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University of Massachusetts Amherst

University of Massachusetts Amherst

English Department

Guide to the English Major

The Table of Contents for the English Major Guide is as follows (please click on link to go directly to the section of the guide below): Why Major in English; Admission to the Major; Major Requirements; Minor Requirements; Departmental Honors; The Five Colleges; Specializations; Scholarships & Prizes; Oxford Summer Program; Undergraduate English Society; Massachusetts Center for Renaissance Studies; Secondary Teacher Ed Program; Careers; Graduate Studies; Conflict Resolution; University Advising Services & Community Networks

Why Major in English?

Undergraduate Studies in English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst offers the opportunities that come with a large department and a research university along with the small classes and sense of community you might associate with a private liberal arts college. The department faculty includes a host of internationally known professors whose widely published research puts them at the forefront of their fields and whose research and writing enriches what they teach and how they teach it. But unlike many other universities, and many other departments on campus, the English Department continues to provide small classes, on the principle that students learn best, and especially learn to write and read best, in small classes. While we do offer a handful of lecture courses--taught by lively and popular teachers--most courses in the department have 20 to 35 students and include plenty of discussion of readings and attention to writing.

Amid the diversity of our offerings is a common commitment to developing the student's ability to analyze literary and cultural texts and contexts, and to write clear, persuasive, and graceful prose. We encourage you to think outside the box – and make language a source of your power in the world. These reading, thinking, and writing skills will enhance your capacity for persuasion, leadership, clarity, and interpersonal effectiveness in whatever career you pursue.

This guide familiarizes you with requirements, options, and resources within the English Department. If you do decide to major or minor in English, please hold on to it so that you can consult it as you continue through the program.


The English major affords students the ability to write and speak well, to think analytically and critically, and to solve problems quickly, all of which are required and sought after in today's job market. Knowing this, college graduates with a degree in English can enter into a wide variety of career fields: public affairs, business, politics, education, administration, writing, editing or publishing. Students may continue their education in Ph.D. programs or professional schools. With this flexibility of career fields also comes a broad range of potential employers: English majors can work for newspapers, government agencies, public and private schools, libraries, nonprofit organizations, television stations, publishing companies, magazines, broadcasting companies, and law firms.

So the real question is not “what can you do with an English major” but “what will you do with an English major”? To help you decide where to direct your many skills, we hold workshops, encourage internships, and run a Career Seminar.

Admission to the Major / Declaring the Major

Students who wish to pursue an English major should understand that it is a writing-intensive degree; our courses require analytical as well as imaginative thinking and they promote thoughtful reflection on expressive culture. Any student may directly enter into the English major but students must complete the following sequence to progress through the major:

1. First, complete College Writing (English Writing 112 or 113). This course is the prerequisite to enrolling in English 200 and is normally taken in a student’s Freshman year. (Some students may complete this requirement by receiving an exceptionally high grade on the Writing Placement Examination.)

2. Second, complete English 200: Intensive Literary Studies Seminar for Intended Majors and produce work at the C or better* level as well as attend a Mandatory Advising session where students receive an overview of the department, the major, and programs and services available to them as majors.

First-year students accepted into the English TAP program will simultaneously complete both English 112 and English 200. With few exceptions, transfer students and students who decide to pursue the English major after their sophomore year must complete both of these requirements before progressing through the major.

While enrolled in English 200, students may also take upper-level English courses that are designated for General Education (GE) credit, including American Identities (English 270) and Shakespeare (English 221), which will count toward the major; but they may not register for any other courses restricted to advanced English majors who have completed English 200.

Students who wish to major in English must declare themselves by filling out a change-of-major form in the Undergraduate English Office in Bartlett 252.


Upon declaring the major, each student is assigned to a faculty member who will act as an advisor and mentor and can give general advice concerning academic and related matters. Students should plan to meet with their advisor each semester during counseling week to discuss their course schedules for the following semester. Advisee assignments are posted on the bulletin board outside the Undergraduate English Office, 252 Bartlett Hall, and are posted on a student's SPIRE record.

Your professors and your advisor hold scheduled office hours and they welcome your visits. If you have trouble finding your advisor, come to the English Undergraduate Office in Bartlett 252 and we will make sure you get the advising you seek. Start by reading the paragraphs below (as well as this handbook). And then make an appointment to meet with an advisor!

In addition, the University offers an Academic Advising Link, located on the Garden Level of the Learning Commons-Du Bois library, which offers assistance with General Education requirements and
identifying academic interests, review and interpretation of Degree Progress Reports, class scheduling and SPIRE assistance, and more. For more information, visit their website at or email

Students seeking assistance in devising an academic plan or with questions regarding College Requirements or University General Education requirements can contact the Arts and Sciences Advising Center, E20 Machmer Hall, 545-6152.

Students with questions regarding University and General Education requirements, credits, GPA, and repeat courses, should contact the Registrar’s Office, 213 Whitmore, 545-0555.

For official signatures and for more specific advising related to internships, co-ops, honors, English education, study abroad, a second major or second degree, and preparation for graduate school, students should make an appointment to speak with one of the chief advisors in the Undergraduate English Office, 252 Bartlett Hall. Appointments can be scheduled in person or by calling 545-0388.

Students who would like further advising may contact the English Student Advisory Board, made up of a group of students representing diverse aspects of the English Department and the University. The board can be contacted by email at and can answer questions about courses, the major, and English department events.

Major Requirements

To graduate from the university with an English major, all students must complete three requirement areas: University General Education requirements, College of Humanities and Fine Arts requirements, and English Departmental requirements.

English Departmental Requirements

English Majors at UMass are required to take eleven courses, including the junior-year writing requirement. There are some courses which can meet more than one requirement; you may count one such course towards two requirements, but will then need an additional upper-level elective to end with a total of eleven courses.

English 200


Intensive Literary Studies Seminar for Intended Majors and Minors.

One of the following Two Early British Survey Courses

English 201 Early British literature and culture


English 221 Shakespeare

Two of the following three British/American literature survey courses

English 202 Later British literature and culture

  English 268 American literature & culture before 1865
  English 269 American literature & culture after 1865
One course in Anglophone or ethnic American literature, culture or rhetorics (any level)

If you are unsure what course will fulfill this requirement, please see our "courses by requirements" sheet. You can find this as a PDF at the top of the English undergraduate courses website or pick up a copy at the English undergraduate office (252 Bartlett)

4. Writing and Criticism

1 Junior-Year Writing Seminar: ENGL 300 or ENGL 419

NOTE: Students with English as a 2nd major normally satisfy their junior-year writing equirement in their primary major. It then is waived in English.

One Elective — 200 or higher level

1 Course at 200 or higher level

Two Electives — 300 or higher level

1 Course at 300 or 400 level

1 Course at 300 or 400 level

Integrative Experience

Please see our "courses by requirements" sheet to find out which courses we are offering which fulfill this GenEd requirement. You can find this as a PDF at the top of the English undergraduate courses website or pick up a copy at the English undergraduate office (252 Bartlett)


1. You must earn a C or better in all courses taken toward the major.

2. You may take English 200 concurrently with any 200 level course.

3. You may not enroll in English 300+ courses until you have completed English 200 and one of the following three English/American period survey courses listed above (English 201, 202, 221, 268 or 269).

4. Two upper-level electives may come from closely related 300- or 400-level courses in other departments with approval from one of the chief advisors in Bartlett 252.

5. If a course meets more than one requirement, a student may count 1 course twice but will then need to take an additional upper level elective for a total of three 300+ elective courses.

6. Second majors in English are not required to complete either junior year writing or the integrative experience.

7. The successful completion of the professional writing and technical communications specialization path fulfills the integrative experience requirement.

8. If there is any doubt about the applicability of a particular course in another department, or from another school, check with the chief undergraduate advisors in Bartlett 252.

Minor Requirements

To graduate from the University with an English minor, all students must declare English as their major and complete 6 English courses with a grade of a C or better in the distribution noted below.  When a student has completed all minor requirements or is a graduating senior in the process of completing them, they come to the English office located at 252 Bartlett Hall, complete the minor declaration form and drop the English major at that time. The registrar's office will process both forms.

Please contact Celeste at the English undergraduate office or via email at if you have any questions about the minor requirements.

English Departmental Minor Requirements

1. Students must complete 6 English courses with a grade of a C or better.

2. Students are allowed 2 transfer and/or approved inter-departmental courses for the minor.


English 200 Intensive Literary Studies Seminar for Intended Major and Minors


One of the following survey courses in British literature: English 201, 202, 221


One of the following survey courses in American literature: English 268 or 269


One course in Anglophone or ethnic American literature, culture or rhetorics (any level)


One Elective Course at 200 or higher level


One Upper-Level Elective Course at 300 or higher level

The English Major and Commonwealth Honors College

Honors Courses. The English Department’s Honors courses are open to all majors who seek an intensive seminar experience within the program. At the same time, these courses particularly serve the needs of English majors who are enrolled in Commonwealth Honors College (CHC) and have chosen to pursue the departmental honors track as part of their Commonwealth Honors College degree, as described below. Each semester, the department designates several courses, and sometimes sections of larger courses, as honors courses. These 20-student courses often involve more difficult material and assignments and are conducted at a level that requires students’ full concentration and engagement in the course material. In return, they provide a particularly rich learning experience. Any student desiring this kind of intensive work may enroll in an honors course without making any honors commitment beyond the course.

Graduating with Honors. As of May 2009, all students are eligible for Latin honors provided they have taken 54 graded credits at UMass. Latin honors are based on the top GPA percentiles of graduating seniors within a school or college. Every fall, these percentiles and their corresponding Latin honors are posted on the registrar’s website (www. CHC students who matriculated prior to May 2009 are awarded Latin honors based on either the old or new system, whichever results in the higher Latin honors designation. The old system for CHC students requires 45 graded UMass credits and a 3.2 cumulative GPA for cum laude; 3.5 for magna cum laude; and 3.8 for summa cum laude.

All CHC students are simultaneously eligible for CHC Honors distinctions: CHC Honors; CHC Honors with Distinction; CHC Honors with Great Distinction; and CHC Honors with Greatest Distinction. For the requirements for each level of distinction, students should visit the CHC website at

Honors Tracks. To graduate with honors, students admitted to CHC first complete a General Education component, consisting of 4 or 5 courses, and then an Advanced Scholarship component. For their advanced scholarship, students choose from 2 options: Departmental Honors or Multidisciplinary Honors (formerly “Interdisciplinary Honors” and “General Honors.”) Each path includes two additional honors courses plus a capstone thesis of 6 or more credits, usually conducted in the senior year. Departmental Honors is the best option for students who wish to pursue advanced scholarship in their major; graduate studies in their major or related field; or a career related to their major.

Ideally, during spring registration in their sophomore year, CHC English majors should begin deciding which track they would like to pursue. To this end, they should meet with the Department Honors Coordinator to explore which track best serves them. It’s best to make this decision in the spring of sophomore year (and particularly important if a student plans to go abroad) so that a student can choose courses that might support the thesis work and can develop relationships with faculty who may become members of the thesis committee. To make an appointment to see the Honors Coordinator, come to Bartlett 252 or call 545-0388.

Pursuing Departmental Honors. Entrance into departmental honors requires a cumulative average of 3.4, no grades below B+ in English courses, and an interview with the Honors Coordinator, which ideally will take place after the student has completed at least one honors course.

The specific requirements for the English Department Honors track are as follows:

--one honors course in the English Department at the 200-level or above

--one honors course in the English Department at the 300-level or above. (The Department strongly recommends that students take their Junior-Year Writing courses as Honors courses, where possible.)

And either of two options:

--the two-semester honors thesis, worth 6 credits. Students writing a literary-critical thesis sign up for 499Y (usually in the fall) and 499T (usually in the spring), and students writing a creative thesis sign up for 499Y (fall) and 499P (spring). Note that students interested in an independent creative project are strongly encouraged to pursue the Creative Writing Specialization to prepare them for an extended project and familiarize potential committee members with their work. The honors thesis counts as 2 of the student’s 4 upper-level electives.


--English 499C, a two-semester capstone course, worth 6 credits. English 499C counts as 2 of a student’s 4 upper-level electives. Topics for 499C may vary, as well as the number of offerings for any year, though students interested in a creative project should consider the regularly offered “Foundations and Departures in Creative Writing” as an alternative to an independent project. The course offers an individualized workshop environment that frees students from the difficulties of putting together a committee.

--The Honors Thesis. The thesis is an opportunity for the student to bring his or her literary education to fruition in an independently conceived work, with the guidance and support of two faculty members. This intensive, 6-credit, two-semester written project will count toward the English major as 2 of the student’s 4 upper-level electives.

The English Honors thesis may be either an analytical work of literary criticism (typically about 50 pages in length) or a substantial creative work, typically called a “project” (either a collection of poems and stories or one longer work of poetry, fiction, or nonfiction). The thesis/ project is written under the supervision of at least two faculty members. Typically, both committee members are faculty (not graduate students) of the English department, although one member may be faculty from another department. The chairperson of the committee must be a faculty member from the English Department. During the second semester of the junior year, the student pursuing Departmental Honors should again meet with the Honors Coordinator, in this case to begin to identify two faculty members to work with him or her on the thesis. It is the student’s responsibility to initiate this meeting with the Honors Coordinator and then to meet with and ask faculty to serve on his or her committee. Assembling a good faculty committee can be challenging, so this important step should be undertaken in the junior year.

To begin the thesis work, a thesis proposal, signed by both faculty committee members and the Honors Coordinator, must be turned into both the department and the CC office by the end of add/drop in the fall semester of the senior year—but, ideally, will be submitted during registration in the spring of the junior year. Throughout the senior year, the student will work especially closely with the committee chair, meeting regularly to discuss research, drafts, and revision. At the end of the year, the thesis committee will conduct an oral exam and award a final grade.

For further information, see the departmental honors coordinator, Janis Greve, in 252 Bartlett Hall or call 545-0388. Information about Commonwealth Honors College is available at its office in Goodell 504, by telephone at 545-2483, or on the website at

The Five Colleges

One of the unique opportunities afforded each student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is the ability to enroll in courses from the surrounding four colleges: Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, and Smith College. Grades earned at the other four colleges are recorded and factored into the UMass Amherst GPA. Students may enroll in no more than 8 credits (usually 2 classes) per school each semester. Registration for courses at the four colleges for undergraduate students is held in the Five College Interchange Office, 614 Goodell Building only during the first week of registration and during add/drop at the start of each semester.

Course listings are available at the Five College website:

To participate, students must be at least a second-semester freshman, be in good academic standing, and be enrolled in at least one regular 3-credit UMass Amherst course. There are no additional fees for Five College classes. Please call 545-5352 for more information.

NOTE: Normally students may apply a maximum of 3 courses taken from other institutions, including the four colleges, toward the English major requirements. Students wishing to use these courses towards their major requirements must have prior approval from one of the chief undergraduate advisors, Undergraduate English Office, 252 Bartlett.


American Studies Specialization

The Letter of Specialization in American Studies offers a concentration that enables students to shape an interdisciplinary course of study around unresolved social and intellectual issues in American Culture--e.g., questions of race, class, gender, and ethnicity.

A Letter of Specialization is conferred on students who successfully complete the following program of courses:

Students must complete a minimum of six courses with a minimum grade of 'C', of which one must be a thesis, senior seminar, or internship. Student may take only two courses at the 200-level (not including English 279); all others must be at the 300-level or above.

1) English 279, Introduction to American Studies

2) One or two courses in American literature within the English Department.

3) Two or three additional courses in American culture from at least two other departments

4) One of the following: a thesis; a senior seminar in American Studies; an internship.

To view a list of pre-approved courses or for more information, contact Professor Randall Knoper, 156 Bartlett Hall, (413) 545-2329,

The Study and Practice of Writing (SPOW) Specialiation

The letter of specialization in the Study and Practice of Writing (SPOW) prepares students to rhetorically analyze, effectively participate in, and critically reflect on writing experiences across disciplines, professional workplaces, and community and civic environments.
Students in this specialization can expect to: develop rhetorical and writing-related skills and habits of mind that support effective and ethical communication in the twenty-first century; and gain and apply historical knowledge about writing and rhetoric.

Students in the program must complete a minimum of five (5) courses, as outlined below, with a minimum grade of a C.


At least one (1) Public/Civic writing course.


Required: English 379: Introduction to Professional Writing


At least one (1) Theories of writing


At least two (2) Writing electives from the A,B, or C categories. An internship in writing or publishing may count toward one of these electives.


Technology: At least one of the courses must have a writing technologies designation.

Contact information

For more information or for approval of other courses that may be accepted for the requirements, contact one of the specialization advisors:

David Toomey, 481 Bartlett Hall, (413) 545-5519,

Donna LeCourt, 257 Bartlett Hall, (413) 545-6597,

Janine Solberg, 210A Bartlett Hall,

Professional Writing and Technical Communication (PWTC) Specialization

The letter of specialization in professional writing and technical communication provides practice in professional research and editing, grant writing, software and hardware documentation, report writing and business communications; it supplies hands-on training in a range of industry-standard software; and it offers an ongoing forum for the study and critique of theories and practices of information design.

A Letter of Specialization is conferred on students who successfully complete the following program of courses:

Students in the program take five courses over one academic year: ENGL 379: Technical Writing, ENGL 380: Intermediate Professional Writing, ENGL 381: Advanced Technical Writing I, ENGL 382: Advanced Technical Writing II, and ENGL 391C: Advanced Software.

Successful completion of this specialization satisfies and therefore waives the Junior Year Writing requirement for English majors. Three of these courses count as upper-level electives for the English major; two count as general education graduation credit. The program places a number of its students in “junior-level” writing and editing positions, through internships and co-ops. Since 1990, program graduates have enjoyed nearly 100 percent employment in writing and editing.

For further information, contact Professor David Toomey, Bartlett 481; or email . See also the program website at

Creative Writing Specialization

The Department's Creative Writing Specialization aims to provide inspiration and support for committed writers and to offer serious instruction in craft. Classes usually include readings in one or more literary genres and workshop review of students' writing.

A letter of Specialization is conferred on students who successfully complete the following program of courses.

Students must complete a minimum of five courses with a minimum grade of "B" in English 354 and a minimum grade of "C" in all others.

If approved, students may substitute appropriate courses at UMass and the four colleges (Smith, Mount Holyoke, Amherst, and Hampshire) for the optional courses listed below. Pre-approval must be given by our faculty advisors, Jenny Adams, or Janis Greve,, 252 Bartlett Hall. We recommend that you make an appointment with one of them by calling (413) 545-0388.

Required Courses:

1) English 354: Creative Writing: Introduction

2) English 355*: Creative Writing: Fiction or English 356*: Creative Writing: Poetry.

3) Three writing electives: English 355* or 356*, 254, 297, 350, 352, 391J, 450 or by invitation: two semester Thesis Project (ENGL 496 Ind Study or ENGL 499Y-499P Honors Project) : _______

*Student may repeat these courses once with a new professor as a way of fulfilling their five courses.

Please note that to add English 355 or English 356, students must have completed English 354 or 354H with a grade of "B" or better and receive consent from instructors by submitting a portfolio of work. Please contact the English Department for more information.

Optional Courses: one English 297: Experimental Writing Workshop (offered each spring semester through the Writing Program), one Nonfiction Writing course such as English 350 Expository Writing, English 352 Article Writing, English 391J Creative Nonfiction, or English 450 Advanced Expository Writing.

NOTE: Selected students of high promise will be invited to complete their Specialization through a two semester Thesis Project (English 496 Independent Study or the English 499Y-499P Honors Project). These students will work individually with one or two faculty members over the course of a year, intensifying their writing practice and producing a substantial senior thesis.

Scholarships and Prizes


The English Department awards several scholarships each spring to recognize exceptional achievements of English majors; the Cleo Zoukis Ploussious, the Frank Prentice Rand, the William M. Bulger, Mason & Susan Lowance, and the General John A. and Evangeline W. Maginnis. There are also many opportunities for English majors to receive scholarships and awards through the College of Humanities and Fine Arts (CHFA) and the University. In past semesters, English majors have received such prestigious awards as the 21st Century Leaders Award given in recognition of exemplary achievement and strong leadership qualities, the College of Humanities and Fine Arts Scholarships awarded on the basis of academic merit and extracurricular achievements and the William F. Field Alumni Scholars Program for students who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement and unique skills in the areas of art, athletics, research or service to the community, to name a few. To see a complete list of scholarships and for more information, go to

Essay Prizes

The English Department awards three prizes for best essays each spring; the Charles A. Peters awarded for the best essay on English literature written between 1558 and 1667, the Sanderson Prize awarded for the best essay on any subject, and the Steinbugler Prize awarded for the best essay on any subject by a woman English major. Deadlines are in early April each year and essays should be written during the current or previous two semesters.

Special Programs

Oxford Summer Seminar

Since its inception in 1966, the Oxford Summer Seminar has offered students from UMass Amherst and other American universities the opportunity to live and study at Oxford University for six weeks in July and August. Students can earn up to eight credits from courses in literature, political science, art history, law, and history. All courses are taught by distinguished British faculty in small groups or individual tutorials.

While at Oxford, students live and dine at Trinity College—founded in 1555 and noted for its magnificent architecture and gardens. In addition to its academic schedule, the Seminar organizes field trips to nearby sites of literary and historical importance such as Blenheim Palace, Stonehenge, and various London museums.

For further information, contact the Oxford Program Director, Professor Brian Ogilvie, at; or visit the website at

Education Abroad

Many English majors choose to study in Great Britain and Ireland, but English majors may also study in other countries, such as Australia, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Germany and the Netherlands. Students planning to go abroad should speak to one of the chief advisors and receive prior approval for all courses. The department normally allows students spending a year abroad to count a maximum of four (approved) courses toward major requirements. For those spending a semester abroad, the limit is three courses.

All students planning on studying abroad must complete initial advising and a pre-application form in the Education Abroad Advising Center, located at the International Programs Office, 455 Hills South; open Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; phone: 545-2710. More information is available on the IPO website at

Undergraduate English Society

The English Society invites to its meetings all students who enjoy literature and want to cultivate a community of readers on campus. Activities include judging submissions and publishing the annual undergraduate literary journal Jabberwocky, hosting an annual reading of undergraduate writing, going on field trips to readings and sites of literary interest, helping other members improve their writing style, reading selections from choice authors, running a coffee table located in the lobby of Bartlett Hall, and more.

Students interested in joining the society can attend its weekly meetings held every Thursday in 262 Bartlett Hall. The Society is always accepting new members, so it is never too late to join. For meeting times, contact information, upcoming events, instructions for submitting your own writing to Jabberwocky, and more information about the English Society in general, please go to its website at

Jabberwocky: The Undergraduate Literary Journal of UMass Amherst

Jabberwocky Literary Journal is published yearly each spring by the English Society and consists of all forms of poetry and fiction. Students may submit as many entries as they like, each no longer than four single-spaced pages. The English Society reads each work namelessly at its weekly meetings.

To submit work to be considered for the journal, do not put your name on your work; instead, attach your name, number, and email on a piece of paper or note card and slide your submission under the door of 262 Bartlett (you'll see a sign affirming you're at the right door) or put it in the English Society mailbox outside the main English Department office, 170 Bartlett.

Massachusetts Center for Renaissance Studies

The Massachusetts Center for Renaissance Studies welcomes all qualified scholars and students, both graduate and undergraduate, to do specialized research with its unique collection of manuscripts, rare books, and secondary monographs. The Center also offers community classes and lectures, concerts, and play readings. The Center is open to the public from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday; phone: 577-3600. For more information, visit the website at

Career Planning

The English Department is committed to helping its majors choose and prepare for their first careers. The Department offers a course in “Careers for English Majors” as well as career-related workshops. We also strongly encourage students to visit Campus Career Services (right next door in Goodell 511) in their Sophomore or Junior year. Students majoring in English are offered counseling services, access to a database of internships and co-ops, and other career-related events. They include:

Career Counseling

A career advisor will help you identify personal goals, skills, interests, and preferences. You might choose to take FOCUS online, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) in person in Goodell, or other personal inventories. These can help you determine your strengths and potential, as well as suggest various careers you may not have considered. You can gain assistance in your field experience or job search process, and learn the necessary resume writing, interviewing and networking skills. Email with some times that work or you, or stop by 511 Goodell for 15-minute impromptu walk-in sessions that are available from noon to 4:00 pm.

Field Experience

An internship or a co-op is an essential tool for exploring possible occupations and gaining the extra-curricular experience employers look for in a new graduate. In general, internships involve academic credit and co-ops do not, although both have some sort of university oversight and appear on your transcript. Students are required to attend a Career Services "welcome session" before submitting an internship application.

For more information, interested students may attend an Introduction to Internships and Co-ops session offered during the semester every Monday and Thursday at 3:00 pm in 508 Goodell or visit the Career Services website at


Faculty are available to sponsor semester-long or summer internships that will help you in your career planning and allow you to apply your knowledge to the work place. While working as an intern, you will be testing the field as an area in which you might want to work, finding out what further training you will need, getting experience useful in future job hunting, and making valuable contacts.

There are two types of internships available: Engl 298 (ungraded credits) or UMass 298Y (ungraded credits). Here's what to do if you are interested:

1. Make sure you are eligible.

A. For Engl 298, you must have junior or first-semester senior standing at the time of the internship, with most required courses in English completed and a GPA of 2.5 or better.

B. For UMass 298Y you must have earned at least 45 credits by the time you do your internship and have a GPA of 2.0 or higher.

NOTE: UMass 298Y: Practicum must be graded as a Pass/Fail and will not fulfill any English Departmental requirements, but may count towards general elective credits.

2. See what internships are available and find out the process for registering. You may collect an academic contract from the Field Experience Program in the Career Services building at 511 Goodell, 545-2224, or online at

3. Find a sponsor—perhaps your personal advisor in the department—who will agree to work with you.

4. You and your sponsor should agree to the terms of an internship contract, which details the amount of work and the kind of project you will do for the internship and the number of credits you will receive.

Co-op Program

A co-op is a paid, non-credit position that gives you the opportunity to work with professionals in a field of interest. You will experience that workplace first-hand, develop new skills, and explore professional goals. You need to have a 2.0 GPA overall to do a co-op placement. Placements must normally be completed prior to graduation, although if you are in your fourth year and still have no job experience you may ask your counselor about our Second Chance co-op program. The process of registering for a co-op is similar to that for an internship: check in with your advisor or a Career Services counselor for further details.

Secondary Teacher Education Program (STEP) in English

Students seeking certification at the middle or high school level as a teacher of English can achieve this goal by successfully completing the Secondary Teacher Education Program (STEP). The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has established seven standards which all certification candidates must meet. Standards II-VII, which deals with specific aspects of teaching in the schools, are covered through course work and student teaching administered by the School of Education. Standard I deals with prospective teachers' knowledge of English and is met by completing a specific set of courses within the English Department.

For admission to the English-Education component of the STEP program, students must have a 3.0 cumulative average and a 3.0 average in English courses. Undergraduates must pass the Communication and Literacy component of the Massachusetts Educators Certification Test (MECT) as a prerequisite for admission. All candidates must pass the subject matter component of the MECT as a prerequisite for student teaching. Information about the tests and workshops to help prepare candidates for the Communication and Literacy test are available in Furcolo Hall Room 125.

Applications, a complete program description, and initial advising for the program are available in the STEP Information Office, Room 121, Furcolo Hall, 545-4397. You may also send e-mail to Students planning to enter the program should meet as soon as possible with one of the English Department's chief advisors (in Bartlett 252) to plan their course of study.

Graduate Study

After completing the undergraduate degree, there are a number of options available for graduate study in literature and writing. Students who wish to pursue an advanced degree should choose the option that best suits their academic and career interests.

A wide range of professional and graduate schools look favorably on an undergraduate degree in English because of the writing, thinking and speaking skills it cultivates in students. Hence and English degree is an excellent launching pad for law schools and business schools, as well as professional programs in such fields as social work, therapy, and public health.

The Master of Arts (MA) degree is often necessary and always useful for those wishing to teach in secondary schools. It also provides an opportunity for sharpening critical and writing skills. Many colleges and universities offer MA programs, and they can vary considerably in length and requirements (e.g., coursework alone or coursework and a thesis).

Those who decide to pursue creative writing should look into the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. Typically, these programs include workshops and independent work with a faculty mentor. Some require students to take additional literature courses. Many creative writing faculty in colleges and universities have an MFA degree program, but only a small number of creative writing faculty positions are available nationally.

Students hoping to teach literature at the college or university level and to engage in scholarly research, criticism, and publication need to pursue the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree. Admission to doctoral programs is competitive; the programs customarily take four to seven years to complete, and prospects for tenure-track faculty positions in the humanities are not very promising. However, if you have done extremely well in English and are willing to take the risk, a doctoral program could be rewarding.

There are several ways in which undergraduates can prepare themselves for graduate study in English. First, try to develop as broad a range as possible in English and American literature. This usually involves taking a large number of courses that survey multiple authors and study historical periods or genres. This breadth will prove helpful in preparing for the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) in English, which, along with a more general test, is required for admission to doctoral programs.

It is also useful to achieve and maintain a reading knowledge of at least one foreign language (typically required for the MA) and, if possible, begin a second language (typically required for the PhD).

If you are thinking about graduate school, you should arrange to speak with one of the chief advisors as early on in your undergraduate career as possible. A selection of graduate program descriptions is available in Bartlett 252; there are informational posters outside the office. For further information about taking the GRE, visit the test website at:

Letters of Recommendation

If you ask a professor for a letter of reference, s/he will almost never refuse. It is important, however, to choose faculty who can write you a very strong letter. The best way to avoid lukewarm and tentative letters is to follow these steps:

1. Ask the professor if s/he knows your work well enough to write you a good letter of recommendation. If you phrase the question this way, only professors who are enthusiastic about your work will agree to write letters for you.

2. Always provide all the necessary forms, filled out as completely as possible, along with a stamped and addressed envelope. This will make the recommender's job easier and probably speed up the process.

3. Ask a faculty member for a letter as soon as possible after you have completed their course. Your work will be fresh in their mind at this time, allowing for a detailed, comprehensive letter. If you take another course with the professor, or if a lot of time has passed before you need to use the letter, you may ask the professor to update the letter with more details.

4. Provide the reference with information about yourself and your work. Along with a resume, you should give the professor copies of the written work that you completed in his/her course. This will result in more detailed and effective letters.

5. Finally, let your references know the results of your application process and thank them. This is not only courteous, but may also help the faculty to know if their letters were as effective as possible.

Resolving Conflicts

Occasionally, disputes will arise between students and instructors. While the campus Ombuds Office is designed to deal with such disputes, they can often be handled more informally at the departmental level. A student who has a complaint or concern should begin by discussing it with the instructor. If this is not feasible, or does not result in a satisfactory outcome, the student should make an appointment with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, 252 Bartlett Hall, who will try to mediate and resolve the conflict. Throughout the entire process, the student's standing and interests will be safeguarded.

If a resolution cannot be reached within the department, the student has recourse through the campus Ombuds Office. For further information on this office, and a great deal of other useful information, students should consult the statement of Undergraduate Rights and Responsibilities, available from the Dean of Students Office or on the website at

University Advising Services and Community Networks

The Library Commons, Du Bois Library offers the Writing Center for walk-in, one-on-one conferences on any writing assignment and the Learning Resource Center offering walk-in peer tutoring in all subjects, and some study groups for selected courses. For more information go to

The Bilingual Collegiate Program (BCP), 101 Wilder Hall, offers a number of services including a Mentor Program and a computer lab/study center. They also sponsor the ALANA Job Fair and career workshops along with assistance with resume building and interview skills. For more information go to

The Committee for the Collegiate Education of Black and Other Minority Students (CCEBMS), 218 New Africa House, offers mentoring, personal counseling, and other services for African American, Asian American, Native American, Latino, Caper Verdean, and other students of color. For more information go to

Counseling and Assessment Services, 123 Berkshire House, offers professional psychologists, career development counselors, and psychotherapists especially for learning disability assistance. For more information go to

Disability Services, 231 Whitmore, handles all arrangements for students and staff with special needs in the physical or learning environment. For more information go to

Everywomen’s Center, Wilder Hall and Nelson Lounge, offers support groups and workshops dealing with issues ranging from healing from sexual abuse to dissertation writing support for women. For more information go to

Mental Health Services, 127 Hills North, offers confidential counseling for individuals, couples and families, support and therapy groups, medication management, and an eating disorders clinic. For more information go to

Native American Student Support Services (NASSS), B-11 Bartlett, provides academic, personal, and cultural support for Native American students, including through academic tutoring, advice on housing and financial aid, and connections to indigenous communities and organizations. For more information go to

United Asia Learning Resource Center (UALRC), Knowlton Building, serves the needs of Asian and Asian American students by supporting students’ transition to University life including personal, career and financial aid counseling, student advocacy, peer mentoring, and tutoring in a wide range of academic disciplines. For more information go to

Women of Color Leadership Network (WOCLN), 101 Wilder Hall, provides a comfortable gathering place where students can find mentoring and advocacy services, as well as leadership training and network opportunities. For more information go to

Other University Resources

Admissions Office 545-0222
Bursar's Office 545-2368
Campus Information 545-0012
Campus Tours 545-4237
Financial Aid Services 545-0801
New Students Program 545-2621
Office of Information Technologies (OIT) 545-9400
Registrar's Office 545-0555

Transfer Admissions and Credit Evaluation 545-0222