A master’s in literature degree will broaden and deepen your knowledge of literary theory and criticism, literary history, genres, as well as introducing you to different critical and methodological approaches.
It will also reinforce your command of language, which will enhance your writing and communication skills.
With this degree, you are qualified for a wide range of jobs across various sectors. But your career will depend on the specific master’s in literature you get.
Which program is right for you? How much do they cost? What are the acceptance rates?
Read on to learn all about the best master’s in literature programs available today and everything you need to know about this field of study.
Harvard University is one of the world’s most famous universities, accepting only students who demonstrate excellence in academia as well as extracurricular and community activities. This master’s degree in literature is designed to help students develop a deep understanding of literature, including philosophical, cultural, and historical forces that shape literary creation.
Courses include: Introduction to graduate studies in dramatic arts, English, and religion, the novel & its contexts, and poetry in America.
Stanford University is a world-renowned university that has been named number three in the country for English programs. This master’s of literature program is offered to current Stanford students already pursuing undergraduate programs in English or related disciplines.
Courses include: The institutions of world literature, creative expression in writing, and speculative fiction & social justice.
Columbia University’s Department of English and Comparative Literature has played an important role in the country’s history of literary study. This master’s literature program also offers a sequential option, where you can go on to earn a PhD after you’ve got your MA.
Courses include: Early American literature, 19th-century comparative novel, and revolutions in text & technology.
The University of Pennsylvania boasts many world-renowned faculty members in the field of literature and believes in using a collective teaching approach. This master’s degree in literature helps students gain a deeper understanding of theoretical aspects, methodological approaches, and historical periods of American and English literature.
Courses include: Topics in criticism, English, Irish, and American Dantes, and modern literary theory & criticism.
The University of Chicago’s English faculty has a tradition of pursuing the critical inquiry of literature instead of compartmentalizing it into different sections. The university’s MA in literature offers many diverse areas of study, such as global literature, black studies, and critical theory & objects of study.
Courses include: Autobiography, theories of gender & sexuality, and the Victorian unconscious.
The University of Notre Dame is a private research university with a tradition of delivering education based on both intellectual and religious principles. As part of this master of literature program, you can choose between a research or a non-research track.
Courses include: Introduction to the Gothic language, editing/performing Shakespeare, and gender, print culture, & modernity.
Duration: 2 years
Tuition: $60,301 per year on average across all majors
The English department of Northwestern University is a lively community that regularly sponsors talks, workshops, and other events. This master’s degree literature program gives students the flexibility to choose their coursework while providing an overall historical perspective of American, English, and Anglophone literature.
Courses include: Utopian imagination in Sci-Fi literature & cinema, postmodern film, and desire & danger in four classic novels.
University of Virginia has been named third among the USA’s best public universities and it’s admission process values academic merit above all else. This literature master’s program offers various diverse concentration options, including teaching, world literature, and law & literature.
Courses: Literary pedagogy, literary theory, and literary criticism.
New York University is a private research university known for its global and innovative approach. Its Arts & Science Department seeks to reinvent liberal arts education for the 21st century. This master’s program gives students the flexibility to complete their studies entirely remotely and is geared to helping them to develop the skills they need for the modern job market.
Courses include: Medieval & early modern literature, American literature to 1900, and English renaissance drama.
Rutgers University is the top public university in New Jersey, with a faculty that includes several renowned scholars. This highly flexible literature graduate program offers you a choice between full-time or part-time study, depending on your needs.
Courses include: Introduction to graduate literary study, literature before 1800, and American literature.
Master’s in Literature Degrees Admission Requirements
Generally, admission requirements for a master’s in literature program include:
A bachelor’s degree in literature or a related discipline
Academic transcripts with a strong GPA
Letters of recommendation
However, each program has unique requirements, so it’s important to check these with the admissions office. Be sure to do your research as early as possible to make sure you can pull together all of the required elements and prepare a strong application.
Master’s in Literature Program Tuition
Tuition for a master’s in literature program can vary based on a range of factors. For public universities, the tuition can range from $6,000 to $35,000, while it can be between $50,000 and $80,000 in private institutions.
In some schools, most notably public ones, out-of-state students pay more than those residing there.
Different Kinds of Master’s in Literature Programs
Master’s in literature graduate programs can offer a choice of different concentrations. These represent an opportunity to pursue areas that match your interests, passions, and career objectives.
Some of the most common concentrations you’ll find for a master’s of literature are:
How Important Is Accreditation for a Literature Master’s Degree?
Regional accreditation is important, as it’s a strong indication of the quality of the program and its faculty. Studying through a program with certain accreditations is also essential when applying for financial aid. Furthermore, having a qualification with relevant professional accreditations will make you a more desirable candidate to future employers.
Why Get a Literature Master’s Degree?
A literature master’s degree will provide you with an in-depth understanding of literary theory, literary history, and genres, and expose you to a wide range of approaches to literature. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, communication and media professionals can expect to see a growth in jobs of 6% over the next decade, which is comparable with the average for all occupations.
How Much Will a Master’s Degree in Literature Cost?
Tuition for a master’s in literature degree can cost anywhere from $6,000 to $80,000 based on a variety of different factors. Overall, private universities cost more than public institutions. In addition to tuition, you should also factor in the cost of study materials and living expenses.
Jobs and Salaries for Master’s in Literature
With a master’s in literature degree, you’ll be eligible for a wide range of jobs. Some of the most common roles are listed below, with the average annual salaries for each:
How To Choose the Best Master’s in Literature Program
The best graduate program for you will depend on a range of factors, many of which are highly individual, so it’s impossible to take a one-size-fits-all approach.
Having said that, there are some common aspects that will help you to choose the best master’s of literature program:
The overall demand for the program
The university’s emphasis on literature programs compared to other majors
Average earnings of previous graduates
How easy it will be to repay your debts once you earn your degree
Professionals with a master’s in literature program can land jobs in various fields, including media, education, publishing, arts administration, and communication. The literature qualification can improve your command of language, enhance your communication skill, and give you an edge over other candidates in the job market.
Furthermore, suppose you want to go on to further study instead of joining the workplace. In that case, you may look for a PhD in a wide range of literature areas, such as comparative literature, literary theory, and classic literature. This will give you specialized expertise and make you a great fit for high-level jobs in academia and research.
Lisa is a full-time writer specializing in career advice, further education, and personal development. She works from all over the world, and when not writing you'll find her hiking, practicing yoga, or enjoying a glass of Malbec.