English Department Majors

Maria Bachman, Chair, PH 302

Elvira Casal, Associate Chair. Director of Upper Divisio, PH 323


General Information

We are very proud of our upper division English program. We offer five undergraduate major programs, all leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree: The traditional English major, the English major with concentrations in Writing, Cultural Studies, Literary Studies, or the English major with a concentration in Secondary Education Teaching Licensure.

Students wishing for more information or wanting to visit the department before enrolling should contact the Upper-Division Office, (615) 898-2576.

Majoring in English

All of our students take four core courses (12 hours). English 3000 is typically taken in the second semester of the sophomore year, after the student has completed the lower division English requirements. It is an “Introduction to Literary Studies” which introduces students to literary theory, research and the language of the field while focusing on works from different genres. It is a pre-requisite to the other three core courses, but not for any other classes in the program. The other three core courses, English 3010, 3020 and 3030 build on English 3000 as they survey the literature and cultural backgrounds of British and American literature. Beyond the four core courses, our program is divided into seven specific areas. British Literature before 1700, British Literature after 1700, American Literature, International Literature and Backgrounds, Writing, Grammar and Language, Cultural Studies and Popular Literature.

Depending on the student’s interests and choice of concentration (as well as what is offered in a given semester) students will choose courses from the different areas to satisfy the requirements of one of the following concentrations.

The non-teaching, traditional Bachelor of Arts in English is designed to give students a well-rounded background in the study of the English language and its literature. It requires students to complete one course from each area.

The four concentrations allow students to pursue special career and/or intellectual interests.

The main goal of the Cultural Studies concentration is to provide students with the opportunity to examine culture through the study of texts within an interdisciplinary framework. Students may choose a general cultural studies curriculum or they may specialize within the concentration by choosing courses in an area such as women in literature, popular literature, folklore, world literature, children's literature, multicultural literature, etc. The course of study is designed to help students broaden their understanding of the relationship between culture and literature.

The Literary Studies concentration is designed to provide students with the opportunity to take a greater number of advanced courses in literature and to focus on their interests within specific areas of English studies. Students may choose to emphasize a period, an author, or a genre or they may choose to increase their general knowledge of the field. Many students choose the Literary Studies concentration as a preparation for graduate or professional school.

The Secondary Education Teacher Licensure concentration is for students who wish to teach English in grades 7-12. English department courses in this concentration are chosen to provide students with a strong background in the subject they will be teaching. It is the least flexible of our programs, with students being required to take specific courses in six of the seven areas as well as an additional course in Teaching English (English 4900). In addition, students must complete a minor in Secondary Education (including a year of “residency”). Students pursuing this curriculum along with the requirements of the licensure program will be prepared to teach 7-12 English in the state of Tennessee. (Please note that this is not the program for students whose plan is to apply to graduate school in English in order to teach at the university level eventually. University faculty do not need a state teaching license. Graduate programs will provide teaching education preparation for college level instructors.)

The Writing concentration gives students who are interested in developing themselves as writers the opportunity to do so while pursuing a major in English. Students may choose a general writing curriculum or they may specialize within the concentration by choosing courses in one area such as creative or professional writing.

Chart summarizing the differences in requirements among our English programs

Beginning with the 2015-16 academic year, all English majors will be required to take English 4999, a 0-credit course that involves compiling a portfolio of essays written during their college career. This is a pass-fail course and it should be no more work than moving copies of five essays into the appropriate database.

English 4999 and the Portfolio

All our students are assigned advisors at the time that they declare English majors. These advisors work closely with our students to help them develop individualized programs while at the same time satisfying requirements in a timely fashion.

Transfer advising is typically done by Dr. Elvira Casal, Associate Chair and Director of Upper-Division, but other advisors may also advise transfer students.

A Special Note to Prospective Transfer Students

The English department is happy to give transfer credit for upper division courses taken at other accredited institution. Even when a course does not have a close equivalent in our program, courses taken at other institutions may satisfy our area requirements.

However, it is important to distinguish between lower division (1000 and 2000 level) courses and upper-division (3000 and 4000) level courses. Though course titles may sound similar, the work in a lower-division course at another institution is not considered comparable to the work required in an upper-division course. Therefore, lower-division courses cannot be given credit towards the major. They are accepted as pre-requisites and electives.

Students expecting to transfer to MTSU to pursue a concentration in teaching English should be particularly conscious of the importance of choosing their courses wisely. We urge community college students in particular to contact us before the beginning of their sophomore year to ensure that they will make the best choices of major and minor courses.

Honors Classes

The English department offers several upper-division classes for Honor credit. For more information about the honor program, contact the Honors College.

The Future

Students in the English program have gone on to careers in editing, teaching, public relations, management, public service, and many other areas that value clarity of expression and logical thinking. In addition, many students have gone on to graduate programs, law school, and other professional education.

The department offers internship opportunities and encourages students to find ways to identify and prepare for careers that appeal to them. English majors are in demand because they are clear thinkers, good writers and generally willing to learn.

Jobs for English Majors

More Information