The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Guide to the major

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.


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. 

To help students explore possible career paths, we offer a career exploration course, encourage internships, and invite you to customize your own experience in the major by choosing one or more specializations.