Top Online English Degree

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In an online English degree program, you will often study U.S., British and world literature in depth. You will pursue a strong focus on the English language. And, you will also study grammar and composition.

Some programs will help you learn the English language from the inside out. As such, you will touch on lesson planning and teaching tactics. In others, you will focus on clear writing and research. You will also learn critical methods for skillful communication.



A.A. in English

B.A. in English

M.A. in English

In an Associate’s program, you will gain a solid base in literature, poetry and critical theory principles. At the same time, it gets into writing skills for different uses. These span business, media, web, fiction and creative writing.This program focuses on reading, writing and critical thinking. It will expose you to theory, linguistics, and composition, in addition to surveys of literature.Many M.A. programs provide you with options for intensive study in critical theory, cultural theory, and film theory. You could also explore interdisciplinary methods, minority literature, and women’s studies. Traditional areas of study include Renaissance, eighteenth century, nineteenth century, modern, and contemporary literature, as well as rhetoric and composition.
Course Examples:

  • Advanced Reading
  • Critical Thinking
  • World Literature
Course Examples:

  • Elements of Journalism
  • American Literature
  • Business and Professional Writing
Course Examples:

  • British Literature
  • American Literature
  • Methods in Cinema and Media Studies


Most online English degree programs are 120 credits. Of these, over half may be general education courses. The others are set up around your major and electives.

To cap your studies, you may need to hand in a final project. Or, you could put in some hours inside a classroom to practice teaching English, if that was your focus.

Many programs will have book lists which may expose you to the basic elements of fiction, poetry, and drama. Common themes include the literary works of British and American authors.

Apart from reading English literature, you will often study the art of perception. You will look at literature within a context like gender, race, and religion. Then, you will apply these ideas in order to understand the author’s style, message, and techniques.

While you learn to read with a critical eye, you’ll likely learn to write an effective narrative. Courses usually help you learn to persuade readers. This often means learning how to follow a line of thinking and edit your writing, so it is clear and concise.

If you’re interested in writing, your study plan may allow you some choice in this area. This may be to develop skills for science writing or to learn how to tell a story. A class (or 2) in English composition may help you in this area.

In composition classes, you will learn how to analyze, develop and organize your thoughts. Or, you could adapt your style to different audiences. At the end of your studies, you may be able to use library resources to support your ideas.

Writing classes may ask you to take part in workshops with your instructors and peers. They will often help you to learn the ins and outs of giving and receiving feedback.


English courses you take may deal with the language itself. In these classes, you may cover form and function. Some topics may cover the theories of how we form language skills. In others, you may touch on the uses of language in a specific context like law, politics or propaganda.

There are several kinds of online English programs to look for. The one you choose should reflect your goals.

  • Do you want to teach English to young children?
  • Are you hoping to teach at the university level?
  • Would you like to prepare to teach English as a Second Language (ESL)?
  • Are you an aspiring author, journalist or editor?

We’ll walk you through 4 classes common to English programs as well as popular types of English programs. This may be useful as you frame your interests and objectives.

Some common courses include:

English Composition: This class looks at the skills that go into planning, writing and editing an essay. Some of the topics look at sentence structure and grammar. Others touch on how to backup your ideas with clear statements and conclusions.

Intro to the English Language: This class studies the structure and history of the English language. Some topics may get into linguistic and comparative grammar. Others may look at how we use language in society.

Creative Writing: This class may help you stretch your wings as an author. You’ll often study and practice writing fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. At the same time, you’ll often join workshops where you’ll learn how to critique creative works.

Principles in Journalism: This class provides an overview of Journalistic principles and ethical practices. The course also covers news reporting, feature writing, beat reporting and writing for the web.


If you are a full time student, pursuing an English degree online may take you about 4 years. This is about the time it would take you to complete a 120 credit B.A. degree. Do you want to earn your English degree in less time? Then, you can find out whether your school accepts transfer credits. If you are eligible, many will allow you to transfer up to 90 credits, which means you will need less time. Graduate programs may take you about 1 to 2 years (M.A.) and 4 to 6 years (Ph.D.).



School# of Credits RequiredStart DatesMinimum Months to Complete
Regent University120+Multiple4 years or less
Ashford University120Multiple4 years or less
Grand Canyon University120Multiple4 years or less


You can see that reports show the average in state cost for pursuing an English degree at a public institution is $6,928. The average out of state cost at a private institution, you will find, is $31,949.

Since these are norms, you will find programs that are more expensive, and ones that may cost less. Also, if you are able to transfer credits into your program, you will have fewer to pay for. In the table below, you can see the cost per credit of several schools where you might pursue a B.A. in English degree online.

School# of Credits RequiredCost Per CreditTotal Tuition Cost
University of Massachusetts Online (U Mass) B.A. in English120$380$45,600
Regent University B.A. in English, History120$395$47,400
Liberty University B.S. Teaching English as a Second Language120$390$46,800


Last check, you can see, the largest share of institutions that offer General English Language & Literature degrees are private, not for profit, 4 year or above institutions. From those schools, you can see, there were 59,230 degrees awarded to students. The majority of these programs were B.A. degrees.

School2017 Degrees awarded2019/20 Tuition (out of state unless *)
Southern New Hampshire University963$31,136*
Florida State University514$18,786
University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Campus457$33,746
University of Minnesota Twin Cities428$33,325
George Mason University424$36,024
Full Sail University378$24,513*
Texas State University366$22,397
The University of Texas at Austin364$38,326
SUNY at Albany356$27,766
University of California Berkeley355$44,007

*Estimated for full time, beginning undergrad students


As you decide on where to earn your online degree in English, it may be to your benefit to look at accredited schools. Do you know what accreditation is? Well, it is one way of saying, ‘quality control.’ It shows that your college or university meets standards.

Attending an accredited school means you will be able to apply for financial aid. You will also be able to apply to grad school. You will find that accredited universities will check where you earned any prior degree(s).

Most schools with English degree programs, you will find, are regionally accredited. You can see there are six regional agencies in the U.S., each covering a specific region. And, you will find, that they are, in turn, given the ability to accredit schools by an agency. Two you should know are:

  • DOE U.S. Department of Education
  • CHEA Council for Higher Education Accreditation

Once accredited, you will find that a school must maintain its status. What does that mean? Well, it means your school must submit every few years (e.g. 7 to 10) to a peer review. It is simple for you to verify the status of a school offering an online English degree program. All you need to do is check the list of accredited schools on agency websites.

Do you plan to pursue any extra credentials, like a teaching certificate? If so, you will want to check that you enroll in a state approved teacher education program.


You will find the number of English graduates in the workforce to be 1.49 million and growing by 1.84%. This is not surprising given the potential versatility you will have with the degree.

The majority  you will find, work for Elementary and Secondary Schools. You will also find high numbers of English graduates in the following industries:

  • Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools including Junior Colleges
  • Legal Services
  • Hospitals
  • Insurance Carriers and Related Activities

You will find that most people in the workforce are 43.7 years old and have a B.S. degree. You will also find they are more likely to be women.


The visual below shows the states where salaries for Technical Writers are highest.

StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
District of Columbia660$86,120


Your salary as an English professional is largely decided by your specific job title. It will also depend on your level of education, your experience and your skill. You could consider the following careers, with statistics compiled by the U.S. BLS in 2016.


As a writer or author, you would develop written content for various types of media, including advertisements, books, magazines, movies, plays and television scripts, and blogs.

Median Salary: $61,170 per year

Job Growth Through 2028: 0% (No change)

Typical Entry level Education: Bachelor’s degree.


As a public relations specialist, you would create and maintain a favorable public image for the organization you represent. You would craft media releases. You would also develop social media programs in order to shape public perception of your organization. Your goal would also be to increase the awareness of your company’s work and goals.

Median Salary: $60,000 per year

Job Growth Through 2028: 6% (As fast as avg.)

Typical Entry level Education: Bachelor’s degree.


As a technical writer, also called technical communicator, you would prepare instruction manuals, how to guides, journal articles, and other supporting documents. Your purpose would be to communicate complex and technical information more easily. You would also develop, gather, and disseminate technical information through an organization’s communications channels.

Median Salary: $71,850 per year

Job Growth Through 2028: 8% (Faster than avg.)

Typical Entry level Education: Bachelor’s degree

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Sources for school statistics is the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

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This is an offer for educational opportunities that may lead to employment and not an offer for nor a guarantee of employment. Students should consult with a representative from the school they select to learn more about career opportunities in that field. Program outcomes vary according to each institution’s specific program curriculum. Financial aid may be available to those who qualify. The financial aid information on this site is for informational and research purposes only and is not an assurance of financial aid.