English Degree Program

Deepen your understanding of fiction, poetry, and drama while learning to analyze and interpret literary texts.  Hone your research and writing skills, and become a stronger reader and critical thinker. 

Key learning outcomes

Through the master’s degree in the field of English you build:

  • The ability to identify topics and develop questions that lead to meaningful scholarly inquiry.
  • An enhanced knowledge of the philosophical, historical, and cultural forces that shape literary works.
  • A deeper understanding of the work that literary scholars do.
  • The skills required for communicating your ideas and entering a critical conversation. 

Program Overview

The degree includes 12 courses, with at least three taken on campus.

  • Get started. You begin by completing three stipulated degree courses as outlined on the degree requirements page. This is your opportunity to demonstrate your commitment and ability to perform well as a Harvard student.
  • Apply to the program. While completing your third degree course, you submit the admission application. We have application cycles in the fall, spring, and summer.
  • Continue your studies, online and on campus. As you progress through the program, you choose from courses offered on campus or online, year round in the fall, spring, and summer. To fully experience Harvard, you take at least three courses on campus.
  • Complete your thesis or capstone. If you chose the thesis track, you work one-on-one with a thesis director, conducting independent research on a literary topic and producing an original argument that develops over the course of several chapters. If you elect the capstone track, you participate in two seminar-style courses with your capstone instructor and fellow degree candidates, producing in each course a seminar paper modeled on the peer-reviewed journal article.   
  • Graduate with your Harvard degree. You participate in the annual Harvard Commencement, receiving your Harvard University degree: Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in Extension Studies, field: English.

Explore Degree Requirements

Learn about degree requirements, admissions, & on-campus study

Explore Course Listings

Once you've learned about the degree requirements, you can search for courses that count toward the degree. See the degree courses


Affordability is core to our mission. Our 2020–21 graduate tuition is $2,900 per course. The total tuition cost of earning the degree is approximately $35,000.

There are a number of financial aid options available once you’re admitted to the program.