Imagine the moment you walk across the stage, shake the hand of the president of the university, and receive your diploma. You’ve done it. You’ve earned your Bachelor of Arts in English. You move the tassel from the right side of your cap to the left. You’ve graduated.
However, there are some people who may not be done. They could be going on to graduate school. The next step is earning a Master’s degree. Should you be thinking about graduate school? The question becomes what to earn your Master’s in.
Jon Fortenbury from USA Today College:
1. A GRADUATE DEGREE IN YOUR PREVIOUS FIELD
You can always get a master’s or PhD in the same field you got your bachelor’s in. If you do this, your job options instantly increase. You’ll stand out above other applicants with just a bachelor’s degree and come to your field with a competitive edge.
For example, someone who studied English at the undergraduate level can teach lower-level English courses at the college level with a master’s in English. If the person who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology goes for the master’s degree, they can now become an advisor at a school or get into forensic psychology.
And don’t rule out related fields, either. Often times someone with a bachelor’s degree in English can get accepted into graduate school for journalism. These options are available to you. You just have to research.
2. LAW SCHOOL
Did you know that a good chunk of law students weren’t pre-law during their undergraduate years? Several people come to law school from liberal arts majors, such as philosophy and criminal justice. If you got good grades during undergrad, law school may be an option for you (extracurriculars help, too).
But don’t be mistaken: Law school is very competitive. A lot of schools have well below 50 percent acceptance rates. And the LSAT (law school admission test) isn’t easy. Figure out a way to stand out. How did your English degree prepare you for law school? Did the writing and research skills you obtained prove you’d be a successful law student and lawyer?
Talk to other law students before going for this. Law school is not something you decide on lightly. It’s rigorous. Not to mention, you’ll probably take out over $100,000 in student loans. But if you get in, do well, and become a lawyer, it can be a sustainable and rewarding career.
3. BUSINESS SCHOOL
You’re a liberal arts student, not a business major. But that’s okay. Over half of the students going for their MBA weren’t business majors. Some are liberal arts students, just like yourself.
With an MBA, you could have an advantage over other applicants for jobs. Do you want to move up one day and call the shots? Then figure out how to convince admission counselors that your sociology degree makes you qualified for an MBA in project management.
But don’t expect to get accepted into business school right away. Most MBA students have at least three years of post-college work experience before being admitted. So get a full-time job after graduation, work for at least a few years and start filling out those business school applications.
4. MFA IN CREATIVE WRITING
Do you love to write? Maybe you’d like to write a book one day or teach creative writing classes. If so, I’m pleased to inform you that you don’t have to be an English or creative writing major during undergrad to get accepted. You just need a bachelor’s degree and a great writing sample.
With an MFA in creative writing, you’ll improve your writing skills (beneficial in many jobs) and become qualified to teach writing at the college level. You can get jobs at newspapers and marketing firms and possibly do so with no debt, since plenty of programs are fully funded.
If you’re religious and would like to be a pastor or involved in a church, then you may be able to get into a seminary. There are even secular seminary programs, if you’d like to learn more about religion or become a religion instructor.
Seminary is an intensive graduate school that doesn’t require religious undergraduate degrees. Christian seminaries provide an in-depth study of the Bible, Christian issues and church history.
Many liberal arts programs, with all their writing and analysis, provide you the skills necessary to succeed in this program. Add that with an interest and personal study of religious issues and you just might get accepted.
Whatever you end up deciding, you can’t go wrong with a liberal arts education. You can get plenty of non-burger flipping jobs with your bachelor’s degree and even more if you go to graduate school.
At Northern Illinois University, the English department offers several graduate programs. They are British and American Literature, film and literature, literature and rhetoric/composition, rhetoric and professional writing, English education, linguistics, and TESOL. TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.
Getting a Master’s degree, whether it’s an English degree or not, sounds like a very good idea. You could earn more money by getting a Master’s degree.