The English Major: A Guide

The English Major offers a flexible, rigorous curriculum that focuses on reading and writing. In your English coursework, you can study creative writing, literature, language, rhetoric, and more. Here are some tips to help you navigate the major.

Talk to an Advisor Every Semester at Least

Kick it Off Right

One great way to kick off your English coursework is to take a 200-level course or a 300-level class that interests you. Always been a big Shakespeare fan? Take 332! Want to study rhetoric and writing? Try 380! Want to do creative writing? Take a workshop!

Take ENGL 300 as Early as You Can

This introductory, seminar-style course will orient you to English courses, fields of specialization, opportunities, and career-pathways. It’s offered every semester! The earlier you take, the better prepared you’ll be for the rest of your courses.

Read Course Descriptions

Every semester, the English department posts descriptions of all courses. Read these to get a sense of what the courses will involve! 

Mix it Up

At the 300-level, try to mix “knowledge base” courses (like literary history courses (312, 314, 320, 322), Shakespeare (332), and literature of social justice (341)) with courses that focus on your interests (like fiction writing (351) or special topics courses).

Challenge Yourself

Think about what courses will challenge and support you intellectually and practically. Whatever you end up doing after college, the intellectual rigor of English classes will help you. 

Think about Research or Department Honors

Research in English can take many forms: publishing a piece of creative writing, doing archival research, presenting your work to peers, and much more. The department also boasts one of the most active Honors programs at KU. Ask an advisor for more information.

Enroll with a Purpose

Be sure to think (and talk to an advisor) about what courses you should take. If you have particular outcomes in mind (like med school, law school, graduate school, editing, copy-writing, and on and on), then look at the sample course profiles and make a coursework plan.

Remember What Capstone Means

You are required to take two 500- or 600-level (“capstone”) courses for the major. Think of these capstones as advanced, research-intensive work in your area.

Take Advantage of Resources

Your instructors, the advisors, and other English students can be a great resource for making your way through the major.