English Education Degrees: Masters, PhD & Online Course Info

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Master's degrees and PhDs in English education can lead to careers in and out of academia. Get the truth about the requirements, courses and career options, and find out what you can do with your degree.
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English Education Master's and PhD's: Degrees at a Glance

Earning a graduate degree in English education is a focused area of study for those who specifically intend to teach English in secondary education settings, community colleges or universities. It is important to note that the job growth outlook for high school teachers is expected to be less than average (7%) from 2010-2020, while postsecondary teachers will maintain only an average rate of growth (17%) during that same period, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

You may also pursue a career in curriculum development with a graduate degree in English education. Although a master's degree or PhD can increase your marketability as an editor or publisher, the English education curriculum is designed primarily for those who are seeking to further their careers as educators. It is possible to work towards your teaching certification through some master's degree programs; in continuing on to a PhD program, however, you will find that some programs require you to have at least three years of teaching experience before you enroll.

Master's Doctorate
Who is this degree for? Current English teachers who would like to enhance their skills or bachelor's degree graduates pursuing teaching certification in English Current English teachers who would like to further their career in English education
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) -Middle school teacher ($56,000)*
-High school teacher ($57,000)*
-Community college teacher ($69,000)*
-Educational consultant ($62,000)*
-College professor ($69,000)*
-Academic Dean ($97,000)*
Time to Completion 1-2 years full-time 3-5 years post-master's degree
Common Graduation Requirements -Approximately 30 graduate level credits
-Supervised teaching semester
- Master's thesis/project
- Approximately 54 credits of coursework beyond the master's degree
- Research and dissertation
-Written or oral preliminary and final examinations
Prerequisites - Bachelor's degree - Master's degree in English education or related field
-English teaching experience
-Proficiency in a foreign language
Online Availability Yes, but limited availability No

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 stats).

Master's Degree in English Education

If you have a love for teaching, writing and literature you could consider obtaining a master's degree in English education. Graduates often become middle and high school English or language arts teachers, undergraduate composition instructors, teaching consultants, writing program administrators, curriculum developers or researchers. Others can work in non-academic settings as editors or consultants for educational and publishing companies.

The curriculum for a master's degree program in English education combines reading, writing, pedagogy, language and literature. English education students usually select a program concentration, such as reading, composition, teacher education, theater, film and studies, or poetry and adolescent literature.

You can use a master's degree program to enhance your current teaching position, to obtain teacher's certification, or to work toward earning a PhD once the master's degree program has been completed. Each program has slightly different requirements, making it important to be clear on the goals you intend to reach before you start.

Pros and Cons


  • You may be able to fulfill requirements for a secondary teaching credential while completing your master's degree program
  • Teaching English composition at the community college level becomes an option
  • Marketability as an editor or publisher increases


  • The degree is not very flexible; it is a very clear concentration within educational settings
  • The job growth outlook for secondary teachers is below average (estimated at 7% from 2010-2020)*
  • The cost of a master's degree can exceed $50,000**

Source:* U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **New York University - Steinhardt.

Courses and Requirements

A master's degree in English education includes a minimum of 30 credit hours, depending upon your track of study. A program that includes preparation for teacher certification will have a greater number of required credit hours. The courses are designed to take an in-depth look at language and syntax, teaching methodologies, and a wide range of literary genres.

Examples of courses you might take include:

  • Teaching literature at the college level
  • Linguistics, society, and the teacher
  • Curriculum and research in the English language arts
  • Early American fiction

Students often choose a concentration area of study within the English education master's degree program. In addition to the requirements for the specific concentration, programs often require supervised teaching in the middle school, high school, or college setting. A master's exam or master's thesis is usually required as well.

Online Degree Options

Although online programs do exist for the English education master's degree, they are not common. The coursework in the programs is very similar to on-campus program coursework; however, there is no supervised teaching component. Students may be responsible to attend an on-campus seminar as a part of the program. This type of program can be helpful if you are a teacher who is pursuing a master's degree while working full time.

Stand out with this Degree

Having very clear career goals before you begin a master's degree program can enhance your experience. If you know you intend to pursue a PhD, finding a master's degree program that transitions into a doctoral program will provide you with a clear direction. If you intend to use your master's degree to enter career fields that are beyond the academic realm, such as writing, editing, or publishing, setting up the coursework to reflect your own personal area of expertise is recommended.

If you intend to teach in a particular educational setting, choosing the correct academic path is imperative. Individual schools offer courses that address individual needs. For example, some schools may offer programs that would help you meet the challenges of teaching in an inner city school or at a rural community college. Take a look at the course offerings to fully benefit from the experience you will create. You also may want to become a student member of an organization like the National Council of Teachers of English, to take advantage of networking and professional development opportunities.

PhD in English Education

A PhD in English Education is a highly specialized degree for those who are already well established within an educational setting. If you are an English teacher and would like to further your studies and your career, potentially becoming a college professor or academic dean, this is the right avenue to pursue. The courses are intensively designed around research methodology and English pedagogy.

Within the PhD program, it is likely that you'll focus on a concentration of study. The topics to choose from may include teaching literature and reading, media education, curriculum development, or educational linguistics. The programs are intensive and require writing and defending a dissertation, oral or written examinations, and specific coursework required within your concentration.

Pros and Cons


  • Postsecondary teachers and administrators are maintaining an average rate of job growth from 2010-2020*
  • For a focused English teacher, this track provides a strong background to increase your marketability
  • In an ever-changing world of technology, up-to-date information and knowledge is gained regarding media literacy


  • Choosing one area of concentration within the English education field can be limiting
  • Programs are extremely diverse in nature; finding the right one to fit your needs may require relocation
  • If you are not already proficient in a foreign language, many programs require this for entry

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

Courses and Requirements

Many of the specific courses and requirements are determined on an individualized basis after you consult with your academic advisor. Depending upon the career track that you're interested in, you'll select an area of concentration. Some programs are directly related to a master's degree program from the same institution; however, many programs require teaching experience as a prerequisite.

Your coursework may include classes and seminars in:

  • English education
  • Educational linguistics
  • Research methodology
  • Media education
  • K-12 curriculum development

Requirements for completion of an English education PhD may include oral and written examinations, writing and defending a dissertation, and specific coursework regarding teaching literature and reading, media education, composition education, and curriculum development.

Online Degree Options

Although online and hybrid PhD programs exist for English, online PhD programs in English education are very unusual. If you do find a program it may not be accredited, so you should research any options you encounter carefully. If you are considering a career in academia, attending a traditional campus-based program affords you the best combination of access to the university's resources and the networking that will help you get a job once you graduate.

Stand out with this Degree

As you strive to become a leader within the field of English education, it is important to follow your own path in order to succeed. When choosing a concentration, be sure to pick an area that you feel strongly about. As you proceed through your degree program, make an effort to be published on a topic that's in your specialty. Additionally, be certain to maintain a current working knowledge of technology and how you can best use it to your advantage within both classroom and research settings.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Walden University

    Program Options

      • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Reading, Literacy & Assessment
      • PhD in Education - Reading, Literacy, Assessment & Evaluation
      • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment
      • PhD in Education - Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment & Evaluation
      • PhD in Education - Learning, Instruction & Innovation
      • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Early Childhood Education
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Liberty University

    Program Options

      • DME: Doctor of Music Education
      • EDS: Curriculum and Instruction
      • EDS: Curriculum and Instruction/Elementary Education
      • EDS: Curriculum and Instruction/Middle Grades Education
      • EDS: Curriculum and Instruction/Secondary Education
      • PHD: Education: Curriculum and Instruction
  • Buffalo, NY

    University at Buffalo

  • New York, NY

    Teachers College at Columbia University

  • Pocatello, ID

    Idaho State University

  • Stanford, CA

    Stanford University

  • Cambridge, MA

    Harvard University

  • Ann Arbor, MI

    University of Michigan

  • Philadelphia, PA

    University of Pennsylvania

Featured Schools

Walden University

  • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Reading, Literacy & Assessment
  • PhD in Education - Reading, Literacy, Assessment & Evaluation
  • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment

What is your highest level of education completed?

Liberty University

  • DME: Doctor of Music Education
  • EDS: Curriculum and Instruction
  • EDS: Curriculum and Instruction/Elementary Education

What is your highest level of education?

University at Buffalo

Teachers College at Columbia University

Idaho State University