English Major

Learning Goals and Objectives

Goal 1: Acquire knowledge of significant texts in the British, Irish, American, and Anglophone literary traditions.

Objective 1.1: Students will demonstrate a familiarity with British, Irish, American, and Anglophone key texts and an understanding of the historical continuities among literary conventions and imaginative traditions.

Goal 2: Develop rhetorical skills.

Objective 2.1: Students will recognize and use various rhetorical modes, including (but not limited to) narrative, exposition, analysis, and argument.

Goal 3: Develop creative abilities.

Objective 3.1: Students will exercise their imaginations in crafting their own creative works and performances, particularly through creative writing workshops and theatre courses.

Goal 4: Acquire knowledge of significant schools of literary theory.

Objective 4.1: Students will demonstrate an understanding of the historical development of literary theory and draw upon these models for their own literary analyses.

Objective 4.2: Students will formulate their own theories about what literature is and does.

Goal 5: Acquire knowledge of research fundamentals in English.

Objective 5.1: Students will locate, assess, and incorporate secondary sources (including electronic ones) into their own arguments.

Goal 6: Develop revision strategies and editing skills.

Objective 6.1: Students will demonstrate an understanding of revision.

Objective 6.2: Students will practice editing skills through examining their own writing and the writing of their peers.

Requirements for the English Major

The traditional undergraduate programs include 40 courses distributed across three components: A General Education component divided into Signature Courses, Variable Courses, and an Integrative Learning requirement; a Major and Divisional component; and Free Electives. In addition to course requirements as specified in each area, students must complete one certified course in each of the following overlay areas:

  1. Diversity, Globalization or Non-western Area Studies,
  2. Ethics Intensive, and
  3. Writing Intensive. Overlay requirements are part of the forty-course requirement.

General Education Signature Courses

See this page about Signature courses. Six courses

General Education Variable Courses

See this page about Variable courses. Six to Nine courses

General Education Integrative Learning Component

See this page about Integrative Learning Component. Three courses

GEP Electives

Thirteen to sixteen courses, depending on how many courses are required in the variable core

Major Requirements

Major Concentration

Ten courses

ENG 222SophSem:Critical App Lit Study3
ENG 402Shakespeare: Early Works3
or ENG 403 Shakespeare: Later Works
British Literature before 1832 or American Literature before 1860
British/Irish/World Literature course
American Literature course
Writing (creative, journalism, rhetoric, pedagogy)

Track Options

Students also take four courses in one of the four track options:

  • Literature,
  • Writing,
  • Theatre/Drama,
  • Journalism.

See below for information about the English/Education Dual Major requirements beyond the core. 

Literature Track

The Literature track requires one Medieval/Renaissance course, one Literary Theory or Genre Studies course, one literature course of any period (including dramatic literature), and one English elective.

Writing Track

The Writing Track requires three writing courses and one elective.  With the chair’s permission, some Professional Writing and Speaking courses (PWS), offered in the College for Professional and Liberal Studies, may be taken in fulfillment of writing requirements.

Drama/Theatre Track

The Drama/Theatre Track requires MTF 161 Introduction to Theatre, two additional drama/theatre courses taken in the English Department, and one elective, which may be an English literature or writing course or one of the following Music, Theatre and Film courses:

MTF 261Theatre Performance Practicum3
MTF 263Acting I3
MTF 264Acting II3
MTF 265Directing for the Stage3
MTF 268Musical Theater Performance3

Journalism Track

The Journalism Track requires ENG 261 News Reporting,  ENG 490 Journalism Internship, and two additional courses in journalism. Students may take any 300 or 400 level journalism course, including:

ENG 460Magazine Writing3
ENG 461Food Writing3
ENG 462Travel Writing3

Students in the Journalism Track are also encouraged to consider the Communication Studies Minor. 

Diversity within the Major

One course within the ten must be an English diversity course, which can be taken at any level and can overlap with other English requirements. This course does not satisfy the diversity, globalization or non-Western area studies degree requirement in the GEP.

Interdisciplinary Programs in Africana, American, Ancient, Asian, European, Gender, and Medieval/Renaissance/Reformation Studies

English majors are eligible to participate in the Program in Africana Studies, the Program in American Studies, the Program in Ancient Studies, the Program in Asian Studies, the Program in Gender Studies, and the Program in Medieval, Renaissance, and Reformation Studies described elsewhere. All of these minors work well with the major.

Seminars and Writing Workshops

Seminars and writing workshops offered by the Department are designed to fit into a seminar room, with class size optimized at 16; the main purpose of any such seminar will be to give the student experience in intensive reading or writing experience. Literature seminars often involve closely supervised research in a specific area of literary studies. Writing workshops involve development of creative texts (poems, stories, creative nonfiction essays).

Independent Studies and Internships

English majors who have completed four regular semesters with an overall grade point average of 3.0 (or a cumulative average of 3.4 or higher for courses in English) may apply for credit in an independent study program, generally involving a topic that is not typically offered in the English curriculum and that will enrich the major program. At the end of the sophomore or early in the junior year, interested students may submit a written proposal describing, with particulars, the planned study project. The minimum requirement for such a proposal is that it include a substantial critical or creative writing project. If the proposal is accepted, the student will be assigned a faculty mentor who will oversee the writing project, offer advice on readings, help with the selection of courses, and establish a timetable for the completion of the writing project. The project may extend over one or two semesters. Serious and satisfactory work for one semester will earn three credits. A student who successfully completes the two-semester project will receive six credits. Internship independent studies are intended to introduce a junior or senior to professional writing, editorial, and related skills in a particular communications area. See the following under Course Descriptions for additional information:

ENG 370Independent Study:Jr. Level3
ENG 470Independent Study:Senior Level3
ENG 490Journalism Internship3
ENG 491IndependentStudy:Community Svc3
ENG 492English Internship3
ENG 493
ENG 494
Indep Research Project (Fall)
and Indep Research Project (SPR)

Writing Center

The Department of English also supports The Writing Center, where members of the community receive free one-on-one assistance with their writing. The main center is located in Merion Hall 162; a satellite office is located in Post Learning Commons 128. The Center is staffed by trained undergraduate and graduate peer tutors who assist writers at any level of expertise, in any stage in the writing process, from brainstorming and prewriting, to topic selection and focus, to drafting, revision, and editing. The Center also offers online tutoring as well as assistance with digital writing such as blogging, social media, and slide share presentations.  projects and analytical essays, as well as résumés, cover letters, and graduate school personal statements.

Students who are interested in becoming peer tutors take ENG 345 Tutor Practicum, Writing Center Theory and Practice. The Tutor Practicum course is open to students in any major, and it is particularly appropriate for pre-law, pre-med and Education majors, as well as English majors and anyone interested in writing as a profession. Permission of the instructor is required; applications for the fall semester course are available in the spring.

English/Secondary Education Double Major

The English/Secondary Education Double Major requires two literature courses, including dramatic literature, and two writing courses. The three Integrative Learning Courses for the Education Track are as follows:

SPE 160/160FIntro to Special Education3
SPE 310/310FAssessment & Progress Monitor3
SPE 203/203FTchng Adolescents Inclus Envir3

The following are recommended for satisfying both Education and GEP requirements: first-year EDU 150/EDU 150F Schools in Society for the first-year seminar, EDU 157/EDU 157F Adolescent Development for the social and behavioral science requirement, and a Linguistics course for the Art/Lit requirement.

Teacher Certification for Secondary Schools

Students majoring in English who complete the double major in Secondary Education may apply to obtain an Instructional I, Secondary Education (12) Teaching Certificate from the State of Pennsylvania. In addition to their English advisor, English/Secondary Education double majors will also be assigned an advisor from the Education Department who will guide them through their required Education courses. The Education advisor will also assist students seeking teacher certification in formally applying for the teacher certification program, usually in the spring semester of their sophomore year. Students must have an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher to enroll in EDU 497 Secondary Student Teaching in their senior year. Students must maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher to obtain teacher certification upon graduation.

Pennsylvania’s Secondary (referred to as "secondary" or "7-12") preparation program guidelines require a professional core of courses, early and varied field experiences, and student teaching. In addition to the subject-specific content requirements for secondary programs that are met by the student’s major, candidates for the 7-12 teaching certificate in Pennsylvania must complete a prescribed sequence of coursework, which includes the specific requirements for Accommodations and Adaptations for Diverse Learners in Inclusive Settings and Meeting the Needs of English Language Learners under §49.13(4)(i)).

Below is the recommended program for students who will be eligible for a PA Level I teaching certificate in Secondary Education.

EDU 150/150FSchools in Society-Fr Seminar3
EDU 157/157FAdolescent Development3
SPE 160/160FIntro to Special Education3
SPE 203/203FTchng Adolescents Inclus Envir3
SPE 310/310FAssessment & Progress Monitor3
EDU 246/246FLiteracy, Language and Culture3
EDU 247Literacy in the Content Areas3
EDU 410/410FInstructional Tech -English3
EDU 497Student Teaching 9-1212
LIN 200Introduction to Linguistics 13
or LIN 317 Sociolinguistics

Additional Linguistics courses may be approved as eligible by the Secondary Education Certification Office. Please consult your advisor and the Department of Teacher Education for more information.

Internship policy

One internship can count toward the major. Additional internships must be taken as general electives.

All English majors will be assigned a Departmental advisor with whom they will consult during the course of their studies and who will help them select a pattern of courses appropriate to their talents, interests, and possible careers.

Integrated Learning Courses

In consultation with, and with the approval of their faculty advisor, English Majors must complete three additional courses within the College of Arts & Sciences but outside the English major, with no more than two classes taken from the same department.