An English degree is about more than the book. English majors learn to see complex problems in their full richness and don’t take the first answer, or the simplest answer, as truth. In our courses, all kinds of texts – from medieval poems to postmodern novels, adapted screenplays to literary criticism itself – appear as windows into the cultures and conditions in which they were produced. English majors develop habits of mind attuned to the reasons why people do what they do and write what they write. Our graduates are engaged, empathetic people pursuing a creative, critical, and useful degree. 


Why English?


Program Highlights

The English major includes an array of subjects ranging in literary history to film and visual culture, creative and nonfiction writing, rhetoric and literacy, and the digital humanities. We focus on the big picture and the details: close reading skills and critical analysis, how literacy and language change over time, and how social and historical movements are represented in texts. Reading, writing, active listening, discussing, presenting, and debating are foundational activities in our classrooms. Your first courses will prepare you to understand major historic, cultural, and literary time periods, including surveys of World, U.S., and British literatures and a wide range of elective courses. Upper-division classes call upon you to dig deep into specific authors, historical moments, themes, theories, and writing styles.

Our students study in Moreland Hall – an extensively renovated historic building in the heart of campus, across from the Memorial Union. English majors have access to several study abroad opportunities, from studying post-colonial literature in Cape Town, creative writing in Rome, or Shakespeare in Sydney. Our students also have access to the Smith Media Lab for video projects, podcasts, and other creative endeavors.


In the last year alone, faculty in the School of Writing, Literature, and Film have written multiple books, published 25 scholarly articles, delivered 57 lectures and talks, penned 18 creative pieces, and had their work translated into a dozen different languages. Housed entirely within Moreland Hall, they work closely with and mentor students at every point in the English major.


Professor Ray Malewitz



In our classes, you’ll study the texts of great writers of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and critical analysis. You’ll learn the history of literary expression from the medieval period through movements like Romanticism and Post-Modernism. You’ll write everything from occasional pieces to complex research papers and you’ll read widely in order to write deeply. Faculty provide detailed feedback on your own creative, interpretive, and purposeful compositions in genres ranging from freewriting to complex research essays.

Learning Outcomes

  • Write effective arguments about a variety of literary and cultural texts.
  • Use information literacy and new technologies to plan and conduct research appropriate to initial and advanced study in English.
  • Recognize and interpret a wide variety of texts and genres (may include visual, material, inter-cultural texts), using a range of theoretical and interpretive strategies, including close reading.
  • Demonstrate the role of context(s) in production, reception, and transmission of literary and cultural texts (across periods, histories, geographical/national spaces, and cultural differences).

Alumna Karli Rumberg '17, is now studying education at Stanford University.


Graduates from our BA in English go on to exciting careers in a range of different fields:

  • 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

Minors and Certificates

The School of Writing, Literature, and Film hosts not only the BA in English, but also several online and on-campus minors and certificates. Students can choose English, Writing, Applied Journalism, or Film as independent minors, and can complete the Writing minor online through our Ecampus. We also feature a brand-new certificate program in Scientific, Technical, and Professional Communication.

Jennifer Richter helping students find internships


In today’s highly competitive job market, adding a professional internship experience to one’s degree is attractive to potential employers who often are seeking job candidates with a more versatile and “seasoned” background. While the vast majority of internships are unpaid, the value of an internship experience is significant. The knowledge and experience attained and the internship’s notation on a resume may make the difference in landing a particular job. In recent years, English majors and Writing minors have interned with a wide variety of sponsors:  OSU Marketing and Web Communications, OSU Press, INTO OSU, Nike, the Seattle Mariners, King 5 TV in Seattle, Calyx Books in Corvallis and Portland Monthly, to name a few.

A Literary Community

SWLF is home to the English Student Association, a friendly organization aimed at encouraging the enjoyment and application of the English language in all aspects. SWLF also hosts three lecture series – the Visiting Writers Series, the Literary Northwest Series, and the Critical Questions Series – that bring renowned visitors to campus. The Stone Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement, the largest prize given to a writer by a western University, has been awarded to Joyce Carol Oates, Tobias Wolff, and Rita Dove. Courses center around the work of the Stone Award recipient, who also visits OSU to deliver public readings and to meet with students.

Katherine Keyser speaks at a Critical Questions Lecture Series talk.

The Four-Year Graduation Guarantee

Beginning in the fall of 2017, the School of Writing, Literature, and Film guarantees that students can earn a BA in English in four years. The College of Liberal Arts, the second largest college at OSU, with 17 undergraduate degree options, awarded 972 degrees to undergraduates in 2016. The four-year graduation guarantee ensures that our students know how they’re progressing through their degree, what courses they can take, and what opportunities are available.

 For more information about the English major contact English Advisor Steve Kunert at, 541-737-1643, or visit Moreland 220.