Why Major in English?
The critical and creative skills you develop and hone in English classes will serve you very well throughout your personal and professional life. In their careers, our graduates are well prepared to read, write, analyze, argue, prove, and respond. They may, for example, formulate and communicate project proposals, or review industry responses to a new product or development, or understand and explain why changes in cultural traditions call for new and innovative solutions to emerging challenges. As active members of society, they may question the rhetoric of TV advertising or polemics, identify fables in the news, and advocate for the importance of literacy for the social good. Whatever they do, our English graduates are well served by their experience and training in literary studies, critical theory, and creative writing. Students who major in English learn how to:
- Write clearly and effectively
- Think creatively and analytically
- Organize and communicate ideas creatively and efficiently
- Analyze and critically evaluate language and other forms of representation
- Understand texts within their historical, political, and cultural contexts
- Recognize and evaluate various perspectives, through creating or reading fiction
- Evaluate how fictional and non-fictional narratives structure thought and action
- Read long texts closely, analytically, and efficiently
- Respond spontaneously with organized, clear statements and ideas
What's it like to study English at UC Davis?
Life After the English Major
Many students choose to major in English because they love to read and write different kinds of literature, and are exposed to ideas and texts that they can use and enjoy for a lifetime. But that doesn’t mean English graduates are limited to literary professions after graduation. Indeed, our graduates are well positioned to succeed in any career that values critical and creative thinking, reading, writing, and communication of complex ideas. As a 2011 survey by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce found, recent humanities and liberal arts majors were employed at roughly the same rate as graduates in computer and math fields, psychology and social work, and the social sciences.
The Value of a Major in the Humanities
- "The Humanities at the End of the World" by Alexander I. Jacobs (Chronicle of Higher Education)
- "We don’t need more STEM majors. We need more STEM majors with liberal arts training" by Loretta Jackson-Hayes (Washington Post)
- "Why Study Humanities? What I Tell Engineering Freshmen" by John Horgan (Scientific American)
- "Why Storytelling Will Be the Biggest Business Skill of the Next 5 Years" by Shane Snow (HubSpot Blogs)
- "Advice on Writing From The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates" by Emma Green (The Atlantic)
- "From Second Best to Source of Pride: A Bright Future for Community College" by Eduardo Vianna (Noodle)
- "The Humanities As Survival Skill" by Cathy N. Davidson (HASTAC)
- "Humanities research is groundbreaking, life-changing… and ignored" by Gretchen Busl (The Guardian)
Here are some profiles of recent alumni who are using the skills they learned in the English major in a wide variety of careers.