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Get Your Online Master's Degree in English Literature!

written by: Elizabeth Porter•edited by: Sylvia Cochran•updated: 12/8/2011

In this article you'll find helpful information on four colleges that offer an English literature master's degree online and how much it will ultimately cost you. Find out which universities offer the best courses to help you narrow your focus.

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    Open Up New Career Opportunities

    Like mentioned in the other articles in this series on English degrees, people graduating with a Master of Arts in English Literature degree usually find themselves in the following careers:
    • Teaching at the secondary (high school) or college level
    • Publishing
    • Advertising
    • Journalism

    Looking for a good online master’s degree program is frustrating and difficult. This article is highlighting four universities -- both good and mediocre -- that came up while researching this topic. The course requirements and costs are also listed. However, this is only one aspect of the research. To find the best online master degree in English literature program for you, you still need to speak to representatives of these universities personally.

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    University Expectations and Offerings

    Every university is different; thus, the amount of required courses and course offerings vary. However, based on my research into a few programs, this is what I highlighted.

    Mercy College: The online masters degree requires 30 credits which is completed in two and a half years (up to six years), depending on whether you study full time or part time. These courses are available online and some are also offered in a traditional classroom format, if you live in the Mercy College area. Students are required to take three credits in "Theory and Practice in Literacy Criticism," "British Literature Prior to 1700," "British Lit. Post 1700," an "American Literature" course, "Theory and Practice of Expository Writing," "Seminar in Guided Thesis Research," and four courses in literature classes of your choice.

    Union Institute & University: UI&U offers a Master's of Arts with a concentration in Literature and Writing. The program requires 36 credits, up to six of which may be transferred. It takes a minimum of a year and a half to complete the program. Enrollment dates for the master’s degree online are in October and April.

    Morehead State University: MSU offers flexibility (like Mercy College) for students who are enrolled in the online program; they may also take traditional classroom courses when possible. The program consists of 33 hours of coursework, 27 of which are graduate English courses.

    Of those 27 hours, 12 are literature courses, three are held in linguistics, three hours in writing, and three feature in the introduction to graduate studies courses. It is outstanding that a university is offering more than the regular and tiresome overload of British literature courses, which are the stereotype of an English literature degree.

    This may or may not work for potential employers, but it appears that students will come out with more memorable information than they might with other programs. Students also have to complete a written exit exam.

    Commonwealth Open University: This school also offers a MA in English Literature degree, but the website is not very user-friendly; it is hard to find the most basic information. The degree consists of 40 degree points and the following courses: "Old English Lit.," "Medieval Lit.," "Renaissance Lit.," "Eighteenth-Century Lit," etc. The eight courses seem to be a timeline of British literature. It appears a little too narrowly focused for most.

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    Tuition Costs

    How much will you have to spend for a master’s degree online in English literature? Not all universities/colleges are upfront with their true cost (tuition, fees, books, etc.). Here is the information I gathered on the aforementioned universities. Please note that costs are subject to change, so you'll need to check the school's web site for the most current rates.

    Mercy College: $718 per credit x 30 credits = $21,540. This total does not include fees, books, or other added costs.

    Union Institute & University: The school bases their tuition costs on how many courses you take at a time. There is a $50 application fee, $250 enrollment deposit (non-refundable), $84 technology fee per semester if you are full time, and $7,821 tuition per semester if you are full time (12 credits).

    Morehead State University: MSU offers a tuition calculator, which seems great, but is very confusing unless you already know exactly what you are taking. Even with my hypothetical search I found I was getting error messages. When I did get it to work, an online master’s degree, English literature came out to be just over $19,000 for 21 credits online. However, cost depends on your location and how many credits you are taking online, so if you are interested, speak with a guidance counselor from MSU first.

    Commonwealth Open University: One of the few universities that actually factors textbook costs into their totals! For a master's degree with textbooks and shipping costs, the tuition is $3,800 plus $500 dollar initial registration fee. This is so competitively priced that it is hard to understand how it can possibly be this inexpensive. Nevertheless, if you are strapped for cash then this is a great opportunity.