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Best Undergraduate English Programs in the US

Read about undergraduate English programs in the United States. Find out what's unique about the degree programs at three high-profile schools, and find an overview of other colleges and universities in the U.S. that offer undergraduate degrees in English. View article »

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  • 0:01 What Do English Majors Do?
  • 0:36 Good University…
  • 2:33 Specific English Programs

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Video Transcript

What Do English Majors Do?

English majors usually take courses in writing, critical thinking, poetry and literature. After completing an undergraduate English program, such as those offered by the Ivy League and high-ranking schools we will discuss momentarily, students are typically awarded a Bachelor of Arts in English. There are many wonderful English programs out there. In fact, you would probably have hard time finding a college or university that doesn't have an English program. Rather than try to name them all, we're going to highlight 10 different universities with good English programs.

Good University English Programs

School Name Distinction Location
Amherst College Department of English offers 15 different prizes Amherst, MA
Columbia University The Senior Essay Program in the English Department New York, NY
Middlebury College Creative writing program at the Department of English & American Literatures includes respected authors Middlebury, VT
New York University The Re:Enlightenment Project with the New York Public Library New York, NY
Princeton University Department of English offers nine interdisciplinary certificate programs Princeton, NJ
Stanford University The Center for the Study of the Novel (CSN) Stanford, CA
University of California - Berkeley The Undergraduate Study Learning Initiative (USLI) Berkeley, CA
University of Iowa Famed Iowa Writer's Workshop Iowa City, IA
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill People, Ideas, and Things (PIC) a student-run journal Chapel Hill, NC
University of Pennsylvania Students can pursue both a B.A. and a Master of Arts in English at the same time Philadelphia, PA

We'll start by looking at a brief overview of 10 different colleges, stating where they are located and something that distinguishes that school from the others. Later we'll look more closely at 3 of the schools from this list.

One good college you can attend is Amherst College in Amherst, MA. Its department of English offers fifteen different prizes for topics such as best essay and outstanding poetry. Columbia University in New York, NY features a senior essay program in the English department. Another option is Middlebury College in Middlebury, VT. Its creative writing program at the department of English and American Literatures includes respected authors. New York University, located in New York, NY, has joined with the New York Public Library for the re-enlightenment project. If you travel two hours south of NYU, you'll arrive at our next school, Princeton University. Located in Princeton, NJ, its department of English offers nine interdisciplinary certificate programs. Located on the other side of the country, Stanford University is in Stanford, CA. Something that distinguishes this school is the center for the study of the novel, or the CSN. Another good school is the University of California - Berkeley, located in Berkeley, CA. What makes this school stand out is its undergraduate study learning initiative, or USLI. The University of Iowa is located in Iowa City, IA. You might choose this one for its famed Iowa writers' workshop. Then there's the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, located in Chapel Hill, NC. It has People, Ideas and Things, or PIC, which is a student run journal. Lastly, there is the University of Pennsylvania, located in Philadelphia, PA. A selling point for this school is that students can pursue both a BA and a Master of Arts in English at the same time.

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Specific English Programs

Now that we've looked at a variety of schools with good English programs, let's look a little more closely at three specific schools.

First, let's look at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont. Students can apply for a James M. Myer grant to cover travel expenses for a non-fiction research project. Middlebury College was ranked seventh among national liberal arts schools by U.S. News & World Report in 2015. Its Department of English and American Literatures has a rigorous undergraduate curriculum that places emphasis on literary theory, criticism, and historical perspectives. Undergraduates are expected to conduct independent research during their senior year in the form of a semester-long essay or a 2-semester-long thesis. Undergraduate students can also enroll in workshops through Middlebury's creative writing program.

Next, we'll look at Princeton University in Princeton, NJ. The English department offers a number of prizes for superior work from undergraduate students. In 2015, Princeton University was ranked first among national universities by U.S. News & World Report. Individuals interested in the school's undergraduate English program can concentrate in a number of optional sub-disciplines, such as arts and media, theory and criticism, British literature, comparative studies or creative writing. Undergraduate English students can also apply to the semester-long study abroad program in London. With 15 libraries, this Ivy League private school houses millions of archival and circulating publications.

Lastly, there's the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Here the English department hosts regular lectures from prominent authors and literary scholars. This public university was ranked first on The Princeton Review's 'Top Ten Best Value Public Colleges' list in 2014. Faculty members consist of published authors and poets, and the school is known for its professional and student-run publications, such as the Keats-Shelley Journal and The Carolina Quarterly. English majors can work toward a Bachelor of Arts in English or Comparative Literature. Minors in creative writing and Latino studies are also available. The school sponsors study abroad programs at Oxford and Lancaster University in England and Rome, Italy, as well as several clubs for undergraduate English students.

English majors generally take courses in writing, critical thinking, poetry, and literature and there are many schools around the country that provide this education, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Princeton University, and Middlebury College.

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