The English language is a gateway to a rich literary history. Majoring in literature is a great first step on the way to a career as an educator, author, journalist and much more. Read on to find out more about what you can expect as an English/Literature Major.
Majoring in English (also referred to as a literature major in many schools) is a great way to explore history while building valuable learning skills and preparing for a wide array of professional opportunities. As an English major, you’ll delve into classic and contemporary literature, study ancient texts, and examine the connection between world cultures and the written word. You’ll also have a chance to refine important skills including writing, research, and critical thinking.
If you’re ready to earn this degree at one of the most prestigious schools in the world, get started with a look at the Most Influential Schools in Literature.
Or read on to find out what you can expect as an English major.
If you enjoy getting lost in a world of words and ideas, this is the major for you. Your time will be spent absorbed in great works of fiction, texts from ancient civilizations, and contemporary critical analysis. Your reading will touch on everything from history and philosophy to psychology, sociology and more. Literature studies provide the ultimate opportunity for multidisciplinary academic enrichment.
As an English major, you’ll be doing more than just reading literature. The primary objective of an English major is to achieve greater appreciation and understanding of the written word. This means you’ll learn how to deconstruct literature in search of meaning, character and culture; and to explore the innovative ways that language can be used as a form of expression. In short, you won’t be a passive participant in your reading. As an English major, you will learn to read actively, with thought, insight, and analysis.
Media literacy is the ability to evaluate both message and medium for credibility, accuracy, and intent. At a time when it can be difficult to distinguish between real reporting and “fake news,” majoring in literature arms you with the tools to separate fact from fiction. Learn how to use context, citations, and phrasing to spot the real McCoy.
Mastering the English language has value well beyond the field of literature. Gaining greater depth, versatility, and confidence with the English language will make you a better writer, a more confident speaker, and a more perceptive listener. These skills will pay dividends in life and work.
The most influential literary scholars go on to achieve acclaim as bestselling authors, prominent professors, noted historians, and more. Today, top influencers in English are breaking new ground in historical fiction, graphic novels, poetry, and much more.
Find out who the Most Influential People are in Literature today!Back to Top
English and literature degrees take a few general forms. These degrees are mostly differentiated by the amount of emphasis placed on writing and composition, particularly as you advance to higher degree levels.
*Note: Many, but not all, degree programs offer the choice between Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. Likewise, many, but not all, advanced degree programs offer a choice between Master of Arts, and Master of Science degrees. In most cases, the primary difference is the diversity of course offerings. “Science” degree courses will focus almost entirely on the Major discipline, with a deep dive into a specific concentration, including laboratory, clinical or practicum experience. An “Arts” degree will provide a more well-rounded curriculum which includes both core/concentration courses and a selection of humanities and electives. The type of degree you choose will depend both on your school’s offerings and your career/educational goals. Moreover, there are sometimes numerous variations in the way that colleges name and categorize majors. The degree types identified here above are some of the common naming variations, but may not be all-encompassing.
Thinking of a graduate degree in English/Literature? Check out What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in English/Literature? for more information on obtaining a graduate degree in this field.Back to Top
Your “concentration” refers to a specific area of focus within your major. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) provides a complete listing of college degree programs and concentrations (Classification for Instructional Programs), as sourced from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). According to IPEDS, which refers to the major collectively as English Language and Literature/Letters, the following are among the most popular English concentrations:
Your concentration will determine many of the courses you’ll take as an English major. Likewise, you will be required to take a number of requisite courses on foundational topics such as Literary Critical Analysis and Comparative Literature. However, as an English major, you will also have the chance to develop your curriculum around the themes, cultural traditions, and literary periods that most interest you. Examples of traditional literature courses include:
The English degree is actually quite versatile. The skills you’ll learn and refine as an English major can qualify you for a wide range of career opportunities, including these top jobs:
Curious how far you could go with a major in English? Start with a look at the top influencers in the field today!
Thinking of a graduate degree in English/Literature? Check out What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in English/Literature? for more information on obtaining a graduate degree in this field.***
Check out the The Most Influential Schools in Literature and get started on your path to an English degree.