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What Can I Do With a Masters in English?

Written by Ben Taylor

Studying a Masters in English is a great way to expand your employment horizons, equipping you with plenty of transferrable skills and valuable experience. Usually taken by people who studied an Arts subject at undergraduate level, a Masters in English could involve a specific focus on a particular time period or genre, or take a broader look at literature and language.

This page will give you an overview of the career paths you could take with an English Masters. We’ve also used official data from the UK Government to estimate the difference that a postgraduate qualification in English could make to your salary and employability.

What skills will I gain with a Masters in English?

A Masters in English will allow you to build on the skills and knowledge you gained during your Bachelors, giving you plenty of independence and self-study time to pursue the topics that interest you.

You’ll find that many Masters programmes in English will place a greater emphasis on research than you might have experienced at undergraduate level, with more opportunities to explore specialist archives and other historical resources. This will definitely be the case if you’re studying an MRes qualification, which prioritises independent research rather than taught instruction.

These are some of the main skills and experience you can expect to develop if you study English at postgraduate level:

  • Critical thinking and reasoning
  • Cultural analysis
  • Close reading abilities
  • Long-form essay writing
  • Conference-style presentations of your work

Your Masters will likely culminate in a dissertation of around 15,000 words – a substantial research project that will require plenty of motivation and self-directed study. It’s also the perfect opportunity to forge your own academic niche and contribute something unique to your field.

While most English Bachelors degrees give students a broad overview of the subject, many Masters in this area allow you to hone in on a particular aspect of the discipline, drawing on the expertise of the lecturers in your university department. For example, you might be able to specialise in an area like postcolonialism, the Gothic or transhumanism, leveraging this knowledge in your future career.

What jobs can I get with a Masters in English?

A Masters in English is excellent preparation for a career in any number of sectors. You’re certainly not limited to teaching, despite what some people might think about English students!

Employers will value your ability to communicate clearly and effectively, as well as your experience of working independently on a substantial research project like the dissertation.

One of the most obvious destinations for English postgraduates is the publishing industry, where it’s fairly common for a Masters qualification to be part of the job requirements. You could be well-equipped for a role in one of the following areas at a publishing company:

  • Editorial
  • Proofreading
  • Audience research
  • Marketing
  • Commissioning editor
  • Literary agent

Journalism is another popular avenue for English postgrads, requiring excellent written and research skills.

If you don’t want to work in a field directly related to English, you’ll have plenty of options open to you, with all kinds of businesses valuing the communication capabilities and specialist knowledge of an Arts and Humanities postgrad. Some of the main sectors include:

  • Advertising
  • Digital marketing
  • Public relations
  • Media
  • Civil service

Of course, a Masters in English can also be great preparation for a career in teaching. If you’re interested in teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), a postgraduate qualification can be an excellent way of setting yourself apart in the jobs market.

How employable are English Masters graduates?

Official government data suggests that 81.2% of UK English postgraduates from English universities are in full-time work or further study five years after finishing their Masters.

What salary could I earn with a Masters in English?

Future earnings can be an important factor when deciding whether to study a Masters (as well as deciding which Masters to study). Official data does reveal that Masters graduates earn a higher average salary than their undergraduate equivalents.

Similar data from the UK Government’s Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) survey shows that studying a Masters in English can lead to higher median earnings:

  • The median earnings of an English Masters graduate five years after finishing their course was £25,600
  • The median earnings of an English first degree graduate five years after finishing their course was £25,200

These figures come from UK-based students who went to universities in England.

This difference in earnings works out at around 1.6% higher annual earnings for a Masters graduate in English compared to a Bachelors graduate.

Data sources

This page uses official statistics for postgraduate salaries in the UK, based on information from HMRC that measures the earnings of UK postgraduates in the 2018-19 tax year. You should be aware that historical information doesn’t guarantee future career prospects and earnings. Many other factors also play a role in determining how well someone does with a Masters.

Search for a Masters in English

Ready to begin your search for a programme? Browse the English Masters listed on our website.

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Last updated: 21 May 2021