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2021 English Language & Literature Degree Guide

If you love reading novels and writing you may want to choose a major in the field of English Language and Literature. This field of study involves reading significant works of fiction, as well as studying the history, structure, and use of language.

One of the most popular majors in this field is General English which focuses on the study of English language and literature as well as other subjects in the liberal arts. Students who love classic literature may want to major in Literature, while those who are more interested in writing can choose Writing Studies. Some colleges offer additional opportunities to choose concentrations.

Classes may differ depending on your major, but you can expect to be discussing ideas, reading literary criticisms, and be writing creative and analytical papers. While performing these activities, you will be taking courses in continental literature, history of English, linguistic analysis, creative writing, literary theory and criticism.

English Language & Literature Degrees Growing in Popularity

#16 Most Popular Major
59.3k Degrees Awarded
2.2% Increase in Graduates

English Language & Literature was the 16th most popular major in the 2018-2019 school year. Colleges in the United States reported awarding 59,299 degrees in this year alone. This represents a 2.2% increase in English language and literature degrees awarded over the prior year's total of 57,989.

Approximately 1,549 colleges in the U.S. offer a English language and literature degree of some kind. This year's Best Colleges for English Language & Literature ranking compares 430 of them to identify the best overall programs in the country. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of English language and literature programs later in this article.

What Are The Requirements For a Degree in English Language & Literature

Strong reading and writing skills are recommended in this field. You must be able to express your ideas and analysis efficiently in your written work and class participation, so work on both oral and written communication. Attention to detail and creativity are important talents because you will be making connections and comparisons.

If you are interested in pursuing a degree in English Language and Literature, students are advised to take prior courses in creative writing, literature, English language, and speech. Some student choose to continue their education with a Master's degree in this field.

Getting Accepted Into an English Language & Literature Program

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required for most English language and literature degree programs and many students will need a minimum GPA and SAT/ACT score depending on the school. Specific English language and literature careers may require a certain level of degree attainment or additional certifications beyond that.

Types of English Language & Literature Degrees

There are various different levels of English language and literature degrees. English Language & Literature programs offered by schools range from a associate's to a research/scholarship based doctorate, which is the highest English language and literature degree you can get. The type of English language and literature degree you choose will determine how long it takes to get your diploma.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to English language and literature, with approximately 47.2% of workers getting one. Find out other typical degree levels for English language and literature workers below.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 45.2%
Master’s Degree 15.4%
Doctoral Degree 13.4%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 6.5%
Some College Courses 6.0%

Most workers in English language and literature have at least a bachelor's degree. The chart below shows what degree level those who work in English language and literature have obtained.


This of course varies depending on which English language and literature career you choose.

Career Opportunities for English Language & Literature Majors

Above Average Number of Jobs
$27.9k Average Starting Salary
7% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

This is a broad field of study that can lead to many different career paths. Many graduates are interested in education and go on to become a secondary or postsecondary teacher. Some states require a Master's degree to teach.

Grads who love to write may become copy editors, copywriters, editors, technical writers, authors, marketers or public relations specialists. Copywriters write ads and articles to attract consumers to buy products and services. Public relations specialists help promote organizations and individuals. Technical writers construct manuals and instructions for consumers and businesses related, related to science and technology.

Interested in additional education? Some graduates use a background in English as a stepping stone to an advanced degree. Students may go on to obtain Master's degrees in English, law, political science or other related subjects.

Growth Projected for English Language & Literature Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your English language and literature degree? English Language & Literature careers are expected to grow 7.3% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to English language and literature.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
High School Teachers 1,095,500 7.5%
Professors 258,700 9.4%
Writers and Authors 141,200 7.6%
Editors 125,600 -1.4%
English Language and Literature Professors 92,900 9.8%

English Language & Literature Degree Salary Potential

English Language & Literature graduates between 2015-2017 reported earning an average of $27,868 in the 2017-2018 timeframe. Earnings can range from as low as $12,300 to as high as $68,600. As you might expect, salaries for English language and literature graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


Highest Paid English Language & Literature Careers

Salaries for English language and literature graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers English language and literature grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
English Language and Literature Professors $78,150
Professors $76,990
Technical Writers $75,500
Writers and Authors $73,090
Editors $69,480

Getting Your English Language & Literature Degree

With over 4,425 different English language and literature degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased English language and literature school rankings to help you with this.

English Language & Literature Majors to Study

Major Annual Graduates
General English Literature 42,666
Writing Studies 14,629
English Literature (Other) 1,163
Literature 841

View All English Language & Literature Related Majors >

Related Major Annual Graduates
Liberal Arts / Sciences & Humanities 547,539
Visual & Performing Arts 153,295
Foreign Languages & Linguistics 34,386
Theology & Religious Vocations 32,172
Philosophy & Religious Studies 16,252

View All English Language & Literature Related Majors >


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