BA in English: The Definitive Guide & Top Schools

If you love reading and writing and want to start a career that uses these skills, an English bachelor’s degree is a wise investment.

You’ll get immersed in a program of high-quality literature and writing classes that can make you an expert in your field and help you find a great job in no time.

What Will I Learn in an English Program?

An English bachelor’s degree focuses heavily on a handful of different concentrations, including literary theory and analysis, as well as creative writing and general literature.

You may also learn about film studies, as these are getting added to more and more English degrees.

Your coursework will likely be split between general reading classes, where you talk about literature worldwide.

Specializations include British, Russian, German, and Ancient Greek literature and American, Gender-Specific, and LGBTQ+ literature courses.

You’ll read short stories, poems, novellas, novels, and nonfiction essays in these classes.

You’ll learn what makes these pieces of literature so powerful and how you can emulate them in your writing.

In addition, literary theory can help you expand your skills and improve your reading comprehension.

Creative writing courses will focus on various styles, including fiction, nonfiction, plays, novels, short stories, and poems.

You’ll workshop your creations with your class, discussing what makes them good and where they need improvement.

These steps help minimize problems with your work to improve it.

Courses you’re likely to take include Introduction to Literature, British Literature, American Literature, History of Literary Theory, Shakespeare, Contemporary Literary Theory, Contemporary World Literature, African American Literature, U.S. Latino Literature, Film as Art, Media Storytelling, Communication Theory, Representation in the Media, and Gender in Literature.

Note that some programs may include a capstone project like a small bachelor’s thesis.

You’ll either produce an original and inspired piece of literary criticism or creative work.

A capstone project is designed to showcase what you’ve learned during your program.

During your program, expect to learn skills like close reading, cultural examination, critical evaluation, composition, research, and oral interpretation.

These essential abilities help you transition to multiple career paths and improve your chances of finding a better job after graduating.

How to Choose a Good Program

Choosing a good English program requires researching a university’s quality and the teachers in their program.

For example, you can read about the teachers online on various review sites to learn more about what students think about them.

This helps you understand their skills and approach.

Next, you must focus on the program’s quality, not the university’s.

While it might be tempting to attend the best possible school, some might not have a strong English program.

Therefore, pick a school with the best English program whenever possible.

Now, take into account your finances and financial aid.

Do you have multiple scholarships and grants to help you pay for an expensive private school?

Or are you more limited in your funding?

Pick a school that fits your budget to ensure you don’t pay too much.

Private schools cost more but provide a hands-on experience that works well for English.

Your teachers can focus more on your needs and help you learn.

These schools may also be more respected and make finding a job later easier.

Public schools in your state are a great option if you don’t have much money.

They typically charge much less than a private school, especially if you stay in your home state.

Though you’ll have a less personalized experience, you’ll still get a bachelor’s degree to help your career.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Bachelor’s in English?

A standard English bachelor’s degree should take about four years to earn from start to finish.

However, there are a few situations in which it may take a shorter time.

For instance, you can cut your studies in half if you have an English associate’s degree before attending a university.

For instance, you can transfer the credits you already earned to your university to avoid taking physical education, science, and math courses.

In this way, you can focus on your studies and potentially finish your degree in as little as 11 to 18 months.

You can also use an accelerated learning program at many schools.

These programs focus on year-round education, including classes during the summer and winter breaks.

You also have a more significant credit load in these programs, such as 20 credits rather than 16 every semester.

Though more demanding on your time each semester, it does speed up your degree, helping you earn one as quickly as two years.

Some schools may even include teaching assistant programs that earn you extra credits.

For example, you may work with your favorite English professor grading and evaluating exams.

This may earn you a little extra money and some more credits on the side to speed up your degree and education.

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Bachelor’s in English?

A typical bachelor’s degree in English will cost you around $20,470 to $35,000, depending on multiple factors.

For example, a university in your state will cost half of one outside your state.

That’s because they typically give discounts to students who stay within their home area.

Your program may also cost more if you live on campus rather than off.

While on-campus dorms and apartments provide you with furniture and other amenities, they cost far more than different types.

As a result, you’ll almost always spend more money when taking this approach.

Thankfully, an English program is not as costly in its materials.

While you’ll still have to buy books to read and study, these may only cost several hundred dollars every semester.

Though not cheap, it’s a much lower price than biology majors pay for lab equipment and time.

Beyond tuition costs, you may also pay for things like on-campus dining options, trips abroad with your classes, and more.

You may also have to pay for utility costs, including telephone costs, internet bills, heating, electricity, and other expenses necessary to live off campus.

Note that many universities provide cost-balancing steps that can help decrease your expenses.

For example, you may get a job on campus to earn money to pay rent.

You can also become a teacher’s assistant, which some universities will use to minimize their students’ expenses.

What Can I Do With a Bachelor’s in English?

Though your career path might not seem immediately obvious when getting a bachelor’s degree in English, there are many jobs you may find with it.

In addition, many people who earn this degree earn a master’s or doctorate in specialized English fields to teach at the university level.

This option is a good choice for those who enjoy the academic environment and who like helping others.

You can become a community college professor with a master’s degree and a university professor with a doctorate.

Often, you can focus on writing while working in this career.

However, you can also get a job as an assistant editor, full-time editor, biographer, blog writer, critic, review editor, bookstore manager, scriptwriter, copy editor, copywriter, creative writer, essayist, library assistant, ESL teacher, English tutor, document reviewer, news writer, and even travel writer.

You’ll typically write in your profession when you get an English bachelor’s degree, so be prepared for that unique demand.

Thankfully, you can use the skills learned in your program to improve your career in many ways.

For example, you’ll use your literary analysis skills as a book publisher or editor.

Others may earn management jobs with an English bachelor’s degree.

That’s because they may have better communication and argument skills that make it easier to work with other people.

In addition, a bachelor’s degree may give an employer the insight they need to decide which of their employees to advance and which should stay in their current position.

Should I Get a Bachelor’s in English?

A bachelor’s degree in English is an excellent option for someone who enjoys reading and writing and wants to work in specific fields.

However, note that people who get an English degree may not have a prominent career in mind, unlike people who major in skills like drafting or marketing.

That said, an English program can improve your overall research and analytical skills, enhance your writing skills, and boost your speaking.

In addition, you typically study a broad range of subjects beyond English, including history, some math and science, and social sciences.

As a result, a bachelor’s degree in English is suitable for those who want an old-school education with a comprehensive range of subjects.

People who finish an English degree often come out of school with a vast knowledge base and feel comfortable transitioning to many careers.

Most importantly, many skills you learn in an English program can transition elsewhere.

For example, people with a bachelor’s in English may get a Master’s degree in a related field, such as marketing or business.

The all-purpose nature of this bachelor’s degree makes it suitable for many people.