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 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.
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.
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.
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.
- Cornell University: The Ph.D. Program in English Language and Literature
- The University of Toledo: Applying to PhD Programs in English
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012 11-9033 Education Administrators, Postsecondary
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012 25-1123 English Language and Literature Teachers, Postsecondary
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012 27-3041 Editors
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012 27-3043 Writers and Authors
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Writers and Authors Do
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Editors Do
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Postsecondary Education Administrators Do
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Postsecondary Teachers Do
- The University of Southern Mississippi: PhD in English, Literature Emphasis
- Modern Language Association: From Rumors to Facts: Career Outcomes of English PhDs
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012 11-1021 General and Operations Managers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Top Executives Do