Earning a master’s degree in English allows you to continue your bachelor’s degree education to learn more about literature, writing, and language.

But just what can you expect in this kind of degree program? Let’s take a look at what master’s degrees in English are like.

Masters in English – The Prerequisites

Before you can join a masters in English program, you must first complete a bachelor’s degree in English or a related topic. At some colleges, you can enter a five-year master’s program in this field, where you’ll earn both your bachelor’s and master’s degree at a single school. Otherwise, it will take about six years to earn your master’s degree – four years to get your bachelor’s and an additional two to earn your master’s. Before you can enter a master’s degree program, you may have to take graduate school standardized tests, and keep in mind that most accredited schools require you to have a certain GPA as an undergraduate to be considered.

Additionally, the courses you took as part of your bachelor’s degree will be evaluated as part of your application. The admissions department will look at your previous coursework to determine your readiness for graduate-level study. Some schools might require applicants to submit a portfolio or writing samples in addition to an application essay to better assess your preparation for the program. You might also need to request letters of recommendation from former instructors, employers, and other persons who can attest to your character and potential for advanced study.

Masters in English – The Coursework

Your classes as a masters degree student will be more demanding than most of the classes you took as an undergraduate. At most schools, you’ll choose a specialty such as professional writing, fiction writing, or literature. Your classes will allow you in depth study in this topic area, with most students taking an interest in an even more specific field of study, such as web content writing or women’s literature.

In addition to typical courses, most masters degree students are required to work on a thesis project, a long-term and in-depth project that is the culmination of your education and will be presented before a committee before you can graduate.

Some schools require students to select an area of concentration, which allows students to tailor their education to their interests. Here are just a few of the many concentrations these programs typically offer:

  • Creative Writing
  • Film
  • Linguistics
  • Medieval Literature
  • Modern British and/or American Literature
  • Multicultural Literature
  • Nineteenth-Century British (Romantic and Victorian) and/or American Literature
  • Renaissance Literature
  • Restoration/Eighteenth-Century British and/or Early American Literature
  • Rhetoric and Composition

Other Responsibilities as a Masters Degree Student

Some masters degree students may also have the opportunity to apply for special kinds of scholarships called fellowships. With a fellowship, you’ll receive money to pay for you tuition (or even completely free tuition) and some also include a monthly stipend, but in exchange, you’ll serve as a research or teaching assistant for a tenured professor at the college. Assistants can be in charge of anything from grading papers to teaching classes to performing library research; it depends on the specific terms of your fellowship.