The Best Online Ph.D. English Programs

If you are planning to get a Ph.D. in English, you can do it online. Earning a Ph.D. in your favorite area of study doesn’t just help streamline your knowledge. It takes you closer to getting a dream job.

When you get a Ph.D. in English, you can pursue a career in college teaching. If you aren’t planning to teach, you may still need a Ph.D. for some career options. However, usually, it’s not mandatory.

Investing time and money in a Ph.D. in English is worth it if you want a teaching career. Becoming a college professor comes with numerous benefits. The main one is enjoying what you are doing and having an opportunity to share your knowledge.

How to Get an Online Ph.D. in English

When it comes to requirements, online Ph.D. programs aren’t different from offline learning. Universities that offer online programs usually have Ph.D. programs on campus as well. Some also offer hybrid learning opportunities which allow you to learn part of the program at home and then take some classes on campus.

When you decide to get a Ph.D. in English, consider applying for at least five programs. If you get accepted into all of them, you can have a choice. If some reject your application, you’ll have a chance with others.

To apply for a Ph.D. program, you will need:


Many Ph.D. programs require you to know at least two languages. Find out which languages count before you choose a program. You would also need to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. If you studied outside of the U.S.A. and other English-speaking countries, you may have to take IELTS or TOEFL.

Personal Statement

A personal statement is a reflection of your personality and achievements. While you may be tempted to brag about your abilities, the statement should be information-filled and concise. The admissions committee can use this statement to evaluate your ability to write.

This personal statement is an essay that provides a unique opportunity to make an impression. If your GPA and other scores aren’t as good as the school requires, a personal statement can make up for what you lack in scores.

Admissions experts use this statement to evaluate your strength and weaknesses. They figure out what sets you apart from other candidates, explore your interests and hobbies, and much more.

Academic Writing Sample

Another requirement for enrollment into the Ph.D. program is an academic writing sample. When choosing a sample for admissions purposes, try to select one that reflects the work you want to be doing during your graduate program.

The sample should be academic in nature and demonstrate your ability to bring innovation into the field. Keep in mind that different graduate programs may have different requirements for the academic sample.

Read the instructions carefully before submitting.

Master’s Degree

The majority of PhD programs require a master’s degree to enroll. In some cases, a school may accept a student with a bachelor’s degree. The degree has to be earned in the same university or in another accredited educational institution.


Many doctoral programs require you to have a good GRE score of above 325. However, for some of them, scores above 300 are sufficient. Many schools don’t have this requirement at all.

Make sure to check this particular requirement since it can vary from school to school. Failing to achieve the required score could hurt your chances of getting into a Ph.D. program.


The majority of universities require a GPA higher than 3.0 to enroll in a Ph.D. program. However, failing to meet this requirement isn’t likely to hurt your chances significantly if you have academic work and experience that speaks for itself.

In fact, if you don’t meet any of the above admissions requirements, it doesn’t mean you can’t be accepted into the school of your choice. However, you should always have a backup plan.

How to Choose the Best Online Ph.D. English Program

Taking the right approach to choosing an online Ph.D. program can improve your chances of acceptance and give you a choice in case some applications are rejected. Here are a few things to consider when selecting a Ph.D. program in English online.

Funding and Support

Depending on the university you choose, the Ph.D. program is likely to require a significant investment. While getting a Ph.D. has a high ROI, covering education expenses can be tough for some students.

Some Ph.D. programs offer funding and support for its students. You may get an offer to teach at the university and get paid during your studies.

Another option is to search for available scholarships.

If you are pressed for funds, you may want to consider getting an offline education. Many universities fund their on-campus doctorate programs for selected students.

Program Availability

Not all universities offer online doctoral programs. While some of them may have such information on their websites, a significant number are hybrid Ph.D. opportunities. This means that you can do a part of your studies online and a part in school. If you are applying for an out-of-state program, you have to consider the costs associated with the move.

Some universities have highly specific Ph.D. programs. Figure out whether the program they offer is the right choice for you.


If you want to make sure that your Ph.D. is sufficient to get a teaching job at a college, you need to get a degree from an accredited university. Accreditation is not a mandatory process. Some universities decide to receive an independent review from an accredited organization to attract students and help them take a step toward their desired career.

The U.S. Department of Education and the Councill for Higher Education Accreditation recognize only a few accreditation organizations.

Getting an accreditation isn’t easy. The university needs to meet stringent standards and requirements. Meanwhile, to hold on to that accreditation, schools must maintain education excellence.

If you choose an accredited university, you can be sure that this school cares for education quality.

Research Staff and Faculty Reputation

People who teach you have the biggest influence on your future career. If the university has a satisfactory program and great academic professionals, it doesn’t always mean that the faculty is ready to go the extra mile to help you achieve your goals.

If the school you apply to has professors who work in your chosen field, they can show you exactly what needs to be done to succeed. These people can become your mentors and help you achieve your career goals.

Take the time to research the faculty and their credentials. You may also want to speak to alumni of the school you choose and get some feedback. You can usually find alumni in university Facebook groups.

Find Out About Student Support

When you get a Ph.D. online, it can be hard to navigate the school’s requirements and policies. Without actually visiting the university, you could be lost in the sea of information.

Universities with the best online Ph.D. programs understand the need for extra support. They create student resources that can help with adaptation. Meanwhile, they offer sufficient resources for writing and academic research.

Find out what type of support the university has for Ph.D. students. Figure out whether they are readily accessible online.

Consider Flexibility

Many students mistakenly believe that the online format automatically means learning flexibility. In reality, not all programs that offer online learning have flexible studying hours. You may be dependent on the school’s offline schedule and the faculty’s ability to work with your needs.

If you already have a full-time job and have to work around it to study, find out if this option is available at the university of your choice. Do you have to attend daily lectures in zoom format? Does the academic staff set convenient consultation hours?

If you are ready to juggle work and studies, you need to make sure that the school supports your schedule.

Online vs Distance Learning for Doctorate Programs

While getting an online doctoral degree may seem to be a convenient way to accommodate your needs, it’s not always the case. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of the online program to figure out whether it can help you achieve your goals.

An online program involves being in a digital classroom with the faculty. The key difference between an online and an offline program is the location of the learning process. If you are looking for flexibility and free time, it’s not always possible with online learning. You are expected to work as if you were on campus.

An alternative option is distance learning. Unlike online learning, distance learning doesn’t require you to be present in a virtual classroom. The faculty assigns the necessary work, and you do it at your own pace at home.

Some students who have full-time jobs may be better off choosing distance learning instead of online learning. The downside of distance learning is the lack of stringent faculty control. The student chooses their own pace for what essentially is self-learning. This may not be suitable for everyone.

Online learning is a great option for people who are ready to dedicate a lot of time to get a doctoral degree but can’t attend the university physically. Reasons usually vary from health problems to location issues.

Top 5 Online Ph.D. English Programs

Here are the top 5 online Ph.D. English programs that you may want to consider applying to. Don’t hesitate to apply to all of them in order to have a choice when you get acceptance letters.

Concordia University

In Chicago, Concordia University offers an online Ph.D. program in Literacy, Language, and Reading. The requirements are:

  •       GPA of at least 3.0
  •       2 letters of recommendation
  •       Personal statement

This university received accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

St. John’s University

St. John’s University offers online students an opportunity to get a Ph.D. in Literacy, TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), and Bilingual Ed. The requirements include:

  •       A master’s degree
  •       A minimum GPA of 3.2
  •       2 letters of recommendation

This university received accreditation from the Middle States Commission on High Education.

Texas Woman’s University

Texas Woman’s University provides an opportunity to receive an online Ph.D. in Rhetoric. The requirements include:

  •   GPA – 3.0
  •   Personal statement

If you don’t have a master’s degree in English, you would have to complete a deficiency plan. Contrary to the name, the university accepts all genders.

This university received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Old Dominion University

Old Dominion University has an English Doctorate Program online. After finishing the program, you will become a Doctor of Philosophy in English. The requirements include:

  •       GPA of 3.5 or higher
  •       Master’s degree
  •       3 letters of reference

You can study a variety of subjects, including Rhetoric, Writing, Literacy and Cultural Studies, and others.

This university received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of New Mexico

At the University of New Mexico, you can get a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Writing. The requirements for enrollment include:

  •       GPA – 3.0 or higher
  •       2 letters of recommendation
  •       Writing sample

This university received accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

The Takeaway

Getting a Ph.D. in English online is a time-consuming and complex process with a high ROI. Once you get a Ph.D., you can start a fulfilling teaching career as a college professor.

Studying online requires patience, self-learning skills, and significant discipline. Remote learning gives you a chance to juggle work, family, and studies.

The above programs can become an excellent choice for people who want to enjoy top education opportunities.