The English Major and Minor
We have found that students typically give several reasons for majoring in English. A common theme is a long and committed appreciation of reading and writing. In addition, some students want to major in a subject in the humanities, regardless of its career opportunities; these are often students whose job plans do not depend on their undergraduate major. Others wish to develop their writing skills because they plan to enter law school or other careers that demand a sophisticated ability to organize and synthesize concrete and abstract ideas.
Of course, many of our majors intend to pursue a career specifically in writing -- that is, in some area of business or technical writing, editing and publishing, or creative writing. A number of our majors also seek careers in teaching. If their goal is to teach on the high school level, they will need to acquire the necessary certification after graduation; if they intend to teach on the college or university level, they must plan for extended graduate studies.
For more information on the English major and minor, consult the Undergraduate Student Handbook. It advises students on what to consider in choosing English, when to declare the major or minor, and advising.
How to Major in English
The first step is to make an appointment to see the Department's Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies. To accommodate the great variety of career goals and interests of students majoring in English, the major offers considerable flexibility. Prospective majors are expected to consult with the Associate Chair in designing a program that will satisfy their individual interests, abilities and ambitions; if appropriate, for example, a particular requirement might be waived to meet a student's special programmatic needs. English majors intending to continue their studies in graduate school are urged to plan a program with the Associate Chair that will satisfy graduate school expectations and prepare them for the Graduate Record Exam. When the student declares a major in English, s/he will be assigned to an advisor in the Department whose background and interests are compatible with the student's goals.
The Department welcomes prospective majors who have maintained a minimum 2.5 GPA in their English courses during the freshman and sophomore years.
Credit Requirements for Majors
Before declaring the major, all students are required to take English 215: Introduction to English Studies. This is a rigorous sophomore level course designed to introduce students to multiple forms of literary and nonliterary texts and discourses in English, combining an emphasis on close reading with study of English in its cultural, historical, and global frameworks. Since English 215 is intended to help prepare students for their upper level English courses, all students are strongly encouraged to take it before registering for any higher courses. Information on specific course requirements for each track is available under "Tracks in the Major."
Honors in the Major
English majors who have maintained at least a 3.5 GPA in courses for the major may apply to the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies to graduate with "Honors in the Major."
Credit Requirements for Minors
The minor in English requires English 215 (Introduction to English Studies), and a minimum of 15 credits in English courses numbered 300 and above (at least 9 taken in residence at UWM), including at least one of the following: 451 (Chaucer), 452 (Shakespeare), 454 (Milton), or 530 (Studies in Shakespeare).
For the teaching major and minor, see the School of Education section of the Undergraduate Catalog.