Seeking Online English MA Recommendations

As the title says, I’m looking for recommendation for online English MA programs, should there be anyone on this forum with such experience. I’ve done some poking around on google and there seems to be quite a few programs out there, but none of them are particularly standing out to me. There’s a couple of MFA programs that sound promising (such as Sierra Nevada, due to it being a private school, small class size, positive reviews, etc.,) but I’m not sure that MFA is really what I’m looking for. While, yes, I do want to become a better writer, I don’t believe that schooling can help with that. I’m seeking a graduate degree first and foremost for the sake of learning (credentials come in at a close second), and in pursuant of that first goal, I am seeking a challenging program. It seems that when searching for online programs, the universities seem to boast affordability and ease of degree attainment over course rigour. I want to be sure that the program prepares me (as efficiently as on online course is capable of doing so) for a PhD program should I decide to pursue that in the future.

I currently work as a research associate in biological research company and am content with my job and salary now, but I’ve always known my passion is for literature and writing, and I like the idea of having options in my later years. I fell in love with academia when doing my undergrad research and could see myself teaching and researching at a university in the semi-distant future. I got a late start with school, earning my bachelors at 30. I’m 33 now, and if I could afford it I would stay enrolled in school for life but my salary isn’t that nice. If money and time were not an issue, I would just enroll in the English MA program at my alma mater, the University Of Cincinnati (where I live), but I do work full time, I’m married, I have a mortgage and while I don’t have kids, we like to travel. So…online schooling is definitely the way for me to go right now. I can travel to attend an on campus seminar once or twice a year, but a program that requires me to attend a class in-person at 3pm three times a week is out of the question. I’ll worry about the sacrifices of attending a PhD program when and if that time comes (as I’m aware that an online PhD does not exist.)

Anyway, I would appreciate any and all recommendations that you might have. Thank you for your time!

The reason the marketing you’re seeing is about affordability and ease of degree attainment is that generally, that’s what people who want to complete online degrees are looking for. They’re looking for a relatively low-cost way to get a credential they need without it interfering in their daily life and career too much.

There are two issues I see here.

  1. Generally (very generally) speaking, online master's programs are not good preparation for doctoral programs. This is especially true for someone trying to switch fields, particularly in the humanities. Graduate-level humanities course are often largely discussion-based and depend upon a cohort of students coming together to dissect the material. Doctoral programs will also require letters of recommendation, but online programs make it difficult to develop the kinds of relationships you need with your graduate professors to get strong letters. That's probably why you're not seeing very many English MA programs that are conducted entirely online.
  2. You said that you work at a biological research company. Was your undergraduate degree in English or a closely related field? If not, there may be some prerequisite coursework you'll be expected to complete before you are competitive for an English PhD program.

Frankly, preparing for applications to PhD programs (including potentially getting an MA) requires a sacrifice of time and money. I’m not saying that you should live in poverty while you pursue, but it may be necessary (for example) to curtail your travel for a period of time while you complete the MA program. Is it possible for you to complete the MA at the University of Cincinnati part-time?

With all of those things said, there ARE online master’s programs in English. I can’t testify to their strength, but here are some:

Arizona State University (
Southern New Hampshire University
Bowling Green State University (, where you will benefit from in-state rates I presume
Texas Tech University (
Morehead State University (
Northern Arizona University (
University of New Orleans (