English at Elon combines passion and ambition. Maybe you love Harry Potter or want to be the next August Wilson. Maybe you want to write speeches for the next President of the United States, or get paid for teaching “Much Madness is divinest Sense.” An English major is the place to feed and foster a wide range of futures. A better (much tougher!) question than “What can you do with an English degree?” is “What can’t you do with an English major?” It’s the onramp to any profession that values careful reading, effective writing, sharp thinking, and artful invention.
Besides, it’s fun. Students in English publish essays in the New York Times—check out “Not Friends? Then No Benefits” by Emily DeMaioNewton (2016) and “A Runner’s Mysterious Illness, With Her Dad at Her Side” by Jacqueline Alnes (2013)—read deeply in literatures that stretch across the globe and across history, write pantoums, pamphlets, and personal profiles. Or you can develop your own research project in concert with a faculty member as passionate as you are about a topic—whether that’s the poetry of Christina Rossetti, the effects of text-messaging on the writing life of students, or the impact of fan fiction on current publishing trends.
In the English department we want you to engage in educational experiences that prepare you to live a good life as well as to earn a good living.
With one of the largest faculties on campus (thirty full-time professors), the English department features enthusiasts and specialists in every field of English Studies. Our faculty members are graduates of top universities and authors of a wide range of creative and scholarly publications. Most importantly, they are dynamic instructors committed to teaching both inside and outside the classroom. For example, in a new course called Creative Writing in the Community, Professor Cassie Kircher’s students work in small teams to design and lead creative writing clubs in local schools. Students in Professor Kevin Bourque’s British literature course don’t just study the history of British Literature, but they also map each era’s effect on the development of London. Many students engage in independent research projects of their own design. Recent examples include:
- Alexis Williams (2018), studied the work of African American playwrights and wrote her own drama under the mentorship of Professor Scott Proudfit;
- Meara Waxman (2019) is researching the feminist linguistics of the Bronte sisters under the mentorship of Professor Janet Myers;
- Courtney Kobos (2019) is investigating how high school teachers support ESL students under the mentorship of Professor Jennifer Eidum;
- Arianne Payne (2020) is writing stories about African-American and Native American resistance to slavery and conquest under the mentorship of Professor Tita Ramirez.
Elon is a national leader in study abroad opportunities, and English majors are among the most well-traveled students on campus. Our majors are designed to enable students to study abroad for a full semester if they wish. Elon’s semesters in London and Florence offer experiences that integrate literature, language, and the performing arts in cities rich in both historical tradition and cutting-edge cultural opportunities. English majors eager to spend a term studying in an international university for a more immersive experience regularly enroll in affiliate programs at Trinity University (Ireland), Dublin University (Ireland), and St. Andrews University (Scotland).
English Department faculty also lead Winter and summer study abroad and study USA experiences. Current and upcoming courses include:
- The Call of South Africa led by Professor Prudence Layne
- Ireland: Literature, Culture, & History led by Professor Kevin Bourque
- Hawai’i: Nation or State co-led by Professor Cassie Kircher
- Literary Landscapes of England led by Professor Kathy Lyday
- The Literature of Southern Italy: Myths, Mafia, and Migration co-led by Professors Barbara Gordon and Kevin Boyle
- Call of the Wild: Nature and Imagination in Alaska led by Professors Cassie Kircher and Paula Patch
Most importantly, however, the design of every program in English ensures that students who want to experience a study abroad program in Australia, Ghana, Denmark or anywhere else in the world can do so and still graduate in four years.
Different majors for different futures
Elon’s English program provides different pathways for students interested in fore-fronting different elements of the field. We have two majors. Students selecting the English Major choose from four different concentrations (many students choose to focus on two of these concentrations)
Literature (44 hours)
Creative Writing (44 hours)
Self-Designed Concentration (44 hours)
Teaching Licensure (84 hours)
We also offer the Professional Writing and Rhetoric Major (44 hours).
Students can double major in English and Professional Writing and Rhetoric, do a double concentration in English, or add a minor from the English Department. Overlap among required courses helps makes this practical, and many students choose this kind of “double” pathway through our programs. Minors in or related to the English department majors include:
Professional Writing Studies (20 hours)
Creative Writing (20 hours)
Literature (20 hours)
Learning by doing
An Elon education is built on the concept of engaged learning; the university has a national reputation as an institution that prepares students for life beyond college by encouraging them to learn by doing. For English majors, that means many opportunities to “do” English: write and publish; teach; conduct research and present findings at local, regional and national conferences; work alongside professors on research projects; and complete internships both at Elon and with organizations and institutions off campus.
Students also write, edit and publish Elon’s literary magazine, Colonnades, gaining useful experience in all the aspects of the process of getting words into print. The Center for Undergraduate Publishing and Information Design (CUPID II) in Alamance Building provides a unique laboratory where students can experience the scientific and technical writing process. Students preparing for a career in education teach in local high schools. Finally, English majors can enhance their own writing ability while helping their fellow students through tutoring at Elon’s highly regarded Writing Center.
Many English students gain valuable real-world experience through internships, working on projects with their professors, learning the ropes in magazine editorial offices, or applying their skills in the context of a business office. Recently, English majors have interned at such places as:
- Duke University Press
- Our State magazine
- Uwharrie Charter Academy
- Sinclair Broadcasting Group
- The Greenville Upcountry History Museum
- Bolt Public Relations
- Vanguard Attorneys
On campus, teaching internships give juniors and seniors a chance to be a teaching assistant in a lower-level English class and receive experience working with a professor and students in a classroom environment.
Honors and scholarships
English majors are top contenders for merit-based scholarships through the Honors, Leadership, or Elon College Fellows programs. These programs provide incentives and additional opportunities for studying abroad, require a long-term undergraduate research project, and provide funding to support their independent work. Visit the Elon Fellows programs Website for more information.
The English department hosts a chapter of the national honor society for English majors, Sigma Tau Delta. We also take pride in the fact that our majors are regularly inducted into Elon’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest arts and sciences honor society in the U.S.
Each year, Elon brings guest writers and scholars to campus to conduct workshops, visit classes or deliver readings and talks. Recent visiting writers have included Junot Diaz, Kenji Yoshino, Jill McCorkle, Jill Lepore, Janine Capó Crucet, Michael Chabon, Winona LaDuke, and Temple Grandin.
The English Department’s Creative Writing Visiting Speakers Series brings a working poet, fiction writer, and non-fiction writer to campus each year to provide professional insight and teach practical skills to students in our creative writing classes. They also judge a writing contest (open to all students) in each of these three fields.
The Class of 2017 provides the most recent data. Within nine months of graduation, 92% of English majors were either employed, attending graduate school, or both. Among employed graduates, 28% had accepted jobs with corporations or entrepreneurial startups, 14% were working for non-profit organizations, and 57% were working in education. Employers for the class of 2017 include Verizon, Tiplr, Cambridge University Press, Nexus Marketing, Highwire PR, Advantage Media Group, Duke University Medical Center, Teach for America, Frankie Lemmon Foundation, and public and private high schools.
English majors from the class of 2017 attending graduate or professional school studied at Johns Hopkins University, University College Dublin, the University of Arizona, and elsewhere. These students commonly enroll in English MA and Ph.D. programs, MFA creative writing programs, composition and professional writing MA and Ph.D. programs, law school, information science programs, and Master of Education programs.
Liberal Arts graduates, especially those with skills in writing, researching, and close reading honed through the study of English, continue to be valued by employers both within fields traditionally associated with English and many STEM fields. English majors nationally are also among the top scorers on both the LSAT exam for Law School and the MCAT exam for Medical School.