Should you get your Masters if you have a Degree in English

Should you get your Masters degree if you have a degree in English? Well, I suppose that really depends on what you plan to do with your English degree. I spent my first year as an undergraduate flopping around with different ideas for a major, before ultimately settling on English – and several years later, I ended up becoming a doctor – who saw that coming, eh? 

The beauty of an English degree is its versatility. You are closing very few doors and few careers if you have a degree in English. On the other hand, without further education, there is little that you can do directly with such a degree. Think of it as a stepping stone for most people. There are few professions where writing skills are not highly valued, but also few where you get paid well just because you have those skills – something of a conundrum.

If you plan on teaching at just about any level beyond little elementary school kids, a Masters in something else is likely a good idea. Many English majors go on to become teachers, so this is a common pathway. 

English majors can go on to professional schools like law school and medical school. In recent decades, medical schools are seeing a sharp increase in applicants who have a humanities degree, in contrast to the “typical” biology or chemistry major. You learn all the science you need to know when you are actually in medical school, and the writing and reading training you get in an English program can put you a step up on your fellow medical classmates.

Similarly, law school applicants often find an English degree useful, instead of the more common political science major. Law school involves a lot of reading and writing, something that you get no end of practice at with an English degree. 

If you decide not to continue your education after getting an English degree, you may be somewhat limited with possible career options. Low level teaching is a possibility, but don’t expect to become a professor, even at a community college – that’s just not going to happen with only a BA.

Many recent English majors go out in the workplace and quickly find themselves in clerical and administrative support jobs. These jobs can be okay for a while, but they often have a very low ceiling – meaning that you are unlikely to advance very far.

Of course, you can always use your English degree to work for yourself. Write a novel, become a freelance writer. There are jobs available where you can become a professional writer – and very few of them involve getting a Masters degree.

It is often difficult to know if you should get a Masters degree if you have a degree in English. If you aren’t sure, there’s no hard in waiting a year or two to see what options may develop. Ultimately however, it’s really up to the individual to decide, based on what you really want to do with your life.