Accredited Online Masters in English Education: Program Overviews
Explore online master's degree programs in English education. Read on to learn about online delivery methods, common courses, the importance of accreditation and employment prospects for English teachers.
Considering its emphasis on literary analysis, writing and linguistics, the nature of the English education field is conducive to independent study in an online learning environment. The program requirements for online master's degrees in this area of study are quite similar, if not identical, to on-campus degree plans. Such English education programs are developed and led by university faculty and include classes that provide students with the skills to teach writing, literature, grammar and reading. Students also explore psychological, social and cultural perspectives of education.
Online Learning Considerations
While coursework offerings may be in keeping with on-campus programs, online English education programs do have some differences worth considering. Master's-level work in this field of study requires considerable amounts of reading, analysis and writing; online students must develop their own schedules and devote hours each week to their academic work without the in-class guidance typical of campus-based classes. In addition, learning online - especially if students live far from their schools - may limit or prevent access to campus experiences that could be beneficial academically and professionally. This could include working at an on-site writing center or participating in a graduate assistantship.
That said, today's technology offers multiple ways for online English education students to discuss teaching issues, literature and writing methods with professors and fellow classmates. Classes can be conducted both synchronously and asynchronously and may involve the use of multimedia and video conferencing applications. Thus, master's students often must meet software and hardware standards to utilize the necessary course management technology and Web-based communication tools.
Typical Coursework Requirements
Some schools offering online master's degrees in this field of study may require students to have earned a minimum number of undergraduate credits in English in order to be prepared for graduate study in the subject. This requirement could be met by completing an English major or minor.
Courses in a distance learning master's program in English education provide in-depth knowledge of written and oral communication, as well as pedagogy techniques. Students might take courses in critical reading, literacy development, writing instruction and computer-assisted learning, as well as the following classes:
- Methods for teaching English
- Creative writing
- Literature analysis
- Professional experiences
- Language learning
Online master's programs in English education also may include faculty-led independent study or educational research, and students may be required to attend campus-based seminars. Students generally complete comprehensive oral and written exams in their final term of study. Some online programs offer the option to complete a thesis or non-thesis track; the former is a usual requirement for admission into a doctoral-level program.
Who the Programs Are For
While not always the case, university English departments design these distance learning programs for professionals, including teachers, looking to advance their careers by earning a graduate degree. Programs are often organized to provide flexibility to working adults so that they can balance academic studies with their jobs. In addition to teaching, these programs could be a good fit for those seeking positions in publishing and other writing-centered occupations as well. Beyond providing professional enhancement, online English education master's degree programs may also be used to prepare for later doctoral work.
Colleges and universities that have achieved accreditation have met certain quality assurance standards regarding their academic offerings, faculty and other higher education services. Regional organizations, such as the Middle States Commission on Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, provide schools the accreditation needed to award undergraduate and graduate degrees, including those offered online.
A school's accreditation status is an important consideration for both online and on-campus students. It is particularly vital that prospective distance learning students take time to verify that their schools and programs are accredited, because there can be a higher risk of coming across fraudulent 'degree mills' when performing online school searches, according to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (www.chea.org). Earning a degree from an unaccredited school may have little to no worth from the perspective of employers, including public school systems.
Graduates with a master's degree in English education typically are qualified for teaching positions at high schools and community colleges or with community-based adult English education programs. In most cases, a doctoral degree is required for full-time English professorships at the university level.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected job growth of six percent and 12%, respectively, for secondary and postsecondary teachers between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov). As of May 2013, the BLS reported average wages of $58,260 for secondary teachers and $68,360 for postsecondary English language and literature teachers.
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