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Majoring in English sets students up for diverse, flexible, and successful futures. English majors are both competitive candidates on the job market and competent students for many different advanced degrees!
What careers do English majors pursue?
Almost everything! The core proficiencies we teach and foster – close analysis, deep research, outstanding writing ability, strong and nuanced communication, and the ability to understand complex social formations with sensitivity and empathy – are consistently praised as some of the most desirable skills in today’s marketplace. Honing these critical and complex abilities makes English majors competitive candidates in almost any job search as employers are often seeking individuals with developed written and verbal communication skills. The English major is one of the most versatile degrees available.
The English major is not tracked toward a single profession, but toward the skills that lead to all sorts of careers. Think that these students ended up in their professions for reasons outside of the specific training they received in the major? Not likely. In fact, 78% of graduates with humanities degrees explain that their education relates directly to their job.
Steven Pearlstein, a reporter for The Washington Post writes, "In today's fast-changing global economy, the most successful enterprises aren't looking for workers who know a lot about only one thing. They are seeking employees who are nimble, curious and innovative. The work done by lower-level accountants, computer programmers, engineers, lawyers and financial analysts is already being out-sourced . . . soon it will be done by computers. The good jobs of the future will go to those who can collaborate widely, think broadly and challenge conventional wisdom - precisely the capacities that a liberal arts education is meant to develop."
Victoria Genovese received her BA in English in 2016 and followed it with an MA in English in 2018. Now she is the Marketing and Communications Manager for Housing & Residence Life at Mississippi State University.
At Mississippi State University, Victoria designs, distributes, and manages integrated communications including graphic design, produces media for the web, public relations, and markets special events for a department which houses approximately 5,300 students in 17 residence halls. She credits SWLF for her success in this position, writing, "My undergraduate and graduate experiences in the School of Writing, Literature, and Film have prepared me for my communications career in higher education by instilling in me a love of learning, a passion for targeted and creative communication, a desire to educate and mentor others, and a longing to provide a voice for the voiceless. By studying literature, I was exposed to different worldviews and perspectives. I learned how to think analytically, research critically, and write clearly. My SWLF education shaped who I am both professionally and personally."
Megan Haverman received her English degree in 2016 and has since become a Creative Producer and Project Manager at FINE Brand Agency in Portland. She credits the School of Writing, Literature, and Film for her success, writing,
"Though I came on at FINE Brand Agency as a Project Manager, the writing skills I developed at SWLF were quickly identified and became a boon to my career. I started by copy editing the partners' articles before they went to publish, and my responsibilities have only grown from there. I've grown into a Creative Producer role, and now regularly assess needs and write to meet them in a deadline-driven environment, whether it's drafting a creative brief based on client feedback, a statement of work to address the problems in an RFP, or strategic copywriting for a project. My SWLF research background has also played a significant role in my strategy work, where I investigate the market landscape in order to improve our approach to a client's brand. The SWLF at OSU has been the foundation of my (still early!) career."
Darryl Oliver received his English degree in 2016 and now teaches English at La Salle Preparatory School in Pasadena, California while he works on his other writing pursuits. He writes,
"My work done in the Oregon State Liberal Arts Program prepared me and carried over almost seamlessly to the work which I do now. Being a College Preparatory School, I structure my classroom very much like the classes which I took at OSU. Classes are discussion-based, involve lots of student involvement, and focus on analyzing text using many different lenses and perspectives. Writing, being a passion of mine, is a key component of my work as well. I focus on teaching students how to find their voice while writing and then become comfortable using their voice in academic writing. Outside of teaching, I have many other pursuits. The Liberal Arts program is directly responsible for me pursuing and being currently enrolled in my MA program at Mount St. Mary's University. Likewise, my growth as a writer would not have been possible without OSU. I am currently in the process of editing my first manuscript after receiving feedback from a few literary agents with a very achievable goal of publishing in the near future. I also write articles for my local newspaper, Pasadena Black Pages, work as a contributor and editor for the Lancer Magazine via La Salle, and pick up freelance writing jobs when time permits. Again, none of this would be possible without the program and professors at Oregon State University, and I encourage any and all prospective students to join and reap the benefits."
Graduates from our BA in English go on to exciting careers in a range of different fields:
Garrett Kitamura (2018): Law student at the University of Virginia
Sydney Sullivan (2018): PhD student in English at the University of Arizona
Justin Bennett (2019): Intern at U.S. Congress / Peace Corps Education Volunteer in Rwanda
Alumna Karli Rumberg (2017) completed her Masters of Education at Stanford University and now teaches at Presentation High School in San Jose.
How effectively does the English Major prepare me for advanced degrees in law, medicine, or other areas?
Students will perform best in the subjects they are passionate about – so there’s no single “best” major for many graduate programs. That said, given the versatility and range of the education, English majors as a group perform very well on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) for acceptance into graduate programs as well as the major entrance exams for medical and law schools.
The strong test scores posted by English majors are important. But how well does an English degree actually translate into an acceptance letter from a law or medical school? In 2014-15, 82.45% of applicants who pursed an English major were admitted to law school.  In medicine, a well-known culture shift has made students in the humanities every bit as attractive as those in the sciences, with equal acceptance rates in both areas; Harvard Medical School stands for the trend, explicitly instructing potential applicants to “strive for a balanced and liberal education rather than specialized training.”