Planning your English Major

Click here for a visual overview of the English Major at Southern (PDF)


Getting Started in English

The gateway to the English major at Southern is Literary Analysis for English Majors (ENG 307), which is a rigorous introduction to how to read poetry, fiction, and drama at the college-level, and one of the most dynamic courses in the department. You can register for ENG 307 after having completed your first-year writing course – ENG 112 or HON 150.

As a new major, you’ll declare a specialization - Literature, Professional Writing, or Creative Writing, or English Secondary Education (see below). The first three are “concentrations” within the Bachelor of Arts in English, the standard liberal arts degree. English Secondary Education is a separate Bachelor of Science degree reserved for those pursuing certification to teach middle or high school English; see here for info on how to apply to the BS in English Secondary Education.

After declaring your major and specialization, you’ll be assigned a faculty advisor who will help you each semester choose courses, talk about careers, find study abroad and internship opportunities, and modify your degree program or concentration as necessary. For help with declaring the major or English advisors, contact the English chair or secretary.

Understanding Your Degree Requirements

The English major is designed to offer a variety of courses in literary studies, English education, creative writing, and professional writing. As a member of the department, you’ll get a solid grounding in the basics of English studies while also being able to choose your area of concentration and courses you use to fulfill those requirements. Majors in all areas share a set of “core” courses focused primarily on literary studies, as well as rhetoric and theory. Further courses are selected according to your particular interests and specialization.


English Core courses (for all BA and BS majors):

  • 307 Literary Analysis for English Majors

  • 308 English Studies: Critical Theories

  • 309 Rhetorical Strategies in Writing and Communication

  • 321 British Lit through History I

  • 322 British Lit through History II

  • 323 American Lit through History

  • Ancient or English Medieval Literature

  • Shakespeare

  • One course in multicultural literature (not including ENG 317)


Bachelor of Arts (BA) English majors also take four additional courses in one of the following specializations:


  • 1 course (300- or 400-level) in literature before 1800

  • 1 course (300- or 400-level) in literature after 1800

  • 2 elective courses of your choice (300- or 400-level) in literature (ENG and/or LIT)

Creative Writing

  • 4 additional courses in the writing of fiction and/or poetry (not including ENG 201) 

Professional Writing

  • 4 additional courses in professional writing and/or journalism (JRN)


Bachelor of Science (BS, Secondary Education) English majors take in lieu of the above specializations:

  • 312 English Grammar Systems

  • 317 Cross-Cultural Literatures & Contexts

  • 415 History of the English Language

  • 492 Teaching Lit to Adolescents

  • 493 English (Secondary School)

  • 494 Student Teaching – English

  • 496 Student Teaching Seminar

  • Additional courses, outside the English Department, in Education, Reading, and Special Education 

Explanation of Tracks and Concentrations

English major specializations and concentrations exist so you can cater your electives to your personal and career interests.

Literary Studies (B.A.)

The Literary Studies concentration immerses students in writing from a broad array of literary periods, genres, authors, and topics while exploring the integral relationships between literature and history, in all its dimensions, including political, aesthetic, cultural, and social history. Our students thus learn to tap literature’s potential to tell us about lives, experiences, and ideas both near and far from their own, thus complicating, extending, and enriching their understanding of themselves and others. Students learn to practice a variety of analytical and critical methods, and to communicate their insights and ideas via effective writing and intelligent discussion, skills that are infinitely valuable no matter what career you end up pursuing.

Creative Writing (B.A.)

The Creative Writing concentration supplements all the advantages of literary studies with intensive practice and instruction in the creation of new literary writing by student poets and fictionists. Separate sequences of courses in poetry and fiction writing are student-centered and workshop-based, offering you a supportive writing community within which to receive rigorous feedback on your work, both from your peers and from our experienced faculty of published writers. The concentration also offers the opportunity of culminating your studies with a creative thesis.

Professional Writing (B.A.)

The Professional Writing concentration offers practical training in various kinds of workplace writing. You will learn to design and write information that meets the needs of businesses and other institutions for both internal communication among employees and external communication to customers and constituents. Courses include instruction in effective use of both traditional media (memos, reports, correspondence) and emergent media (social media, email, webpages). Students will develop strong communication skills to meet informational and instructional needs of a variety of workplace settings.

English Secondary Education (B.S.)

The English Secondary Education concentration prepares students for careers in middle school and high school English education. Students take a series of professional courses in the College of Education and a series of methods courses in the English department in addition to core courses in English language and literature. The program concludes with a full semester student teaching internship, and successful program completers earn certification to teach English in grades 7-12 in Connecticut.

For more information, see the BS in English Secondary Education page.


Careers in English

Why English at Southern? What can you do with a degree in English literature, professional writing, or creative writing?

For answers to these questions, take a look at our detailed “Careers in English” tip sheet [PDF] {insert link PDF}, which takes you step by step through the planning process, or the English at Southern Mission Statement [PDF] {insert link PDF} for our answers to the larger question of the purpose and necessity of the degree in the 21 st century.

And then visit the Internships and Study Abroad page to begin developing early in your degree the “experiential learning” to help you accomplish your professional and academic goals.