What to Do With a Doctorate in English Literature

by Luanne Kelchner

    A doctorate in English literature offers students an opportunity to study a narrow area of the field for several years. Students in a doctoral program gain more than just an education in English literature. Graduate study in English literature helps them develop the skills to conduct research, write and teach. While many graduate students plan a career as professors, a doctoral degree in English literature is an impressive credential that can lead to positions in other fields.

    Doctoral Program Description

    Doctoral programs in English literature allow students to focus on specific areas of the field, with concentrations such as English poetry, African-American literature and literary criticism. Training in teaching is an important part of an English literature doctoral program. Students may have to complete a teaching experience as part of the program. Required courses in the program may include literary theory, research methods and foreign languages, in addition to a dissertation.

    Careers in Education

    Many graduates of a doctoral program in English literature plan on careers as postsecondary teachers. Postsecondary English literature teachers develop curriculum, plan lectures, evaluate and advise students and conduct and publish research in the field. Publishing original research is essential for teachers seeking tenure. A doctorate is a requirement for postsecondary teachers working at a four-year college or university. The median annual salary for postsecondary English literature teachers in 2012 was $60,040, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Beyond teaching, doctorate holders may seek positions as education administrators. Administrators work in admissions, the registrar's office and student affairs or as academic deans. A bachelor's degree may be sufficient for an entry-level position in admissions, student affairs or the registrar's office, but a doctorate is a common requirement for a position as an academic dean. The median annual salary for education administrators in 2012 was $86,490, according to the BLS.

    Publishing Careers

    A doctorate in English literature isn't necessary to work in publishing, but it can enhance employment opportunities. Graduates of a doctoral program in English literature may work as editors or writers in the publishing industry. Editors check written material for errors, rewrite material, fact-check and evaluate the quality of submissions from writers. They also plan the content publications will publish, assign stories and hire writers. In addition, editors work with writers to ensure their submissions meet publication requirements. Editing positions include copy, executive and managing editors. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for editors in 2012 was $53,880. The publishing industry also offers opportunities for writers. Writers research and develop original content for newspapers, books, magazines, advertisements and scripts. The typical duties of a writer include selecting the subject matter, conducting research, writing and rewriting the material and submitting it to an editor. The median annual salary for writers and authors in 2012 was $55,940, according to the BLS.

    Business and Management Careers

    Some graduates of a doctorate program in English literature find employment in business, government or nonprofit organizations. Writing and editing skills can lead to management positions in business. Additional training in finance, management or accounting may be necessary to work in an executive management position. Managers oversee the daily operations of a company or a department within the organization, develop the business's goals and strategies and supervise other managers. The median annual salary for general managers in 2012 was $95,440, according to the BLS.

    About the Author

    Luanne Kelchner works out of Daytona Beach, Florida and has been freelance writing full time since 2008. Her ghostwriting work has covered a variety of topics but mainly focuses on health and home improvement articles. Kelchner has a degree from Southern New Hampshire University in English language and literature.