Masters in English Education Programs

Programs offering a masters degree in English education equip new and experienced teachers with the skills and subject-area expertise to improve student literacy through literature and writing. The majority of these programs are likely to focus on secondary education. However, middle grades language arts programs may also be offered by many schools. While many different types of programs may be available, these can generally be broken down into a few categories:

  • Programs for certified English teachers with classroom experience
  • Programs for certified teachers with experience in another subject area
  • Programs for aspiring teachers with a degree and experience in an unrelated area

Which of the above types of programs you choose may impact the prerequisites of that program, as well as the content and approach.

For example, programs for experienced teachers may require proof of certification or licensure, professional references, or a minimum amount of experience leading a classroom, and may not spend a great deal of time on the basics.

Programs designed for new teachers preparing for licensure, meanwhile, are unlikely to have these prerequisites and are likely to spend more time on the fundamentals of teaching and learning, and may be aligned with the certification standards in that state.

In addition to the basics described above, different programs may be designed to meet unique classroom needs or instructional approaches, or to focus on unique aspects of teaching English. As such, you may be able to enroll in an English education masters program that aligns with the needs of your students or school community.

Why Earn a Masters Degree in English Education?

Your reasons for choosing to earn a masters in English Education may depend on your experience, the type of school you work in, the state you live and work in, and your individual classroom needs.

For example, some states or school districts may require teachers to pursue a masters degree after becoming certified and starting their careers, in order to maintain their certification.i Other states may use education and other credentials, along with years of service, as a factor in calculating salary increase, or for other advancement opportunities, such as leadership roles in your department or school.

Of course, not all teachers are motivated by money. After all, that’s probably not why you chose to become a teacher in the first place! Possibly one of the most influential reasons for earning a masters in teaching English—your students. Masters programs enable teachers like you to learn from the experience of teachers who have worked in classrooms like yours before you, develop new teaching strategies, and better prepare yourself to serve your students.

Whatever your motivations, make sure you take them into account when choosing your potential masters programs, in order to find options that align closely with what you’re looking for.

Types of English Education Masters Degrees

When choosing between English education masters programs, you may find yourself considering several degree types. While the programs offered at each school may vary, different degree types generally have unique advantages.

A few of the more common options include:

  • Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT): Master of Arts in Teaching English programs are likely to be designed primarily for teachers who want to stay in the classroom, rather than moving into leadership roles outside of it. Whether they’re designed with new or experienced teachers in mind, programs like this are likely to spend time on things like pedagogy, instructional strategies to improve literacy, constructing English lessons for diverse classroom needs, and more.
  • Master of Education/Master of Science in Education (M.Ed./M.S.Ed.): Many Master of Education programs focus on the classroom, meaning the differences between them and MAT programs could be minimal. However, some are designed more broadly. That means some programs may focus on things like English department or school leadership, literature and writing curriculum design, literacy research, or teacher training.
  • Education Specialist (Ed.S.): This is technically not a masters degree, but rather a degree level between masters and doctorate. However, some schools may offer EdS programs continuously with masters programs—meaning you could move straight from, say, a M.Ed. in English program to an Ed.S. program without needing to reapply or change schools.

Related Specializations

In addition to varying degree types, some programs may offer unique concentration areas or areas of focus within English Education, beyond simply English Secondary Education. These generally focus on the needs of certain types of students, or specific professional roles within a school or department. Some of these areas of focus may also be offered as unique degrees in themselves.

While they may not necessarily go by the names used to describe them here, here are of the options you may encounter:

  • Comparative Literature: Mostly offered in secondary education programs, this type of program would focus on understanding and analyzing different types of literature, as well as introducing concepts like literary criticism in a high school classroom.
  • Writing: Programs with this focus would focus on teaching and evaluating the fundamentals of writing. This could encompass research, teaching academic writing, creative writing, editing, and other similar skills.
  • Reading & Literacy: These programs are often—though not always—designed to lead to or support someone in a specialist role. Different schools may break these out differently. However, generally, reading programs focus on helping students acquire reading skills or overcome barriers to reading, such as learning disabilities. On the other hand, literacy programs often focus on helping teachers help their students read and write. To learn more about this area, visit its masters program page here.
  • Elementary Reading & Literacy: While many reading & literacy programs focus on helping students with reading disorders or similar issues, some instead focus on helping children learn to read for the first time in an elementary classroom.
  • Middle Grades Language Arts: Because teaching language arts in a middle school setting often requires a different type of certification from elementary or secondary education, some programs may offer a masters degree in English education aligned with those standards. While different states vary, this usually addresses adolescence, or about grades 5-8.
  • Curriculum Design: Some masters programs may allow students to focus on curriculum design for English Language Arts classrooms. While in some cases this may be geared to classroom teachers planning for their own students, in other cases, this could look toward department, school, or even district-wide leadership roles overseeing and implementing curriculum changes. To learn more about earning a masters in curriculum design, read about it here.
  • Leadership: Some English Master of Education programs may address or even focus on leading or training an English Language Arts department. More generalized Education Leadership programs may also be offered. You can read about them here.
  • TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages): While many programs focus on teaching native or experienced English speakers to read and write more effectively, others focus on helping non-native speakers become more fluent, so as to succeed in English-speaking communities. Some ESL or ELL teachers may even choose to pursue a certification in this area. Read more about TESOL programs here.

Potential Program Formats

Programs offering a Masters Degree in English Education may be offered either on campus or online. Each of these could accommodate your needs as both a student and a teacher in different ways.

  • Online masters degree in English education programs could be a flexible option for busy teachers. Many of these programs offer asynchronous courses, meaning you could log on at your convenience, better accommodating the ever-changing schedule of a teacher (or a professional in another field). In some cases, online education programs are supported by a program on a local campus, and offer much of the same resources and support as campus students might receive. However, if you’re working toward your initial certification or are enrolling in a program that includes fieldwork, make sure you’re aware of how your program organizes this and how much of that responsibility falls on you.
  • On campus English education masters programs are a local option for current and aspiring English teachers who’d prefer to learn—just like their own students—in the classroom. Because many of these programs attract active teachers and adult students with other careers, they may offer flexible scheduling (such as evening classes), potentially even supplemented with online learning. Students in campus programs may build relationships with their peers and instructors, and rely on the academic and career resources found on campus—including, potentially, your program’s relationship with local schools and districts.

Example Curriculum

The curriculum you need to complete to earn your masters in English education may vary, influenced by the type of program, the type of degree, your choice of school, concentration area, and other factors. However, here is an example of the type of course schedule you may expect.

  • Curriculum Design & Development
  • Instructional Methods for Reading
  • Instructional Methods for Writing
  • Writing Assessment
  • Digital & Media Literacy
  • Criticism & Analysis
  • Diverse Literature
  • Reading Disabilities & Processing Disorders
  • Reading & Writing for English Language Learners

Especially if you are seeking licensure, your program of choice may include other requirements, such as field experience and/or research. If you are seeking licensure and choose to enroll in a program in another state, make sure you review the requirements in your state to make sure they align with the one you ultimately choose.

Masters in English Education Potential Careers

The median salaries for teachers in 2017 were:

  • High School Teachers: $59,170 i
  • Middle School Teachers: $57,720 ii
  • Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers: $56,900 iii

However, your potential salary as an English teacher could vary considerably. Factors potentially influencing this include but are not limited to:

  • The state and school district where you work
  • The amount of experience and relevant education you have
  • The type of school you choose to work in (e.g. public or private)
  • Additional responsibilities outside your classroom

For more information on how this works in your state, reach out to your selected masters program or to the school district in your area.

Find Masters Degree in English Education Programs

Search for programs offering a masters degree in English education right here! Review the sponsored listings below, or use the menu to select your preferred program format. Click on the name of any program you want to learn more about to read and request more information. Then start your application!


Sources: [i]



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