The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Undergraduate Studies

The Department of English at UMass Amherst offers all of the opportunities that come with a large department at a research university alongside small classes where instructors know their students by name. Students combine foundations courses and electives to customize the major to match their interests.

Small classes

Unlike many other universities, and many other departments at UMass, 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 are capped at 20 to 35 students to allow for plenty of discussion of readings and attention to writing.

A diverse faculty of researchers and writers 

Our faculty includes a host of internationally known professors whose published research and writing puts them at the forefront of their field and enriches what they teach and how they teach it. Our faculty also serve as knowledgeable advisors, offering one-to-one guidance to majors as they progress toward their degrees and think about life beyond UMass.

A sense of community

English is a popular major, with more than 600 majors and pre-majors, and a commitment to social and intellectual diversity. Within this large number are many thriving sub-groups and specialized communities. These communities have developed, for instance, around our popular specializations, study abroad opportunities, and student-run organizations, such as the English Society, which organizes literature-related trips, poetry readings, and writing groups, and publishes the literary magazine Jabberwocky.

The opportunities of a large research university

Because of its size, the English department is able to offer rewarding learning opportunities for every kind of learner. Take Honors courses or write a senior thesis. Take a field trip to the Renaissance Center or UMass special collections to see rare manuscripts and primary source materials. We offer courses on topics that range from Shakespeare to video games, from fiction writing to web design. Browse our current course offerings and specializations to learn more.

We work to inspire our students, and in turn, they inspire us with their ability to explore established schools of thought and form new ideas. These students move on to a myriad of careers, shaping new realities in the world around them by applying the passion and skills they garner at UMass Amherst.