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Department of English Language and Literature

  • Nikky Finney reading at Annikki Poetry Festival in Finland

Why study English?

As the university’s largest academic department, we offer a diverse program designed to challenge and inspire you in the classroom and beyond. Our majors choose English because they love to read and write and because the major equips them for careers that value critical and creative thinking, writing, and the communication of complex ideas.

As an English major, you’ll develop the ability to think rigorously and critically about the texts and images that confront us daily in the information age. You’ll have the chance to explore and develop different forms of writing, from analytical essays and research papers to the creative genres of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. And you’ll have the chance to work collaboratively with faculty and other students on innovative projects outside the classroom.

Our course offerings give you a wide selection of classes, making it easy for you to work with your faculty advisor to tailor a program of study that meets your interests and aspirations. Our award-winning faculty love what they do, teaching innovative classes and leading students on research projects.

Attend readings and lectures by renowned writers and scholars from around the globe. Join INK! our undergraduate English association, and participate in our annual INK! Conference showcasing student work. Collaborate with a faculty mentor as a Magellan Scholar and explore career opportunities in a range of internships. Our majors have the opportunity to graduate with distinction in both academics and leadership.

Our major offers four distinct areas of study designed to advance skills in writing, interpretation, and critical and creative thinking. The general major ensures a broad knowledge of literary and cultural studies, plus skills in writing and critical analysis. The writing concentration is tailored for students interested in creative or professional writing. The secondary education track prepares students to teach English at the secondary level. The intensive major is designed for students planning to pursue graduate studies in English and includes a senior seminar or thesis.

Interested in law school or working for a non-profit? History, Political Science, Philosophy, Global Studies, and Languages are all good choices. Considering a career in the arts? Theatre and Dance, Film and Media Studies, and the arts connect well with English. If medicine or public health is your calling, pair English with a major in Biology, Chemistry, or Psychology. Or double up with business or economics for a career in finance. English pairs well with majors and minors across the university.

It’s probably a given that an English degree is an excellent choice for careers in teaching, public relations, law, and the arts. Training in analytical thinking, communication skills, and collaborative creativity is vital in all of these fields. But as we can see from where our majors end up, this same training is also vital to careers in management and administration, business, medicine and health care, and the booming field of information technology. An English major allows you to explore a variety of traditional and innovative career paths

A major in English helps you develop a broad set of skills that companies, business leaders, and non-profits are now targeting as essential to our changing economy. A recent Google survey identified the following six skills as the top predictors of success in their company: “being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others’ different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas” (Washington Post). Our major will help you develop all of these life skills.

Advice on Picking a Major

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.