The English Major: Interpret, Create, Communicate

Our curriculum encourages you to engage in the study of literature, language, film, and visual, digital, and multimodal texts and to develop new skills in interpretation, creativity, and communication. In the English classroom you will discuss, write about, and reflect on the ways in which language and literature explain the human condition, shape emotional life, expose social issues, and give expression to our dreams or desires.

For a complete overview of all our programs, please download our Undergraduate Handbook.

The English Department grants an eleven-course Bachelor of Arts (BA) Major in English.  We provide a strong foundation for advanced study in English by requiring that you take a set of “gateway” courses: ENGL 200, 201, and 202.  We then allow much freedom and flexibility as you choose your upper-level elective courses —we encourage you to explore new topics, add depth to your interests, and follow your passions!

Course Requirements for a Major in English:

1. Total number of courses:  Students majoring in English must take ELEVEN courses (33 credits) above the 100 level. To count towards the major, courses must be completed with a grade of “C-“ or better and cannot be taken on a pass/fail basis.

2.  200-level courses:  At the sophomore (ENGL 200) level, all English majors must take the following three courses:

  • ENGL 200:  Understanding Literature
  • ENGL 201:  Five British Authors
  • ENGL 202:  Six American Authors

Majors must complete at least one of these three required sophomore-level courses before beginning advanced-level work.

3. 200-300-400-level courses:  At least seven of the eleven required courses must be at the advanced (ENGL 300 and ENGL 400) level.  One of the eleven required courses can be at the ENGL 200 level.  The seven advanced course must be distributed according to the following guidelines:

  • Pre-1660 (*) Requirement:  Majors must take as least one advanced course in which the major proportion of the literature studied was written before 1660.  These courses are identified in our advising materials with an asterisk (*).   
  • 1660-1900 (**) Requirement:  Majors must take at least one advanced course in which the major proportion of the literature studied was written between 1660 and 1900.  These courses are identified in our advising materials with a double asterisk (**).
  • Transnational (TN) Requirement:  Majors must take at least one advanced course that offers a transnational, comparative, cross-cultural, or postcolonial perspective on literature.  This requirement recognizes that English studies in the twentieth-century is a global phenomenon and that the English language is a medium of expression in numerous countries.   These courses are identified in our advising materials with the abbreviation TN.
  • Capstone Requirement:  Majors must complete a capstone course or experience.  Ordinarily, the capstone is undertaken after a student has completed at least 90 credits towards graduation.  The capstone requirement may be met through any of the courses listed in the 460-499 series. 

4.  Capstone course:  The capstone allows a student to demonstrate the ability to use the knowledge, concepts, and methods acquired in the English major in an innovative project that may involve research in literature or language, a portfolio of creative work, or real-world application in an apprenticeship outside of the University.  Capstones cross-listed between English and other departments may also be used by English to meet the capstone requirement.  English majors in the Teacher Licensure Program may count their practicum semester as a capstone experience. Students completing the creative writing concentration in English may use their required writing portfolio as the capstone experience. Students must plan their course of study and portfolio submission in consultation with their English Department advisor.  English majors who have an internship approved by the English Department’s internship supervisor may count their semester as an intern as a capstone experience if they enroll in either ENGL 475 or 476. 

Grade Requirements for a Major in English:

  • Grade requirement:  Courses must receive a 'minimum' grade of C- (C minus)
in order to count towards the major
  • Pass/Fail restriction:  Courses can NOT be taken pass/fail; a pass/fail grade will not count towards the major

Residency Requirements for a Major in English:

  • Six courses must be completed “in residence” at UMass Boston.
  • Courses can be transferred in towards the major with permission of the Director of the Undergraduate English Major

Pre-2007 Major in English:

  • Note that the requirements of the current English major were implemented as of September 1, 2007. The requirements of the major declared before September 1, 2007, are available at the English Department office or from the Director of the Undergraduate English major.