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Literature Major

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Literature

159 Master's Degrees Annually
23 Doctor's Degrees Annually
#219 in Popularity (Master's)
$73,090 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Literature Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many literature graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 159
Doctor’s Degree 23
Graduate Certificate 9

What Literature Majors Need to Know

In an O*NET survey, literature majors were asked to rate what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important in their occupations. These answers were weighted on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most important.

Knowledge Areas for Literature Majors

According to O*NET survey takers, a major in literature should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

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  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Communications and Media - Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Sociology and Anthropology - Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.

Skills for Literature Majors

literature majors are found most commonly in careers in which the following skills are important:

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  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Abilities for Literature Majors

Some of the most crucial abilities to master while a literature student include the following:

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  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Fluency of Ideas - The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).

What Can You Do With a Literature Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with literature:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
English Language and Literature Professors 9.8% $66,590
Poets, Lyricists and Creative Writers 7.6% $62,170

Who Is Getting a Master’s Degree in Literature?

159 Master's Degrees Annually
66% Percent Women
28% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
This major is dominated by women with about 66% of recent graduates being female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of literature majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Literature Students with Master's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 6
Black or African American 5
Hispanic or Latino 29
White 86
International Students 19
Other Races/Ethnicities 14

Geographic Diversity

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in Literature. About 11.9% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • Saudi Arabia
  • United Kingdom
  • Canada
  • India
  • South Korea

How Much Do Literature Majors Make?

Salaries According to BLS

Literature majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $69,480 to $78,150 (25th to 75th percentile). This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Literature Major  ( 69480 to 78150 )
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Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some degrees associated with literature may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

Find out what the typical degree level is for literature careers below.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
Less than a High School Diploma 10.4%
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 5.0%
Some College Courses 2.5%
Bachelor’s Degree 36.2%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 1.6%
Master’s Degree 18.7%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 0.9%
Doctoral Degree 26.1%
Post-Doctoral Training 0.1%

Online Literature Programs

In the 2018-2019 academic year, 111 schools offered some type of literature program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 12 0
Certificate (1-2 years) 1 0
Certificate (2-4 Years) 0 0
Associate’s Degree 22 0
Bachelor’s Degree 6 0
Post-Baccalaureate 12 0
Master’s Degree 16 1
Post-Master’s 2 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 2 0
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 1 0

Is a Degree in Literature Worth It?

The median salary for a literature grad is $73,090 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 83% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $663,800 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to literature.

Major Number of Grads
General English Literature 5,257
Writing Studies 4,268
English Literature (Other) 175

References

*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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