Opinion Pieces / The Latest

What do you do with a B.A. in English?


“What do you do with a B.A. in English?!”

So goes the opening line of “It Sucks to Be Me!” from the musical Avenue Q. It’s a question that comes up nearly every day for me. “What do you do with a B.A. in English?” has turned into “What do you do with an M.A. in English?” These questions comes, usually, from well meaning people who don’t understand the practical uses of the degree. The stereotype is that if you don’t become a high school English teacher, you will do absolutely nothing with your B.A. in English. Yet, it is just not true. And because I’m tired of having to justify my life choices to strangers, so… I’ve decided to make a list of just some of the things you can do with a B.A. (and/or M.A.) in English.

English Teacher

This one is the most obvious choice to people (I’m not sure why?). Usually though, you need to have a teaching qualification of some sorts. Depending on the country this could be a diploma or a separate bachelor’s degree of teaching.

Communications

The umbrella term “Communications” is so vast and the possibilities are endless.

Journalism (print and online)

Internal/external communications (any written or online communications for ANY company). Sometimes you might need some industry specific knowledge, but a lot of the times it something you can learn on the job.

Freelance writing

This is usually working for newspapers, blogs, etc.

Editing and Proofreading

As people with a flare for the written word, usually us B.A. English folks are good with our grammar and stuff. Editing and proofreading can be done freelance or for a company. Often editing is a part of journalism and internal communications.

Academic career

This is usually working as a research and teacher at a tertiary education centre like a university. You need at least an M.A. to start teaching or researching at a university and usually you are working towards a PhD.

There are really so many things that you can do with a B.A. in English that don’t involve being unemployed or a school teacher.

Are you part of the B.A. alumni? What do you do with your B.A. in English?

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