English Studies is an academic discipline that explores the analysis and production of texts created using the English language. It is an academic discipline that includes English linguistics (including phonetics, syntax, phonology and morphology, English sociolinguistics (study of World Englishes and the history of the English language) and the study of literatures written in the English language. Students analyze and interpret literature through clear writing. Students learn to hone their critical thinking skills and develop and appreciation for various distinguished works of literature.

Program Information

Each school will have certain requirements for entry into their English program from high school. Since English is usually studied all 4 years of high school, however, typically all that matters is having a certain GPA. English Majors are generally in school for 4 years, but the course requirements vary at each school. Columbia University, which is one of the top schools in the world for English, requires a total of 10 courses. One of the courses must be Literary Texts, Critical Methods. 3 courses must deal with periods before the 1800s. 1 course must be in poetry, another in drama or film, and another in prose fiction. 1 British literature course is required, as is 1 American literature course and 1 global literature course. Multiple requirements can be filled by one course, however. A Shakespeare course, for example, fulfills the drama requirement, the British literature requirement, and 1 of the 3 pre-1800 literature requirement. Harvard University also has a terrific English program. During the first two terms, students take four common ground courses that integrate modes and genres, geographic dispersal, and looks at different historical periods. These courses are meant to help students develop a set of analytic tools and cultivate a vocabulary essential for writing critical essays and discussing literature in class. Students will then select various electives to explore English literature and language. The program offers a large variety of courses, including poetry, creative writing, screenplays, fiction and non-fiction.


Pros & Cons

A common misconception is that studying English is only relevant if you want to become a teacher. English allows you to learn and perfect universal skills that can take you anywhere, however. While many English Majors become teachers, some become lawyers, editors, even politicians. English teaches you to communicate and analyze with tremendous proficiency, which is useful for a wide range of careers. English is also a terrific degree if you are a very creative person. English provides a conductive environment for theorizing ideas and sharing opinions. There are also creative writing classes you can take. English is a perfect field for someone who struggles with the memorization required in math and science. Exams typically ask you to write and prove an opinion on a text as opposed to memorizing and listing out facts or historical dates. This can be difficult for some people however, since there is no “right” or “wrong” answer, and your grade is based on the opinion of your professor. This can be frustrating if one professor grades you significantly higher or lower than another. English majors also have to study literary theory and analyze texts – it is not just reading and creative writing. This can be very dull at times.

Graduate School & Career

Any career which requires you to have a logical approach and strong analytical skills is benefited by having an English Major. Many English Majors continue on to Graduate School. While some remain in English, others study history, law, psychology, education, etc. An English degree can be a perfect stepping stone to law school. Obviously, teaching is a common career choice for English Majors. There are other options, however. Writing is a popular career choice, and this doesn’t just refer to novels. Journalism can be an exciting career as you write about the top news stories around the world, allowing you the opportunity to see different countries and travel. Some people work for advertising agencies, which requires you to write to sell products. This is an excellent career choice for people who are very creative. For people who love sports, sports writing is a terrific career. This can range from working for a newspaper or magazine (print or online or both), covering all sports or one sport, or covering one specific team. Some other careers include public relations, librarianship, biographer, and editor.