Photo by Ian Schneider for Unsplash
I love books. I love to write. But what can you do with a degree in English—other than be a teacher?
We hear this a lot in the English department.
It’s the first question prospective students (and their parents) ask us. And clearly the question is on your mind, too, because, well, here you are.
We understand why you’re asking...
- Because you’re looking for an answer to that insistent question, “So, what are you going to be?”
- Because unlike, say, journalism or marketing or architecture, the name of our major—English—doesn’t directly refer to a specific career.
- Because choosing a major with a clear career trajectory seems like a practical choice.
...but an English major is a practical choice.
You can be a teacher, yes, and so many other things.
The world needs English majors because, no matter how much the economy and technology change, we teach skills that transfer to hundreds of jobs—and to jobs that don’t even exist yet.
The future belongs to those who can tell clear, persuasive stories in a noisy world. And that’s what we teach in English.
According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities, 93 percent of employers say that a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than a candidate’s undergraduate major.
So if you’re passionate about books, language, or writing, come study with us. And before you graduate, we’ll show you how you navigate from the academic to the professional world.
What You'll Learn
Skills that aren’t tied to a specific job, but that you can take with you anywhere, that transfer
. Such as skills in….
- assessing an audience
- perceiving patterns/structures
- synthesizing information
- summarizing ideas
- picking a manageable topic
- framing the argument
- presenting it effectively
- establishing hypotheses
- writing creatively
- creating persuasive messages
- using precise language
- writing concisely
- drafting documents in accordance with guidelines
- spelling, punctuation, syntax
- producing clean copy/content the first time
- setting a schedule for both short- and long-term projects
- meeting deadlines and managing time
- managing information
- gathering information
- using original sources
- interpreting data
- summarizing and presenting information
- evaluating results
- analyzing texts and information
- managing a project from conception to completion—solo and in a group
- working with others
- working in a flexible, adaptable manner
- perceiving the world from multiple points of view
- view others (partners, co-workers, customers, subjects) with empathy
- ability to have a healthy debate
- agreeing to disagree
- taking constructive criticism
- reading critically
- appreciating that there’s no “right” answer
- treating claims with healthy skepticism
- thinking independently
- understanding components of complex problems
- grasping the nuances of tone in written communication
- finding solutions to intricate problems
We are frequently asked about the job prospects for students who study English.
The articles below address this question and provide additional links to articles in national publications about English majors and the job market.
- The Surprising Thing Google Learned about its Employees, Washington Post, December 20, 2017
- Six Myths about Choosing a College Major, New York Times, November 2017
- Liberal Arts in the Data Age, Harvard Business Review, July 2017
- The Unexpected Value of the Liberal Arts, The Atlantic, August 2017.
- Humanities Teach Students to Think. Where Would We Be without Them?, The Guardian, May 2017.
- Demand Booming on College Campuses for Creative Writing, Associated Press, April 2017.
- English Graduates Most Employed Major Post-graduation, The Daily Illini, March 2017.
- Want a Job with that English Degree?, Corrigan Literary Review, March 2017.
- Why Mark Cuban Believes Liberal Arts Is The Future Of Jobs, Forbes, February 2017.
- Rise of the Humanities, Aeon, December 2016.
- Market Value in Language, Literature, and Culture, Inside Higher Ed, November 2016.
- The Myth of the English Major Barista, Inside Higher Ed, July 2016.
- Why I Was Wrong About Liberal-Arts Majors, Wall Street Journal, June 2016.
- Creative and Arts Graduates Have the Soft Skills Needed to Make Them 'Work Ready', Independent, June 2016.
- Why America's Business Majors Are in Desperate Need of a Liberal-Arts Education, The Atlantic, June 2016.
- Liberal Arts Majors Have Plenty of Job Prospects, If They Have Some Specific Skills, Too, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 2016.
- What Can I Do With an English Major?, ADE and ADFL Connected Departments Blog, May 2016.
- To Write Better Code, Read Virginia Woolf, New York Times, May 2016.
- Humanities and Business Go Hand in Hand, Boston Globe, July 2016.
- Why Storytelling Will Be the Biggest Business Skill of the Next 5 Years, HubSpot, April 2016.
- The Myth of the Unemployed Humanities Major, Association of American Colleges and Universities, November 2015.
- Tech Companies Need English Majors Just As Much As They Need Engineers, Chad Dickerson, CEO of Etsy, November 2015.
- That 'Useless' Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech's Hottest Ticket, Forbes, August 2015.
- In Defense of the English Major, Matt Gonzales, Ball State English alum, June 2015.
- It Takes More than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success, Association of American Colleges and Universities, 2014.
- Liberal Arts Grads Win Long-Term, Inside Higher Education, January 2014.
- Why English Majors Are the Hot New Hires, Open Forum, July 2013.
- Dr. Beach and Tyler Fields Go To the Job Fair, Part One: Yes, They Do Hire English Majors!, English Department Blog, June 2013.
- Dr. Beach and Tyler Fields Go To the Job Fair, Part Two: How You Can Make Yourself More Marketable!, English Department Blog, July 2013.
- English Majors and the Job Market: You’re Ok!, English Department Blog, March 2011.
- Why I Hire English Majors, Huffington Post, June 2013.
- The Humanities: What Went Right?, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 2013.
- Eight College Degrees That Will Earn Your Money Back: These Careers Are Worth the Price of College Admission, Salary.com, September 2013.
- Giving Employers What They Don't Really Want, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 2013.
How to Navigate
First, major in what you love, and then get involved in any of the following.
Find your tribe and learn leadership skills. Learn more.
We’ll help you find a position, which you can apply in your degree. Learn more.
Come to the “Stars to Steer By Career Series” and learn how others pivoted from English to their careers. Learn more.
Our Career Center provides excellent programs and career coaches that will help you become intern- and career-ready. Learn more.
Thinking about Majoring in English?
Do you want a degree that will prepare your for any number of careers by giving you the critical skills employers demand?
Explore Our Programs