The English major teaches students to appreciate and use the English language and literature effectively for critical thinking, effective communication, citizenship, and career success. English majors build strong writing skills and engage in high-level critical and analytical thinking. They encounter enriching, enduring, experimental, and complex works of literature. And they grapple with perspectives far distant from their own, examining their deepest values. Instructors introduce students to a wide range of genres and cultural perspectives, and pay close attention to all aspects of student thinking and writing, from logic and evidence to originality and style. Fostering communication skills, stimulating creativity, developing cultural sensitivity, and sharpening analytical abilities, the English major prepares students for a broad range of careers.
English majors choose one of three tracks: the general major (which emphasizes literary and cultural studies), creative writing, or language and linguistics. All majors take a core curriculum that introduces them to a range of approaches to literature and language, including courses in literary and cultural history. Students who opt for the general major build on core courses with intermediate and advanced classes that focus on texts from across a range of periods and places, investigating literature and culture using multiple methods and approaches. Students pursuing the emphasis on creative writing take the core curriculum with a sequence of creative writing workshops. Students wishing to emphasize language and linguistics choose options in grammar, the history of the English language, phonology, and language acquisition.
Those who wish to prepare for teaching careers at the secondary level should complete the undergraduate English major and then apply for a teaching certificate or graduate education program. For further information, students should make an appointment with the undergraduate advisor in English or the graduate advisor in curriculum and instruction.
There are no admission requirements for the major. Students interested in declaring the major should schedule an appointment with the undergraduate academic advisor.
University General Education Requirements
All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.
|General Education|| |
* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.
College of Letters & Science Breadth and Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
Students pursuing a bachelor of science degree in the College of Letters & Science must complete all of the requirements below. The College of Letters & Science allows this major to be paired with either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science curriculum. View a comparison of the degree requirements here.
Bachelor of Science DEGREE REQUIREMENTS
|Mathematics||Two (2) 3+ credits of intermediate/advanced level MATH, COMP SCI, STAT |
Limit one each: COMP SCI, STAT
|Foreign Language||Complete the third unit of a foreign language |
Note: A unit is one year of high school work or one semester/term of college work.
|L&S Breadth|| |
|Liberal Arts and Science Coursework||108 credits|
|Depth of Intermediate/Advanced work||60 intermediate or advanced credits|
|Major||Declare and complete at least one (1) major|
|Total Credits||120 credits|
|UW-Madison Experience||30 credits in residence, overall |
30 credits in residence after the 86th credit
|Minimum GPAs||2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison |
2.000 in intermediate/advanced coursework at UW–Madison
Non–L&S Students PURSUING AN L&S MAJOR
Non–L&S students who have permission from their school/college to pursue an additional major within L&S only need to fulfill the major requirements and do not need to complete the L&S breadth and degree requirements above. Please note that the following special degree programs are not considered majors so are not available to non-L&S-degree-seeking candidates:
- Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics (Bachelor of Science–Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics)
- Journalism (Bachelor of Arts–Journalism; Bachelor of Science–Journalism)
- Music (Bachelor of Music)
- Social Work (Bachelor of Social Work)
Requirements for the Major
30 credits in intermediate- and advanced-level ENGL courses numbered 204 and higher.1
|Survey of Literature|
|ENGL 241||Literature and Culture I: to the 18th Century||3|
|ENGL 242||Literature and Culture II: from the 18th Century to the Present||3|
|American Literature (1 course)||3|
|Vladimir Nabokov: Russian and American Writings|
|American Literary Cultures|
|Literature by American Indian Women|
|Women in Ethnic American Literature|
|A Survey of Asian American Literature|
|Nineteenth-Century American Fiction|
|Major American Poets|
|Literature of the American Renaissance|
|Modern and Contemporary American Literature|
|American Fiction since 1900|
|The American Short Story|
|Chicana/o and Latina/o Literatures|
|African and African Diaspora Literature and Culture|
|Topic in Early American Literature and Culture|
|A Study of an Outstanding Figure or Figures in American Literature|
|Topic in Nineteenth-Century American Literature and Culture|
|Topic in American Literature and Culture since 1900|
|Major American Writer or Writers|
|Three American Novelists|
|Topics in Ethnic and Multicultural Literature|
|Race and Sexuality in American Literature|
|Asian American Women Writers|
|Asian American Poetry|
|Topic in Contemporary Literature|
|Jewish Literatures in Diaspora|
|Feminist Theory and Women's Writing in English|
|Literature of Jewish Identity in America|
|Selected Topics in Afro-American Literature|
|Pre-1800 course (two course)||6|
|You may take one (only) Shakespeare course:|
|Early Works of Shakespeare|
|Later Works of Shakespeare|
You must take at least one course that is not Shakespeare:
|The Sixteenth Century|
|Seventeenth-Century Literature and Culture|
|Eighteenth Century Literature and Culture|
|Stage and Page in the Long Eighteenth Century|
|Outstanding Figure(s) in Literature before 1800|
|Topic in Medieval Literature and Culture|
|Chaucers Courtly Poetry|
|Chaucer's Canterbury Tales|
|Topic in Early Modern Literature and Culture|
|Topic in Eighteenth-Century Literature and Culture|
|Advanced Old English Literature|
|Discourses of Disability, Antiquity to 1800|
|Topic in Travel Writing before 1800|
|ENGL 245||Seminar in the Major||3|
|Language or Composition & Rhetoric (1 course)||3|
|Studies in Writing, Rhetoric, and Literacy|
|The English Language|
|Composition & Rhetoric In and Beyond the University|
|Race, Sex, and Texts (How to do things with writing)|
|Seminar on Tutoring Writing Across the Curriculum|
|Writing in Workplaces|
|Topics in Composition and Rhetoric|
EMPHASIS ON CREATIVE WRITING NAMED OPTION
RESIDENCE AND QUALITY OF WORK
2.000 GPA in all ENGL courses and all major courses
2.000 GPA on at least 15 credits of upper-level work in the major, taken in residence2
15 credits in ENGL, taken on the UW–Madison campus
Intermediate and Advanced level ENGL courses are considered upper level in the major.
Thesis of Distinction
Students majoring in English who are not completing Honors in the Major may choose to complete a two semester senior thesis project. Thesis of Distinction is granted for an exceptionally well written thesis in ENGL 691–ENGL 692 and requires the recommendation of both the sponsoring faculty member and the honors coordinator. For further information consult the department advisor or the honors coordinator.
Honors in the Major
Students may declare Honors in the English Major in consultation with the English undergraduate advisor. To be eligible to declare Honors in the English Major, students must:
- Complete ENGL 241, ENGL 242, or ENGL 243
- Complete one additional course in the major
- Have completed at least 6 credits in the Department of English
- Have established a 3.500 GPA for all ENGL courses
HONORS IN THE ENGLISH MAJOR REQUIREMENTS
To earn Honors in the Major in English, students must satisfy both the requirements for the major (above) and the following additional requirements:
- Earn a 3.300 University GPA
- Earn a 3.500 GPA in all ENGL courses and all major courses
- Complete 12 credits, taken for Honors, with a grade of B or better to include:
HONORS IN THE ENGLISH MAJOR REQUIREMENTS, CREATIVE WRITING OPTION
To earn Honors in the Major in English–Creative Writing Option, students must satisfy the Option requirements (above) and the following additional requirements:
- Earn a 3.300 University GPA
- Earn a 3.500 GPA in all ENGL courses and all major courses
- Complete Sophomore Honors-Research Methods (for Honors) with a grade of B or better: ENGL 245 or ENGL 381
- Complete ENGL 481 with a grade of B or better, and
- One Advanced Level Creative Writing Workshop for Honors, with a grade of B or better taken from: ENGL 407, ENGL 408, ENGL 409,ENGL 410, ENGL 411, ENGL 508, ENGL 509
- Directed Creative Writing: ENGL 695
University Degree Requirements
|Total Degree||To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.|
|Residency||Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.|
|Quality of Work||Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.|
- (History of literature and language) To demonstrate knowledge of major forms, techniques, social conditions, values, and genres that have shaped the history of English literature and language.
- (Critical thinking) To be able to discern and integrate divergent and contradictory perspectives, identify and question assumptions, and assess evidence and methods.
- (Creativity) To generate original ideas and texts, experimenting and taking risks, solving problems, and answering questions in a range of genres and media.
- (Critical writing) To write original, coherent, and compelling arguments that push beyond summary to analysis and independent and critical thinking in clear prose that meets expectations for grammatical correctness.
- (Citizenship) To develop empathy by learning about the experiences of others, and to gain an understanding of how we participate in communities (including the classroom) and the public sphere.
Sample Four-Year Plan
This Sample Four-Year Plan is a tool to assist students and their advisor(s). Students should use it—along with their DARS report, the Degree Planner, and Course Search & Enroll tools—to make their own four-year plan based on their placement scores, credit for transferred courses and approved examinations, and individual interests. As students become involved in athletics, honors, research, student organizations, study abroad, volunteer experiences, and/or work, they might adjust the order of their courses to accommodate these experiences. Students will likely revise their own four-year plan several times during college.
|Communication A (complete during your first year)||3||Ethnic Studies||3|
|Quantitative Reasoning A (complete during your first year)||3||Foreign Language (if required)||4|
|Foreign Language||4||Social Science Breadth||3|
|Social Science Breadth||4||Physical Science Breadth||3|
|Quantitative Reasoning B||4||ENGL 201 or 207 (COM-B)||3|
|ENGL 241||3||ENGL 242||3|
|ENGL 245||3||English Language or Composition/Rhetoric Requirement||3|
|Social Science Breadth||3-4||Social Science Breadth||3|
|INTER-LS 210||1||Biological Science Breadth||3|
|Declare the Major (before 86 credits)1||Pre-1800 Literature Requirement||3|
|Natural Science Breadth||3||English I/A Elective||3|
|Elective||3||Natural Science Breadth||3|
|Pre-1800 Literature Requirement2||3||Elective||3|
|English I/A Elective||3||English I/A Elective||3|
|Total Credits 120|
1 Students must declare a major before 86 credits.
2 See your major advisor if you want to declare English/Creative Writing, Honors in the English major, or plan to study abroad.
Please refer to the Requirements tab in Guide for additional College of Letters & Science Breadth and Degree Requirements as well as Residence and Quality of Work requirements for the major.
Sample Three-Year Plan
This Sample Three-Year Plan is a tool to assist students and their advisor(s). Students should use it —along with their DARS report, the Degree Planner, and Course Search & Enroll tools — to make their own three-year plan based on their placement scores, credit for transferred courses and approved examinations, and individual interests.
Three-year plans may vary considerably from student to student, depending on their individual preparation and circumstances. Students interested in graduating in three years should meet with an advisor as early as possible to discuss feasibility, appropriate course sequencing, post-graduation plans (careers, graduate school, etc.), and opportunities they might forgo in pursuit of a three-year graduation plan.
Students planning to graduate within three years with an English major should enter the University with a minimum of 30 advanced standing credits, and have satisfied the following requirements with course credit or via placement examination:
- Communication Part A
- Quantitative Reasoning Part A
- 18 combined credits of Humanities, Social Science, and Natural Science coursework
- 3-4 units of foreign language
|Ethnic Studies||3||ENGL 201 or 207 (meets Communication B)||3|
|Literature Breadth||3||ENGL 241 or 242||3|
|Science Breadth||3||Physical Science Breadth||3|
|Social Science Breadth||3||Social Science Breadth||3|
|Foreign Language (if interested in retroactive credit or to reach 4 units) or Elective||3||Elective||3|
|ENGL 241 or 242||3||Pre-1800 Literature course||3|
|ENGL 245||3||ENGL Elective||3|
|English Language or Composition & Rhetoric course||3||Social Science Breadth or Elective (Intermediate or Advanced level)||3|
|Quantitative Reasoning B (if B.A.) or Elective (if B.S.)||3||Intermediate or Advanced COMP SCI, MATH, or STAT (if B.S.) or Elective (Intermediate or Advanced level) (if B.A.)||3|
|Social Science Breadth||3||Elective (Intermediate or Advanced level)||3|
|American Literature course||3||ENGL Elective||3|
|Pre-1800 Literature course||3||ENGL Elective||3|
|Biological Science Breadth||3||Intermediate or Advanced COMP SCI, MATH, or STAT (if B.S.) or Elective (Intermediate or Advanced level) (if B.A.)||3|
|Science Breadth or Elective||3||Electives (Intermediate or Advanced level)||6|
|Elective (Intermediate or Advanced level)||3|
|Total Credits 90|
Summer terms present an opportunity for students to make progress toward remaining L&S Breadth and General Education Requirements. Other options for academic enrichment or career exploration might include: research, field work, internship, etc.
CAREERS and INTERNSHIP ADVISOR
The English Department encourages our majors to begin working on their career exploration and preparation soon after declaring the major. Our career advisor also partners with SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science. L&S graduates are in high demand by employers and graduate programs. It is important to us that our students are career ready at the time of graduation, and we are committed to their success.
L&S career resources
SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students leverage the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and liberal arts degree; explore and try out different career paths; participate in internships; prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications; and network with professionals in the field (alumni and employers). In short, SuccessWorks helps students in the College of Letters & Science discover themselves, find opportunities, and develop the skills they need for success after graduation.
SuccessWorks can also assist students in career advising, résumé and cover letter writing, networking opportunities, and interview skills, as well as course offerings for undergraduates to begin their career exploration early in their undergraduate career.
Students should set up their profiles in Handshake to take care of everything they need to explore career events, manage their campus interviews, and apply to jobs and internships from 200,000+ employers around the country.
- Set up a career advising appointment
- INTER-LS 210 L&S Career Development: Taking Initiative (1 credit, targeted to first- and second-year students)—for more information, see Inter-LS 210: Career Development, Taking Initiative
- INTER-LS 215 Communicating About Careers (3 credits, fulfills Com B General Education Requirement)
- Learn how we’re transforming career preparation: L&S Career Initiative
Professors: Auerbach, Barry, Bearden, Begam, Bernard-Donals, Bow, Britland, Castronovo, A. Dharwadker, V. Dharwadker, Foys, Guyer, Hill, Johnson, Kercheval, Nguyen, Olaniyan, Ortiz-Robles, Purnell, Raimy, Sherrard-Johnson, Shreve, Wanner, M. Young, Yu, Zimmerman
Associate Professors: Allewaert, Calhoun, Cooper, Druschke, Fawaz, Neyrat, Olson, Samuels, Trotter, Vareschi, Wells, Zweck
Assistant Professors: Amine, Cho, Edoro, Fecu, Grunewald, Huang, Lagman
The Writing Center, located in 6171 Helen C. White Hall, offers free individualized help with writing. Students are welcome to come to the center for help with writing assignments in almost any course. In half-hour tutorials, instructors help students clarify and organize ideas and offer advice about revising a draft. The center also offers short-term classes on various facets of writing, including classes on writing about literature, writing research papers, writing book reviews, writing essay exams, and on many other topics. The Writing Center also has a computer lab.
To make an appointment, students should call 263-1992 or stop by when the center is open. During busy times of the semester, the center often is booked several days in advance, so students should plan ahead. For complete information about the center, including hours, schedules for writing assistance in the Multicultural Student Center and residence halls, extensive handouts about writing, and information about the Undergraduate Writing Fellows program, see the center website.