The Director of Undergraduate Studies, along with the department chair, reviews the curriculum every semester to ensure that course offerings cover a variety of literary genres as well as a wide range of historical periods. In addition, majors are required to meet with their departmental advisers every semester prior to registration in order to review course choices and design an appropriate schedule. An adviser is normally assigned at the beginning of the sophomore year.

The department’s gateway course, Introduction to Literary Study (AS.060.107), introduces students to the basic mechanisms of analyzing both poetry and prose fiction.

Among the nine required courses after ILS, all majors must take a minimum of two lecture courses, most of which are surveys of a broad subject area. These include a two-semester sequence covering major works of British literature from the Middle Ages to the the present as well as courses on Shakespeare, the Victorian novel, American literature, the novel and globalization, the Bible as literature, feminist fiction, filmic adaptations, and an array of other topics. Majors must also take a minimum of two pre-1800 courses to ensure historical diversity in course selection as well as one course in global/minority literatures to ensure diversity in perspectives.

Five of the nine additional English courses must be upper-level courses (i.e. courses at the 300, 400, or 500-level). Many of our advanced seminars are designed to explore issues or authors in depth. Some of these focus on single authors, others on small constellations of authors, others still on historically or thematically focused topics. To supplement the regular offerings of the curriculum, undergraduate majors who have completed six hours of English beyond the introductory courses may arrange independent reading or research with the consent of a faculty member. In certain cases, undergraduates may be admitted to graduate seminars.

Majors with a cumulative GPA of 3.6 also have the opportunity to write a senior essay (of 30-35 pages) under the supervision of a member of the faculty in the Fall of the senior year.

BA Degree Requirements

Complete course requirements can be found on the academic catalog website.

  • Foreign language proficiency through the intermediate level (0-17 credits)
  • AS.060.107 Introduction to Literary Study * (3 credits)
  • Nine additional English courses (divided as follows): **
    • Two courses in pre-1800 literature and one course in Global and Minority Literatures of which one course must be a non-lecture course (9 credits)
    • Six 100 to 400-level English courses (18 credits)

*Should be taken no later than sophomore year.
**Students are required to take at least two lectures courses and up to four lecture courses may apply towards this requirement. Students must take at least 5 upper-level courses (300 to 500-level). Up to two 100-level courses may be applied to the major. Up to two cross-listed courses may be applied.

English majors are required to study at least one foreign language beyond the elementary level and to supplement their English courses with at least two introductory (non-English department) courses in the humanities and/or social sciences (fields such as history, philosophy, political science, and the history of science). Appropriate course selections in these fields are also worked out with the guidance of a departmental adviser.

Knowledge of a Foreign Language

The Department of English requires students to know at least one foreign language well enough to read literature in that language. Students are expected to demonstrate skill in a foreign language by studying a language through a full year at the intermediate level or by passing a test indicating comparable proficiency.

Writing and Communication in the Major

Students must complete at least 6 credits of Writing and Communication foundational ability coursework in one major.  The English major is an inherently writing- and discussion-based major, so students easily will find many Writing and Communication course options among the department course offerings. Additionally, the one required course of the major, AS.060.107, is designated a Writing and Communication course.