What Qualifications are Necessary to Teach College-Level English?

In order to teach college-level English, job candidates will typically need to have a master’s degree. Some community colleges will accept a bachelor’s degree, but many universities now require a doctoral degree for full-time, tenure-track English faculty positions.

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree in English will build the critical thinking and writing skills needed to teach the standard topics of English and American literature. These programs program train students how to interpret and analyze literature within a social, cultural and historical contexts. Students develop the research and communication skills needed to successfully engage and motivate students. Many bachelor degree programs offer English majors opportunities to specialize in areas like drama, world literature and non-fiction writing.

Students may take classes in the mechanics of reading and writing, which will review English grammar, and the history of the English language will explore how the English Language developed from Old English and was transformed through interacting with many languages and cultures to become Modern Standard English. They may also take classes in the fundamentals of creative writing and have opportunities to produce original works. Linguistic classes study the structure and cultural history of the English language.

Teaching at Community Colleges

Those who want to teach at the community college level will most likely need bachelor’s degree with a graduate-level certificate in the area they will teach. Many colleges offer graduate-level certificates that are specifically designed for community college teachers looking for a formal grounding in adult education theories. For example, there are certificates available in professional communication, multicultural education, teaching English in two-year colleges and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).

These graduate certificate programs will usually require students to complete 12 to 15 credit hours of coursework. Most community colleges require students to have completed specific coursework related to their education topic as well as work experience as a teacher. Working as a tutor or teaching assistant while completing an undergraduate degree is one of the most useful things an individual can do to prepare for a career as a community college teacher. Community college teachers do not fall under state-mandated requirements for teaching certifications like secondary and high school teachers.

Earn a Master’s Degree

A master’s degree is the minimum requirement to teach in most colleges and universities. Master of Arts in English programs provides a strong foundation in British and American literature, but they generally encourage students to tailor their academic program to meet their unique needs and interests. Some of the most popular concentrations include literature, English studies, linguistics, technical communication, transnational literatures and rhetoric and composition. Most traditional coursework will offer the standard classes about Shakespearian, Middle Age, Romantic, Victorian and postmodern topics.

Most programs offer various research methods courses related to creative fiction, language study and professional communication. Students also learn about bibliography methods and research design for rhetoric and composition. Classes on how to teach writing will introduce students to important theories and technologies of composition pedagogies. Students will develop and discuss their own proposed pedagogical practices. Students will also take classes in the principal exponents of contemporary literary theories.

Related Resource: 10 Best Deals: Online Master’s in English Literature

As a final note, those who want to teach college-level English should begin studying a foreign language because most English graduate degree programs require students to be fluent in another language.