Best Liberal Arts Colleges for English Degrees – Academic Influence

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The best English / literature liberal arts colleges are those with rich histories of influence, proven through the work produced by the program’s faculty and alumni. Beyond demonstrating scholarly impact in the field, the best English degree programs maximize your opportunities to interact with outstanding English faculty.
A bachelor’s degree in English (also referred to as an literature major in many schools) is an excellent starting point for a career in journalism, education, publishing, and a host of other exciting and creative fields. As an English major, you’ll refine your compositional skills, engage in critical reading, and explore the connection between literature and a vast array of other disciplines, including philosophy, history, and business. The best schools for English / literature are those which are regionally accredited, which offer a full array of literature and English concentrations, and which give you the chance to work with the best and most influential professors and classmates.
Degree popularity: English bachelor’s degrees are the 23rd most popular undergraduate degrees across all student demographics, ranking much higher for women at 15th versus 39th for men. It’s most popular among White women for whom it ranks 14th, followed by Hispanic women for whom it ranks 24th, according to the number of degree earners reported by the National Center for Educational Statistics
The best liberal arts colleges for English degrees introduce students to the wide range of literature and other works in the English language. But while there’s the possibility of personal fulfillment and professional success with an English degree, students interested in becoming English majors must also be aware of the challenges.
The challenge starts with admission into the best bachelor’s degree program of your choice! The best English degree programs have selective admissions criteria and requirements, thus, prospective students must be well-prepared with their academic credentials and documents.
While the admissions criteria (i.e., weight given to each criterion) differs among English degree programs, the common minimum requirements include:
Many liberal arts colleges offering English degree programs also conduct interviews with qualified students to further determine their suitability (i.e., oral communication skills). Academic writing samples may also be required as proof of writing skills.
Bachelor’s degree programs in English typically require students to complete the academic requirements for 60 credit hours or its equivalent. This means an average time-to-completion between four and five years but the actual time-to-completion for each student can vary based on these factors:
The choice between on-campus and online programs will also affect your level of academic success in an English degree program. Many of the best liberals arts colleges offer students the choice between these formats.
Since online and on-campus English degree programs feature the same curriculum, all students must meet the standards for academic excellence. Students must read a broad range of works in English literature, which demands above-average critical reading skills, and submit papers, among other requirements.
The methods for academic evaluations determine the students’ progress in the English degree programs, too. Liberal arts colleges use these evaluation methods:
Academic misdemeanors, such as plagiarism and cheating, can be met with punishments, such as suspension or expulsion.
Internship and/or practicum opportunities may be available in the best liberal arts colleges, too. The hands-on experiences are gained in diverse workplaces, too, from colleges and universities to public relations firms.
The beauty of an English degree lies in the set of valuable skills that students develop during the program. Technical skills, such as professional writing skills, creative writing skills, and technical writing skills in the English language, are emphasized. But students also develop transferable skills including:
No wonder graduates of English degree programs in liberal arts colleges find gainful employment in diverse occupations and enjoy personal fulfillment, too! The bachelor’s degree is also a stepping stone toward a master’s degree and, if you so desire, a doctorate degree in English.
Per-credit costs for an English degree ranges between $180 and $600+ with the actual pre-credit costs depending on the type of institution (whether public or private). Financial aid is available in the form of federal and state financial aid, scholarships, and grants.
Like all other bachelor’s degrees, an English degree from a liberal arts college is what you make of it—leveraging it to your advantage is key to your success.
Mastering the English language has value well beyond the field of literature. Gaining greater depth, versatility and confidence with the English language will make you a better writer, a more confident speaker, and a more perceptive listener. These skills will pay dividends in fields such as public relations, marketing, teaching, and human resources, just to name a few.
In fact, the most influential literary scholars go on to achieve acclaim as bestselling authors, prominent professors, noted historians, and more. Today, top influencers in English are breaking new ground in historical fiction, graphic novels, poetry, and much more.
Literature is an excellent major because it can provide a pathway into countless fields and career opportunities. If you’re looking for a well-paying and secure job, a literature degree is a great place to start. As an English major, you’ll be doing more than just reading literature. The primary objective of an English major is to achieve greater appreciation and understanding of the written word. This means you’ll learn how to deconstruct literature in search of meaning, character and culture; and to explore the innovative ways that language can be used as a form of expression. In short, you won’t be a passive participant in your reading. As an English major, you will learn to read actively, with thought, insight, and analysis. This means that literature majors bring strong communication, critical thinking, and creativity to a wide range of employment settings.
Your concentration will determine many of the courses you’ll take as an English major. Likewise, you will be required to take a number of requisite courses on foundational topics such as Literary Critical Analysis and Comparative Literature. However, as an English major, you will also have the chance to develop your curriculum around the themes, cultural traditions, and literary periods that most interest you. Examples of traditional literature courses include:

The English degree is actually quite versatile. Earning a degree in literature can qualify you for a number of stimulating jobs in both practical and creative fields. In some cases, you’ll get a chance to use your compositional and communication skills, whereas in other instances, you’ll use what you have learned to help others navigate the English language. The following are among the most popular jobs for literature majors:

In pursuing a bachelor’s degree, you will need to choose between three kinds of schools: research universities, liberal arts colleges, and online colleges.
Research universities are colleges and universities whose faculty are active in research and publishing. Research universities offer a wide array of doctoral programs, especially in the sciences. They tend to be big, with tens of thousands of students.
Do you prefer a larger university setting, such as largest public university in your state? Research universities are typically big, offering degrees in many different disciplines. Is a big high-powered research environment the thing for you. If not, you should think about a liberal arts college. In deciding on an undergraduate institution, ask yourself what sort of environment will best help you to be happy and excel.
Learn more about research universities by reading about the best research universities in the US.
Often referred to as “teaching colleges” liberal arts colleges put a premium on undergraduate studies and offers a broad range of subjects for students to study. A college of liberal arts typically provides smaller class sizes, more direct engagement with professors, and, most importantly, the opportunity to sample a wide range of subject areas on the way to a bachelor’s degree.
Learn more about liberal arts colleges by reading about the best liberal arts colleges in the US.
Online colleges are typically the same colleges and universities you could attend in-person, but for certain degree programs the college or unviersity has made the degree programs available to be completed online. For over 5 million students, online degree programs allow students to earn their degrees in the most flexible format available. Online degrees are as respected as the on-campus degress you could earn from the same schools. There’s usually no disctinction between the two degrees, and your degree and transcript will not say that the degree was earned online. Online degree programs are offered by a vast majority of colleges and universities, and the number of offering continues to grow. Whehter you are searching for an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate, there’s a good chance you can earn your degree online from a respectable online college.
If you’re interested in an online bachelor’s degree, check out what the best online colleges offer, or search our online degrees for the exact program that interests you. In either case, you will find well respected colleges and universities that offer online degrees.
If you think a research university may be a better fit for you, see our ranking of the best research universities for a bachelor’s in English.
Methodology
The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why we rank the best colleges and universities based on what we call “Influence”.
The influence of a college or university is based on the schools’s top academic influencers related to the discipline in this ranking. We track the influence of faculty and alumni affiliate with these school counting not only the publications and citations of the school’s affiliated people, but we also consider the overall web presence of the faculty and alumni. The greater the citations, authority of web links, web searches, and page views, the greater the individuals’s influence. Those combined make up the departments’s influence in the field of study. We believe tracking the academic influence of the people affiliated with a school is the best indicator of academic excellence.
If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching, and whether their graduates themselves are advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence. Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and misused performance metrics. Influence, as measured by our InfluenceRanking engine, provides a ranking that is more insulated from manipulation, and more reflective of real-world educational outcomes.
Tuition + fees
$62K
Acceptance
19%
Graduation
91%
Student body
3K
Wesleyan University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$61K
Acceptance
9%
Graduation
92%
Student body
2K
Median SAT/ACT
1495/33
Amherst College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$60K
Acceptance
9%
Graduation
94%
Student body
2K
Williams College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$56K
Acceptance
8%
Graduation
94%
Student body
2K
Median SAT/ACT
1467/32
Swarthmore College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$60K
Acceptance
11%
Graduation
93%
Student body
3K
Median SAT/ACT
1434/32
Barnard College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$60K
Acceptance
13%
Graduation
91%
Student body
3K
Median SAT/ACT
1430/32
Middlebury College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$57K
Acceptance
7%
Graduation
93%
Student body
2K
Pomona College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$61K
Acceptance
16%
Graduation
92%
Student body
3K
Median SAT/ACT
1435/32
Wellesley College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$56K
Acceptance
30%
Graduation
91%
Student body
3K
Smith College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$63K
Acceptance
20%
Graduation
93%
Student body
2K
Median SAT/ACT
1440/33
Vassar College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$58K
Acceptance
9%
Graduation
94%
Student body
2K
Bowdoin College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$63K
Acceptance
37%
Graduation
87%
Student body
2K
Median SAT/ACT
1370/31
Kenyon College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$60K
Acceptance
34%
Graduation
82%
Student body
3K
Median SAT/ACT
1315/30
Oberlin College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$7K
Acceptance
93%
Graduation
54%
Student body
24K
Median SAT/ACT
1030/19
San Francisco State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$62K
Acceptance
17%
Graduation
90%
Student body
3K
Median SAT/ACT
1385/31
Colgate University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$61K
Acceptance
18%
Graduation
90%
Student body
1K
Median SAT/ACT
1440/33
Haverford College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$58K
Acceptance
11%
Graduation
93%
Student body
1K
Median SAT/ACT
1415/32
Claremont McKenna College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$63K
Acceptance
44%
Graduation
73%
Student body
1K
Reed College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Acceptance
11%
Graduation
84%
Student body
5K
Median SAT/ACT
1325/30
United States Military Academy’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$59K
Acceptance
19%
Graduation
94%
Student body
2K
Median SAT/ACT
1425/33
Washington and Lee University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Acceptance
8%
Graduation
91%
Student body
5K
Median SAT/ACT
1340/30
United States Naval Academy’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$55K
Acceptance
18%
Graduation
90%
Student body
2K
Median SAT/ACT
1380/31
Davidson College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$57K
Acceptance
52%
Graduation
85%
Student body
2K
Median SAT/ACT
1385/28
Mount Holyoke College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$60K
Acceptance
14%
Graduation
92%
Student body
2K
Median SAT/ACT
1445/33
Hamilton College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$56K
Acceptance
39%
Graduation
87%
Student body
1K
Bryn Mawr College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Go to all Liberal Arts Colleges for English programs
If you want to know more about English and literature, then check out our related content:
Whether you’re just getting started on your college search, you’re looking for survival tips on your way to a bachelor’s degree, or you’re preparing for the transition into grad school, we’ve got guides, how to’s and tons of other valuable resources to keep you moving forward in your educational journey.
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