Last Updated on August 28, 2023
English Literature is a fascinating field. The study of literature helps us learn about the human experience, understand ourselves and others better, expand our minds and our imagination, build problem-solving skills, relate to and analyze other cultures, and even develop an appreciation for art.
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English Literature is one of the most popular majors in colleges and universities in the US, with a huge number of students enrolling every year due to its diverse nature and numerous graduate opportunities. But with such a broad area of study, prospective students are often confused about what a degree in English Literature actually provides. This article explains what an English Literature degree looks like, and what doors it can open for graduates.
Common uses of an English Literature degree include becoming a writer, researcher, or teacher. However, there are many other ways to utilize an English Literature degree. Some students use it as a stepping stone to a degree in Law, or in this day and age, some will use it to begin a path in the digital marketing world. Whichever route you end up on, this degree can open doors to many fulfilling career options.
What is English Literature at its Very Core?
English Literature refers to the study of texts from around the world, written in the English language. By studying a degree in English Literature, you will learn how to analyze a multitude of texts and write clearly using several different styles. Generally, literature refers to different types of text including novels, non-fiction, poetry, and plays, among other forms. However, literature is a contested term, as new mediums for communication provide different types of contemporary literature.
Literature is generally defined as writing with artistic merit. However, other types of text such as screenplays, nonfiction, song lyrics, and online communication through blogs and other means, could now be considered literature under the contemporary understanding of the term. The English Literature programs in most major US institutions will largely study the traditional literary texts. An English Literature major will likely examine texts including poetry, drama, and prose fiction, perhaps briefly covering more contested forms of literature in their chosen path.
Studying Literature Versus Reading for Pleasure
If you choose to study Literature in the US, you will learn how to read different texts and analyze the style, use of different types of language, and meaning, in depth. You will also learn how to write clearly, concisely and analytically in stylistically different forms. Generally, Literature courses are divided into different focuses: British Literature, American Literature, World Literature, and periods (pre-1800 and post-2000). You will have core courses in several of these topics and will also be expected to choose a focus of your own interest, such as creative writing or drama. You will ultimately gain a much more in-depth understanding of the texts you cover than is possible from solo-reading, and learn how to express your knowledge through written analysis and presentation or class discussion.
Why Study English Literature?
Studying English Literature in the USA will give you a better understanding of the world around you. A Literature degree provides transferable skills that teach you to deconstruct and analyze in order to provide a critical viewpoint in all areas. As an international student, studying English Literature demonstrates to an employer that you have a strong grasp of the English language and are proficient in professional English.
There are several different paths for careers in literature as a graduate. You can also take graduate courses and become a teacher, lecturer, or journalist, with common crossovers for graduating English students including business, law, and education. Or you can use your analytical skills to move into unexpected careers such as marketing, advertising, or pretty much anything you are willing you adapt to. There are also obvious positions available in the publishing industry, from editor, to proofreader, to literary agent. Many creative writers, including novelists, poets, and screenwriters, among others, start their careers by gaining an in-depth understanding of written English before developing their individual abilities for expression through writing.
If you want to gain a strong-hold on the English language, develop your critical analysis of the world around you, and study in a degree that will provide you with numerous different career opportunities, English Literature could be the right pursuit for you.
Literature written in the English language includes many countries such as the United Kingdom and its crown dependencies, Republic of Ireland, the United States, and the countries of the former British Empire. The English language has developed over the course of more than 1,400 years. The earliest forms of English, a set of Anglo-Frisian dialects brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon invaders in the fifth century, are called Old English. Beowulf is the most famous work in Old English, and has achieved national epic status in England, despite being set in Scandinavia. However, following the Norman conquest of England in 1066, the written form of the Anglo-Saxon language became less common. Under the influence of the new aristocracy, French became the standard language of courts, parliament, and polite society. The English spoken after the Normans came is known as Middle English. This form of English lasted until the 1470s, when the Chancery Standard (late Middle English), a London-based form of English, became widespread. Geoffrey Chaucer (1343 – 1400), author of The Canterbury Tales, was a significant figure in the development of the legitimacy of vernacular Middle English at a time when the dominant literary languages in England were still French and Latin. The invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1439 also helped to standardise the language, as did the King James Bible (1611), and the Great Vowel Shift.
Poet and playwright William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616) is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and one of the world’s greatest dramatists. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. In the nineteenth century Sir Walter Scott’s historical romances inspired a generation of painters, composers, and writers throughout Europe.
The English language spread throughout the world with the development of the British Empire between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. At its height, it was the largest empire in history. By 1913, the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23% of the world population at the time, During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries these colonies and the USA started to produce their own significant literary traditions in English. Cumulatively, over the period of 1907 to the present, numerous writers from Great Britain, both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, the US, and former British colonies have received the Nobel Prize for works in the English language, more than in any other language.
How to Do Well in your English Literature Class
Find Out What You Should Read
Find out material you will be studying throughout the school year. Ask the professors or teachers, or check the class syllabus when it is available. Prepare a list of all the material you will be studying this year.
Have an English Literature class notebook. Divide it into different parts, like have a list of poems, a list of prose pieces, and one for dramas. With such a list, you will be able to monitor your progress and it will also be helpful for when you are revising for exams.
Once you confirm what you are to study, either borrow or buy textbooks and then start reading. Ensure you read also during your spare time. When possible, commit 30 minutes each day to read your class books and poems.Exclusive offer for first-time customers only!Get 15% discount off your first lesson and no agency fees! Choose from a selection of reliable home tutors and keep learning even while at home. Claim this promotion today.
How can you motivate yourself to get through this? Consider rewarding yourself each time you complete reading a selection. While you read the book, you will start formulating ideas and understanding of the material. Also, you will pick up important quotes which may be given as textual proof in future essays.
Notes are very important in a student’s life; particularly those taking English Literature. Have at least 2 notebooks: one can for taking class notes, and the second for making notes as you study. For the ‘study’ notebook write any interesting data you may notice as you read the books. Note words that you consider to be good to use in exams or future essays.
Write quotes from analysis of the study materials. Have lists of themes, characters, and the used literary tools. Note some key background information about the writer and ways that will impact their work.
Online Study Guides
This is an additional resource for English Literature student. This is in addition to the course books. Sites like Cliffnotes, Sparknotes, Jiffynotes among others were particularly made to assist students to understand their course material better. These guides are full of literary material, and offer information on just about any poems, books, and plays imaginable.
How can the online study guides help you? The information you get from the online study guides will help you understand your course book material better. This will also show in your class participation and the essays you write.
Have Study Groups
Having study groups will be very useful for all school subjects. Try to have a group of about seven classmates. The whole idea of the study group is for students to help one another in understanding and revising together. Also, members are to share any knowledge and information that they may have.
Normally, study groups member each gives and receives info, thus everyone will benefit. Remember, all the group members have a common goal, therefore do not hesitate to share knowledge and information.
When you aren’t certain about something, you can ask the teacher or a classmate. How else will you learn if you don’t ask questions? Even when the question appears dumb, don’t hesitate to seek help. Better you ask questions and have the answer immediately than to not know the answer only to end up writing wrong information in your essay. Ask your teacher for essay writing tips, and how you can better your writing style. The teacher will be happy to give some pointers t help you perform better.
Do additional research
While studying English Lit, you cannot solely depend on your class note or textbooks for information. From time to time, you will need to do additional research so that you fully understand the circumstances of the book. Fortunately, with technology, you won’t need to visit the library for research work.
Read summaries from excerpts, articles, watch documentaries, historians, and sociologists, and pose questions online. Attend special lectures which relate to the material you’re currently studying. Again, note the factors that could have influenced the writer’s selection of subject matter.
Watch plays and movies
Sometimes, it’s not enough to read to fully interpret the material, especially when it’s a play. One way to help you understand it better would be to watch the film or theatre version! As you are watching, make sure you note anything that sticks out or will seem important.
By watching a visual re-enactment of a play or book will help you recall important scenes. Additionally, it helps you remember that plays are meant to be performed before an audience and not remain as words on pieces of paper.
Know your jargon
In English lit, language plays a big role: in reading, writing, and text discussions. You will encounter certain tools and words that are generally linked to this subject. Literary jargon includes words like ‘narrator’, ‘protagonist’, ‘antagonist’, ‘denouement’ etc. Knowing and using such words will help you in understanding the reading material. For example, rather than writing ‘the main character’, write ‘the protagonist’. This makes make an essay sound more professional, and probably will earn you some extra marks.Struggling with your schoolwork?Subscribe to get weekly study guides and exam preparation tips.Subscribe
Prove your point
Always support what you write using textual evidence – provide examples from the play or book that influence your views. Don’t simply write that you trust something – give proof!
When you’re asked to list important themes and ideas in a text, write instances that led you to that conclusion. When asked for your view on a given character, give at least four clear examples from the passage. This will definitely earn extra points as it indicates that you understand the material, and know how you can apply it if needed.
Jobs You Can Do With an English Literature Degree
After years of reading literature, analyzing texts for meaning and drawing conclusions in your own writing, you may wonder how you can best apply your knowledge in the workplace. While the work you do after graduation might not look exactly the same as when you were studying, you will undoubtedly use the finely tuned skills you’ve learned in your future role.
Throughout your English literature program, you likely became an expert in all things writing and rhetoric. Most English lit majors are also experienced when it comes to expressing their thoughts and communicating effectively. Reading analytically, thinking critically and communicating clearly are foundational proficiencies that can help you pursue jobs in a variety of fields, such as publishing, media and journalism, academia, law and marketing and public relations.
20 English lit jobs to consider
Here are 20 different jobs you could pursue after graduating with your English literature degree:
National average salary: $35,414 per year
Primary duties: Journalists report on news, like national politics and local events, and play an important part in helping the public stay informed. These professionals research, investigate and gather information that they can use in their stories. In addition, journalists are responsible for holding interviews, maintaining important contacts and verifying statements and facts. Having a background in English literature can help you perform the key responsibilities, including writing and presenting stories in a cohesive format.
2. English teacher
National average salary: $19.14 per hour
Primary duties: English teachers are professional educators who focus specifically on the English language and literature. Most commonly found in middle and high schools, English teachers have the opportunity to share their passion for reading, writing and critical thinking with their students. These teachers are responsible for planning lessons, developing curriculum, instructing students, grading work, communicating with students and parents, providing support and interventions to students of all levels, advising and mentoring.
3. Freelance writer
National average salary: $19.26 per hour
Primary duties: Freelance writers produce copy for magazines, newspapers, broadcast news, journals and books. They have the freedom to jump from project to project and can expect to serve as a creator in a variety of fields. This role is of particular interest for English literature majors who have plenty of practice writing captivating narratives and successful informational texts.
4. Editorial assistant
National average salary: $41,488 per year
Primary duties: Editorial assistants work in both an editorial and administrative role. They provide direct assistance to editors of newspapers, magazines and other publications by taking calls, running errands, doing research and performing other tasks as needed. Further, editorial assistants serve publications by verifying facts, proofreading for grammar and punctuation, communicating with writers and selecting content for publication. English literature majors’ attention to detail and effective communication skills will be useful in this role.
National average salary: $20.52 per hour
Primary duties: Interpreters facilitate communication between two or more parties who speak different languages. They do this by translating and re-communicating both sides of a given conversation. Interpreters can work for many organizations, including schools, governments, private businesses and hospitals. While interpreters must know more than one language, English literature majors who are bilingual or trilingual can expect to use their excellent communication skills in this position.
6. Social media manager
National average salary: $44,623 per year
Primary duties: Social media managers are responsible for planning and implementing effective digital marketing strategies on social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. They write and share compelling stories on platforms to encourage engagement from users and subscribers. Social media managers can work in a variety of different fields, including business, education and the nonprofit sector. English literature majors can easily apply their expert writing skills in this position.
7. Copy editor
National average salary: $23.31 per hour
Primary duties: Copy editors revise written material to make it easier to read, and they can work in a variety of fields, such as journalism, marketing, academia and advertising. Using their knowledge of grammar and writing styles, editors are responsible for proofreading text to guarantee error-free copy. They can edit books, websites, journals, articles and more.
National average salary: $48,508 per year
Primary duties: Paralegals support lawyers by drafting documents, maintaining files, creating organizational systems, performing research and calling on legal witnesses. Often referred to as legal assistants, paralegals perform research, write legal documents and collaborate with their colleagues to streamline clients’ legal cases.
National average salary: $53,969 per year
Primary duties: Lawyers are certified professionals who advise and represent others in legal matters. Lawyers work in a variety of legal fields, including criminal and civil law. They must be great argumentative writers with strategic critical thinking skills. Because English literature majors learn to read reflexively, think critically and write arguments creatively, they often make great lawyers.
10. Advertising account executive
National average salary: $54,049 per year
Primary duties: Advertising account executives act as the liaison between clients and creative teams. They are great communicators who play an important part in creating successful marketing campaigns. Account executives relay messages between collaborators and work to ensure client goals are being met. While jobs in the business sector might not be an obvious choice for liberal arts majors, English literature majors typically possess the requisite oral and written communication skills necessary for this position.
11. Educational consultant
National average salary: $55,177 per year
Primary duties: Educational consultants are academic advisors who work in a K-12 setting. They provide guidance to students and parents on a school’s academic curriculum, recommended resources and educational opportunities. This role is a great option for those looking to get involved in education without taking on in-classroom responsibilities. Like English literature majors, educational consultants must be organized, detail-oriented communicators with a passion for supporting continued education.
12. Technical writer
National average salary: $57,506 per year
Primary duties: Technical writers create and simplify technical documents, such as instructions, manuals, guides and journal articles, to help non-technical professionals easily understand written materials. Technical writers use analytical skills to take complicated, jargon-heavy materials and translate them into more universally comprehensible ones. They typically work in technology or engineering fields where they can help manage the flow of information.
10 Best Schools for English Literature in the World
An attempt to get a correct definition of literature is a futile attempt, but we will try to give several definitions of literature. Firstly, you must understand that literature means different things to different people. Secondly, literature takes several forms and so refuses to agree with a definition. We will try several definitions, however.
According to Britannica, literature is simply a body of written works. Traditionally, though, literature applies to those imaginative works of poetry and prose that are distinguished by the intentions of their authors as well as how aesthetically excellent it is executed.
Wikipedia supports this when it describes literature generically as a body of written works that comes as art or that which has artistic value. Hence, the language you use in the literature differs from the ordinary usage of language.
Now, before the 18th century, Western Europe called all books and writing literature. But this was too broad and may not really capture what literature is in its real essence. Well, the value judgment definition defined literature to exclusively cover writings with high-quality distinction.
So, summarizing from the above, we find that we can describe literature to be anything from creative writing to more technical or scientific works. However, it is more related to the arts to refer to works of the creative imagination such as poetry, drama, fiction, and nonfiction.
Why Study Literature?
Since we understand what literature is, there then arises the question of why study literature in college? Anybody can sit at home and read a couple of finely written works and write a couple of those himself and tag himself a literary fellow, right?
But there’s more to literature than meets the eyes, which is why people attend colleges and universities to study it.
Now, when you study literature or English literature in colleges, the focus is mostly on analysis, debate, and critical theorizing about a large number of published works in the form of novels, plays, poems, and other literary works. In other words, you will read a lot of literary works and draw analysis from them. This is basically what studying literature entails. So, how does this help?
Here are the key reasons why you should consider studying literature in colleges and universities:
- To Get Direction
- To Secure a Job
- Also, to Gain Mastery of Languages
To Get Direction
Literature like we already know is very broad. If you read any and everything you see, you may get lost in their depths. Studying literature at college helps you really understand what a literary work was about and the message the writer tried to convey. With this knowledge, you will be able to have a sense of where you’re going and what you want to talk about as you develop in the field. You will learn how you can build on the existing works of writers in a genre and theme of your choice to expand knowledge in that field or genre.
To Secure a Job
To start with, anyone who fancies literary works and wants a career in it without going to college can only think of emerging as a writer or poet. These job descriptions oftentimes require pure talent and experience – that is, consistent writing and expression in these lines. However, a degree in English and Literature is not restricted to just these. You can take a career as a journalist, you can teach literature in schools, you can become an editor, you can even become a better author… Becoming any of these and making a living from them would need you to be employed and you can’t get that employment if you don’t have a literature degree.
To Gain Mastery of Languages
You should know that literature is not just about English. You will learn literature by geographies such as African literature, Western literature, and South Asian Arts. Most times, to better appreciate literature in these geographical locations, you may have to treat literature by languages such as Arabic Literature, Celtic Literature, Latin Literature, and French Literature. By doing this, you may be compelled to learn these languages and gain mastery of them.
What is Comparative Literature and English?
We gave a hint of what comparative literature is in the last section when we said you study literature to gain a mastery of languages. Specifically, comparative literature deals with the study of literature and its cultural expression across linguistic, national, and disciplinary boundaries.
Comparative literature even bursts free from practicing works of different languages to works of the same language that originate from different nations or culture that speaks the same language. Studying comparative literature involves a social and cultural analysis of the economy, political dynamics, cultural movements, historical shifts, etc, through literature.
Hence, most Comparative Literature and English departments you find in colleges will equip you to become a critical and creative thinker. You will be able to analyze and interpret individual literary texts while making insightful connections with other works and disciplines. You will also develop an awareness of traditions and cultural variations that will help you express yourself professionally when writing within a cultural sphere.
What are the Educational Requirements for a Literature Career?
It may not be safe to say that the minimum requirement to get jobs in the literary field is a bachelor’s degree. This is because all levels of study in literature are important and your career ambition will decide the right degree for you. So, we will proceed to discuss the kinds of degree you need for a career in literature.
You need a bachelor’s degree in literature if you wish to become a writer or editor. To qualify for a bachelor’s degree in college, you need to complete high school or an associate’s degree program, as the case may be. Now, the bachelor’s degree in literature will teach you how to read, write, and interpret short stories and other forms of literature. While you’ll also study world literature – American literature, Nordic literature – some schools will give you the opportunity to select a specialization in literature or writing.
A master’s degree will also prepare you for a job as a writer or editor but on a higher level. Most school’s master’s program will take you on avant-garde literature, religious poetry, and children’s literature. You may also take topics in Greek Mythology and English Romanticism. Where final research is necessary, you need to defend the thesis relating to the literature topic you chose.
A doctoral degree in literature is for you if you are eyeing the position of a college professor. To get into college for a doctoral degree in literature you will either need a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in literature or English, depending on the school. For a doctoral degree, you may also need to be proficient in a foreign language as well as submit a writing sample to gain admission. Common doctoral courses for literature include Political Implications of Literature; Ancient Greece and Rome; Translating Literary Documents; and Worldwide Storytelling Techniques. Meanwhile, to graduate from the program, you’ll definitely need to write a dissertation.
Jobs You Can Get with a Literature Degree and Their Outlook
The major reason why people with a passion for reading different kinds of literature and writing don’t get to study it in college is that they don’t know what they would become. Even if they know, they feel it is not rewarding and worthy of the time and energy they would put in.
This is a traditional view that doesn’t hold true. With a literature degree, several job opportunities open up for you. You will get jobs in the media and publishing industry, marketing and advertising, and teaching.
Now, let’s consider the three major kinds of jobs you can get in the USA with your literature degree, their salaries and job outlook.
- Writers and Authors
- English Language and Literature Teachers – Postsecondary
Writers and Authors
These are professionals who develop written content for various kinds of media. They can work anywhere so long as they have access to a computer. Meanwhile, to start a career as a writer or author, you need a bachelor’s degree in English and Literature, Communications, or Journalism.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Writers and Authors earn a median annual salary of $62,170. In 2018, 123,200 jobs were available for these professionals and there will be little or no increase in this number in the coming years. This means that the job is not in high demand.
These are literary professionals who plan, review, and revise content for publication in any kind of media platform. Like writers, Editors also need a bachelor’s degree in English or Literature, Communications, or Journalism. Editors either work in the offices of their employers or from a remote location – usually their homes.
According to BLS, Editors’ average annual salary in the USA is $59,480. 118,300 jobs were available for editors in the USA in 2018 and with job growth of -3% from 2018 to 2028, the current jobs available for editors will decline by 3,400.
English Language and Literature Teachers – Postsecondary
These are professionals that teach courses in English language and literature as well as comparative literature. Because they teach at the postsecondary level, they need a master’s or even doctorate degree to get started in this career. Hence, professionals under this category involve both teachers primarily engaged in teaching and those who combine teaching and research.
According to BLS, the average annual salary for Postsecondary English and Literature Teachers is $78,150. In 2018, 68,360 jobs were available for these professionals but there is no information on the job outlook, sadly.
What are the Best Schools in the World for Literature?
Are you asking the school you should attend for literature already? There are over a thousand schools in the world offering one form of English and Literature degree program or the other but you want the best, right?
Here are the best schools in the world to study English and Literature.
- University of Oxford
- University of Cambridge
- Harvard University
- University of California, Berkeley
- Yale University
- Stanford University
- Princeton University
- University of California, Los Angeles
- Columbia University
- University of Chicago
In ranking the best schools in the world for English and Literature, we used the following evaluation factors:
- World Subject and Faculty Ranking: Our ranking compares the QS World University Ranking for English and Literature ranking and Times Higher Education World University Ranking for Arts & Humanities. So, we rank based on Literature schools’ subject and faculty reputation in the world.
- Diversity of English and Literature Programs: We also rank the availability of English and Literature programs at all levels of education in these schools. We also check their program concentration and the availability of Comparative Literature at all levels of study.
- The student to Faculty Ratio: Student to faculty ratio determines the student’s access to faculty members and the amount of personal attention they can get. So a smaller student-to-faculty ratio school will rank higher.
#1. University of Cambridge – United Kingdom
Student to Faculty Ratio: 11:1
The University of Cambridge is the fourth-oldest university in the world and has a reputation as strong as it’s age. Together with Oxford University, the University of Cambridge provides one of the best academic programs in the UK and the world.
Through Cambridge’s Faculty of English and the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic, Cambridge offers one of the best literature programs in the world. QS ranks Cambridge’s literature as the 2nd in the world and THE confirms that their Arts & Humanities faculty is the 2nd in the world.
Cambridge’s English Course (Bachelors) is a three-year program that combines English and Literature history with a chance to specialize in your own interest. It’s Graduate degree programs, on the other hand, include 6 MPhil Programs, a Ph.D. program you can take full or part-time, an MLitt and an MSt degree program in Creative Writing.
Cambridge also has an MPhil program in European, Latin American and Comparative Literature and Cultures by Advanced Study that you can complete in 9 months.
#2. Stanford University – United States
Student to Faculty Ratio: 5:1
Stanford University is one of the universities in the United States to mention in terms of academic excellence and wealth. Located in Stanford, California, it is close to Silicon Valley and hence one of the leading schools in the world for a STEM degree. Well, Stanford isn’t sticking to only STEM degrees.
At Stanford University, you can get one of the best English and Literature programs, not just in the USA but in the world. QS World University Ranking places Stanford University as the 6th in the world to study English and Literature. THE also confirms the strength of Stanford’s Art and Humanities programs by naming it 1st in the world.
When it comes to a variety of programs, Stanford is one of the schools to go to. Stanford offers Bachelor of Art degrees in English Major, English Minor, CS+English, Honors in English, and Creative Writing. For graduate programs, however, Stanford offers the Coterminal Master of Arts and the Ph.D. program.
Furthermore, you can take a comparative literature degree program at Stanford University if that’s your career choice. Stanford’s Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages offer both undergraduate and graduate comparative literature programs that are like none other.EnglishComparative Literature
#3. University of Oxford – United Kingdom
Student to Faculty Ratio: 11:1
The University of Oxford needs no introduction. It is the world’s second-oldest university and a very reputable one at that. Together with Cambridge, they form the popular ‘Oxbridge’ which has an exclusive academic system different from other universities in the UK. Being a notable university in the home of the English language, Oxford University stands as one of the best schools in the world for English and Literature.
The Faculty of English Language and Literature offers Oxford’s literature programs and the programs are one of the best in the world. This is partly the reason for the school’s ranking as number 1 in Qs for English & Literature and number 3 in THE for best Arts & Humanities Faculty in the world.
Oxford’s English Language and Literature Honors is a three-year program that takes you on Shakespeare and Earlier Literature & the History of English. The Graduate programs are the Master of Study (MSt) in Literature in English or MPhil in Medieval Literature and the MLitt/DPhill (Doctorate Program) in Literature. Oxford also offers an MSt in Comparative Literature and Critical Translation if that is your chosen specialty.EnglishComparative Literature
#4. Harvard University – United States
Student to Faculty Ratio: 6:1
Harvard University is one of the best universities in the USA and a regular face in global university rankings. Being one of the 8 Ivy League colleges and the oldest college in the USA, Harvard has crossed a long milestone that several other universities are yet to cross.
You can get one of the best English and Literature degree programs in the world at Harvard University. QS ranks Harvard’s Literature as 3rd in the world, while THE agrees that Harvard is the 5th school in the world for Arts & Humanities programs.
Harvard University Department of English offers the Harvard English Undergraduate Honors. This program is a three-year program that is for students who are interested in an ambitious scholarly, critical or creative work involving literature in English. The program allows you to combine a concentration in English with a concentration in another field with the supervision of one member of each department.
Harvard’s graduate program in English, on the other hand, is a Ph.D. program that takes any time from four to seven years to complete. Finally, Harvard University has a special Department of Comparative Literature that offers both graduate and undergraduate degree programs in Comparative Literature.EnglishComparative Literature
If you’ll be studying English and Literature at Harvard University, you definitely need this Harvard University Scholarships Opportunities
#5. University of California, Berkeley – United States
Student to Faculty Ratio: 20:1
The University of California, Berkeley, is the oldest of the University of California universities. It is a public university in Berkeley, California that offers some of the best degree programs in the USA and the world. Even with a large student population, UC Berkeley’s quality of education has no compromise.
UC Berkeley is one of the outstanding schools in the USA and the world to get an English and Literature degree. QS Top Universities mark UC Berkeley as the 4th school in the world to get a degree program in English and Literature.
UC Berkeley stands out in the variety of English and Literature programs that you can take. The Undergraduate section of Berkeley English allows you to choose from the English Major, English Minor, Creative Writing Minor, and the Honors Program. The Graduate section, on the other hand, offers only a Ph.D. program that takes six years to complete. it also avails you the opportunity to combine studies in other disciplines like Film Studies, Medieval Studies, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality.
Furthermore, UC Berkeley has a Department of Comparative Literature that offers an undergraduate and graduate degree in Comparative Literature.EnglishComparative Literature
#6. Princeton University – United States
Student to Faculty Ratio: 5:1
Princeton University is also a private ivy league university in the USA. So, you know, it is one of the universities in the USA you can confidently point to for a quality degree in any discipline at all, including English and Literature.
QS Top Universities rank Princeton University 7th in the world. THE supports this by ranking naming Princeton the 7th university in the world for Arts and Humanities. This means that Princeton has been influential globally in their research and publications in English and Literature.
Through Princeton’s Department of English, you can take both undergraduate and graduate programs in English. Princeton English’s undergraduate program is the Concentration in English. The program takes three years to complete and you must take a total of 10 courses, including the course in Literary and Cultural History. Meanwhile, Princeton’s graduate program is the Ph.D. program that you can complete in 5-6 years.
Additionally, Princeton has a dedicated department for Comparative Literature where you can take both undergraduate and graduate programs.EnglishComparative Literature
#7. Yale University – United States
Student to Faculty Ratio: 6:1
Of course, you’ve heard of Yale University more than once in your life. If you’ve not heard about this prestigious university, then you’ve not been considering attending one of the best universities in the world. Yale is the third-oldest higher education institution in the USA with a reputation as strong as it is old.
While Yale offers some of the best degrees in the sciences, it also offers one of the best English and Literature programs in the world. QS WUR ranks Yales English as the 5th best in the world, while THE places its Arts & Humanities programs as the 9th in the world.
Yale’s Undergraduate English Language and Literature program is an Undergraduate Introductory Course. The course treats Seminars, Styles of Academic and Professional Prose, Readings, and Epic in the European Literary Tradition. On the other hand, Yale’s graduate program is a Ph.D. program that takes 6 years to complete, of which the first two years will be spent completing your coursework.
Furthermore, Yale also has a Department of Comparative Literature that has been in existence for over 50 years. Here, you can get one of the best graduate and undergraduate comparative literature degree in the world.EnglishComparative Literature
#8. University of Chicago – United States
Student to Faculty Ratio: 5:1
The University of Chicago (UChicago) is a very influential university in the USA. Its scholars have played key roles in the development of academics like economics, law, literary criticism, mathematics, and religion. Through its influence, UChicago has campuses and centers in London, Paris, Beijing, Delhi, and Hong Kong.
UChicago’s reputation and quality cuts across several of its disciplines, including English and Literature. QS World University Ranking ranks UChicago’s English and Literature programs as the 9th in the world, tieing with Columbia University. THE, on the other hand, holds that UChicago’s Art and Humanities programs are the 8th in the world.
UChicago’s Department of English Language and Literature offers both undergraduate and graduate programs in the field. Its undergraduate programs are the English Major (BA) and the Minor in English and Creative Writing. On the other hand, UChicago’s graduate program is a Ph.D. program that prepares you for work as a teacher, scholar, and critic.
Furthermore, UChicago has a Division of the Humanities Comparative Literature that offers Comparative Literature programs for undergraduates and graduates.EnglishComparative Literature
#9. Columbia University – United States
Student to Faculty Ratio: 6:1
Here’s another Ivy League college – Columbia University. Columbia University is not just popular for academic achievements and wealth but also for its history. It is the oldest university in New York and the fifth-oldest university in the USA. Columbia University consistently ranks among the top 10 universities in the world for its undergraduate and graduate programs.
It is no different for its English and Literature programs; they are one of the best in the world. According to QS Top Universities, Columbia University’s English and Literature ranks as the number 9 in the world. THE, in its own ranking for best Arts and Humanities program, ranks Columbia University as 12th in the world.
Columbia University’s English and Literature combines with its Comparative Literature to give the Department of English and Comparative Literature. This department offers an undergraduate major that requires you to complete 10 courses with a grade higher than a D. The department also an M.A program, a B.A/M.A Program, and a Ph.D. program in English and Comparative Literature.English
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#10. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) – United States
Student to Faculty Ratio: 18:1
You already know the University of California, Los Angeles before we mention it. Yes, it is the popular UCLA that is like the ivy league university of public universities in the USA. UCLA is popular for its STEM degrees but it is also popular for its Arts and Humanities programs, especially their English and Literature programs.
In QS WUR ranking of the best universities in the world for English and Literature, UCLA takes the 8th spot. THE ranks UCLA’s Art and Humanities programs as 14th in the world, however. Nonetheless, these two rankings are marvelous as they are global rankings and not national or continental rankings.
UCLA’s Department of English is another department in the USA that is strong on program variety. For the Undergraduate level, UCLA English offers the English Major; American Literature & Culture Major; English Minor; Literature & the Environment Minor; Creative Writing Concentration; and the Honors Program. Additionally, UCLA has a department of Comparative Literature that provides you both undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the field.EnglishComparative Literature
What are the Best Literature Schools Outside the USA?
From the above list of best schools and Universities in the world for literature, you will find that the USA dominates the list. What if you don’t wish to attend a USA school for English and Literature, what other best schools in the world are there as options for you?
Here are the top five schools outside the USA for Literature degree programs:
- University of Cambridge – United Kingdom
- University of Oxford – United Kingdom
- The University of Edinburgh – United Kingdom
- University of Toronto – Canada
- University College London (UCL) – United Kingdom
What are the Best Graduate Schools for English Literature?
If your interest is a graduate program in the world that can comfortably stand as one of the best in the world, then here they are:
- University of Cambridge – United Kingdom
- Stanford University – United States
- Columbia University – United States
- University of Oxford – United Kingdom
- Harvard University – United State
What are the Best Schools in the World to Get a Bachelor’s Degree in Literature?
The best bachelor’s degree schools for literature and English will usually offer more quality programs than others.
The best schools in the world to get a bachelor’s degree in literature is:
- University of California, Los Angeles – United States
- Stanford University – United States
- The University of California, Berkeley – United States
- University of Chicago – United States
- Columbia University – United States
What are the Best Literature Schools in the USA?
Based on our ranking, the best universities in the USA for English and Literature are:
- Stanford University
- Harvard University
- University of California, Berkeley
- Princeton University
- Yale University
What is the Cost of Getting a Literature Program?
The cost of getting a literature program will vary by your level of study – undergraduate or graduate- and the country you’re studying in. Our list of best literature school is dominated by USA and UK schools, so we will provide you sample cost of study based on these two locations.
The Cost of Studying English and Literature in the UK and the USA is:
- Oxford – £9,250 for Home/EU students and £27,285 for overseas students for the Undergraduate English and Literature degree program for a year. The Master’s program cost £12,335 or UK/EU students and £26,405 per year, while the Ph.D. program costs £3,985 for Home/EU and £10,460 for overseas students per year.
- UC Berkeley – The undergraduate English program at Yale costs $14,254 while the graduate program costs $14,188.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Literature Degree?
Most bachelor’s degree programs take three years to complete, but it depends on the country you’re studying in. In the USA and the UK, it takes three years to complete a bachelor’s program in English and Literature. In some other countries of the world, it takes four years. So typically, it takes 3-4 years to complete a bachelor’s program in English Literature.
The master’s degree program in literature, however, takes one to two years to complete, while the doctoral programs take four to six years to complete.
English Literature And Creative Writing
Studying literature and creative writing have a vast amount of advantages but more importantly, it opens various career opportunities for you after graduation. You can bag as many degrees as you want in this particular area of study as it is one very broad of art, you may decide to pursue a postgraduate or doctoral degree it only helps you become better.
You should also know that there are other types of literature but English literature is the commonest, broadest and at one point covers these other types of literature studies and it is as old as man itself and has since been contributing to the development of man and still is.
While our major focus on its article is to list out the best universities for English literature and creative writing worldwide, it would be helpful if you can read through some of the guides we’ve written earlier on this platform as regards the field of English studies.
We’ve earlier written on the best universities for undergraduate English majors in the world and we’ve also provided a guidance article for international students who want to study English in Turkey.
We’ve also provided a comprehensive guide on the best universities for English in the UK. All these articles are geared towards providing help to a student who wants to take up courses and obtain degrees in the English study field.
Why Study English Literature And Creative Writing?
Most people think literature is just about reading a couple of well-written books, write and publish a couple of such. It takes a whole lot more than that, you’re looking at years of hard work of study, gaining intellectual skills and experience which is why people attend colleges and universities to learn the appropriate skills and knowledge.
When you study English literature and creative writing in the university or college, the focus is mainly on the debate, analysis, and critical theorizing about a large number of literary works which may be in the form of novels, plays, poems, etc.
The major reasons to consider studying literature are;
- To gain direction which includes honing your potentials, strengthening and developing your skills in mastering all kinds of literary works, and becoming creative. You will be able to see the world through the eyes of an artist which helps in knowing the kind of contribution of difference you’re going to present to the art world
- For career opportunities, as a good writer, you can make millions annually or decide to join the public or private workforce as a journalist, web content manager, teacher (professor), editor, digital/advertising copywriter, concept artist, information manager, public relations officer, etc.
- To gain mastery of other languages and historical-geographical locations that shaped modern-day literature. African, Western, and Asian works of literature will be dealt with which may compel you to learn the associated languages.
In English literature and creative writing, you can gain quite a number of degrees depending on how far you want to achieve your goals or how ambitious you are. The degrees associated with English Literature and Creative Writing are;
- Bachelor’s degree
- Master’s degree
- Doctoral degree.
Since you have gained some insights into English literature and creative writing I will go ahead to list the best universities for the study field which will greatly help you in your career development.
Best Universities For English Literature And Creative Writing
After much research, I was able to come up with the 10 best universities for English Literature and Creative Writing which are sure to teach you all you need to learn in the field of study and build you for a prospective career. These universities for best English literature and creative writing are;
- The University of Surrey
- The University of Manchester
- University of Brighton
- University of Huddersfield
- University of Kent
- University of Leeds
- London Metropolitan University
- University of Reading
- Oxford Brookes University
- Swansea University
#1 The University of Surrey
Established in 1966 and located in Guildford, England, the University of Surrey is one of the best universities for English literature and creative writing with a global community of ideas and people, dedicated to life-changing education and research.
You will learn important and influential works of literature, reading and discussing contemporary works, classics, and different genres which will help you develop a wide range of creative writing skills and knowledge, looking at forms such as novels, short stories, screenplays, graphic novels, poetry, and plays.
The University of Surreal offers outstanding teaching and practical learning to inspire and empower students for professional and personal success, it is the perfect place for you to develop your potentials for the literary arts.
#2 The University of Manchester
Formed in 2004 and part of the prestigious Russell Group of universities, the University of Manchester, a highly renowned institution for teaching excellence and innovative research is one of the best universities for studying English literature and creative writing.
At the University of Manchester, you will engage in literary and cultural theory, study texts in their historical contexts and reflect on different cultures and traditions. You will also develop creative writing skills in fiction and poetry through workshops conducted by some of the most renowned poets, novelists, and science fiction writers.
The institution is committed to world-class research, outstanding learning, and student experience making it one of the best universities to develop your academic and personal success.
#3 University of Brighton
Gained university status in 1992 and located in England, the University of Brighton is one of the best universities for English literature and creative writing, a community of creative, dynamic, and diverse students who work together to make a positive difference to society.
By combining literary theory with your own writing, the university’s renowned tutors will teach you to become a motivated thinker and writer with excellent critical and creative writing skills you will equally carry out trips and research projects for you to better understand the connections between theory and practice and learning how writing can perform and interrogate theory.
To develop your professional understanding of writing and reflect critically on your practice, English literature and creative writing students of the University of Brighton will work with local authors, publishers, community groups, and companies.
#4 University of Huddersfield
Dating as far back as the 19th century but gained university status in 1992 and located in West Yorkshire, England, the University of Huddersfield is one of the best universities for English literature and creative writing with a high standard of teaching and learning and excellent facilities to enable students to develop the skills and knowledge they need to face the employment world.
When studying this course, you will get to read and talk about some of the greatest works ever written while on the creative writing part you will be taught and encouraged to express yourself and explore your talents as a writer and how to present your works using the proper media either by latest or traditional means.
Studying English literature and creative writing at the University of Huddersfield will help you gain practical, transferable skills, such as critical thinking, research, communication, and independent study, required in the real world.
#5 University of Kent
Established in 1965 and located in the United Kingdom, the University of Kent is one of the best universities for English literature and creative writing and as a forward-thinking research institution that is committed to the transformative power of education and research, helps students to hone their abilities and develop them to become successful in the real world.
By studying English literature and creative writing at the University of Kent, you get to study traditional areas alongside contemporary literature and the latest literary theory. Several of the tutors of this course are published authors and poets who will help you to develop analytical and critical skills, find your own voice and produce innovative and thoughtful writing.
#6 University of Leeds
Fully established in 1904 and located in West Yorkshire, England, the University of Leeds is one of the best universities for English literature and creative writing renowned for its quality teaching and research.
To study the course, English literature and creative writing, you will have to blend creative and critical approaches to literature, the renowned tutors of this school will teach you to combine creativity with critical thinking, help you develop transferable skills in communication, research, and project management which are highly regarded by employers.
The University of Leeds is a great citadel of learning to develop your skills and knowledge in English literature and creative writing and better prepare you for the outside world.
#7 London Metropolitan University
With strong educational roots going as far back as 1848 but fully established in 2002, the London Metropolitan University is one of the best universities for English literature and creative writing in the whole world with state-of-the-art learning facilities and globally renowned tutors to help you develop and manage your passion for this aspect of arts.
English literature and creative writing at London Metropolitan University is taught by experienced academics, published poets, and novelists who will help you develop the understanding of literature and creative writing through the study of the historical and contemporary genres both in national and international contexts, learn how to edit your work, develop your writing across literary and commercial genres.
The ability you will gain by studying this combined course at the London Metropolitan University will make you prepared for the outside world, become an outstanding candidate for a career in publishing, the creative and cultural industries, the arts, education, and the communication sector.
#8 University of Reading
Established in 1892 and located in Berkshire, England, the University of Reading is one of the best schools for English literature and creative writing and has since been making a positive impact on students who in turn have made major positive contributions to society and the world as large.
Studying English literature and creative writing at the University of Reading will help you explore literature from all angles. In the literature aspect, you will be introduced to exciting, important, diverse writers from across the centuries and the globe, and in the creative writing aspect, you will explore literary creativity from the inside such as creating characters, constructing poems, and forming your own imagination.
The course is taught by renowned prize-winning authors who are still active and with their experience in the field, they will inspire and guide you to achieve your aim successfully.
#9 Oxford Brookes University
Established in 1865 and located in Oxford, England, Oxford Brookes University is one of the best universities for English literature and creative writing, with a global reputation for quality education, innovation, and excellent teaching as well as strong links with business and industry
Pursuing a degree in English literature and writing at the Oxford Brookes University means you are ready to develop your power as a writer and push yourself to the limit. You will be taught by established writers and poets who with their experience and vast knowledge in the subject matter help you to shape your writing through studying groundbreaking literary texts.
You will have the freedom to truly develop and discover yourself as a writer and be equipped with the skills and knowledge required by employees for life after school.
#10 Swansea University
Established in 1920 and located in Wales, United Kingdom, Swansea University is one of the best universities for English literature and creative writing and has since been providing a global perspective and opportunities to gain skills that last a lifetime.
You will be taught this course by experienced writers who have been recognized for their work, they will guide you to exploring a range of styles and genres as well as studying the history, traditions, and theory of English literature.
You will also learn a range of writing skills to better equip you for a career as a writer, including plays, film scripts, non-fiction, and novels which will help you set up a fine, successful career in the public or private workforce.
Many foreign students choose getting linguistic education in Europe, because European educational institutions give a fundamental humanitarian education. Pedagogy, journalism, publishing, communications, international relations are just some of the areas that are popular with specialists.
TOP universities in Europe are recognized as some of the best for studying linguistics and offer a wide range of English-language programs:
- bachelor degree
- PhD and PhD programs
- certificate courses.