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. The English Major is one of the most versatile degrees available.[1]

Career Pie ChartAs the chart above shows, the English major is not tracked towards a single profession, but towards 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.[2]


Here is a sampling of currently successful careers of recent OSU English graduates in a wide variety of fields, from education and business to pre-professional and graduate programs:

  • Matthew Shenoda (1999): Author/editor/Associate Professor, Columbia College Chicago

  • Katie Pesznecker (2000): Stakeholder Relations Manager, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company

  • Mark Gardner (2001): Ninth grade language arts teacher, Federal Way, Washington

  • Angie Merrill Michaelis (2003): Assistant Editor in the Humanities, Stanford University Press

  • Dan Kammerzelt (2004): English teacher, Corvallis High School

  • Meryl Montgomery (2011): Content Analyst, SimpleReach

  • Sarah (Ferries) Nipper (2011): MA student in Literature and Culture, Oregon State University

  • Victoria Genovese (2013): Digital Communication Specialist, OSU Foundation

  • Kayla Harr (2013): PhD student in English Literature, University of Maryland

  • Alan Duran (2014): Law student at University of Oregon and Law Clerk, Child Advocacy Division at Oregon Department of Justice


How does the English major stack up? Learn more about the Hamilton Project which looks at career earnings by college major:


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, as a group English majors perform very well on the major entrance exams for medical and law schools.

MCAT Scores

LSAT Scores

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.[3] 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.”[4]

Unsurprisingly – given the versatility and range of the education – Graduate Record Exam scores are also high in students intending to pursue English at the graduate level.[5]