Major in English

Bachelor of Arts in English

Prerequisites and Recommendations

There is no prerequisite to the major, aside from English 1050 or Advanced Placement (for students from the class of 2014 and earlier) or (for students beginning with the class of 2015) the Sophomore Literature and Writing Seminar, but we strongly 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.

Students in arch

Overall Course Requirements

For an English major, you need to complete 11 courses, five of which are free electives. (Students from the class of 2014 and earlier should note that the course you take to fulfill the Advanced Literature requirement does not count toward the major, even if it is an English course.)

Of the six required courses, one is the junior research requirement course (two are offered each term) and another is the senior seminar (at least two 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 English literature.  (English 2101, 2102, 2103, and 2104, which provide broad surveys covering more than one area, do not fulfill these area requirements.  English majors may count only two of those courses for the major and the Advanced Literature requirement.)

You may also choose to give more shape and focus to your English major by creating a track.  See the Tracks webpage.  Tracks are entirely optional.

Course Planning Chart

To see the requirements in brief, and to help you plan your program, you can use our handy Course Planning Chart for English majors under the New Core or the Course Planning Chart for English majors under the old Core.

Area Requirements

Two courses in British/Irish literature before 1800, in two different areas.  This field is divided into three areas: Medieval; Renaissance; and Restoration and 18th Century.  (For a full list of the courses in each area, click on the highlighted text.)  To fulfill the requirement, you take two courses in different areas.  (Of course you are not limited to taking two courses in this field; you may take as many as you like.)

Two courses in literature primarily after 1800: one in British/Irish literature and one in American literature.  One of these courses must be in 19th century literature and one must be in literature after 1900.
     Often for this requirement you will be doing one of these two things:
pairing a course in American literature to 1900 with a course in British/Irish literature after 1900; or
pairing a course in 19th century British/Irish literature with a course in American literature after 1900.
(For a full list of the courses in each area, click on the highlighted text.)
Note your flexibility here: If you happen to take courses in both areas of American literature, you may take a course in either British/Irish area; similarly, if you happen to take courses in both areas of British/Irish literature, you may take a course in either American area.
(Don’t rely on the CAPP program to tell you whether you have fulfilled this area requirement; it does not assess this requirement properly.)

The Junior Research Seminar (English 2250)

This course must be taken in the junior year or earlier.

A Senior Seminar

This course, numbered 5000, is meant to serve as a capstone course for your experience as an English major.

Five Electives

These courses can be any English department courses numbered 2000 and above, with the partial exception of the British Literary Tradition and American Literary Tradition courses (2101, 2102, 2103, 2104); a student may count only two of those courses towards the major.

For students from the class of 2014 and earlier: An additional literature course for the Advanced Literature requirement

English courses numbered below 2100 (courses in writing and rhetoric) do not fulfill this requirement. This course does not have to be an English course; some courses in other departments (especially Classical and Modern Languages) can also fulfill this requirement.