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General English Literature

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2021 General English Literature Degree Guide

Do you love to lose yourself in a good book? If so, then English Language Literature may be the right major for you. Students study different types of literature from around the world. You will read a lot of different genres and authors. After exposing yourself to many different books, stories, poems, plays, and excerpts, you will develop skills to analyze them and research to support your opinions. You will think critically as you read and write when you examine the author, culture, time period, and genre of these incredible literary works.

Classes will vary depending on the university in which you attend. Typical English language literature will include both British and American literature, the history of the English language, children's literature, Shakespeare, literary criticism, time period literature, environmental literature, literature by ethnic minorities, literature by women, and poetry.

#22 Most Popular Major
42.7k Degrees Awarded
-1.7% Increase in Graduates

In 2018-2019, general English literature was the 22nd most popular major nationwide with 42,666 degrees awarded. This 704 less than the prior year, a decrease of 1.7%.

Approximately 1,432 colleges in the U.S. offer a general English literature degree of some kind. Our 2021 Best Colleges for General English Literature ranking analyzes 440 of these schools to determine the best overall colleges for general English literature students. Explore this or one of our many other custom English rankings further below.

General English Literature Degree Requirements

A passion for literature is crucial for success. You should love finding the deeper meaning in books, stories, plays, and poems. You will read, discuss, and write about various forms of literature in your classes. Be open to subjects that you do not necessarily excel in, one example is poetry. Your professors will help you learn how to analyze and understand new genres. Studying literature will open your mind to new perspectives and points of view. Classes will include discussion of literary works using examples from the text to back up your conclusions.

English majors spend the majority of their time reading, researching, writing, rewriting, and editing. Creativity and writing skills will help you finish your writing assignments, while time management skills will help you stay on top of your reading. Most assignments will be worked on individually with the occasional group project. Don't hesitate to start a study group with classmates to better understand difficult literature.

Any sort of experience writing and researching will help you in your classes and future career. Get involved in your school newspaper or yearbook, or volunteer as a peer tutor.

Prior Education for an English Program

general English literature degree applicants generally need have finished high school or their GED. Many schools may also have GPA and SAT/ACT score minimums that must be met. In addition to these basic general English literature program qualifications, to serve in some English careers, special certification may be required outside of your degree.

Types of General English Literature Degrees

English degree levels vary. You can get anything from a associate's degree in general English literature to the highest English degree, a research/scholarship based doctorate. How long it takes to complete some common English degree levels is shown below.

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 doctor's degree (research / scholarship) is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to English, with approximately 31.3% of workers getting one. Find out other typical degree levels for English workers below.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Doctoral Degree 30.0%
Bachelor’s Degree 28.7%
Master’s Degree 27.6%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate 8.0%
Less than a High School Diploma 4.6%

About 61.5% of workers in careers related to English obtain at least master's degree. View the chart below to get an idea of what degree level most of those in general English literature careers have.


The education level required is different depending on the English career you are seeking.

Career Opportunities for English Majors

Above Average Number of Jobs
$27.5k Average Starting Salary
8% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

There are many career opportunities for someone with an English Language Literature degree. You can go into almost any graduate program with a background in English because of your strong reading, writing, and thinking skills. If you love to write you could become a book author, write scripts for plays or television shows, poetry, magazines, or newspapers, find a job doing technical writing or even public relations. You would also be well-prepared to teach English at the middle and high school level or continue your education to become a university professor.

Employers tend to like English majors due to their superior critical thinking skills. Graduates have successfully found work in untraditional fields such as business, sales, entrepreneurship, marketing, social work or personal services.

Growth Projected for English Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your English degree? General English Literature careers are expected to grow 7.7% between 2016 and 2026.

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

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
High School Teachers 1,095,500 7.5%
English Language and Literature Professors 92,900 9.8%

How Much Money Do English Grads Make?

General English Literature graduates between 2015-2017 reported earning an average of $27,518 in the 2017-2018 timeframe. Earnings can range from as low as $12,900 to as high as $64,500. As you might expect, salaries for English graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


High Paying Careers for English Majors

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

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
English Language and Literature Professors $78,150
High School Teachers $64,340

Getting Your General English Literature Degree

With over 2,747 different English 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 school rankings to help you with this.

One of 3 majors within the English Language & Literature area of study, General English Literature has other similar majors worth exploring.

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

View All English Related Majors >


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