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English (B.A.)

Our major offers core training in English studies and also opportunities to build knowledge across diverse fields, pursue internships and explore learning opportunities beyond the classroom.

The English B.A. includes five main elements that together offer our fullest training in key approaches to analyzing literature, rhetoric, and media; the structures and effects of the English language; and theories and practices of writing from the creative to the professional.
One central element of the major is its four defined tracks, which highlight different fields within the discipline of English and how they can be applied. Students pursue their own area of specialization by choosing one of the four tracks, allowing them to professionalize and articulate their skills to future employers. At the same time, the major’s flexibility also allows students to follow their interests and build knowledge across multiple fields.

5 Major Elements of the English B.A.

Element 1: ENGL 301 | “This is English: Fields and Methods” (3 credits)

All students take ENGL 301 as an introduction to the full range of the English discipline, including an overview of the major’s tracks to help you gauge what field and methods best fit your intellectual and career goals.  

Element 2: Historical Studies (12 credits)

History is central to the English discipline. In order to interpret and create, we must understand how literature, language, rhetoric and media have changed, and we must understand how stories become histories, counter histories and possible futures. All students take 1 course in each of the following broad periods:

  • Beginnings, Medieval and Early Modern
  • Long Eighteenth Century
  • Long Nineteenth Century
  • Modern and Contemporary

Element 3: Tracks (12 credits)

All students choose a particular field of English on which to focus in order to add depth to the breadth of Elements 1 and 2. Students select a track from among those listed below and take 12 credits (typically 4 courses) in that track. Scroll down the page to learn more about each track.

  • Literary and Cultural Studies
  • Language, Writing and Rhetoric
  • Media Studies
  • Creative Writing

Element 4: Electives (9 credits)

To allow students to explore additional topics, skills and encounters of interest, the major includes elective credits, which may be filled by any English (ENGL) or Comparative Literature (CMLT) course or any approved course outside of the department. Students often use these credits to pursue internships within the department or beyond, or to complete our career preparation course, ENGL497: “English at Work.”

Element 5: Perspectives, Methods and Writing

These co-requirements guide students toward approaches, skills and perspectives that inform all fields within the English discipline in their effort to analyze, theorize and practice literature, language and media. Students cannot count the same course for more than one of these co-requirements.

  • Differences and Diasporas: Literature, language and media serve as a crucial means for articulating heterogeneity, charting local and global networks of belonging and pursuing civic engagement and responsibility. Students take at least 1 course focusing on minority and other non-dominant voices pertaining to forms of social difference, such as gender, sexuality, ethnicity, race and mental or physical ability.
  • Methods: Assumptions about method imbue every analytical and creative engagement with literature, language and media, shaping decisions about everything from what research questions deserve our attention to what techniques convey and multiply meaning. These assumptions must become explicit for critics and artists to make informed decisions about their ideas and performances. Students gain this awareness by taking at least 1 course that foregrounds major methods within the English discipline, including poetics, critical theory, discourse analysis, archival research, critical making and more. Note that Methods courses must be taken at the 200, 300 or 400 levels. Students are encouraged to focus on methods within their selected track, but that isn’t required.
  • Advanced Writing: Writing is a fundamental skill in the English discipline and is one that students hone in all of their major courses, starting with ENGL301. But, to ensure that students have dedicated time, space and guidance in composition and analysis, they must take a least one course designated as Advanced Writing. These courses feature fewer students and a more concerted focus on discussing, workshopping and practicing writing. Note that Advanced Writing courses must be taken at the 300 or 400 levels. Students cannot count their Fundamental Studies Professional Writing course toward this requirement (or toward the major more generally).

English Major Tracks 

English majors choose a particular field of English on which to focus in order to add depth to the breadth of Elements 1 and 2. Students must select a track from among those listed below and take 12 credits in that track. Courses must be taken at the 200, 300 and/or 400 levels. 

Literary and Cultural Studies

Learn to read with attention to forms of literary expression and to the cultural force of what’s being expressed. Trace how literature informs local, national and global perspectives and how it offers histories, counter histories and possible futures. Students in this track take 1 course in each of the following topics, leaving the remaining credits open for any literature course:

  • Form, Genres and Poetics
  • National, Transnational and/or Global Literatures 

Requirements checklist for the Literary and Cultural Studies track.

Language, Writing and Rhetoric

Gain the essential tools of writing, presentation, communication and persuasion by studying rhetorical and linguistic principles as well as discourse conventions and audience beliefs, both past and present. Students in this track take 1 course in each of following topics, leaving the remaining credits open for any language, writing or rhetoric course:

  • History, Analysis and Theory
  • Practice, Performance and Pedagogy

Requirements checklist for the Language, Writing and Rhetoric track.

Media Studies

Learn about the materials, technologies and practices of dissemination for a range of media, including comparative study to understand how media shape meaning individually and as a network. Students in this track take a course in at least 2 of the following categories (2 courses total) and are encouraged to cover more, though the remaining credits are open for any media course:

  • Print and Script
  • Music and Sound
  • Image and Moving Image
  • Digital Cultures

Requirements checklist for the Media Studies track.

Creative Writing

Creative writing is a process of sustained engagement with one’s own work and close study of established writers. Tackle the process through workshops in multiple genres and learn the creative concepts and methods that writers use to make meaning—and resist it. Students take 1 of each of the following course types, leaving the remaining credits open for any creative writing workshop course:

  • 200-level Creative Writing Workshop
  • 300-level Creative Writing Workshop
  • Creative Form and Theory

Note that students cannot pursue the Creative Writing track and also be a Creative Writing minor. To enroll in a 300-level workshop, students must receive an A or A- in a 200-level workshop or must submit an acceptable portfolio of work to the Creative Writing faculty. Students may substitute 1 approved UMD workshop course taught outside of the English department for their 300-level creative writing workshop, but may not take a 400-level workshop in the English department without taking a 300-level workshop in the department. Students may only count a Creative Form and Theory course once toward their 4 required courses for the track.

Requirements checklist for the Creative Writing track.

Declaring the Major

To add the English major, your first step is to meet with an English advisor.

To make an appointment, email Your English advisor will discuss the English major requirements with you, review any courses you have already taken, create an academic plan for the next few semesters and provide you with the paperwork needed to declare your major through the College of Arts and Humanities