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University of Massachusetts Amherst

University of Massachusetts Amherst

English Department

Career Resource Center for English Majors

Career "Paths"

Graduate School

Internships

Internship Stories

Interviews with Alumni

Mentors

Teaching


As an English major, you will develop highly valued skills in verbal and written communication as well as the ability to think both creatively and analytically. It is an extremely versatile degree, having prepared our graduates for careers in publishing, law, public relations, advertising, teaching, technical writing, nonprofit work, and many more. It is well-documented that employers of various professions actually favor English majors because they can think analytically and critically about situations; they have an ear for stories and can shape them toward different purposes and different audiences; they can comprehend complex texts and distill them concisely.

Well-known English majors include David Barry (humorist, writer, actor); Jodi Foster (actor, filmmaker); Gwendolyn Brooks (Pulitzer prize-winning poet); Clarence Thomas (US Supreme Court Justice); Mario Cuomo (former governor of New York); Steven Spielberg (filmmaker); and Diane Sawyer (broadcast journalism.) To help the versatility of the major lead to practical, employable results, the best advice is to actively pursue work or extracurricular experiences that further develop the skills you are acquiring in the classroom. In addition, our specializations help majors focus their elective course work around writing, research, or technical skills that also provide important bridges to a working future.

Think of internships and other skill-building opportunities as a must-do for realizing your abilities and increasing your job prospects after graduation. As a UMass student, you can earn up to eighteen credits doing internships throughout your four years. Doing one or more internships locally during the semester can give you the experience to compete with national or international internships later in your college career. Additional ways of gaining valuable, work-related experience might include involvement in student organizations, community service work, tutoring at the university’s Writing Center, volunteering on campus or off, putting together a literary journal—but the possibilities are numerous.

Many career paths do require an additional degree or certificate, among them teaching at a primary or secondary level. Some students may choose professional master's degrees that have specific career applications, such as an M.A. in Arts Administration or an MSW, Master of Social Work. A Ph.D. in English prepares you for faculty positions in academia, though it takes, on average, ten years to complete. Most graduate programs are rigorous and require a great deal of dedication. Pursue them only when you have a well-informed idea of the field in which you are interested, the time and cost involved, and the job outlook. Often working before graduate school, garnering real-world experience and finding out “who you are,” is necessary for a successful graduate school application.

Yes, especially if you prepare yourself, it is possible to find gratifying work with a bachelor’s degree alone! Consider speaking with your academic advisor or with a Career Services representative to take the best advantage of campus resources that will help you determine your future.