Why Major in English?

To be or not to be… an English major?
Why should you major, double major, or minor in English?

1.  English is THE major for the 21st-century world, in which we produce and consume text every moment of every day. Think about it: in our fast-paced digital world, you are constantly reading and writing text that comes across your screen in the form of feeds, texts, tweets, messages, and blogs. We exist in a stream of visual/verbal messages--and the ability to craft and critique those messages will give you a mastery over this world. This world mixes information and storytelling, using stories to convey ideas.  It mixes fact and fiction: people carefully craft online identities and avatars. And, it mixes emotion and intellect, encouraging us to feel the power of language.

The English major is THE major that brings together the creativity and analysis required by our text-crazed world. It teaches you to be a savvy creator of these texts—and a savvy critic of these texts. 

2.  An English major teaches you the skills that employers want: reading, writing, critical thinking, and creative thinking. An English degree on your résumé signals that you can read, write, think critically, think creatively, and engage with complex ideas. These are the exactly the skills employers want.

  • A USA Today survey lists “writing skills” as the #1 skill employers want (USA Today: “What Employers Want”). Surveys repeatedly find that the “ability to speak and to write clearly” is the top skill employers want. (NBC News: “Why Johnny can’t write...”).
  • The Association of American Colleges and Universities’ LEAP Compact finds that employers most value critical thinking, innovation, the ability to write and speak well, and the ability to think clearly about complex problems. (AACU website)
  • Forbes Magazine lists “critical thinking” as skill #1. (“10 Skills That Will Get You Hired”)
  • Take a look at all of these famous English majors!  Because it builds essential critical thinking skills and creative abilities, the English major really does serve as a strong foundation for almost any career.

3.  New brain science research shows that reading literature really does make you smarter and nicer! Research shows the reading literature improves the functioning of the brain. Additional studies show that reading improves your analytical skills, vocabulary, memory, empathy, and ability to focus.

  • Studies show that engagement with “serious literature acts like acts like a rocket booster to the brain” (The Telegraph, UK: “Shakespeare and Wordsworth Boost the Brain”). 
  • Reading novels is proving to increase brain connectivity, deepening the neural networks essential to complex thought (Psychology Today: “Reading Fiction Improves Brain Connectivity and Function”). 
  • Literature encourages “deep reading” that increases empathy and “theory of mind,” or the understanding others’ mental states (Time Magazine: “Reading Literature Makes Us Smarter and Nicer”).
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education finds employers want practical knowledge connected to “whole brain” skills: creativity, inquiry, effective written and oral communication, interpersonal skills, and the ability to think critically and analytically. (“Skills Gap?”)

4.  If you love reading, writing, studying literature, and engaging with visual, verbal, and digital texts, that love will translate into excellent grades and a high GPA in the English major.  An English major allows you to express your passion for literature, film, creative writing, journalistic writing, digital writing, and artistic and imaginative thinking. Employers want a high GPA and a record of academic success. If these are your passions, turn them into your college success story by majoring in English.

Come visit the department. (We're on the 6th floor of Wheatley)! Try out our courses (we offer over 50 sections of specialized courses a semester)! Explore all we have to offer!