Frequently Asked Questions


Why should I major in English?

English offers many rewards. Most obviously, you get to read amazing texts and writers, from a variety of stimulating viewpoints. And as you develop your perspectives, through writing as well as class discussions—English courses at Villanova typically do not rely primarily on lectures—you develop your proficiency as a reader, writer, and analytical thinker. Employers in a wide range of fields value Villanova English majors for being able to think outside of the box and to express themselves with cogency and wit.

It is also easy to combine an English major with a concentration or minor in Writing and Rhetoric or in Irish Studies, since English courses constitute a large percentage of the available choices in those areas.

See also below: What’s unique about the English major at Villanova?

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What’s unique about the English major at Villanova?

As one English major puts it, “English has the coolest courses, the coolest teachers, and the coolest students.” With our special "tracks" option, unique teaching assistantship program, nationally recognized faculty, and innovative networking opportunities, English is one of the most dynamic and popular majors in the Arts and Sciences.  English is also one of the most versatile majors you can follow and has practical as well as intellectual advantages. Perhaps no other major leads to so many different job possibilities.

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What are the requirements for being an English major?

As with most other majors at Villanova, you need to complete 11 courses. Most of these courses are free electives. One required course (English 2250, Ways of Reading) fulfills the junior research requirement and the other is a senior seminar; currently two or three senior seminars are offered each term. The department’s other requirement—four courses chosen from a number of possibilities—are chiefly designed to give you a sense of the historical range and diversity of literature in English. We also recommend that you take English 2101 (The British Literary Tradition I) early, since it will introduce you to writers, texts, and issues that are crucial to most subsequent courses.

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How do I know which courses fill what requirements for the major? And how can I check where I stand in terms of my requirements?

Every semester the department lists the specific historical courses that fill the requirements for the major. You can find this list at the beginning of the “Courses” link on the department’s webpage or at the front of the course catalogue (available in the English department office). For a complete listing of what courses fill what requirements for the major, click here

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I’m thinking about becoming an English major. What do I do now?

Talk to people. One excellent resource is the English major Peer Advisors, any of whom would be glad to give you his or her perspective on English. You can find their names, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses on the Peer Advisors page; you may even have had one visit your Sophomore Seminar or ACS class. Don’t be shy about contacting them; these students look forward to speaking to prospective majors.

English faculty are also happy to discuss the English major. You probably already know a member of the English Department from a Sophomore Seminar, and possibly from an Augustine and Culture class. One English faculty member is also particularly designated to talk to prospective majors: Prof. Michael Berthold. Just call the English department secretaries (x9-4630), who will set up an appointment for you. You can also contact any English advisor. To see the list of advisors, along with their telephone numbers and email addresses, click here. For all faculty, click here.

You can also deepen your sense of what majoring in English would involve by taking another English course soon. Each semester the department lists several courses that are especially suited to students interested in exploring English as a major. But don't rule out other courses; talk to your friends or to advisors to help you decide what makes sense for you.

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Now I’ve decided to become an English major. What’s my next step?

It’s easy. You simply fill out a brief form, either at the Office for Undergraduate Students (SAC first floor) or the English Department office (SAC 402). If you go to the English office, one of our helpful administrative assistants will also give you a chance to request a particular advisor. For the list of advisors, click here.

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What are the requirements for an English minor?

The English minor involves five English courses numbered 2000 or higher, including at least one in British/Irish literature and at least one in American literature. To read more, click here.

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What kind of variety is there to English classes?

There is great variety to the courses you can take as an English major. The department offers not only traditional courses in major fields (for instance, British romantic poetry) and writers (for instance, Shakespeare and Milton), but also courses on topics such as “Race and Ethnicity in Contemporary Literature,” “Books into Movies,” “American Gothic,” and “The Writing of the Short Story.” English professors are also always developing new courses, insuring that the variety of courses we offer will continue to expand.

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How much choice do I have in picking my English classes?

A lot. Of the 11 courses you would take as an English major, five are entirely free electives, and the other six (which fulfill area requirements, the Junior Research requirement, and the Senior Seminar requirement) can be chosen from among many possibilities.

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What can I do with an English major?

English prepares you for anything that requires skill at writing, reading, or thinking—in other words, for almost anything. The number of job possibilities open to English majors—including jobs in publishing, advertising, law, and maybe most surprisingly in business—is clear even from the first page of a list of what recent Villanova English graduates are doing. To see that list, click here.

To read more about career possibilities, click here.

To read advice from recent English graduates now in the business world, click here and here.

Of course, if you are interested in teaching, English offers an excellent opportunity in its Teaching Assistantship. See below: Can I find out what it’s like to be a teacher if I’m an English major?

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If I’m interested in law school, does it make sense for me to major in English?

Many English majors do go on to law school. In fact, an English major provides excellent preparation for legal studies; law schools count on students to be skilled at careful reading and writing. The Villanova English Department regularly offers a course in “Legal Analysis and Writing,” and also provides advice about law school applications. 

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Can I find out what it’s like to be a teacher if I’m an English major?

Absolutely. The English department offers a teaching assistantship course, English 2800, that is open to senior English majors. Students who have worked as undergraduate teaching assistants have been extremely enthusiastic about the course. You can read more about this course, including the first-person narratives of students’ experiences as Teaching Assistants, on the department’s Teaching Assistantship page.

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What kinds of internships are available for English majors?

There is a wide variety of internships available for English majors. See our Internship page. If you’re interested in internship possibilities, a crucial stop is the Internship Program. The department also has an advisor for internships, Prof. Jody Ross (610-519-3047).

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What are Tracks?

Tracks are an optional way of giving more shape and focus to your English major. A track is a cluster of four or more courses organized about a historical field, a genre, or an independent topic of your creation (for example, Race and Ethnicity). It is designed to allow you to define your specific literary interests by carefully choosing what courses you take as your English electives. You do not have to take extra courses to complete a track, and courses from other departments may count towards a track, thus enabling you to make your track interdisciplinary. To read more, click here.

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