Major requirements

Literature Class Sitting In A Circle With Professor Essaka Joshua

The English major requires a minimum of 10 courses (30 credit hours). In taking these courses, students must complete the following requirements:

Introduction to Literary Studies (ENGL 30101)

  • This course introduces students to college-level study of literature, provides beginning English majors with experience in the analysis, interpretation, and appreciation of literary works of different kinds and eras.
  • Texts assigned vary, but all sections include significant attention to poetry and treatment of at least one other genre (fiction, drama, non-fiction prose).
  • Frequent writing about works studied introduces students to the practice of critical argument and consideration of how to read criticism as well as literature analytically.
  • This is a concurrent prerequisite for the major (i. e. students cannot take a major elective unless they have completed this course or are currently enrolled in it).

Elective courses

Nine English courses at the 30xxx level or above.

Distribution requirements

In selecting elective courses, students must fulfill the following distribution requirements (for details about counting courses toward this requirement see below).

Note that a single course can satisfy more than one distribution requirement. For example, a course on Shakespeare's major plays would satisfy the 1500–1700 period, British, and drama requirements. It is possible to satisfy all of the requirements with five courses.

Literary History
  • 1 course in the period before 1500
  • 1 course in the period 1500–1700
  • 2 courses in the period 1700–1900
  • 1 course after 1900
Literary Culture
  • 1 course in British literature
  • 1 course in American literature
  • 1 course in a literature in English outside of Britain and the United States or in American ethnic minority literature
  • 1 course predominantly concerned with poetry.
  • 2 courses predominantly concerned with 2 genres from the following list: fiction, non-fiction, drama or film, critical theory

A single course can fulfill the requirement in more than one distribution category, but it may not satisfy more than one category. For example, a survey of Renaissance literature might count for pre-1700 (history), British literature (culture), and drama (genre), but would not count for both poetry and drama (two genre categories).

Two creative writing courses may count toward the major (three for creative writing concentrators).

The number of courses needed to satisfy the distribution requirement will vary, depending on the courses the student selects, but not all electives need fulfill a distribution requirement.

If you have questions about the requirements, contact:

Laura Betz
Director of Undergraduate Studies

**Please Note: The English Department is in the process of getting approval for a new English major curriculum, which will be put into place over the 2022–23 academic year. While we will continue to offer courses in literary history, cultures, and forms/genres, we are also excited about the opportunity to expand and diversify our undergraduate course offerings and to better integrate critical and creative courses. The revised curriculum will go into effect in fall 2023. More details coming soon.

Creative Writing Concentration Requirements

Creative Writing Students Buying Used Books At Irish Street Fair

In creative writing, we make stories. We study stories. We craft language into poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction. We do a lot more, of course — like exploring the intersection of psychology and history and culture, thinking about the politics of style, and paying close attention to the astonishing world around us — but whether you’re crafting sonnets or science fiction, the real heart of what we do is magic: building worlds out of words. Through literary study and craft-based workshops, our writers work to master skills like narrative construction, rhythm, worldbuilding, imagery, metaphor, and characterization, while also closely reading literatures from around the world. 

Biology, economics, business, advertising, politics, particle physics, theology, engineering — nearly every aspect of human life happens in language. But there’s only one discipline on this campus that studies the art and craft of shaping language into reality: creative writing.

Students who wish to graduate with a concentration in creative writing must:

  • Complete all the requirements for the English major.
  • Complete four creative writing courses. These courses may include:
    • Introduction to Poetry Writing;
    • Introduction to Fiction Writing;
    • Poetry Writing;
    • Fiction Writing;
    • Creative Nonfiction;
    • Advanced Fiction Writing;
    • Advanced Poetry Writing;
    • Special Topics in Creative Writing.
    • Other creative writing courses may also count towards the concentration; please consult Creative Writing Director Roy Scranton and confirm that the course you wish to take counts for the concentration.
  • A creative writing concentrator must take either Advanced Fiction Writing, Advanced Creative Nonfiction, or Advanced Poetry Writing.
  • No more than one 200-level creative writing course counts toward the concentration.
  • Three of the creative writing courses a student takes for the creative writing concentration may double count towards the English major; the remaining course may not. Therefore, an English major with a creative writing concentration normally takes 11 courses, while a regular English major only takes 10 courses. Double-counted courses must be at the 30xxx or 40xxx level.
  • Spring of junior year is the ideal time to apply for a concentration in creative writing

**Please Note: The English department is in the process of getting approval for a new English major curriculum, including new requirements for the creative writing concentration, which will be put into place over the 2022–23 academic year. More details coming soon.

Ready? Apply here.

Interested in writing a creative writing thesis? Consider the creative writing honors concentration.

Honors Requirements

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English Honors Concentration

In the English honors concentration, select majors create programs tailored to their own particular interests and needs. A faculty mentor guides each of these students through this intensive experience. The principal feature of the honors program is a year-long research process culminating in the completion of an honors thesis.

If you have questions about the honors program contact the director of undergraduate studies.


Invitation to Apply

By the end of fall of their junior year, students are invited to apply after being identified in one of two ways:

  • 3.78 or above GPA in three or more English classes. At least two of the classes must be at the 30xxx level or above.
  • Faculty nomination with a minimum GPA of 3.6
Statement of Purpose

Invited students declare their interest in the honors concentration by completing a statement of purpose, a 250–300 word statement describing what the student hopes to focus on during his or her time in the honors concentration.


Students take a minimum of 11 English courses at the 30xxx-level or above, which include the following:

  1. All of the course requirements for the major.
  2. One optional advanced course, related to the thesis, from another department (requires the approval of the director of the honors concentration).
  3. During the junior year, the student identifies an area of interest and selects an advisor.
  4. In the fall of the senior year the student takes ENGL 53001: Honors Colloquium, in which they conduct research, write a proposal, and begin writing the thesis.
  5. In the spring of the senior year, the student enrolls in English 52998: Honors Thesis and completes the thesis.


Fall: Honors Colloquium

In the fall semester, students enroll in the Honors Colloquium (ENGL 53001) and complete a series of assignments through which they begin the process of writing the thesis. Students work primarily with the instructor of the colloquium but consult with their individual thesis advisors about developing a specific research topic, research resources specific to the area of their thesis, and the writing of the thesis itself. Students complete the following:

  • Research bibliography of primary and secondary sources
  • Sample notes from sources
  • Thesis proposal
  • Annotated bibliography
  • Review of the critical literature
  • Report on historical, philosophical, aesthetic or other related contexts
  • Thesis outline
  • Draft section of thesis
  • Oral report on the thesis project
Spring: Honors Thesis

In the spring semester, students register for Honors Thesis (ENGL 52999) and work intensively with their thesis director, who assigns the final grade for the completed thesis. All theses should employ MLA style. The thesis should include the following:

  • Title page 
  • Table of contents
  • Abstract (250–350 words)
  • An essay of 6,000–9,000 words including notes but not the works cited. Ordinarily, the thesis essay addresses a literary topic or question, situates its analysis in relation to the existing criticism, and formulates an independently conceived argument about this topic or question. The model is the scholarly article.
  • Works cited
  • Complete draft of essay to advisor. Friday, April 21, 2023.
  • Complete and final version (20–30 page) in polished form (MLA formatting) with bibliography due both to the advisor and the department (email to undergraduate studies coordinator Kelly Huth). Abstract of 200–250 words due as well. Friday, April 28, 2023.*
  • English honors concentration thesis presentations: Thursday, May 4, or Friday, May 5, 2023, 10 a.m.–12 p.m. *Note: Informal reception follows immediately, after which the creative honors concentration thesis presentations will take place from 1–3 p.m.

 *For a student to graduate with honors, the essay must receive the advisor’s approval, be at least 20 pages in length, and earn a grade of B or higher.

Creative Writing Honors Concentration

Creative writing honors concentrators complete all the requirements of the English major and the creative writing concentration and write a creative thesis their senior year under the supervision of a faculty advisor. The creative thesis may take the form of stories, a novella, a poetry collection, an essay collection, or a hybrid project of your own devising as approved by the director of creative writing.

Interested students should apply in the spring of their junior year.


Please include with your application a 250-word project proposal, a list of creative writing courses taken, and a list of preferred faculty advisors. Please note: we cannot ensure first choice of faculty advisors. Deadline for applications: February 21, 2023.

Apply here.


Students who wish to join the creative writing honors concentration and write a creative thesis must:

  • Have an English department GPA of 3.78 or above (3.6 at the discretion of the director of creative writing) and have completed 3 English courses, 2 at the 30xxx or above level
  • Complete all the requirements for the English major.
  • Complete all the requirements in the concentration in creative writing.
  • Write and submit a creative thesis according to the deadlines below under the supervision of a faculty advisor.
  • Meet all thesis requirements and deadlines.
Requirements FAQs
  • Creative writing honors concentrators are required to take a Creative Writing Honors Colloquium in the fall of their senior year. Honors Colloquium may be counted towards the student's four required creative writing courses. 
  • Creative writing honors concentrators may count one 20xxx-level creative writing course towards the honors concentration.


Students accepted into the creative writing honors concentration will be assigned a faculty advisor. They will meet with their advisor and write their theses throughout their senior year. The thesis will consist of an abstract, a 10–15 page critical essay, and a creative project. The project must entail 40 pages of prose or 20 pages of poetry or the equivalent under the discretion of the director of creative writing.

  • Complete draft due to advisor. March 21, 2022. Advisor can adjust at their discretion.
  • Complete and final version due to the department Friday, May 6, 2022 (email to undergraduate studies coordinator Kelly Huth).
  • English honors creative writing concentration thesis presentations: Thursday, May 4, or Friday, May 5, 2023, from 1–3 p.m. *Note: There will be an informal reception from 12–1 p.m., preceding the creative writing presentations. English honors concentration readings will be from 10 a.m.–12 p.m. that same day prior to the reception.