English Degree: Is it Useful? We Explain, You Decide.

english degree

Are you ready to talk about the elephant in the room? That’s right, we’re talking about English degrees. You’ve probably heard all the jokes about English majors working at Starbucks after graduation. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with working at a place like Starbucks, it’s usually not the first choice for someone who has just earned their English degree.

So, lately, lots of students are picking “practical” majors instead. But there’s more to an English degree than meets the eye. Turns out, those bookworms might actually be pretty clever about the job market. They learn “soft skills” that companies are desperate for, and that can lead to surprisingly cool careers. If you’re looking for an affordable online English degree check out our ranking.

What Is an English Degree?

An English degree is a powerhouse of communication and critical thinking skills. When most people think about English they think about writing. But English degrees also teach you how to read texts critically and understand them. An unfortunately rare skill these days, and a valuable one. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Let’s take a look at each component that makes up this degree. After that we’ll talk about its various levels and career potential.

Featured Programs

Writing Masterclass

It’s not just grammar drills (though those help). You’ll learn to write in a variety of styles—clear reports, persuasive arguments, even creative writing like poems or scripts. Employers appreciate staff who reflect this kind of education in their work output. And that will bode well for you in the workforce.

Decoding the World

You won’t merely read; you’ll analyze. What’s the author’s hidden agenda? How does a poem use wordplay to create emotion? This makes you super attuned to the way people use language, a skill valuable in everything from sales to politics.

The Big Idea Workout

Get ready to dissect arguments, understand different viewpoints, and form your own well-reasoned opinions. It’s more than just book reports—you’re learning to tackle complex issues, just like you’ll need to in the “real world.”

Now, about those degree levels:

  • Associate Degree: A starting point. It covers the basics of literature and writing and can get you entry-level jobs or prepare you for further study.
  • English Bachelor’s Degree: A bachelor degree in English is the classic 4-year route, giving you a deeper dive. Many English careers start here.
  • Master’s Degree: Ready to specialize? Master’s programs come in variants like literature, creative writing (think author life), or teaching certification.
  • Ph.D.: The ultimate level, this is for serious scholars and those aiming to be college professors.

And what about teaching English? An English degree isn’t the same as an English Education degree. A bachelor degree in English education, for example, focuses on how to teach literature in classrooms, with courses in psychology and lesson planning. An English degree is broader, giving those core language skills for many paths.

What Can You Do With an English Degree?

Some people instantly attribute a teaching position to an English degree. However those aspiring to teach should consider a teaching degree instead. While teaching is certainly one option with an English degree, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other interesting career options for English majors. An English degree opens doors you might never have imagined because, in today’s world, strong communication and thinking skills are vital. Let’s examine a few possibilities:

  • Social Media Creative: Companies need people who can create catchy posts, handle online communities, and craft the brand’s “voice.” English grads get how to use words to persuade and connect.
  • Technical Writer: Think those manuals and websites write themselves? English majors can translate tech-speak into clear explanations for regular humans, which is a seriously in-demand skill.
  • Content Writer: Every website needs articles, blogs, the works. English grads can churn out creative, well-written pieces that get attention.
  • Grant Writer: Nonprofits need convincing proposals to get funding. Who better to write a persuasive case than an English major?

And don’t forget, there’s also room for editors, marketing professionals, journalists, even lawyers. Yes, law school loves the analytical skills that English degrees provide, as they help ensure a level of professionalism and accuracy in the office.

Want an even narrower focus? Specialized master’s degrees can lead to things like becoming a librarian, a published author, or a college professor. The possibilities are virtually endless.

The English Major “Soft Skills” Advantage

It’s true that it’s looking more and more like Artificial Intelligence might be responsible for writing basic reports one day. But ask yourself the following questions—can it:

  • Craft a persuasive argument?
  • Unravel biased information?
  • Adapt to a fast-changing workplace?

These are the areas where English grads shine. Forget outdated stereotypes—here’s what you’ll really gain:

  • Communication Master: Whether it’s a crystal-clear email, a killer presentation, or adapting your message to win over a tough crowd, English degrees make you a communication powerhouse. Every job needs that.
  • Critical Thinker: Analyze arguments, spot misleading info, weigh complex options. It’s more than book smarts—it’s the skill to make smart decisions in a world full of noise.
  • Adaptability: New trends, new projects, new curveballs? No sweat! English grads are trained to learn quickly and tackle unfamiliar problems. Companies need people who can roll with the punches.
  • Creative Problem-Solving: Brainstorming that next big idea, finding a fresh angle—it’s all about thinking outside the box. Studying literature, writing, and rhetoric sparks the kind of creative thinking that sets you apart.

The bottom line? Modern tech like AI is certainly impressive, but it’s the human touch that companies are desperate for. An English degree is your secret weapon to develop those irreplaceable skills.

Is an English Degree Worth It?

You might hear people warn you about starving artists and useless English degrees. Don’t listen to the naysayers. The truth is, those “soft skills” that we just talked about are what employers are longing to find.

They want workers who can think, communicate, and adapt. Tech skills can be taught, but those core skills are harder to come by. Consider this: “hard skills” are the specific tools for a job (coding, accounting, etc.). An English degree gives you the “soft skills” to excel with those tools and beyond.

You’ll bring better problem-solving and communication to any role you step into. And in a job market that’s always changing, that adaptability is worth its weight in gold.

Worried about the salary? Studies show that while English majors may start slightly lower, over time, they catch up to (and sometimes surpass) those in “practical” fields. Why? Because they rise faster thanks to those in-demand soft skills.

OK, but what about teaching or becoming an author? Yes, for those specific careers, a bachelor’s degree in English is the direct path. It gives you the knowledge and credentials you need.

At the end of the day, a degree in English isn’t about a single job title. On the contrary, it is an investment in a skillset that sets you up for success in countless careers, even ones that don’t exist yet.

Wrap Up

An English degree isn’t a one-way ticket to a specific job (though it can be if that’s your passion). It’s a wealth of skills that make you shine in any field. Whether you end up in an office, a library, or somewhere you never even dreamed of, you will be armed with the ability to communicate effectively, think critically, and adapt to whatever comes your way.

Companies aren’t just looking for someone with the right degree title; they want people who bring something extra. That “extra” comes from the challenge and growth of studying literature, language, and ideas.

Regardless of whether you strive to obtain a Ph.D. or a bachelor of English degree, you’re making an investment in becoming the best version of yourself—someone who is ready to tackle any opportunity.