science fiction writer can look for published science fiction authors among faculty. Moreover, a candidate can seek out faculty with academic specializations that match their personal interest, such as Shakespeare, newswriting, or American literature.

Will this degree help me achieve my career goals?

Some English-related careers, such as public relations and editing positions, may require a bachelor’s degree. Fictional book authors, on the other hand, do not need a bachelor’s to earn a publishing contract. However, candidates can build notoriety by writing for companies that require a degree, which may translate into book sales and successful careers as published authors. In these cases, a bachelor’s degree can assist in career development even when it is not required for a particular position.

Scholarships & Financial Aid for English Programs

Pursuing an online bachelor’s degree in English incurs tuition and textbook expenses, as well as academic fees. Students who cannot afford these costs might explore financial assistance methods, including tuition reimbursement plans from employers and private and federal loans. Not all companies offer reimbursement opportunities, and student loans can take years to repay. For these reasons, college students often prefer grants and scholarships that require no repayment, such as the following scholarships for English majors.

Aspiring Literary Scholar Award

Freshmen, sophomores, and juniors at historically black colleges or universities should apply for this award from Go On Girl! Book Club. Applicants must hold a 2.5 GPA and craft an essay concerning the impact of writing. Recipients earn $1,000, and may attend the group’s yearly award event. The organization also publishes the recipient’s writing in a journal and newsletter, and supports the writer on its website.

Bill Walsh Scholarship

Undergraduate juniors and seniors, along with graduate learners, may qualify for funding from the American Copy Editors Society (ACES). Candidates must intend to work in news. Applicants submit a resume, three references, and verification of editing experience. Applicants must also respond to an essay prompt and supply evidence of news reporting skills by creating headlines and revising a portion of a news report. Recipients may not reapply for this funding. ACES states no specific amount for this scholarship.

Helen McCloy Scholarship

Mystery writers may apply for this scholarship to attend workshops, seminars, or higher education programs to improve their writing skills through review and critique. Applicants must submit information about their intended program, plus a writing example and an explanation of their fascination with mystery. Scholarships start at $500.

Mary Shelley Scholarship

The Horror Writers Association presents this scholarship to female authors in the genre. Recipients may use the $2,500 award to pursue writing education, including textbooks, or to participate in professional opportunities, such as writing conventions. Applicants must create an outline of how they intend to use the award. Recipients should also supply a biography and photograph, and participate in interviews to promote the scholarship.

The Richard G. Zimmerman Journalism Scholarship

High school students intending to become journalists may qualify for this scholarship. Applicants must hold a 3.0 GPA and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, a transcript, and recommendation letters. They must also supply three examples of written or visual journalistic pieces. Candidates should also provide an acceptance letter from a college or university. Students may only receive this scholarship once.