Study English: Bachelor's, Associate's & Online Degree Info

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What kind of job can you get with an undergraduate degree in English? Find out degree requirements, online options and info on courses and English programs.
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English Associate's and Bachelor's: Degrees at a Glance

Pursuing an undergraduate degree in English may seem like a solid choice, and in some ways, it is. It can prepare you for graduate-level education, as well as careers that require some level of college education. However, very few careers require a degree specifically in English, and many careers that involve the English language have more specific education requirements, such as journalism or technical writing.

In addition to being a step toward further education, obtaining an undergraduate degree in English can offer a general increase in employment and salary. In 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median weekly income for associate's degree holders was $768 and $1,053 for bachelor's degree holders, while those with a high school diploma earned $638.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Those interested in exploring options for further degrees related to English or in improving general opportunities within the job market Those interested in an array of options of careers related to English
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean salary) - Teacher's aide ($25,000)*
- Library Assistant ($26,000)*
- Reporter/Correspondent ($44,000)*
- Writer/Author ($68,000)*
Time to Completion 2 years, full-time 3-4 years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements Core educational courses plus 6-8 English focus courses - Core education plus 13+ English focus courses
- Internship
Prerequisites High School Diploma or GED High School Diploma or GED
Online Availability Hybrid programs are available Yes

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2011 figures).

Associate's in English

English programs at this level generally award the Associate of Arts or Associate in Arts. You may find that the majority of your English courses at this level are also electives or requirements for other associate's degree programs, which can mean larger class sizes. You can expect to cover general English topics, such as creative writing, as well as introductory topics. Most associate's degree programs in English won't require an internship to complete the degree.

Pros and Cons


  • Improves prospects of employment and salary*
  • Good first step toward a wide variety of 4-year degree programs
  • Flexible degree with relatively short completion time gives you employment and education options without committing to a longer degree


  • Many English-related jobs require at least a bachelor's degree*
  • Employment/salary prospects may not be as good as with a more focused associate's degree
  • You may be competing for jobs against applicants with only a high school diploma and experience*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

You can expect to complete general education courses, such as psychology and humanities. The English focus of this degree program will involve 6-8 courses based around the English language. You may study and explore English areas like drama, fiction, technical writing and poetry. The following are just a few core and elective courses you can find through an associate's degree program in English:

  • Composition
  • English literature
  • Theater appreciation
  • World literature
  • English composition

Online Degree Options

Fully online associate's degrees in English are uncommon. However, it is possible to pursue an associate's degree online in a general area, such as liberal arts. Through programs like these, you can focus your electives in English classes.

Further, many colleges offer at least some of their courses, especially core courses like composition and literature, online. This would allow you to structure your associate's in English studies as a hybrid program.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Because the degree is not tailored for a particular career set, one way to stand out with this degree is to build your education and experience toward a desired career. For example, if you intended to seek a teacher's aide position after graduation, taking courses in education and finding an internship in childhood literacy would provide a boost toward finding such a career.

Bachelor's in English

Programs at this level generally award the Bachelor of Arts in English. This degree program has many of the same requirements as the associate's degree, along with more general and English-specific courses. Towards the end of your program, you may be able to specialize in a particular English area, such as composition, American literature or classical literature.

Some programs may require you to take an internship, while others treat the internship as an elective course. A thesis may also be an option for the English degree, though it is unlikely to be required at this level.

Pros and Cons


  • Flexible degree that can qualify you for a wide variety of careers
  • Improve your analytical and communication skills
  • Potential step toward a graduate degree in a number of fields


  • Candidates with a more specialized degree may have an edge in the job market
  • Many English-related jobs are predicted to see little or no growth between 2010 and 2020*
  • Careers may offer relatively low salary for 4-year degree*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

Studying English through a bachelor's degree program can allow you to build on the introductory topics covered in an associate's degree program. Your courses will expand into either further examination of the core courses, or more specific areas of English language, such as particular genres or writing. You will also be able to study the literature of cultures or groups.

Courses you may find in a bachelor's program in English include:

  • Women in literature
  • African-American literature
  • British literature
  • Creative writing
  • Playwriting/screenwriting

Online Degree Options

Many schools offer online options for a bachelor's degree in English. You can find 100% online and hybrid programs. Course requirements cover similar topics to campus-based programs, including communication, rhetoric and literary research. You can find online programs that offer an English emphasis or concentration, such as multimedia communications, literary studies or creative writing. These online English programs are often geared toward working adults and others who need flexible scheduling.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

As with the associate's degree, another good way to stand out is to tailor your courses and internships to your desired career. For example, journalism classes and an internship with a local paper may help when seeking a job as a reporter.

You may also consider joining a professional organization, such as the Modern Language Association, Society for Technical Communication or American Society of Journalist and Authors. These organizations can offer networking opportunities, as well as help you pursue additional training through seminars or online education.

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