The best US colleges for a major in English

In this Aug. 30, 2012, file photo, people are led on a tour on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

While some students with an English degree may pursue a teaching career, others have gone into law, business, marketing or communications. English programs help students develop critical thinking and analytical skills, while improving writing and oral communication.

These are just a few of the reasons English is still one of the most popular majors for college students.

The list below breaks down the top 10 places to get an English degree in the U.S. The list comes from College Factual and is a ranking of colleges based on their overall quality. These schools offer programs that focus on providing a strong education that focuses on the English language and literature.

10. Harvard University

Established 1636, Harvard is the oldest university in the country and is well known for providing an excellent education to students. The school is devoted to offering a rigorous curriculum that pushes students to be analytical and innovative in their thinking. The English program offers students the opportunity to study literature from the eighth century to today.

The school has a wide array of classes that expose students to a variety of writings. This helps to cultivate analytical and critical thinking skills while encouraging students to develop their own writing style. Harvard University graduates are well equipped to enter the job force, earning $46,000 at the entry level and the highest average mid-career salary of $134,000.

9. College of the Holy Cross

The College of the Holy Cross is a Jesuit liberal arts school that focuses solely on undergraduate education. The small class sizes help ensure students have the opportunity to work closely with faculty while fostering intellectual discussions. The English program focuses not only on analysis of written texts but also ensures students develop strong written and oral communication skills.

Classes introduce students to literary techniques and genres while teaching them how to express their thoughts. Graduates of this program find positions earning the highest average early career salary of $49,000 in a variety of fields, ranging from business and education to law and medicine.

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8. Yale University

Yale University is yet another Ivy League school that houses one of the top English programs. The school can trace it roots back to the 1640s. Since then, it has been dedicated to educating students using innovative and interactive techniques. English majors are given the opportunity to take introductory courses that expose them to a variety of literary time periods, styles and authors. Courses help students interpret texts while challenging them to express their insights.

The English program is also supplemented by a creative writing program that not only helps students improve their communication skills, but also fosters their imagination. Graduates of this program are often skilled writers and speakers who find jobs in numerous fields. The average early career salary for a Yale graduate is $46,000. The average mid-career salary is $100,000.

7. Stanford University

Stanford is a private university in California that is between San Jose and San Francisco. The university is known worldwide for its commitment to academic excellence and is currently ranked as one of the Top 10 overall universities in the country.

The English department was one of the first departments at Stanford. Since its establishment in 1891, the department has fostered a culture of creativity that has inspired many students to go on to successful careers in writing, teaching, law, and business. Graduates of the program go on to entry-level jobs with an average starting salary of $47,000.

6. University of Virginia

The University of Virginia is one of the top schools in the country due to its strong academic programs and outstanding faculty. Students at UVA can develop their understanding of their chosen field through cross-disciplinary coursework and discussion-based classes. The English department is one of the most prestigious at UVA. The classes expose students to the literary classics while strengthening critical reading and writing skills.

Graduates of UVA are proficient in analyzing and interpreting a variety of texts and can express themselves thoughtfully and concisely. UVA English majors have gone on to find positions in government, business, law and more. The average early career salary for these graduates is $45,000, jumping to $75,000 at the mid-career level.

5. University of California-Los Angeles

UCLA was established in 1919 and is part of the ten-campus University of California system. The school is particularly attractive to many students because of its location in sunny Los Angeles. UCLA has many highly-ranked majors and degrees, and it is one of the Top 100 overall colleges in the nation.

The Department of English supports a wide range of courses to give students different perspectives and to help them develop their own analysis skills. The department also offers an American literature and culture degree for interested students. English majors earn an average starting salary of $46,000.

4. Princeton University: Princeton, N.J.

Princeton University sits atop many lists as one of the best schools in the country. The Ivy League institution challenges students to reach the highest level of discovery through research. English majors at Princeton work to analyze literary works through a cultural lens. Students study a diverse range of historical and modern poems, novels and other texts to examine themes and their connection to the time period.

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3. University of Washington

The University of Washington is ranked as one of the best colleges in Seattle in addition to being in the top 100 schools in the country. The university challenges students to view the world through multiple lenses and understand how fields are interrelated. The English program focuses on introducing students to English and American literature, while teaching analytical techniques. English majors are taught to interpret texts, while analyzing theoretical problems in relation to the societal, historical and political context of the writing. UW students complete the program with a strong understanding of critical perspectives along with excellent analytical, research and writing skills.

The average early career salary for a UW English major is $40,000. The mid-career salary is approximately $70,000.

Classes push students to develop critical thinking skills through text interpretation. The English program encourages students to think freely and use their writing to convey their arguments. Graduates of this program find careers earning an average mid-career salary of $94,000.

2. Georgetown University

Georgetown University offers an exceptional education in a variety of fields. Established in 1789, Georgetown is the country’s oldest Catholic and Jesuit school. It has maintained a tradition of exposing students to numerous cultures and beliefs to ensure students receive a well-rounded education. The English department at Georgetown is dedicated to introducing students to a variety of texts while encouraging students to engage in discussions that offer diverse analyses.

The English program includes various topics and methodologies in literature, and it encourages students to develop a multi-disciplinary view. Students have the freedom to take numerous electives so they may personalize their degree. Within the English program, Georgetown offers the Folger Undergraduate Program, which is an intensive research seminar that exposes students to book history and early modern topics.

Graduates of Georgetown have gone on to find various positions, earning an average early career salary of $43,000 and a mid-career salary of $85,000.

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1. University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is an Ivy League university that is renowned for its strong curriculum, as well as being ranked as the best college in the U.S. in 2015. The school incorporates an inter-disciplinary approach for all its programs to ensure students are receiving a well-rounded education.

English is one of the largest departments in the School of Arts and Sciences and employs a prestigious faculty full of experts in many literary periods and subfields. The undergraduate program offers students the opportunity to take classes in everything from language and literature to film and digital media. The program ensures students have a thorough understanding of history and interpretation, but allows them to choose many electives that help lead to successful careers in medicine, advertising, teaching and even social media.

The average early career salary for English graduates from Penn is $46,000. That increases to $90,000 at the mid-career level.

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