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General English Literature Major

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General English Literature

34,063 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
4,112 Master's Degrees Annually
#17 in Popularity
$64,340 Median Salary

Types of Degrees General English Literature Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many general English literature graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 34,070
Master’s Degree 4,112
Associate’s Degree 2,780
Doctor’s Degree 1,110
Undergraduate Certificate 330
Basic Certificate 229
Graduate Certificate 35

What General English Literature Majors Need to Know

People with careers related to English were asked what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. They weighted these areas on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest.

Knowledge Areas for English Majors

This major prepares you for careers in which these knowledge areas are important:

  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • 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.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • 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.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

Skills for English Majors

A major in English prepares you for careers in which the following skill-sets are crucial:

  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Instructing - Teaching others how to do something.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • 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.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Abilities for English Majors

Some of the most crucial abilities to master while a English student include the following:

  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • 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.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.

What Can You Do With a General English Literature Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with English:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
English Language and Literature Professors 9.8% $66,590
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 7.5% $60,320

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

34,070 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
72% Percent Women
31% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
This is one of the most frequently chosen undergraduate majors. It is the 17th most popular in the country with 34,063 students graduating with a bachelor’s in English in 2019. The major attracts more women than men. About 72% of the recent graduates in this field are female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

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

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of English Students with Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 1,418
Black or African American 2,544
Hispanic or Latino 5,045
White 21,987
International Students 517
Other Races/Ethnicities 2,559

Geographic Diversity

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in English. About 1.5% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • China
  • South Korea
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Japan
  • Mexico

How Much Do General English Literature Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

The median early-career salary of general English literature students with a bachelor’s degree is $26,850 a year according to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $23,700 (25th percentile) and $30,200 (75th percentile).


It is possible that some of these people may have taken positions that were not related to English.

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $64,340 to $78,150 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to English. This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

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 a General English Literature Major  ( 64340 to 78150 )
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 degrees associated with English may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

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

Education Level Percentage of Workers
Less than a High School Diploma 4.6%
Bachelor’s Degree 28.7%
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. 8.0%
Master’s Degree 27.6%
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. 2.9%
Doctoral Degree 30.0%
Post-Doctoral Training 0.2%

Online General English Literature Programs

In the 2018-2019 academic year, 1,550 schools offered some type of general English 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) 31 5
Certificate (1-2 years) 16 4
Certificate (2-4 Years) 1 0
Associate’s Degree 224 36
Bachelor’s Degree 31 4
Post-Baccalaureate 31 5
Master’s Degree 417 37
Post-Master’s 12 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 143 0
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 1 1

Is a Degree in General English Literature Worth It?

The median salary for a English grad is $64,340 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 61% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $488,800 after 20 years!


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

Major Number of Grads
Writing Studies 14,629
English Literature (Other) 1,163
Literature 841


More about our data sources and methodologies.

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