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The 10 Best Online Bachelor’s in English Literature and Writing Degree Programs

Today, many working adults choose to return to school to pursue new career goals or to complete a degree they never got to finish. That means the need for flexible online degree options has increased noticeably in recent years. This increase in demand for online degrees is true for many writing related careers. For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that Technical Writers will see an 11% employment increase between now and 2026, which is a must faster than average growth rate. As more business need writers, editors, and publishers to create content, there is a greater need for an educated workforce that knows how to read, analyze, and write content quickly. For many people wanting to enter these fields, a great undergraduate degree option is a Bachelor’s in English.

For this ranking, we gathered a list of all colleges and universities in the United States that offer Bachelor’s degrees in English and narrowed our selections to the universities that offer online programs. Our results are the culmination of a multi-dimensional metric system that focused on three key qualities. First, we wanted to know whether or not the school’s tuition made it a viable choice for online English students. Second, we looked at whether the school offered flexible options to accommodate student needs, like fast-track options or multiple specialities. And finally, we wanted to determine the academic prestige of the institutions we sampled. You can find a more thorough explanation of the methodology we used below.


  • Affordability (1/3):Out of State tuition
  • Flexibility (1/3): The range of flexible options in the program, including the ability to accelerate degree completion, work part-time, choose different concentrations, get credit for prior experience, and other unique degree options.
  • Academic Prestige (1/3): Composite score based on set factors like graduation rate, percent admitted, student-to-faculty ratio, and retention rates.

1. American Public University System

American Public University System is a private, for-profit online education system that includes American Military University and American Public University. Founded by Major James P. Etter, the APU system was originally designed to meet unique educational needs of military personnel. Over the years, it evolved to include programs for civilians interested in public service. Several standout, fully online programs at the APU system include their Center for Cyber Defense, and their Emergency & Disaster Management programs. Because of APU’s focus on serving military personnel, many of their degree programs are also offered fully online.

One of APU’s online degree programs is a Bachelor’s of Arts in English. The bachelor’s degree focuses on teaching students to organize their thoughts and ideas through engaging with English, American, and world literature. Through that engagement bachelor’s students also learn invaluable communication skills for careers in public relations, editing, writing, reporting, legal studies, and much more. Bachelor’s students can choose between two concentrations: general or writing. The general path allows students to select concentration courses that allows them to further specialize their degree, with addition focus areas in African American literature, Latin American Literature, Folklore, and Middle Eastern Literature, among others. In the writing concentration, students can choose between courses like creative writing, technical writing, business writing, and journalism. APU also offers flexible components like free ebooks when available, transfer credit options, and employer partnerships.

2. University of Illinois at Springfield

The University of Illinois at Springfield is a public university in Springfield, Illinois. UIS was founded in 1969 as Sangamon State University and became part of the University of Illinois system in 1995. Before 2001, UIS was an upper-division and graduate university only. That means their students where in the last 2 years of their undergraduate or in graduate programs. Today, UIS is considered one of the best regional universities in the Midwest. UIS is also well known for its online degree programs, which they started offering in 1999. Since that time, they have been recognized by multiple national organizations for their high quality online education.

One of UIS’s online degree programs is a Bachelor’s in English. The online English program requires students to have completed general education courses, many of which can also be taken online, before enrolling in the major. The Bachelor’s in English online degree program prepares students for careers in creative, culture, and analytical fields that require high levels of communication. English bachelor’s students take foundations courses, like Introduction to Linguistics, Introduction to Literature, and literature surveys. From there bachelor’s students must also take a research methods, as well as courses in young adult literature, creative writing, and digital technologies. Finally, students take electives across several areas like literature genres, editing, and writing. UIS’s online English program ensures students finish their degrees with a well-rounded approach to literature and writing, and the ability to apply those skills in a range of career options.

3. York College

York College is one of eleven senior colleges in the City University of New York (CUNY) system. Located in Jamaica, Queens in New York City, York was the first senior college in the CUNY system and is a member of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. Today, York College boasts an enrollment of over 8,000 students and offers bachelor degree programs in more than 40 fields across three schools. That means York students have a lot of options to choose from as they decide their career paths. Its location in one of the world’s largest urban areas also means that students have a lot of additional resources at their fingertips.

One of York’s degree programs includes a Bachelor’s in English. This bachelor’s degree is designed to teach students to improve their reading, writing, and speaking skills through engaging with the Humanities, as well as improving their problem solving and analytical thinking skills. All English bachelor’s students take courses in a range of literary periods from English and American literature, as well as methodology courses. Bachelor’s students also choose between 2 areas of emphasis: writing rhetoric, and language or literature. Writing, rhetoric, and language students take upper level writing courses about grammar, syntax, rhetorical theory, and creative writing. Meanwhile, literature students Western literary traditions, Shakespeare, and upper level literature courses.

4. Minnesota State University, Mankato

Minnesota State University, Mankato, also known as Minnesota State, is a public comprehensive university in Mankato, Minnesota. Founded in 1860 as a Normal School, Minnesota State is the second oldest member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. Today, Minnesota State has a little over 15,000 students and offers 130 undergraduate programs, 75 graduate programs, and 4 doctoral programs. That means Minnesota State students have a lot of options to choose from as they explore their interests. Included in those degree program numbers are a number of completely online degree programs.

One of Minnesota’s degree programs is a Bachelor’s in English. This bachelor’s program teaches students effective written communication, as well as critical and analytical thinking skills that prepare students to start careers in teaching, writing, editing, publishing, and other communication fields. English bachelor’s students can choose between several different areas, including: communication arts and literature education, creative writing, english literature, and english studies. Students can also add majors that may help them enter certain fields like interdisciplinary minor in communications, writing studies, and technical communication. All of those different options, mean English students can best choose concentration areas and minor that best suit their chosen career.

5. University of Memphis

The University of Memphis is a public research university in Memphis, Tennessee. Founded in 1912, U of M started as West Tennessee Normal School. Over time, the university expanded its course offerings, eventually becoming the comprehensive research university we know today. Currently, U of M has more than 21,000 students across 13 colleges and schools, as well as 6 advanced research centers and institutes. That means U of M students have a lot of options to explore their interests while still being confident in the high quality education they are receiving. U of M also offers a number of online degree programs to further accommodate their students’ busy lives.

One of those online degree programs includes a Bachelor’s in English. The English bachelor’s program prepares students to develop high level critical thinking and writing skills. U of M offers two options for English Bachelor’s students: a concentration in African American literature or a concentration in Professional Writing. Both concentration options require students to take general literature survey courses, as well advanced writing classes. The African American literature concentration also requires students to take several courses in different periods of African American literature, like before and after the Harlem Renaissance. The Professional Writing concentration requires students to take technical and professional writing, web design, professional editing, as well as complete an internship.

6. Mercy College

Mercy College is a private, non-profit, research university in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Mercy was founded in 1950 by the Sisters of Mercy. Today, it maintains its affiliation with the Catholic Church and Jesuit education principles. Mercy has over 11,000 students across its five schools, offering more than 90 undergraduate and graduate degree or certificate programs. That means Mercy’s students have the freedom to explore their interests all the while being assured of the quality of their education. Those options include over a dozen fully online degree or degree completion programs.

One of Mercy’s online degree programs is a Bachelor’s in English. This online bachelor’s program is designed to increase students’ critical thinking and communication skills so that they may enter many communication careers, including teaching. All English Bachelor’s students take introductory survey courses, as well as courses in classical literature, social and cultural literary movements, literary genres, and historical literary eras. Mercy students also have the option to enroll in a BS/MS dual degree program, which allows students interested in teaching to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree at an accelerated page. Through this program, students may also earn certification in Secondary Education, Childhood Education, or Early Childhood Education.

7. University of Maine at Presque Isle

The University of Maine at Presque Isle is part of the University of Maine System. UMPI primarily specializes in career and professional studies, teacher education, and health and human services. UMPI was founded in 1903 as Aroostook State Normal School, a two-year teacher college. By the mid 20th century its name had changed, as it joined the University of Maine system and expanded its course offerings. Currently, UMPI’s under 2,000 students can choose between 22 bachelor’s degrees, 7 associates, 35 minors, and 5 certificate programs. UMPI also offers a select few online degree to help meet the needs of their busy students.

One of UMPI’s online programs is a Bachelor’s degree in English. This online degree teachers students to write effectively, and to read and think critically. Online courses are offered year-round, including summer sessions. That means students can take courses as they fit their schedule and can shorten their time-to-degree if they choose to have heavier course loads. English bachelor’s students take courses like Introduction to Literature, Professional Communication, Contemporary World Literature, Writing Theory and Practice, and period courses in various areas of literature. Students also have the option to add a professional communication and journalism concentration.

8. Clayton State University

Clayton State University is a public university in Morrow, Georgia and part of the University System of Georgia. CSU originally opened its doors in 1969 as a junior college before becoming a 4 year institution 20 years later. Today, Clayton State has a little over 7,000 students across 4 schools and colleges. That means students have a lot of degree options to explore, while still gaining the benefits of an individualized education that Clayton State’s small size allows. Some of those options include online degree options.

One of Clayton State’s online degree options includes a Bachelor’s in English. Clayton State’s English bachelor’s degree prepares students for careers in journalism, editing, business communication, public relations, technical or professional writing, or teaching. The fully online English program includes introductory courses in literary studies, writing studies, and critical theory. Bachelor’s students also take courses in digital and media writing, cultural rhetorics, and literature surveys and periods. Students also have the option to choose between two concentrations: Writing and Literature. Both options are available in their fully online degree option.

9. Grand Canyon University

Founded in 1949, Grand Canyon University is a for-profit Christian university in Phoenix. GCU was initially established as a non-profit school that sought to provide a faith-based education to local Baptist students, who otherwise had to travel to Texas or Oklahoma for a similarly Christian-affiliated college experience. Since becoming for-profit in 2004, GCU has seen a lot of growth with enrollment increasing by over 16,000 in 9 short years. With that kind of growth, also comes increased revenue to improve the educational experiences of its learners and the surrounding community.

One of Grand Canyon University’s online degree programs is a Bachelor’s in English with an emphasis in professional writing. This online bachelor’s degree program prepares students to become effective writers and readers. Students take courses in literature and information texts from various cultures, rhetorical and composition theory, and professional writing classes, including online and digital writing. With such a variety of courses to choose from, Grand Canyon students are sure to design a degree that best suits their career goals. The bachelor’s program also has multiple start dates and accelerated online semesters, both of which help to shorten your time-to-degree.

10. Troy University

Troy University is a comprehensive public university in Troy, Alabama. Founded in 1887 as Troy State Normal School in the Alabama State University System, Troy today 4 campuses in Alabama, as well as 60 teaching sites all over the world. Troy also boasts over 18,000 students across 6 colleges and schools, offering 46 bachelor’s, 22 masters, and 2 doctoral programs. That means Troy students have a lot of options to explore while deciding on their career interests. Troy is also well known for its Confucius Institute, which hosts Chinese cultures and language lectures, as well as outreach programs.

Troy also offers several fully online degree programs. One of these programs includes a Bachelor’s degree in English. This online bachelor’s degree program prepares students to communicate clearly and effectively, as well as engage in critical thinking and analysis of written texts and their cultural contexts. Students in this major take British and American literature survey courses, as well as literature electives. Students can also choose from electives like technical and professional editing, document design, as well as creative writing courses. Troy English graduates often go on to careers as copywriters, technical writers, librarians, English teachers, or graduate school.