Resource Center for English Majors
English majors develop highly valued skills in verbal and written communication as well as the ability to think both creatively and analytically. But an undergraduate degree in English is not a career-tracked major. Although people with English Bachelor's have gone and done all kinds of things (Sting, Barbara Walters, Astronaut Sally Ride, US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, former NY governor Mario Cuomo, for example), an undergraduate degree in English alone does not by itself prepare you for a particular vocation following graduation. There are some specializations within the major (PWTC and Non-Fiction Writing) that will prepare you for technical and non-fiction writing careers, but if you do not choose one of those AND you decide to stop your education at a Bachelor's degree, you will need to be preparing yourself in other ways.
The entry-level job of ten years ago is the internship of today. Like it or not, small and medium sized employers don't usually train anyone or have entry-level jobs — they just don't have the time or money. But as an English major you can earn up to eighteen credits doing internships. Doing one or more locally during the semester can give you the credibility to do a national or international one during the summer later in your college career. It can’t be stressed enough: doing internships with companies during your college years is the way to get trained for a professional position upon graduation. Additional ways of gaining valuable, work-related experience might include involvement in student organizations, community service work, or such extra-curricular projects as volunteering or putting together a literary journal.
Career paths that are particularly suited to the strengths associated with an English degree are teaching, grant writing, publishing, journalism, marketing, public relations, law, library services, and academia. However, that’s not all--the possibilities are endless, given the versatility of the degree. It’s true that 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 the MBA (Master's in Business Administration) or the MSW (Master's of Social Work). A Ph.D. in English commits a person to applying for faculty positions in academia, though it takes, on average, ten years to complete. Most graduate programs are rigorous, not inexpensive, and require a great deal of dedication, so aren’t a good “fallback” choice if you are uncertain of where you are headed when you graduate.
If you are resourceful, it is not impossible to find interesting work with a Bachelor’s degree alone. Consider speaking with your academic advisor or with Career Services to explore your possibilities if you are unclear about what you want to do with your degree or what career is best for you.