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What kind of job can I realistically get with a PhD in english?

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Hi! My name is Anina and I'm a high school senior and also an intern at CareerVillage. I know that a lot of students are thinking about social science careers (to me, it's so weird how so many people at my school don't want anything to do with science or STEM careers!). But I've also noticed some confusion about what you can do with advanced degrees in the social sciences. To those who have a PhD in social sciences like English, what kind of job did you get after you finished your PhD and what advice would you want to give to high school students who are thinking about this occupation? #english #phd #humanities #social-sciences #social-science-phd

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Adam’s Answer

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Hello, Anina! I don't have a PhD in English myself, but some of my friends took that path. Most of them are teaching English or writing in high school, college, or graduate school, so in that sense it is a narrow career path -- and also an expensive one in terms of the schooling required. However, I would encourage you to think about a couple of things as you look for an answer to your question:

First, what do you want to do with a PhD in English? If you want to do creative writing, the best preparation is to write, whether for your school newspaper, in class, or in your spare time. Many people who want a career in writing novels, plays, etc. pursue an MFA (master's in fine arts) in creative writing. Some students who want to become lawyers major in English as an undergraduate, because learning how to write and speak helps them later on when they practice law.

If you want to teach, then yes, a PhD in English, comparative literature, or a language is probably where you want to go.

The second important question to ask is: why English? What do you truly want to study? "The social sciences" is actually a very broad subject area which can include the humanities (English, fine arts, history, etc.) as well as economics, sociology, psychology, and other disciplines. Many -- and I would argue all -- of these, while not specifically STEM careers, can involve a lot of math to be able to pull information and ideas from data that you collect. There are many, many exciting kinds of work that allow you to think about how human beings relate to each other -- which are really what the social sciences are all about.

Updated
Hi Anina, I also don't have a PhD in English but I have ran into a few people who make a living as a freelance writer. I also came across an article a few years ago saying that freelance writers make the highest income. Many companies pay freelance writers a good amount for editing or writing. I would consider the city you live in first too. Its pretty versatile when you think of it. You could teach or freelance or do both.

Mark’s Answer

Updated

Hi Anina, My mom and younger sister graduated with bachelor degrees in English, then spent another 3 semesters studying and passing their exams for a teacher's certificate. My older sister worked harder, and received a PhD in English. She continued to teach at her local high school, earning $65,000 every year. Now she's retired and writing novels. Otherwise, several friends became professors at LaVerne College, which is now a university. Best wishes, Mark