English majors at the University of Minnesota study literature, literary criticism, literary history, linguistics, critical theory, publication/editing, and expository and creative writing. Our courses explore a wide range of discourses written in English from around the world, including poetry, drama, fiction, film, popular culture, and electronic media. Our majors examine the cultural, social, political, and economic contexts that condition a variety of texts. They write extensively and learn to express themselves effectively, both orally and in writing. We offer many small classes to encourage class discussion and active participation.

Preparing for the Major

The English department encourages prospective majors to meet with a departmental adviser in the English Undergraduate Studies Office, 227 Lind Hall. To make an appointment, call 612-625-4592 or stop in. Although the English major does not have any formal prerequisites, we encourage interested students to take an English course before officially declaring the major. First-year students may wish to enroll in either an introductory (1xxx-level) course in literature (EngL) or creative writing (EngW). More advanced students may wish to enroll in upper-division (3xxx-level or higher) courses. If you are interested in taking upper-division creative writing classes, you must take the appropriate introductory creative writing course before you do so. (The Creative Writing program enforces this course prerequisite.) Please keep in mind, however, that only one lower-division EngL or EngW course may be used to fulfill major requirements.

Major Requirements

Distribution Requirements

Foundation Courses (22-23 crs)

You should take the department's methods course (EngL 3001W or 3001V: Textual Analysis: Methods) as early in your major program as possible. (Note: you must be a declared major or minor in English to register for this course.) The methods course will provide you with skills in close and critical reading, a background in history and culture, and multiple approaches to literary works that will guide your continued study.

In addition to Textual Analysis, you will need to take five other foundation courses:

Shakespeare, the British and American Literature surveys, and the historical perspective literature course situate literary works in historical, cultural, and theoretical perspectives. The English language/literary theory requirement allows students to deepen their understanding of the English language or to concentrate on theoretical questions that shape readers' understanding of texts.

Electives (9-10 crs)

In addition to the foundation requirements, you must choose a minimum of three electives, at least two of which must be upper-division (3xxx-level or higher). Your electives can include courses on particular authors, topics, periods, or genres. They may also include courses in creative writing, editing or publishing, linguistics, preparing for teaching, film studies, or any number of other subjects.

Senior Paper

All Bachelor of Arts majors in the College of Liberal Arts must complete a senior project. English majors choose between writing an extended, scholarly essay in a rigorous and intensive literature seminar (EngL 3960W, 4 credits) or a substantial manuscript of poetry, literary fiction, or literary nonfiction in an advanced creative writing workshop (EngW 3960W, 4 credits). Honors summa cum laude degree candidates complete an Honors Thesis (EngL 3883V, 4 credits) in lieu of EngL/W 3960W. Advisers advertise the seminars/workshops each semester, and students apply for admission according to the prerequisites and criteria noted on the Senior Paper Procedures page.

Minor Requirements

Students minoring in English take Textual Analysis (EngL 3001W), Shakespeare (EngL 3007), two historical surveys (selected from EngL 3003W-3006W), and one upper-division (3xxx-level or higher) EngL or EngW elective for a minimum of 18 credits. All minor courses must be graded C- or higher with a minimum GPA of 2.0. To declare the English minor, call English Undergraduate Studies (612-625-4592) to schedule an advising appointment.

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Transfer Students

Transfer students must complete five upper-division (3xxx-level or higher) University of Minnesota-Twin Cities EngL or EngW courses to satisfy the major residency requirement. The Senior Seminar requirement (EngL/W 3960W or EngL 3883V) may not be completed with transfer credit.

Before you can register for any classes as a Transfer Student, you must attend Transfer Student Orientation. You may have the opportunity to declare the major in English at orientation, or you may need to schedule a separate advising appointment in the English Undergraduate Studies Office after orientation.

If you would like to apply English courses that you have taken outside the University of Minnesota toward your major, you may petition to do so by meeting with an undergraduate adviser and presenting course materials for faculty review. At a minimum, you will need to provide a syllabus for the course(s) you took. We may also request further information, such as textbooks, papers, exams, and anything else that indicates the topics, breadth, and requirements of the course. In general, the more information you provide for this evaluation, the better. The process of evaluating transfer courses may take up to two weeks.

No more than five transfer courses may be applied to your program. Note: All English literature and creative writing courses completed at two-year community colleges are accepted as equivalent to UMTC lower-division (1xxx-level) courses, regardless of content. Courses in composition, such as would fulfill the University's first-year writing requirement, do not apply to major requirements.

For courses approved for transfer credit by the Office of Admissions, see u.select, a free, web-based source for information about how your courses may transfer. The UMTC transfer admissions site or UMTC-CLA Transfer Student Guide may also be helpful.

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University Honors Program

English majors have the opportunity to graduate with Latin honors, depending on the level of honors thesis they complete and the grade point average of their last 60 graded UMTC credits: cum laude (3.50 or higher GPA), magna cum laude (3.66 or higher GPA), or summa cum laude (3.75 or higher GPA). To graduate with Latin honors, you must either be invited to join the University Honors Program in your first year or apply on your own after your first year. Once accepted into the program, you must maintain a grade point average of 3.5 and complete a set number of Honors Experiences, which include a variety of Honors Courses. For more information, including an application for admission, please see the web site of the University Honors Program.

English Honors Requirements

To complete an Honors Program in English, students should first plan their program with a departmental adviser in the English Undergraduate Studies Office, 227 Lind Hall. To make an appointment, call 612-625-4592.

The Department of English requires that all Honors English majors take at least one 3xxx-level Honors English course as part of their Honors program.

In addition, Honors students write an Honors thesis, the requirements of which differ according to the level of Latin honors expected. Students graduating cum laude or magna cum laude complete their honors thesis in EngL 3960W (Senior Seminar, WI, 4 cr) or EngW 3960W (Writing Workshop for Majors, WI, 4 cr), in which they work closely with their instructor to determine how their senior paper will qualify for honors credit. Students graduating summa cum laude complete their honors thesis in EngL 3883V (Honors Thesis, WI, H, 4 cr). This four-credit course is spread over two semesters and requires permission prior to registration. Summa cum laude degree candidates should review the Guidelines for EngL 3883V (PDF), which explains the process for writing a summa thesis in detail.