Careers with an Advanced Degree in English
English majors tend to be in high demand today because they are intelligent, well-rounded, and interesting people able to flexibly adapt to a variety of tasks.
Graduate education in English further develops those characteristics in an environment that encourages debate, cultivates empathy, and promotes both independent thinking and teamwork. These broadly applicable skills not only prepare one for a career in English, but also enable flexibility in today’s employment climate wherein many people change careers multiple times.
Professional environments in diverse areas within the business, education, nonprofit, and government sectors value the high-level written, verbal, analytical, research, and interpersonal skills that are cultivated by advanced study in English.
An M.A. in English (2-3 years) emphasizes the development of writing, critical thinking skills, and broad knowledge within the discipline. MA programs also, typically, grant students the opportunity to teach introductory college writing courses and to develop teaching skills.
While an MA often leads to a teaching career at the community college level or as the first step to a PhD in English, it also serves as a broadly flexible credential for any number of careers. Recent graduates of UND's MA program, for example, have gone on to law school, to careers in university administration and nonprofit administration, and to full-time lecturer positions at regional universities.
The Ph.D. in English (roughly 3-7 years beyond the Master's Degree) focuses on developing specialized research knowledge and skills, and has traditionally led to career as a professor at a four-year college or university.
In recent years, securing employment as a tenure-track academic has become more difficult, yet English PhDs can find other productive and satisfying career paths. A National Endowment for the Humanities study found that, beyond those working as professors, 20% of Humanities PhDs work in educational administration; 4% in government; 5% in the nonprofit sector; 6% in private business; and 5% are self-employed.
Graduate study in English, then, has traditionally been understood as preparation for a career in academic teaching and research, but these broadly applicable skills also are in demand in a variety of professional environments. English graduate programs provide students with a broad and diverse range of valuable skills and enhance career flexibility, while allowing interested students to explore their passion for reading, writing, and research.
Connect With an English Advisor
If you are interested in learning more about how to prepare yourself for graduate study in English, please contact Dr. Adam Kitzes, Director of Graduate Studies.