English is an exceptionally broad field that leads to careers in writing, editing and teaching. English programs teach writing conventions like spelling, grammar and syntax rules. They also examine literature and the history of the English language. You can study English at the undergraduate and graduate levels. If you choose to study English, you must have a passion for writing and a natural way with words. In addition, you will be more likely to succeed if you are analytical, self-motivated and willing to work hard to meet deadlines. Keep in mind that if you want to be a writer, you will face stiff competition for salaried jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of all writers and editors are self-employed freelancers rather than salaried employees. But even if you choose not to become an English professional, writing is a part of many jobs. People with English degrees often work in fields like marketing, business or communications.
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Check the Guide to Accreditation in Higher Education to learn more about accreditation and how to determine if the program you select meets the necessary standards.
A few schools offer an Associate of Arts (AA) in English, although this is not a very common degree path. Keep in mind that your professional options will be very limited if you choose not to earn more education. The best use of an associate degree in English is to prepare you to transfer into a bachelor’s degree program.
A Bachelor of Arts in English (BA) in English includes many literature and writing classes to give you a broad background in many types of writing. This is the most common option for people who study English and it is a good choice if you want to work as an English professional or go to graduate school.
A Bachelor of Science (BS) in English has more business writing classes to give you a foundation in technical writing. This degree is a good choice if you want to work in fields like journalism, marketing or public relations.
A Master of Arts (MA) in English offers intensive study of literature and literary criticism. This is a good choice if you want to continue in graduate school and earn a doctorate.
A Master of Science (MS) in English has advanced literature and education classes. The MS degree is best if you are a high school teacher and you want to advance your career with a graduate education.
A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in English focuses on specific areas of creative writing like fiction, poetry, drama or creative nonfiction. MFA degrees are terminal degrees, which means that you can teach university English courses after completing degree requirements.
A Doctoral Degree in English (PhD) is the most prestigious degree that English professionals can earn. This degree is intended for people who want to become university professors. English PhD candidates usually choose a focus area like a specific time period, genre or author to research.
Use this directory to find English programs
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of writers and authors is expected to grow by 6 percent through 2020, which is slower than the national average projected for all jobs. On the other hand, editors held about 129,600 jobs. Of those jobs, about 12 percent of editors were self-employed. Job prospects for editors will grow at approximately the same rate as writers. People who want to work in the writing business can expect stiff competition for jobs, and those who have experience writing for the web will have the best prospects.
With a degree in English, you are qualified for a wide range of fields and jobs, including:
American Copy Editors Association
American Society of Business Publication Editors
American Society of Journalists and Authors
The Association of Writers and Writing Programs
Editorial Freelancers Association
National Association of Independent Writers and Editors
National Council of English Teachers
National Writers Association
National Writers Union
Screenwriters Federation of America