Studying English at the master's level could be a worthwhile move.
Many people would advise against pursuing a master's degree in English, or any other humanities subject for that matter. Such an endeavor is widely regarded as a waste of time and money, with conventional wisdom stating that English degrees are unappealing to employers.
And while it's perhaps true that becoming a millionaire off the back of a master's degree in English is unlikely, the notion that such a move is tantamount to a professional dead end is wrong. There are a number of reasons why pursuing English in a higher education setting could be a worthwhile move for you.
Below is a guide of three of the most compelling reasons to pursue a master's degree in English:
1. You can use it to advance in academia
If you're looking to become an English professor with a tenure track position, a master's degree is absolutely necessary. This is because a majority of colleges will only consider candidates for teaching positions that have earned a Ph.D. And to be considered for a Ph.D. program, you will typically need a master's degree. In some cases, however, it is possible to advance to a Ph.D. immediately after an undergraduate degree has been earned. For example, some institutions, like Harvard University, offer a two-in-one course for which a standalone master's is not a prerequisite.
According to Order for Education, a master's degree in English is also an effective way to secure a position at a law school, as admissions officers at such institutions value the analytical skills that English graduates often possess.
"An English master's could land you a place at law school."
2. You wish to grow as a writer
There is a marked difference between the quality of writing expected at the undergraduate level when compared with the graduate level, and anyone who has pursued an English M.A. will tell you that it has made them a better writer. A master's in English will help writers hone their craft through the guidance of highly qualified professors and talented peers. Indeed, as Order for Education pointed out, the workshopping and feedback opportunities that are provided in an English master's course are rarely found outside of a higher education setting.
3. It can take you down a number of career paths
Forget the old adage that English graduates won't be able to land a job. A master's in English can open a number of professional doors. According to the Guardian, employers are increasingly searching for candidates that can think outside of the box in terms of creativity and communication. Consequently, an English graduate could be a good fit for positions across a wide array of industries. After all, communication is key, and an English master's can strengthen your skill in that area.
Some of the more traditional career avenues that an English graduate may pursue include editing, journalism, teaching and writing. Study.com explained that editors can work in a number of different areas, from publishing, to marketing to newspapers and magazines. A typical editor can earn over $30 an hour in the newspaper and magazine industry, while editors in the software field can expect to earn in excess of $80,000 a year.
For those looking to teach, a master's degree in English is a great way to land a position at the high school or community college level. Just keep in mind that many states will require you to take an additional teaching course to qualify.
Another up and coming market for English graduates is that of content marketing. As more and more companies cultivate an online presence, the demand for talented writers that can produce clean copy will undoubtedly increase.