The University of Massachusetts Amherst
HFA - College of Humanities & Fine Arts view HFA submenu

English Major Requirements

The English Major at UMass Amherst is a broad introduction to American, British, and Anglophone literature that develops powerful skills of reading, writing, speaking, and critical thinking. The Major requires a minimum of 10 courses or 32 credits and allows students to specialize in a wide variety of sub-fields in English while fulfilling the major's learning objectives (PDF).

A formal Concentration in Creative Writing is available for English majors, primary or secondary.

The Department also offers an English Minor.

How to Declare the Major

Students who wish to major in English must:

  • Fill out a change-of-major form in the English Undergraduate Office (South College E345). Or, email Celeste Stoddard:

  • Complete College Writing (English Writing 112), which is the prerequisite to enrolling in English 200.

  • Complete English 200 (Introduction to Literary Studies) and earn a grade of C or better, as well as attend a mandatory orientation session. Also required for the English minor.


English Major Requirements

To browse courses that fulfill specific requirements, go to Courses by Requirement.

  • English 200: Introduction to Literary Studies (4 credits)
    • While enrolled in English 200, students may also take other 200- and 300-level English courses, but are asked to speak with an advisor to talk over their options.
  • 1 course in British Literature and Culture before 1700
    • English 221 Shakespeare counts (4 cr)
  • 2 courses from the following 3 categories:
    • British Literature and Culture after 1700
    • American Literature and Culture before 1865
    • American Literature and Culture after 1865
  • 1 course in Anglophone or ethnic American literature, culture or rhetorics
    • Must be fulfilled with a 200+ level course
  • English 300: Junior Year Writing (4 credits) 
    • Required for primary majors and dual degree. Waived for 2nd majors.
  • 1 elective – 200 or higher level*
  • 1 elective – 300 or higher level*
    • English 398 (graded, 3-credit internship) counts towards this requirement.
  • 1 elective – 400 or higher level*
  • 1 Integrative Experience course
    • Required for primary majors only. Waived for 2nd majors and dual degrees.

* All students are strongly encouraged to use their electives to complete at least one specialization in English.


Below: a printable checklist (PDF) of English major requirements

Checklist of English Major requirements    Flowchart of English Specializations

Important Notes

  • You must earn a C or better in all courses taken toward the major.
  • 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 E345 South College.
  • 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.
  • A limited number of pre-approved courses may be offered as substitutes for 201, 202, 268, and 269 each semester.
  • Second majors in English are not required to complete either Junior Year Writing or the Integrative Experience.
  • Students pursuing dual degree must fulfill Junior Year Writing in English even if they are listed on Spire as 2nd majors who are waived.
  • The successful completion of the Professional Writing and Technical Communications specialization path fulfills the Integrative Experience requirement.
  • 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 E345 South College.
  • See advising FAQs.