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English Language & Literature Major

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English Language & Literature

$73,090 Median Salary

Types of Degrees English Language & Literature Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many English language and literature graduations there were in 2017-2018 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 43,471
Master’s Degree 8,347
Associate’s Degree 3,134
Doctor’s Degree 1,298
Basic Certificate 962
Undergraduate Certificate 464
Graduate Certificate 313

What English Language & Literature Majors Need to Know

O*NET surveyed people in occupations related to English language and literature and asked them what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. The responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for English Language & Literature Majors

According to O*NET survey takers, a major in English language and literature should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Communications and Media - Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

Skills for English Language & Literature Majors

English language and literature majors are found most commonly in careers in which the following skills are important:

  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Abilities for English Language & Literature Majors

English Language and Literature majors often go into careers where the following abilities are vital:

  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).

What Can You Do With a English Language & Literature Major?

People with a English language and literature degree often go into the following careers:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Copy Writers 7.6% $62,170
English Language and Literature Professors 9.8% $66,590
Poets, Lyricists and Creative Writers 7.6% $62,170
Professors 9.4% $65,660
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 7.5% $60,320
Technical Writers 10.9% $71,850

Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in English Language & Literature?

43,471 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
71% Percent Women
29% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
The major attracts more women than men. About 71% of the recent graduates in this field are female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of English language and literature majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of English Language & Literature Students with Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 1,761
Black or African American 3,258
Hispanic or Latino 5,738
White 28,662
International Students 633
Other Races/Ethnicities 3,419

Geographic Diversity

Students from other countries are interested in English Language & Literature, too. About 1.5% of those with this major are international students.

How Much Do English Language & Literature Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

The median early-career salary of English language and literature students with a bachelor’s degree is $26,900 a year according to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $23,500 (25th percentile) and $30,500 (75th percentile).


It’s important to note that just because the people reporting these salaries have a degree in English language and literature, it does not mean that they are working in a job related to their degree.

Salaries According to BLS

English Language and Literature majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $69,480 to $76,990 (25th to 75th percentile). This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for an English Language & Literature Major  ( 69480 to 76990 )
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )

Some careers associated with English language and literature require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

Find out what the typical degree level is for English language and literature careers below.

Education Level Percentage of Workers
Less than a High School Diploma 4.9%
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 2.4%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 1.1%
Some College Courses 6.0%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 6.5%
Bachelor’s Degree 45.2%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 4.6%
Master’s Degree 15.4%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 1.4%
Doctoral Degree 13.4%
Post-Doctoral Training 0.1%

Online English Language & Literature Programs

In the 2017-2018 academic year, 1,716 schools offered some type of English language and literature program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 136 24
Certificate (1-2 years) 44 5
Certificate (2-4 Years) 4 0
Associate’s Degree 307 44
Bachelor’s Degree 114 19
Post-Baccalaureate 136 24
Master’s Degree 777 69
Post-Master’s 29 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 188 2
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 1 1

Is a Degree in English Language & Literature Worth It?

The median salary for a English language and literature grad is $73,090 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 83% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $663,800 after 20 years!


You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to English language and literature.

Major Number of Grads
Liberal Arts / Sciences & Humanities 516,754
Visual & Performing Arts 154,258
Foreign Languages & Linguistics 34,883
Theology & Religious Vocations 31,559
Philosophy & Religious Studies 16,163


More about our data sources and methodologies.

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