What Is the Career Impact of an MA in English?

With a variety of graduate degree programs related to literature, professional writing, creative writing, language arts, and communications, how do you know which is the best option for you? If your long-term career goals fall into these general areas, a master’s in English might be among the degrees you’re considering. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the MA in English. 

Graduate Degrees and Why They Matter

Before we get into the specifics of a master’s in English, let’s first talk about graduate degrees in general. In today’s competitive workforce, a bachelor’s degree sometimes isn’t enough to stand out among other similarly qualified candidates. In fact, many academic and business publications have referred to a master’s degree “as the new bachelor’s degree.” 

When it comes to higher-level degrees, you’ll see two main categories: master’s and doctoral degrees. Master’s degrees, in general, provide specialized education, a deeper dive into one subject or career area. While there are many types of master’s degrees, the two you might be most familiar with are the master of arts and the master of science. 

Among master’s programs, you’ll find degrees that focus on academic research and others that focus on the profession. Often, students choose a research-based master’s if they plan to continue on to a Ph.D. program. On the professional side is where you’d find the master of business administration (MBA) or a master’s in social work, for instance. 

Typically, a master’s degree program culminates with a thesis project, also sometimes called a capstone. This gives you a chance to choose an aspect of your field to investigate further or to create something tangible that you can put on your resume or show to potential employers.   

The Master’s of English: A Closer Look

If you want to study English at the graduate level, you’re most likely to pursue a master of arts degree, such as the MA in English program at National University. Graduate English programs vary from school to school, but most will focus on literature, language, critical reading, writing, research, and rhetoric. Some programs offer concentrations in more specific areas of interest. For example, National is known for its specialization in Gothic Studies. 

Graduate English programs often cover a wide range of territory. This gives students the chance to take classes in a specific genre or classes that explore a particular time period, author, theme, or movement. At National, this personalization is possible with a variety of electives and concentrations (including the aforementioned Gothic Studies as well as Rhetoric). Aside from core requirements, such as the Seminar in Literary Theory, National students can pick from classes that interest them. For example, students in the Rhetoric concentration can explore not just text, but also cinema. National’s assortment of film studies courses includes closer looks at genres, including silent films and horror movies. 

Because many English graduate students desire to teach at the high school or two-year college level, an MA in English usually offers courses in pedagogy, or teaching methods and theories. 

Graduate programs typically take between one to three years to complete. Online degree programs geared toward working professionals, such as those at National, are designed to be completed in an accelerated manner. 

An MA in English Offers More than You Might Think

You might be drawn to a master’s of English online degree program for your love of literature, but you will graduate with skills in demand by employers of all kinds. With a command of the written word, an eye for detail, an ability to think critically, a knack for research, and the know-how to communicate effectively both orally and electronically, you’ll be prepared for careers in business, publishing, media, advertising, law, technology, and more. 

In fact, many law school students studied English at the undergraduate level because of the primer it gives them for language and formulating opinions. Those with a master’s in English might also wish to pursue a law degree as an alternative to going into a Ph.D. program. 

What Can You Do With a Master’s in English?

As noted throughout this post, an MA in English opens you up to more career options than most might think. With a graduate degree, you might be qualified for higher-level positions or be able to start at a higher salary. Aside from the general benefits of a master’s degree itself, focusing on English also lends itself to career titles such as:

  • Copywriter.
  • Technical writer.
  • Public relations specialist.
  • Marketing specialist.
  • Editor.
  • Grant writer.
  • Secondary English teacher (with appropriate certification).
  • Adjunct English instructor

A master’s in English is a versatile online degree that can help advance your career. To learn more about pursuing graduate-level education in this area, visit National University’s MA in English program page here.

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