English Major Elements

The English Major requires 36 credits distributed as follows:

Element 1: ENGL 301 | Literature, Language, Media, and Writing: An Introduction (3 credits)

All students take ENGL 301 at the outset of the major to introduce them to the full range of English Studies, to its history and value in culture and higher education, and to the many careers open to those with English degrees.  

Element 2: Historical Studies (12 credits) 

History is central to English Studies. In order to interpret and create, we must understand how literature, language, rhetoric, and media have changed along with cultural change in their work of representing, critiquing, and imagining, and also how literature, language, rhetoric, and media thereby give us what we know as histories and counter histories. All students take 1 course in each of the following broad periods:

  • Beginning, Medieval, and Early Modern Periods
  • Long Eighteenth Century
  • Long Nineteenth Century
  • Modern and Contemporary Periods

See the full list of historical studies courses here. 

Element 3: Tracks (12 credits) 

All students choose a particular area of English Studies on which to focus in order to add depth to the breadth of Elements 1 and 2. Select a track from among those listed below, and take 12 credits (typically 4 courses), in that track. Click here 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 department course or any approved course outside of the department. 

Element 5: Perspectives, Methods, and Writing 
This last element is a set of co-requirements. The co-requirements are satisfied by using courses from elements 2-4. These co-requirements guide students toward approaches, skills, and perspectives that inform all areas of English Studies in their efforts 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 can serve as a crucial means for articulating heterogeneity, for charting local and global networks of belonging, and for pursuing civic engagement and responsibility. Students will take at least one course focusing on minority and other non-dominant voices pertaining to forms of social difference, such as gender, sexuality, ethnicity, race, and disability.
  • 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 in a poem or a film. These assumptions must become explicit for critics and artists to make informed decisions about their ideas and performances. Students will gain this awareness by taking at least 1 course that foregrounds major approaches within English Studies, including, poetics, critical theory, discourse analysis, critical making, and more.
    • Methods Restriction: Course must be taken at the 200, 300, or 400 level. Students are encouraged to focus on methods within their selected track, but that isn’t required.
  • Advanced Writing: Writing is a fundamental skill in English Studies
    and is one that students hone in all of their major courses, starting with ENGL 301. 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. 
    • Advanced Writing Restriction: Course must be taken at the 300 or 400 level. Students cannot count their Fundamental Studies Professional Writing course toward this requirement (or toward the major more generally).

English Major Policies

  1. The English major requires 36 credits beyond the university Fundamental Studies requirements in ENGL 101 and ENGL 391-95. No more than 2 courses at the 100- or 200 level may be counted toward the major, and at least 12 credits must be at the 400-level.
  2. A grade of C- or better is required to apply a course to the major. Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 within the major.
  3. 6 credits of English 388 (Internship) may be included in the 36 credits. Students must receive those credits from at least 2 different versions of ENGL 388 (i.e., versions with different letter suffixes).
  4. Only 3 credits of English 429 (Independent Study) may be included in the 36 credits.
  5. One 300- or 400- level course in literature, rhetoric, or media in a language other than English, whether in the original language or in translation, may count as an elective.
  6. No more than 2 UMD courses taken outside of the English Department may be applied to the major, and no more than 1 of those courses may be applied to the track requirements.