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Best 12 English Degree Programs in 2021

February 25, 2021 | Staff Writers

English degree
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Those that get a degree in English have a lot of different choices when it comes to determining a career. Earning an online master’s degree in English or doctorate in English involves extensive reading, writing, and learning more deeply about the English language. Those with a graduate degree in English learn many rewarding skills, like critical thinking, advanced communication skills, analytical skills, and broadens your literary knowledge.

Upon the completion of an advanced English degree students learn:

  • How to conduct research
  • Expand their creativity
  • Lear problem-solving techniques
  • Expand their social awareness
  • Advanced writing skills
  • Communication skills including verbal and non-verbal skills
  • Keen attention to detail
  • How to analyze data and process that information
  • Great skills in organization

Top 5 English Degree Programs

Rank School Location
1Rice UniversityHouston, Texas
2Stanford UniversityStanford, California
3Cornell UniversityIthaca, New York
4University of VirginiaCharlottesville, Virginia
5Vanderbilt UniversityNashville, Tennessee

Those with an English degree also have a wide variety of job choices, often outside their field of study. There are many different career choices students have, mostly in the communications arena. Some jobs include:

  • Copywriter
  • Editor/assistant writer
  • Technology writer
  • Writer
  • Marketing executive
  • Reporter
  • English teacher or professor
  • High-level communications jobs
  • Social media manager
  • Paralegal 
  • Human resources manager
  • Public relations executive
  • Content developer
  • School librarian 
  • Newspaper or magazine publisher
  • Research analyst
  • Lawyer (with additional education)
  • Brand strategist
  • Internal communications executive

Best 12 English Degree Programs

1

Rice University

  • Houston, Texas
  • Graduation Rate: 93%

Rice University Department of English, School of Humanities offers a diverse English program that focuses on providing a creative and critical education in creative writing. Students can choose from a wide range of studies including:

  • Classical studies
  • English
  • Religion
  • Hispanic studies
  • History
  • Philosophy

Rice University was founded in 1891 by Houston businessman William Marsh Rice and opened its doors in 1912. In 1960 it became a University; in 1963 Rice University opened the first space-science department in the United States was established.

School Overview

Tuition: $25,155
Student to Faculty Ratio: 6:1
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2

Stanford University

  • Stanford, California
  • Graduation Rate: 94%

Stanford University’s English department offers numerous courses that trace the history of English literature starting in the Middle Ages working up to the present day. Courses explore key literary themes and the ability to focus on poetry, narrative, and methodology.

The University Coterminal M.A. program enables students to take their literature studies to a higher level. It offers students the opportunity to take part in graduate-level course work and is great for those considering a graduate-level English degree.

To pursue a graduate degree, students must be:

  • Stanford undergraduates majoring in English
  • Master’s candidates must have a 3.0-grade point and have a minimum of 45-course units
  • Master’s student can only take 5 units of reading and research courses

Stanford University was founded by a state senator and his wife. The school was opened in 1885 “to promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.

School Overview

Tuition Cost (per quarter): $17,493
Student to Faculty Ratio: 5:1
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3

Cornell University

  • Ithaca, New York
  • Graduation Rate: 94%

Cornell University’s Department of English offers a distinguished English graduate program that lets students study with exemplary faculty in a creative and intellectual environment. Courses include an impressive list of speakers and conferences that offer deep learning within its humanities courses. The Ph.D. and master’s programs offer a wide range of study for those that may already be working as writers, scholars, and teachers.

The Department of English offers three different graduate degree options:

  • MFA in Creative Writing
  • Ph.D. in English Language & Literature
  • Joint MFA in Creative Writing + Ph.D. in English Language and Literature

Cornell University was founded in April 1865. The University was given farmland from Senator Ezra Cornell who also gave a $500,000 endowment to the university. The buildout lasted three years and was overseen by Andrew White, the University’s first president. It was inaugurated in October 1868. By the next day, 412 men were enrolled.

School Overview

Tuition Cost: $29,500
Student to Faculty Ratio: 9:1
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4

University of Virginia

  • Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Graduation Rate: 95%

The University of Virginia, Department of English offers a rich history of literature. It offers courses in English (past and present), the history of literary genres, literary theory, creative writing, and the study of some of the top writers. English majors learn the importance of critical thinking and interpretation. The program prepares students for a variety of careers in journalism, publishing, business, and teaching.

The curriculum teaches students:

  • Different writing styles and language skills
  • The ability to evaluate the aesthetic and cultural achievements of literary works
  • How authors develop relations in their historical contexts

The University of Virginia has an interesting history. It was founded by one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson. The school was founded in 1819; today is known for excelling in academics, student honor code, and secret societies.

School Overview

Tuition Cost: $19,426 per year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
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5

Vanderbilt University

  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Graduation Rate: 94%

The English Department at Vanderbilt offers an extensive and diverse curriculum to students looking to pursue the field of English. The English department cultivates highly valued analytical, reading, and writing skills that create a strong foundation. The English program offers small seminar-style classes that prepare students for their future careers.

Students will learn how to:

  • Engage and understand complex ideas
  • Read, analyze, and think creatively across different cultures and styles
  • Communicate effectively

Cornelius (Commodore) Vanderbilt was 79 when he gave $1 million that helped found Vanderbilt University in 1873. Today, the University is known as a world-renowned independent, privately supported university. It also shares its name with Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Together they are one of the largest private employers in central Tennessee.

School Overview

Tuition Cost: $2,087 per credit hour
Student to Faculty Ratio: 7:1
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6

Princeton University

  • Princeton, New Jersey
  • Graduation Rate: 98%

The Department of English at Princeton University produces executive level scholars, insightful critics, and dedicated, creative teachers. Princeton is known as a high-powered research school, which offers students a variety of course options in an intimate environment with small class sizes. The English department faculty are committed to teaching and believe in offering students a wide range of fields of study.

These include:

  • Feminist theory, gender, and sexuality studies
  • Postcolonialism
  • Comparative literature
  • Classics
  • Philosophy and linguistics
  • History and art history

Princeton University was chartered in 1745 and was North America’s fourth college. It was originally named The College of New Jersey and located in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The college moved to Princeton in 1756 and earned its designation as a University in 1896 when it was renamed Princeton University.

School Overview

Tuition Cost: $56,470
Student to Faculty Ratio: 5:1
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7

Columbia University

  • New York City, New York
  • Graduation Rate: 94%

Columbia University’s Department of English and Comparative Literature is a highly acclaimed program. Columbia has played a big part in literary study in the U.S. The faculty includes scholars, dedicated teachers, and professionals. The school offers many courses geared to change the shape of our culture.

The school offers:

  • Bachelors Degree in English
  • Masters Degree in English
  • Doctorate Degree in English

Columbia University started as King’s College in 1754. It is the oldest university in New York and is the fifth oldest school in the United States.

School Overview

Tuition Cost: $68,689 for the 2020/2021 school year
Student to Faculty Ratio: 6:1
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8

University of California – Berkeley

  • Berkeley, California
  • Graduation Rate: 92%

The University of California at Berkeley English Department, offers a wide range of English programs, including British, American and Anglophone literature. Students gain knowledge of English and different other types of literature. They learn to develop skills in their chosen field.

To enroll in the Berkeley English Department, students must submit the following:

  • A Statement of Purpose
  • A Personal Statement
  • Transcripts of previous college work/degree.
  • A minimum of three letters of recommendation.
  • A critical scholarly writing sample of no more than 20 pages

The University of California at Berkeley, got its start in 1866 and was originally named the College of California. The University was a private institution located in Oakland and founded by Henry Durant, who purchased the land. It began as an agricultural mining and arts college.

School Overview

Tuition Cost: $42,460 for those living on campus
Student to Faculty Ratio: 19:1 (with many classes having less than 20 students)
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9

University of Pennsylvania (Penn State)

  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Graduation Rate: 95%

The University of Pennsylvania, Department of English offers a vibrant community of highly educated professors and an impressive research department. Outside the classroom, students have the opportunity to join a variety of working groups that bring together students, visiting scholars, and faculty.

Fields of study include:

  • Medieval Studies
  • Contemporary Poetics
  • Book History
  • Digital Humanities
  • Gender and Sexuality

Pennsylvania State University was founded in February of 1855. It was originally known as the Farmers’ High School of Pennsylvania. Throughout the year’s local leaders donate additional acres of land and in 1861 started a baccalaureate program and changed their name to Agricultural College of Pennsylvania. As years past the school changed its name a couple more times until it was finally named Pennsylvania State University.

School Overview

Tuition: $77,000 including tuition, room and board, and fees
Student to Faculty Ratio: 6:1
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10

University of Michigan Ann Arbor

  • Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Graduation Rate: 91%

The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Michigan, Department of English Language and Literature offers the impressive Helen Zell Writer’s MFA Program, which provides a cultural community for English Students. The Department currently offers three Ph.D. programs:

  • English Language and Literature
  • English & Women’s and Gender Studies
  • English and Education

The University of Michigan originated as a preparatory school in Detroit in 1817. It moved to Ann Arbor in 1837 and began offering post-secondary education in 1841. Today it is considered one of the leading research universities in the U.S. and the world. It was awarded its graduate degree in 1886.

School Overview

Tuition Cost: The full-time student cost (9+ credits) is $12,172
Student to Faculty Ratio: 15:1
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11

Brown University

  • Providence, Rhode Island
  • Graduation Rate: 96%

Brown University’s doctoral program in English offers high-level educational training in numerous areas of study that include literary criticism, critical theory, intellectual history, and all aspects of research and humanities. The school encourages students to use imaginative forms, rhetorical and cultural logistics in their course work. The exemplary faculty encourages students and provides personalized areas of study with small classes.

Students work with faculty and intellectual centers from numerous different departments including:

  • Comparative Literature
  • Departments of Modern Culture and Media
  • Brazilian and Portuguese Studies

Brown University was founded in 1764 and was the third college in New England. It was the first Ivy League school to accept students from all religions. Women were admitted to Brown in 1891.

School Overview

Tuition Cost: $57,112 – $68,734 (based on a 4 course per semester schedule)
Student to Faculty Ratio: 6:1
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12

Amherst College

  • Amherst, Massachusetts
  • Graduation Rate: 93%

Amherst’s College English department is highly regarded for its academic programs. It is home to a wide variety of classes and that inspire scholarly and creative interests. The faculty teaches students how to analyze, critique, and be creative in their works. Classes include poetry, film, novels, TV shows, drama, and digital culture.

By graduation, students are expected to:

  • Read closely and ready well
  • Be skilled at writing in different genres as well as create their own works in verse, prose, and fiction
  • Understand the relationship between literary texts, criticism, and theories
  • Well-versed in the literature in at least one specific area of concentration
  • Capable of producing well-researched essays and completing a creative project

Amherst College was first opened in 1821 with a goal to educate students that may not previously have had a chance to explore higher education. Amherst continues to have a diverse student body. It prides itself on turning out highly educated talented students from many different backgrounds.

School Overview

Full estimated cost of attendance per year: Ranges between $82,008 – $84,458
Student to Faculty Ratio: 7:1
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Our Methodology for Rating Top Level Universities with English Programs:

hen looking at the schools that have strong backgrounds and curriculums in English. We consider the graduation rate, tuition cost and student to faculty ratio.

If there is a school omitted from this list or if any information is incorrect, please contact us so any omissions or corrections can be made.

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