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Literature Major

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536 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
132 Master's Degrees Annually
#197 in Popularity
$73,090 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Literature Majors Are Getting

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

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 546
Master’s Degree 132
Basic Certificate 46
Associate’s Degree 24
Graduate Certificate 24
Doctor’s Degree 7
Undergraduate Certificate 1

What Literature Majors Need to Know

In an O*NET survey, literature majors were asked to rate what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important in their occupations. These answers were weighted on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most important.

Knowledge Areas for Literature 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.
  • 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.
  • Sociology and Anthropology - Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.

Skills for Literature Majors

The following list of skills has been highlighted as some of the most essential for careers related to literature:

  • 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 Literature Majors

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

  • 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.
  • Fluency of Ideas - The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).

What Can You Do With a Literature Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with literature:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
English Language and Literature Professors 9.8% $66,590
Poets, Lyricists and Creative Writers 7.6% $62,170

Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Literature?

546 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
73% Percent Women
25% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
This is a less frequently chosen undergraduate major. Only 536 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in literature in 2018, making it rank #197 in popularity. This major is dominated by women with about 73% of recent graduates being female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

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

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Literature Students with Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 25
Black or African American 19
Hispanic or Latino 64
White 363
International Students 17
Other Races/Ethnicities 58

Geographic Diversity

Students from other countries are interested in Literature, too. About 3.1% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • Saudi Arabia
  • United Kingdom
  • Canada
  • India
  • South Korea

How Much Do Literature Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

The U.S. Department of Education found that students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a bachelor’s degree in literature made a median starting salary of $27,500 per year. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $23,050 (25th percentile) and $30,300 (75th percentile).


We don’t know for sure if all of these people took jobs related to literature so take that into consideration.

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $69,480 to $78,150 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to literature. 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 a Literature Major  ( 69480 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 careers associated with literature require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

How much schooling do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to literature have obtained the following education levels.

Education Level Percentage of Workers
Less than a High School Diploma 10.4%
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 5.0%
Some College Courses 2.5%
Bachelor’s Degree 36.2%
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. 1.6%
Master’s Degree 18.7%
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. 0.9%
Doctoral Degree 26.1%
Post-Doctoral Training 0.1%

Online Literature Programs

In the 2017-2018 academic year, 96 schools offered some type of 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) 2 0
Certificate (1-2 years) 1 0
Certificate (2-4 Years) 0 0
Associate’s Degree 17 1
Bachelor’s Degree 5 0
Post-Baccalaureate 2 0
Master’s Degree 16 1
Post-Master’s 1 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 2 0
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 0 0

Is a Degree in Literature Worth It?

The median salary for a 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 literature.

Major Number of Grads
General English Literature 43,370
Writing Studies 12,624
English Literature (Other) 1,215


More about our data sources and methodologies.

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