Academics & Majors


College of Arts and Sciences

Department of English
Offered as:
Graduate program


The English major provides a general liberal arts education emphasizing literature, critical thinking, and writing. Many courses provide direct experience and training in computer and other electronic tools and multi-media modes for research, writing, and publication.

The program of study is flexible and allows English majors to pursue electives, minors, and second majors in other departments, to focus on areas of special interest within the major, and to tailor their studies according to personal and professional interests.

The English department offers options in literary studies, English teaching, creative writing, and rhetoric and professional writing.

Specialization tracks available

Strengths of the program
  • The English department operates the state-of-the-art Avery Microcomputer Lab, equipped with Macintosh workstations, ranging from Powermacs to iMacs and eMacs, for undergraduate writing classes.
  • Experience courses that emphasize small discussion and provide opportunities to work closely with faculty.
  • Enjoy the flexibility of focusing on particular areas of interest or pursuing second majors in other departments.
  • Develop high-level skills in critical thinking, analysis, and writing, which are all vital to academic success and effective leadership careers.
  • Award-winning professors help you develop your own creativity.
  • Learn from professors who make important contributions to the fields of literary studies, linguistics, and writing.
Options in the major

The bachelor of arts in English is one of the most flexible and customizable degrees at WSU.

As an English major, you'll choose an emphasis from among four broad options, each with its own set of core courses. Each option provides room to choose at least five advanced English electives, so you can shape your major to match your own interests and goals.

Literary studies
Emphasizes literature, critical thinking, and writing. Ideal preparation for graduate education in English or literary studies; can also serve as preparation for careers in editing, publishing, and related areas. Also works well as a double major or in conjunction with a minor in another department.

Rhetoric and professional writing
Tailored to students preparing for careers in business, public service, law, or other professions requiring strong writing and reading skills. Also prepares students for graduate study and for careers in higher education specializing in rhetoric and composition.

Specific training in the teaching of language and literature at the secondary-school level. Courses are coordinated with the Department of Teaching and Learning, and can lead to teacher certification in the state of Washington.

Creative writing
Focuses on creative writing in various forms (poetry, fiction, nonfiction prose). Can also serve as preparation for careers in editing, publishing, and related areas.

NOTE: See the WSU Catalog for degree requirements and talk with your academic advisor about planning and scheduling your courses. All students must meet requirements as outlined in the catalog in order to graduate.

Scholarships and financial aid

For English students

The Department of English offers undergraduate scholarships from four different endowed funds, most providing $1,000 tuition stipends annually. In addition, all English majors may apply for University-level scholarships and for over $50,000 in scholarships awarded by the College of Liberal Arts.

For all students

A variety of state, federal, and university-sponsored programs are available to help students with educational costs. Washington State University awards millions of dollars in financial aid and scholarships to students every year based on financial need, academic merit, or a combination of the two.

Students should complete the Washington State University general scholarship application and the FAFSA to ensure their eligibility for the widest range of scholarships and need-based financial aid.

For information or to apply for financial aid and scholarships from WSU, see the Scholarships and Finances section of the WSU website.

Suggested strengths, interests, and preparation
  • Strong reading and writing skills, or a willingness to develop such skills
  • Interest in language, literature, and culture
  • Interest in how language can persuade, convey ideas, and define culture
Careers in English

An English degree provides excellent preparation for careers that demand good professional or creative writing skills, or for teaching secondary school or pursuing graduate degrees. The major provides a solid emphasis in critical thinking, analysis, and writing vital to effective careers and leadership positions in law, business, and public service.