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. 

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.

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:

Careers for English and Writing Majors

An English or writing degree can be the key to an array of exciting and challenging careers, such as:

  • Composition
  • Literary courses covering specific movements, regions, or historical periods
  • Fiction
  • Nonfictions
  • Critical or literary theory
  • Poetry
  • Drama 
  • Short stories and essayism 
  • Linguistics

Female student writing at a table

Empowering Black Voices in Literature

From the white- and euro-centric canon featured in classrooms—at the expense of teaching more diverse texts—to the inordinate underrepresentation of Black authors at publishing houses, advancing Black voices in literature is critical to our culture and the art form itself.

Yet still, despite significant underrepresentation, the contributions of Black authors in literature have been invaluable. Among many accomplished writers, Colson Whitehead, a Black novelist, is known for his nuanced exploration of race, history, and social structures. His works, like “The Underground Railroad” and “The Nickel Boys,” which have both won Pulitzer Prizes, have deepened our understanding of the Black experience in America, showcasing the unique value that diverse voices bring to literature.

Other contemporary Black authors continue to enhance the field and the public’s understanding of critical societal themes. Authors like Ta-Nehisi Coates probe the relationship between literature and race, history, social justice, and more in works like “Between the World and Me.” Amplifying Black voices in the thriving field of literature is vital, and this begins by supporting students who wish to pursue degrees in literature.

If you are interested in studying literature, fill out a major interest form here to find out how UNCF can support your journey. You can also consider donating to UNCF to support future Black voices in the field, and give the gift of education to the more than 8,000 students that graduate with advanced degrees from member HBCUs every year.

Some Career Options for Graduates With Literature Degrees

  • Teaching and academia
  • Copy editing 
  • Managing editing
  • Copywriter
  • English teacher in the U.S. or abroad (may require a master’s degree)
  • Content writer
  • Freelance tutor
  • Freelance writer or editor

Want to learn more about this possible college major and career paths? Have questions about which UNCF colleges and universities offer degrees in English literature? Looking for help with financing this degree?

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How to Prepare for Success

English majors should love literature, history, and language. 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 to consider ideas from multiple perspectives, and should enjoy deeply exploring their and others’ thoughts and experiences.

Tougaloo Chapel

Tougaloo Chapel

UNCF Schools to Consider

The following schools are the highly ranked UNCF-member HBCUs offer degrees in literature:

Professional Organizations

There are also many professional organizations that can shed more light on what it’s like to work in this industry:

douglass winner with donor and Uncf reps

2020 Douglass Bicentennial Scholarship recipient with donor (left) and UNCF representatives

Scholarships Available

There’s no better way to start on your path to a successful career in literature than with a solid financial foundation. Fortunately, many scholarships are available through UNCF, including some specifically for literature majors. Keep an eye on the UNCF website for current scholarship opportunities and announcements. 

Search for specific scholarships and view those that are currently accepting applications here! Students should also check with each college or university to see if there are additional scholarships available to study literature.

As you explore your options, be sure to use our guide to applying for scholarships and grants. You can also receive guidance by submitting a major interest form if you are interested in a career in 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!

You can also show your support for students pursuing degrees in literature by making a contribution to UNCF member schools. Education is the greatest tool we have in creating a just and equitable society in which economic mobility is available to all. Help us achieve this future by donating today!