A Degree in English Literature can Open Doors for Your Career
English literature degrees are among the most versatile of all academic programs in terms of choosing a career. This is because English degree programs are typically fairly broad in scope, encompassing the study of composition and rhetoric, history and literary forms as well as critical theory. Graduates will be qualified for many kinds of writing, editing and tutoring work immediately after completing this degree.
Alternatively, a degree in English literature is also an excellent foundation for graduate degrees or supplemental training in literature, technical writing and editing, marketing, education, journalism and communications, which provide even more career opportunities across more industries.
This means that you will have time to explore a wide range of career options while you complete the degree and afterward, since many literature graduates begin in one industry and pivot to another. Because remote work is now not only possible but increasingly common, many English-related careers will also allow you to work anywhere in the world that has a good internet connection, eliminating the need for expensive and stressful relocations.
Whatever your interest among these options may be, the first step is enrolling in an undergraduate college program. English majors study a wide range of related course subjects, which may include:
- Survey courses, or literary history courses covering a specific historical period
- British literature
- American literature
- Continental European literature
- Postcolonial literature
- Critical or literary theory
- Poetry (of a specific poet or historical period)
- Drama (of a specific playwright or historical period)
- Short stories (of a specific author or historical period)
- Novels/novellas (of a specific novelist or historical period)
Some Career Options for Graduates With Literature Degrees
- English professor (requires a master’s or doctoral degree)
- Copy editor
- Managing editor
- English teacher in the U.S. or abroad (may require a master’s degree)
- Content writer
- Freelance tutor
- Freelance writer or editor
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How to Prepare for Success
English majors should love literature, history and rhetoric. They should also have an interest in other subjects related to the liberal arts and social sciences (such as philosophy, religion, psychology, politics, gender studies, art history, foreign languages and social anthropology). Such students should also be detail-oriented and skilled at research, writing and editing. Because critical analysis forms such a large part of this discipline, students should be inclined or open to considering ideas from multiple perspectives.
UNCF Schools to Consider
Most UNCF-member schools are liberal arts colleges, which means that most offer programs in English and literature. However, the following schools are the highest-ranked UNCF HBCUs:
- Spelman College
- Morehouse College
- Xavier University of Louisiana
- Bennett College
- Claflin University
- Dillard University
- Johnson C. Smith University
- Lane College
- Rust College
There are also many professional organizations that can shed more light on what it’s like to work in this industry:
- Modern Languages Association
- American Literature Association
- American Comparative Literature Association
- PEN America (Poets, Playwrights, Essayists, Editors, Novelists)
- Western Literature Association
- Modern Humanities Research Association
- Society for the Study of Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States
- Society for the Study of American Women Writers
- The Popular Culture Association
- Lambda Literary
Several scholarships are available through UNCF. The UNCF General Scholarship Awards are an excellent opportunity for any student going to a UNCF-member college, regardless of their major. The Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Scholarship Program awards a $10,000 scholarship to one exceptional HBCU senior each year who has demonstrated high academic achievement, strong leadership skills, commitment to community service and unmet financial need.
Keep an eye on the UNCF website for current scholarship opportunities. Students should also check with each college or university to see if there are additional scholarships available to study English literature.
Reach out for guidance by submitting a major interest form if you are interested in a career related to English literature. Submit the form on our website to get started. And follow us on UNCF social media channels to receive notifications about our scholarships and member HBCUs. Reach out today!