The English major is divided into four concentrations: literature, writing, literature and writing, and linguistics.
This might be the right degree for you if you
- enjoy reading and writing
- have a passion for text
- want to research and deep-dive into literature
- have a passion for language and culture
- are interested in a career with various writing possibilities
Why study English at Northwestern?
Students learn from literary scholars who apply classic texts and research literary history through original works. They work with published creative writing faculty who provide graduate level personalized feedback. Professors provide individualized attention to your work.
Northwestern offers professional writing classes and internships that lead to jobs after college. Classes include, Editing and Proofreading, Technical Writing, Structure of English Grammar, Instructional Design for Professional Writing, Grant Writing, Autobiographical Writing, Social Media Marketing, and Multimedia Writing.
Students attend authors’ readings in venues off campus such as The Loft Literary Center or hear from special speakers at venues such as the University of Minnesota. Students also have the option to join the editorial staff of Inkstone, Northwestern's literary magazine.
As an English major, students assist professors, tutor students at the Writing Center, and participate in internships by writing promotional media for the department or with Northwestern’s grant writers.
Off campus, students have interned with Bethany House Publishers, Minnesota Public Radio, and Redleaf Press. Other internships emphasize literary outreach which brings the library to anyone facing barriers.
Our alumni are accepted into graduate programs across the nation: Oxford in England, Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, University of Saint Thomas, University of Minnesota-Duluth, University of Arizona, Hollins University in Virginia, the University of Virginia, and the Iowa Writers' Workshop at University of Iowa.
If you enjoy reading and writing, have a passion for literature, and are interested in a career with various writing possibilities, this might be the right degree for you.
What concentrations are offered in this degree?
The linguistics concentration prepares students to pursue graduate work in linguistics, as well as careers in fields such as intercultural studies, translation, anthropology, and comparative studies. In the linguistics concentration, students sharpen their critical thinking, reading, and writing skills as they examine core areas of linguistic studies (e.g., phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, theory of second language acquisition, and sociolinguistics). Students will complete one summer of coursework at CanIL at Trinity Western University (Canada) (CanIL-TWU) or Dallas International University (DIU). The senior capstone course in linguistics enables students to apply their knowledge as they participate in primary research.
The literature concentration prepares students to pursue graduate work in English, as well as careers in fields such as the ministry, law, business, and teaching. In the literature concentration, students sharpen their critical thinking, reading, and writing skills as they analyze and write about American, British, classical, and multicultural literature. Electives allow students to focus on specific authors, genres, periods, and themes. The senior capstone course in literature enables students to research and write about a topic of their choice and to prepare for postgraduate options.
The writing concentration prepares students to pursue graduate work in English, as well as careers in fields such as technical writing, publishing, and freelancing. In the writing concentration, students sharpen their critical thinking, reading, and writing skills as they engage in creative and professional writing. Electives allow students to pursue the types of writing that most interest them. The senior capstone course in writing enables students to produce a portfolio and to gain experience writing in a specialized field.
Literature & Writing Concentration
The literature and writing concentration prepares students to pursue graduate work in English, as well as careers in fields such as the ministry, law, business, teaching, technical writing, publishing, and freelancing. In the literature and writing concentration, students sharpen their critical thinking, reading, and writing skills as they analyze and write about literary texts and as they engage in creative and professional writing. Options within the required course offerings allow students to pursue areas that most interest them. Students choose between a literature or writing emphasis for their capstone courses.
My time in the English Department was very enriching and very eye-opening. I was edified by the guidance of professors who were exceedingly kind and knowledgable in topics I was directly interested in. The professors really make the department shine, I felt like I was being helped along by people who truly cared for my success and were willing to talk for hours about books and authors we were mutually interested in. My fellow students were also just wonderful, it was a very open, passionate, and excited community of writers.
I learned valuable professional skills from faculty and staff, and from friends and fellow students I learned how to better love my neighbor and was held accountable in my walk with Christ. I work closely with people each day, and having seen great examples of Christ-centered professional and personal relationships during my time at Northwestern has equipped me to be a joyful, dependable, and servant-hearted coworker and friend. I am continually thankful for the relationships that taught me, equipped me, and continue to be a part of my everyday life.
Though I’m not as much a Literature nerd now as I was at UNW, my major taught me to read widely and research deeply, which I do every day in my work. Also, my English-related on-campus jobs were invaluable. Working as a tutor in the Writing Center taught me to tame the “editor" side of me and patiently work with people, which I also find myself doing all the time in my current work.
I absolutely loved my time in the English department, and at UNW as a whole. The professors I had pushed me to engage widely, think critically, and interact with the world holding a sense of curiosity and wonder which has benefited me in everything I have done since.
My degree has been a springboard, launching me into a career in technical writing. The skills and knowledge I gained as a student are tools that I still rely on today, and the knowledge base built during my college years has been a solid foundation, enabling me to specialize in the medical industry.
What types of work are related to this degree?
- Creative Writing
- Grant and Proposal Writing
- Technical Writing
- Technical Writing and Editing
- Media and Journalism
- Curriculum Development
- Public Relations
- Teaching (Non-licensure)
- Corporate Communication
- Legal Transcriptionist
- Freelance Writing/Consulting
- Social Media Writing
- Text Mining Researcher
Who employs people with this degree?
- Universities and colleges
- Consulting firms
- Small-to-mid size businesses
- Mid-to-large size businesses
- Law firms
- Technical industries
- Public relations firms
- Educational publishing
Strategies for success:
- Develop a specialty area of interest via additional coursework and/or work experience for greater marketability within that specific career field.
- For fields such as technical writing, finance writing, legal writing or other specific areas of writing, research the needed education and/or professional certifications.
- Consider cultivating other career opportunities to supplement a freelance writing income.
- Experience is key! Seek out any opportunity (paid or unpaid) to write so you can gain experience, network and build a solid portfolio.
- An English major with a writing concentration can be good preparation for graduate or professional training in areas such as English, law, political science, religious studies, etc.
- Magazine Publishers of America
- Association of American Publishers
- Society for Technical Communication
- American Copy Editors Society
- American Society of Newspaper Editors
- National Council of Teachers of English
- The Association of Literary Scholars, Critics and Writers
- National Newspaper Publishers Association
- American Medical Writers Association
- American Grant Writers’ Association
of seniors view the faculty as available and accessible
of seniors feel well prepared for their first job in the field
of seniors say their major integrates biblical perspectives
What will I learn?
You will learn to analyze, think critically, and develop effective written and verbal communication skills.