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English Lit Major Requirements and Career Options

Bachelor of Art degree programs in English literature take full-time students four years to complete and include a substantial number of literature classes, along with a general education component.

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Essential Information

Majors in English literature often focus on improving oral and written communication skills as well as learning to thoroughly analyze complex texts. Students can apply this knowledge to an assortment of careers after graduation, or they can choose to continue their studies and earn an advanced degree in the discipline. Admission into these programs requires high scores on the SAT reasoning test, and/or other college entrance exams, and a strong high school GPA.


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  • American Literature
  • British Literature

Bachelor's Degree in English Literature

During the four-year program of study, English literature majors will focus on literary critical analysis in fiction, poetry and drama from different locations and time periods. They may also take courses, such as creative writing, in addition to completing all other general education requirements. The list below contains courses that English literature majors usually complete:

  • American literature up to 1900
  • British literature up to 1750
  • Modern British and American literature
  • Shakespeare's poems and plays
  • World literature
  • Advanced composition

Popular Career Options

Many English lit majors decide to become educators or writers. The degree also qualifies people for jobs in marketing, advertising and sales. The following list provides examples of common careers for English lit graduates:

  • Elementary school teacher
  • Middle school teacher
  • High school teacher
  • Technical writer
  • Copywriter

Continuing Education Information

Students who earn a bachelor's degree in English lit can choose to continue their education and earn a master's degree or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in the subject. Earning a Ph.D. in English literature qualifies graduates for a teaching career at the university level. Earning a master's degree in English literature may give job applicants an advantage over those who only hold an undergraduate degree.

English majors can start in a bachelors of art degree program in English literature and learn how to critically analyze fiction, poetry and drama. Graduates from these programs can go on to a graduate program to advance their career.

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