Major, Minor, and Concentrations

The English Department offers a large undergraduate major and minor and six optional interdisciplinary concentrations, including an intensive, workshop-based Creative Writing program. Non-majors can also complete these  concentrations as minors.

For Majors

The major ordinarily consists of 30 credits (10 courses) beyond the First-Year Writing Seminar (FWS) and Literature Core. Following a sophomore sequence that helps you develop fundamental skills essential to literary study and a pair of courses introducing literature’s historical traditions, English majors have the opportunity to work with a faculty advisor to choose among a rich variety of electives.

In your junior and seniors years, you will develop depth in one or more of these areas by taking a seminar on a topic that interests you. All majors in the class of 2024 and beyond will complete a new set of courses on Race, Blackness, and Language, which reflect our continued commitment to re-making the curriculum to fit the needs of the current century.

After you declare the major by contacting Marla DeRosa, you’ll be assigned a departmental faculty advisor if English is your only major or your first declared major. The advisor will help you map out an academic program in line with your interests. If English is a second major, you will be assigned an informal departmental faculty advisor. 

For Minors

The Minor is designed to give you maximum flexibility to pursue your interests in the study of literature. You will take one of the sophomore sequence classes and one course focused on the historical traditions informing English-language literatures, both of which provide an important foundation in the development of your writing skills, in deliberate thinking about the quality of your attention to literary texts, and the relationship between history and the development of literary forms.

After these two courses, you get to develop a sequence of four electives from the department’s rich offerings. These electives can include any topics that interest you, from a sampling of different kinds of courses to clusters of courses on topics or approaches that most interest you. For instance, you could take as many creative writing courses as you wanted or you could focus on courses organized around themes, such as those that meet our Race, Blackness, and Language designation.

To declare your minor, contact Marla Derosa:

The Sophomore Sequence: Studies in Poetry and Studies in Narrative

Two courses serve as gateways to the English major: Studies in Poetry and Studies in Narrative. Majors are encouraged to take these courses at the beginning of their course of study to prepare them for upper-level English classes, and English minors must complete at least one of the two.

These courses focus on preparing students to read and write critically about two major literary forms: poetry and narrative. The emphases in both courses is on improving the quality of your attention to literary texts and on accelerating your development as a writer.

B.A./M.A. in English

The English Department offers a B.A./M.A. Program that allows select students to earn both a B.A. and an M.A. in English in five years. Enrolled students will start earning graduate credit as a senior, then complete the M.A. in a fifth year of full-time study.

The purpose of the program is to allow students a greater opportunity for concentrated study and research training. Students in the B.A./M.A. program must meet all the specific course requirements for the undergraduate major as well as the formal requirements for the M.A., including the completion of Introduction to Advanced Research or its equivalent, demonstrated proficiency in a foreign language, a theory course, and a comprehensive exam.

Secondary Education Major and Minor

If you’re an English major also completing a Lynch School of Education major or minor, you'll need to fulfill more specific requirements to demonstrate a broad range of knowledge within the discipline. In addition to the First-Year Writing Seminar, the Literature Core, Studies in Poetry, and Studies in Narrative, you will need the following courses:

  • one Pre-1700 Class
  • one Pre-1900 Class
  • one course on Anglophone or Ethnic American Authors
  • one course on Women Authors
  • one course on the History of the Language/Grammar/Linguistics
  • one course on Adolescent and Young Adult Literature
  • two English electives

To help you gain sufficient knowledge across this spectrum, you may consider taking one or more general survey courses (e.g. Introduction to British Literature and Culture I and II, American Literary History I, II and III) to fulfill some of these requirements. Students with questions about the EN/LSOE requirements should meet with Marla DeRosa in Stokes S493.

Interdisciplinary Concentrations & Minors

English majors can choose to focus their program of study with one of six optional concentrations, and non-majors can also complete these programs as six-course, 18-credit minors.

The Creative Writing Concentration

The English department offers a Creative Writing Concentration that allows you to intensify and focus your English major by taking a series of practice-based writing courses along with literature courses. These small, intensive, processed-based workshops are taught by published authors and offered in three genres—poetry, fiction and non-fiction—at three levels. As a Concentrator, you will also attend gatherings to read new work, share news about literary activities on campus, socialize with other writers, do writing prompts together, and discuss career paths. You will be invited to a rich array of talks, readings, and smaller gatherings with visiting writers.

Graduates of the program have gone on not only to publish their own creative work, but also to find careers in publishing, journalism, teaching, communications, and many other fields that require excellent writing skills. Past students have been admitted to graduate programs in creative writing at, among other places, Washington University in St. Louis; Bowling Green; NYU; Eastern Washington State; University of Iowa; Indiana U.; Sarah Lawrence College; U. of Wyoming; Emerson College, U. of Florida; U. of Texas Austin; U. of Pittsburgh; Hunter College; UMass Amherst; Brooklyn College; U. of Arizona, Columbia.

  • A Creative Writing Concentrator undertakes a 36-credit English major instead of the usual 30 credits.
  • At least nine of these credits must be writing workshops in any genre, selected with the help of your Concentration advisor.

If you are an English major who has received a grade of A- or better in one of the department's creative writing workshops, you may declare the Creative Writing Concentration up through the end of drop/add week of first semester of junior year. The period for declaring the Concentration each semester runs through the end of drop/add week. Eligible English Majors wishing to declare should see Marla Derosa in Stokes S493.


    If you are interested in declaring, please contact Marla Derosa.