College of Arts and Sciences

Department of English

Undergraduate Studies

Majors in English provide students with a broad critical and cultural understanding of literature and literary studies, and emphasize the writing and analytical skills that are vital to success in the university, in professional and graduate school, and in the workplace. The program of study is flexible and allows English majors to focus on particular areas of intellectual interest, to pursue electives, minors, and second majors in other departments, and to shape their academic careers in line with professional and personal interests.

The curriculum is designed for:

  • Students who desire a broad education emphasizing language and literature,
  • Students who wish to teach or to prepare for graduate studies in literature or rhetoric and composition,
  • Students who intend to use the background and skills learned in the major as a foundation for careers in writing, editing, law, business, or public service. The curriculum provides majors the opportunity to complete their studies with a small discussion seminar or senior project in their area of emphasis.

Majors in English are expected to learn to read literary and cultural texts carefully and critically; to produce a variety of high-quality creative and critical texts using appropriate technologies that contribute to literary and cultural discourses; to develop abilities in critical reading, writing, and thinking necessary to communicate successfully with audiences both within and outside the university; and to explore the record of the human experience in language.

Students who are preparing to teach English in the public schools of Washington should examine the summary of requirements for majors and minors listed in the Department of Teaching and Learning catalog, and they should confer with the College of Education concerning the requirements for certification.

The Department of English offers courses of study leading to the degrees of Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and Doctor of Philosophy (English). The department participates in the interdepartmental program in American Studies leading to the degrees of Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and Doctor of Philosophy (American Studies). Students interested in the Bachelor of Arts in this interdisciplinary field should consult the requirements listed under Program in American Studies. English also participates in the Digital Technology and Culture program, which offers an interdisciplinary course of study leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree. Students interested in this field should consult the requirements listed under Digital Technology and Culture. Students interested in interdisciplinary degrees in areas such as linguistics, humanities, and classical studies should consult the requirements within the Program in General Studies. Students may now also do an English degree consisting primarily of international literature, philosophy, art, architecture, and music courses from the Humanities sequence offered jointly by the departments of Foreign Languages and English, within the Literary Studies option described below.

Options in the Major

The older options of English Business, Pre-Law, Graduate Preparation, and General English are available only to students who declared their major before Fall semester, 2006. For information concerning those options, see the 2006-2007 handbook. Students who are only one or two semesters into their English studies may wish to switch to the new, more flexible options described below.

Four programs are offered for the English major, all leading to the degree of Bachelor of Arts in English.

1. Literary Studies is for students who desire a general liberal arts education emphasizing literature, critical thinking, and writing; and for those preparing for graduate education in English or literary studies. English is often selected as a major by students with double majors or minors in other departments.

2. Rhetoric and Professional Writing is for students preparing for careers in business, public service, law, or other professions requiring writing and reading skills. It is also suitable for those seeking careers in higher education specializing in rhetoric and composition.

3. Teaching is for students who need specific training in the teaching of language and literature at the secondary level; it is coordinated with the Department of Teaching and Learning.

4. Creative Writing is for students interested in creative writing in various forms (poetry, fiction, nonfiction prose), in editing and publishing, and in careers drawing on related creative and professional skills.

Special Features of the Major

The English major provides flexibility for students who wish to combine it with second majors or minors in other disciplines or to pursue pre-professional interests aiming at graduate study and careers in a wide range of fields. Students also have flexibility in their choice of concentration within the major in such areas as professional or creative writing, rhetoric, English or American literature, the novel or drama, world literature/Humanities, writers of color, literature and gender identity, cultural studies, and language and linguistics. Many courses provide direct experience and training in computer and other electronic tools and multi-media modes for research, writing, and publication through the Avery Microcomputer Lab. Both majors and minors are encouraged to participate in the Undergraduate English Club, the English Honor Society (Sigma Tau Delta), the undergraduate literary magazine (LandEscapes), and the internship and tutoring experiences available though the WSU writing and service-learning centers.

The department's commitment to small discussion courses and to independent study provides unique opportunities for English majors to work closely with Faculty, especially in writing-intensive courses, senior seminars or projects, and internships. All majors consult closely with Faculty advisors throughout their program of study, especially when selecting career options and areas of concentration.


All options in the major are evaluated continually in an end-of-program assessment process that provides early feedback to students based on a checklist of his or her strengths and weaknesses in Engl 302 Writing about Literature.  Students are also required to deposit examples of their work at the beginning and end of their majors and to complete an exit questionnaire, all elements of confidential, post-graduation portfolios that the department samples to assess the effectiveness of its requirements.


The Faculty and teaching staff in English hold graduate degrees from major universities throughout North America. Their active involvement in research and publication both enriches the undergraduate offerings and allows students to work with teachers making important contributions in literary studies, critical and cultural theory, linguistics, rhetoric and composition, pedagogy, professional writing, and creative work in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.


The Avery Microcomputer Lab (AML) is available to students registered in a wide range of beginning and advanced writing and editing courses. For example, English 101 and 198 introduce students to the basics of computer applications, especially word processing and use of internet resources. English 300, a one-credit, pass-fail course designed to facilitate writing for English and other courses, introduces students to more sophisticated software. The advanced AML supports such courses as Engl 355 Multi-Media Authoring, Engl 357 Magazine Editing, and Engl 402/403 Technical and Professional Writing.

Additional Information

Leisa McCormick, Academic Coordinator
Department of English
Avery Hall 202J
Pullman, WA 99164-5020
Phone: (509) 335-0496, 335-2581


Before graduating, English majors should download and complete the English Major Exit Questionnaire form and mail a hard copy, deliver it in person, or send it by email attachment to Leisa McCormick, academic coordinator.

Majors in English acquire a broad knowledge of literature and culture as well as critical, writing, and analytical skills that are vital to success in the university, in professional and graduate school, and in the workplace. The program of study is flexible and allows English majors opportunities to pursue individual interests as well as minors and second majors in other departments.

Options in the Major

Special Features




Student Learning Outcomes for English Majors




Department of English, PO Box 645020, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5020, 509-335-2581, Contact Us