Teaching English with an English Degree at USC Upstate

Teaching English with an English Degree

The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Beliefs Statement emphasizes the role of English teachers as providing access “to the intellectual traditions and debates that inform English and education;” conveying the realities of “English studies [as] a contested subject that encompasses multiple fields of inquiry and ideological perspectives;” and encouraging “the teaching of classic literary texts when appropriate, in addition to other valued literary genres.” If your desire to teach emerged late in your college career, there are still ways to complete a certification program to allow you to apply your English major to education fields.  

  • With a B.A. in English, you are qualified to teach English and English Language Arts in grades 7 through 12 in some private/parochial school settings. A B.A. in English also qualifies you for programs leading to teacher certification, including the post-baccalaureate certification program at USC Upstate, the PACE program, GATE program, Teach for America, VISTA, Teachers of Tomorrow, certification programs and master's programs, such as the M.A.T. Students who have completed all of the relevant coursework (especially grammar, development of the English language, creative writing, and linguistics) may also complete the state Department of Education's online preparation program completer or alternative certification programs. Our graduates teach in Boiling Springs, Spartanburg, Greenville, Columbia, Charlotte and throughout South Carolina.
  • With a M.A. in English or M.A.T. in English, you are qualified to teach college writing in most two-year and community colleges and in many four-year colleges.
  • With a Ph.D. in English, you are qualified to teach university courses. With a Ph.D. in English Education, you are qualified to teach future teachers in college and university education departments.
Finding the Right English Education Graduate Program for You

Students should consider their goals for graduate education and select a program that offers the desired specializations. Specializations range from reading and literacy, to curriculum and instruction, to Teaching English as a Second Language. 

  • Search directories of English Education graduate programs to find schools with relevant programs. 
  • Research individual programs through websites and published materials.
  • Consider needs for financial support.
    • At the graduate level, programs may offer research or teaching assistantships that may make out-of-state programs more affordable than in-state ones. Most programs list financial support opportunities on their Web sites, but also feel free to contact program directors to ask for more information about possible support.
    • Working teachers should also research funding assistance through your school district or state.
    • Also, contact your student loan administrators for undergraduate and graduate loans. Many loan programs offer loan reductions or forgiveness for teachers who work in high-needs areas.
  • Match your level of teaching experience to the requirements of the programs. Some programs require between 2-5 years of teaching experience before entering the graduate program.
Applying for Graduate Programs in English
  • In the junior year of study, English majors interested in graduate school for teaching should consider whether to attend graduate school after college or to pursue a particular position within the field.  Students who wish to pursue higher education immediately should look into the requirements for specific graduate schools or job positions to ensure that your elective courses are preparing you for the future.  
  • English majors have room for a minor and several electives in addition to major requirements. Familiarize yourself as much as possible with the area of English you intend to pursue after graduation and use your minor and electives to help build skills and gain experience in that area. 
  • Students who major in English but are interested in pursuing careers in teaching may also complete internships and service learning courses in area schools. Contact the Department Chair or your advisor for more options.
  • Though each school has different requirements, the general requirements for entrance into graduate school are listed below.
    • Completion of undergraduate studies
    • Recommendation letters from professors and mentor teachers in the schools
    • Completion of the GRE general test.
      • The GRE (Graduate Record Exam) is an aptitude test aimed at measuring quantitative and verbal reasoning and analytical writing skills required for graduate studies. The Learning Express Library database in the USC Upstate library offers free GRE sample tests and test prep materials, as does ETS, the company that administers the GRE exam.  
  • Work with your advisor to prepare your statement of purpose or application essay. Remember to keep your statements professional and appropriately focused on concrete examples of what you have accomplished and your future goals rather than disclosing excessive personal details about the past. 
  • Select and edit a 5- to 10-page writing sample for English programs. Consult your advisor for help in selecting and editing your sample.