Double Majoring in English

English Language and Literature is an endlessly flexible major which is uniquely situated to allow undergraduates to add a second (or third!) major to their graduation plan. The small size and variety of course options for English requirements permits students to adjust their schedule to easily fit in requirements for other majors or minors. Double majoring in English is uniquely suited to a number of students because it combines the broad liberal arts training of English with specific and/or technical training. A 2015 report by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, emphasized that a majority of employers are looking for employees who are trained in “both field-specific knowledge and a broad range of knowledge” and see that as a major reason for long-term career success. The English major trains students to critically analyze text and develop their proficiency in articulating arguments in both written and verbal communications. This training combined with a major or minor in an additional field of interest prepares students for a number of careers including technical writing, teaching, and more.

DBL Major Jonathan ReyesCritical reading and writing are essential skills to technical work. Since technical texts are often dry, reading closely is necessary for understanding Computer Engineering-related information. Furthermore, developing my writing skills has allowed me to better understand technical texts and more clearly communicate that information to my colleagues. Writing in English has also allowed me to practice the proper tone for professional contexts such as business emails and lab reports, and has even helped me to write clear and useful comments in my code.
-Jonathan Reyes, Computer Engineering, Class of 2015

 The English Major at a Glance

  • 12 classes (36 credits)
  • 1 required course (ENGL 301)
  • 7 required categories that can be met by several different course options
  • 4 English electives
  • 200 level credits often fulfilled by AP / transfer credit
DBL Major Mian KhalidMost of my Bioengineering courses were inflexible because they were only offered once per year. One of the reasons I loved the English program at Maryland was the flexibility of multiple course options and a versatile requirement system. So many intriguing electives were offered every semester that I was often too excited to choose! I am currently attending medical school and my English degree has been a great talking point among my peers and professors, especially when most medical students hail from backgrounds in natural sciences.
-Mian Khalid, Bioengineering, Class of 2014

 How will English Help My Career?

According to a Spring 2013 survey of 318 large employers conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities:

  • 93% say that ‘a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than a candidate’s undergraduate major.’
  • More than 9 in 10 say it is important that those they hire demonstrate ethical judgment and integrity and intercultural skills.
  • More than 75% of employers say they want more emphasis on 5 key areas including: critical thinking, complex problem-solving, and written and oral communication.
  • Few think that having field-specific knowledge and skills alone is what is most needed for individuals’ career success.
  • 80% of employers agree that, regardless of their major, all college students should acquire broad knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences.
  • When read a description of a 21st century liberal arts education, 74% responded that they would recommend this kind of education to a young person they know as the best way to prepare for success in today’s global economy.

Source: It Takes More Than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success, 2013.

TDBL Major Ashley Washingtonhe Community Health major requires a great deal of writing in upper level courses, so I was glad to have developed my writing skills ahead of time. As a current intern for the Anne Arundel County Department of Health, my supervisor has been consistently impressed with my writing and has noted on my evaluation that I always turn in quality work. In fact, during my interview, I was given a stack of papers and brochures that contained information about skin cancer and sun safety, and asked to write a short newsletter to the parents of school aged children using the information in the brochures. With no advance notice, I was only given 15 to 20 minutes to complete the task, but I used the writing skills I developed as an English major to successfully write the newsletter and obtain the internship.
-Ashley Washington, Community Health, Class of 2014

 Who Double Majors in English

While the most common double majors are Education and Communication, many of our students choose majors as varied as:
  • American Studies
  • Antrhopology
  • Arabic Studies
  • Biochemsitry
  • Biogengineering
  • Biological Sciences
  • Central European, Russian, & Eurasian studies
  • Chemistry
  • Classical Languages & Literatures
  • Community Health
  • Computer Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Criminology & Criminal Justice
  • Dance
  • Economics
  • Environmental Science (Policy or Technology
  • Family Science
  • Film Studies
  • French Languages & Literatures
  • Geographical Sciences
  • Germanic Studies
  • Government & Politics
  • History
  • International Business
  • Jewish Studies
  • Journalism
  • Kinesiology
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Linguistics
  • Management
  • Music
  • Nutriction & Food Science
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Spanish Language, Literatures, & Cultures
  • Studio Art
  • Theatre
  • Women's Studies
  • And more

DBL Major JIllian DiNardoI began looking for a second major because I was going to finish the English major ahead of my graduation timeline. Even while completing my second major within four semesters, I was able to find an internship with a nonprofit called Women in Film and Video that combined both majors. I know that my writing skills, as well as the ability to think through problems and find solutions on my own, made me a great fit for this internship. And though I was told many times that my only option for a career would be to teach, I was eventually offered a full-time position at the nonprofit prior to graduation. While some of my acquaintances in other majors found it surprising that an English major ended up employed before anyone else, it’s clear to me that English majors who work hard and network and make opportunities get jobs.

-Jillian DiNardo, Film Studies, Class of 2014

  English Major Survey

In a 2014 survey of English double majors at UMD, students consistently highlighted several advantages of choosing English as a second major, with 77% of respondents praising the flexibility of requirements and ease of scheduling. Other consistently mentioned benefits include:
I am currently applying to medical schools, and I like the opportunities that an English major will bring to the table in case I do not end up going to medical school. I could then pursue a career in teaching, go to graduate school, or a variety of other options due to the flexibility that comes with having the English degree.
-James Lawrence, Biological Sciences, Class of 2015
Everywhere I go, the ability to write clearly and concisely is still immensely appreciated; wide vocabularies, reading comprehension skills, and distinctive writing voices are all invaluable attributes that can boost anyone’s reputation with professors and potential employers.
-Raleigh Joyner, Germanic Studies, Current Student