Broad, versatile, and flexible...
An English degree is broad and versatile, giving students the flexibility to choose diverse career paths and to adapt to shifting job demands. With an emphasis on communication and the written word, English majors research, analyze, interpret, and present information. They are encouraged to be critical and creative while exploring the many cultures of the world, past and present, as well as the complexities of human thought and feeling. English majors also explore the dynamic, ever-changing nature of language. They may study film theory and interpretation or develop skills to excel in creative or professional writing.
Our faculty teaches a wide variety of courses in traditional literary history, English pedagogy, linguistics, film, rhetoric, creative writing, and grammar as well as undergraduate special topics courses such as “Writing Creative Nonfiction,” “New Literatures in English,” and “American Ethnic Literature.” Graduate special topics classes include “Shakespeare on Film,” “Seminar on Toni Morrison,” “Literature of the Modern South,” and “Writing for the Electronic Media.” Our prize-winning professors have published scholarly books with top presses, including Oxford, Cambridge, Routledge, California, Virginia, and Illinois, while their essays have appeared in such distinguished journals as PMLA, Critical Inquiry, Comparative Literature, English Literary History, the Huntington Library Quarterly, and American Literature. Our creative writers are nationally known, and our faculty in composition and English education are regularly recognized by their professional organizations.
From internships and poetry readings to student organizations such as Sigma Tau Delta and the Society for Technical Communication, we have something to interest every student. Our annual Midwest Conference on Literature, Language, and Media is an ever-growing event. Towers, the literary and creative arts magazine of the entire university, is a great way to showcase student writing or learn about magazine production.
English students travel the world. The Oxford program has been offered for over 40 years and features opportunities to see Shakespeare performed at the Globe Theatre in Stratford-on-Avon and to explore London, one of the world’s most exciting capitals The Media and Culture in Ireland program is located in the heart of bustling Dublin at Trinity College, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the British Isles. Students’ experiences in Ireland range from climbing around medieval castles to previewing films by young directors.
What can I do with this degree?
English graduates may be found everywhere: they pursue careers in such areas as education, editing, copywriting, management, public relations, publishing, and technical writing. Other positions include entertainment agent, journalist, public information specialist, researcher, intelligence analyst, museum educator, social media strategist, and political activist. Some English majors return to graduate school in literature, linguistics, journalism, law, library science, social work, medicine, or other fields. Their strong skills in research, critical thinking, and self-expression are critically important to their success.
“The English department has passionate professors who care about the material they teach, engaging their students in a manner that promotes critical thinking.”
"There are so many talented, dedicated professors. It's clear a lot of them are passionate about what they teach. It's contagious!"
English majors take courses in American and British literature, along with classes in English language, linguistics, film, rhetoric, and writing. Although the requirements for the major ensure wide exposure to literary genres, periods and modes of writing, English majors also have the flexibility to select electives.
Who Studies English?
- Carol Browner, Head of the Environmental Protection Agency
- Matt Damon, actor, screenwriter
- Michael Eisner, Walt Disney Company (former CEO)
- Jodi Foster, actress, filmmaker
- Kathryn Fuller, World Wildlife Fund CEO
- A. Bartlett Giamatti, President, Yale University and Commissioner of Baseball
- Elena Haliczer, NIU Alum, head, product development, Huffington Post Social News
- Stephen King, novelist
- Conan O’Brien, talk show host, writer
- Sally Ride, astronaut
- Janet Robinson, New York Times Corporation CEO
- Amy Tan, author
- Martin Scorsese, director
- Steven Spielberg, filmmaker
- Sting, singer, songwriter, musician, actor, environmental activist
- Clarence Thomas, U.S. Supreme Court Justice
- Emma Thompson, actress, producer, screenwriter
- Bob Woodward, journalist/writer
- Explore Majors
- Biological Sciences
- Chemistry and Biochemistry
- Computer Science
- Environmental Studies
- Foreign Languages and Literatures
- Geology and Environmental Geosciences
- Mathematical Sciences
- Nonprofit and NGO Studies
- Political Science
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