Is an English literature degree a waste of time?

Topical posts don’t feature as often as I would like on Joyful Antidotes, but it is about time I shared my thoughts on this issue: Is an English literature degree a waste of time?

My Graduation 2008
My Graduation 2008

Those of us who choose to dedicate some years of their life to an English literature degree already know all the jokes and are very familiar with the perception that all it entails is reading books. Once I even got asked in a job interview why I bothered completing the degree as it is a waste of time. In reality, I wouldn’t be where I am today or gained the skills to get me there without that “useless” degree. You are valuable and don’t forget that! Here is what your company can gain from somebody with an English literature degree.

An employee who can think critically
English literature graduates know not to take things at face value. We know how to questions answers, probe, analyse and evaluate all information provided to us. We seek out and question assumptions and make sure every argument is based on fact, allowing companies not to be led along the wrong path.

An employee with strong communication skills
No matter what the role is, communication skills are very important. We can present important information to people verbally or in the written form, and in a number of different ways. We ensure that the information presented is clear and concise, ensuring that the intended audience understand.

An employee with above average writing skills
English literature graduates know how to write, and how to write in more ways than one. We can structure information in ways that get the main point across. We can grasp the appropriate tone of voice for any situation. We can write attractive and compelling content which draws people in. Our grammar and spelling is on point.

An employee who can process complex ideas
It is easy for an English Literature graduate to condense facts, ideas and arguments. We combine this with our other skills to organise material in a coherent way and base conclusions on the information presented.

Have you completed a degree in English literature? What do you feel you gained from it?


  1. I did English and History in University and I really feel like you get out of it what you put in. I was, and still am, really passionate about those subjects so I worked hard and it paid off. But I wouldn’t have gotten a job straight out of it if I hadn’t have done a lot of extra-curricular work outside of my degree, as I work in Communications. I still adamantly believe it is a worthwhile degree, and it’s better to follow your passions than to study something you’re not interested in.

    1. You are spot on. And I agree that these days you need some other activities or experience outside your studies, but that seems to be the norm in almost every field these days.

  2. This is fantastic and really reassuring points, I was doing English however I’ve changed to Psychology which is arguably the most pointless haha but I love it and I think that’s what counts xx

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