English Language and Literature Major

Undergraduate Studies Director: Scott Trudell, Ph.D.

The English major includes five main elements, which are together designed to introduce students: (1) to the basic approaches for studying literature, rhetoric, and media; (2) to the structures and effects of the English language; and (3) to theories and practices of writing from the creative to the professional. The major offers students a foundation in multiple scales of history, from the local to the global, and in forms, methods, and writing—all with a sustained focus on civic and cultural engagement. Students also develop their own area of specialization, choosing from: literary and cultural studies; creative writing; media studies; or language, writing, and rhetoric. The major’s flexibility lets students participate liberally in a wealth of experiential- or service-learning opportunities around the department, the university, and the D.C. metro area, as well as to pursue a sustained research or creative project as part of our English Honors Program. These elements and opportunities together allow students to prepare for careers in fields such as education, law, journalism, creative writing, communications, professional writing, game or film development, and information science. Courses offered by the English Department may be found under the acronyms ENGL and CMLT. 

Program Learning Outcomes

Our English graduates develop the following abilities crucial to today’s knowledge-based economy:

  1. Writing expertise in diverse genres relevant to literary, rhetorical, linguistic, and media inquiry
  2. Identifying and using relevant cultural historical information to situate creative and rhetorical texts in time, place, and tradition
  3. Selecting and analyzing appropriate information sources, both print and digital, to synthesize, integrate, and credit those sources in their own work
  4. Suitably analyzing underrepresented experiences and cultural diversity, including structural and institutional inequity, using texts written by and about those culturally marginalized due to their race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, and/or physical or mental ability
  5. Producing close readings of texts that integrate terms and concepts related to literary expression and to literature’s function as a historical and cultural force (Literary and Cultural Studies Track)
  6. Analyzing the relationship between language, thought, and communication and applying the power of language and other symbol systems to reach audiences and shape social realities (Language, Writing, and Rhetoric Track)
  7. Producing media analyses that integrate knowledge of how the material production, technologies, and cultural practices of diverse types of media shape meaning (Media Studies Track)
  8. Dexterity in one or more genres of creative writing and an understanding of the history and methods of craft (Creative Writing Track)

English and English Education Double Major

In conjunction with the College of Education, the English Department offers a special 125-credit program for students wishing to double major in English and Secondary Education, allowing them to earn a certificate to teach English for grades 7-12. For a list of requirements, contact the English Undergraduate Studies Office at english@umd.edu. For more information about the English and English Education Double Major, see the College of Education section of the Undergraduate Catalog.

1. The English major requires 36 credits beyond the university's Fundamental Studies requirements in ENGL101 and ENGL391, ENGL392, ENGL393, ENGL394, ENGL395, ENGL398. No more than two courses at the 1xx- or 2xx- level may be counted toward the major, and at least 12 credits must be at the 4xx-level. 

2. A grade of C- or better is required to apply a course to the major. Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 within the major. 

3. Up to six credits of ENGL388 (Internship) may be included in the 36 credits, but not all of those credits may come from the same version of ENGL388. In other words, students must enroll in two or more courses with different letter suffixes (e.g., 388W and 388V). 

4. No more than three credits of ENGL429 (Independent Study) may be included in the 36 credits. 

5. One 3xx- or 4xx- level course in literature, rhetoric, or media in a language other than English, whether in the original language or in translation, may count as an elective. 

Course Title Credits
Element 1
ENGL301This is English: Fields and Methods 13
Element 2: Historical Studies12
Students must take four courses in historical studies. They are encouraged to take a course in all four broad historical periods and required to select courses in a minimum of three:
Beginning, Medieval, and Early Modern
Long Eighteenth Century
Long Nineteenth Century
Modern and Contemporary
Element 3: Tracks12
Majors select a track from among those listed below, and take four courses in that track. Restrictions: Courses must be taken at the 2xx-, 3xx-, and/or 4xx-levels. Students cannot overlap their track credits with credits applied to the Rhetoric or Professional Writing minors; students cannot pursue the Creative Writing track and also be a Creative Writing minor. If a course counts toward more than one requirement within a track, it may only be used to fulfill a single requirement.
Element 4: Electives9
Elective credits may be filled by any English department course or any approved course outside of the department.
Element 5: Perspectives, Methods, and Writing
This last element is a set of co-requirements, meaning that these should be fulfilled in the process of completing Elements 2-4 of the major and do not themselves add credits to the degree.
Restriction: Students cannot count the same course for more than one of these co-requirements.
Differences and Diasporas
Methods (must be taken at the 2xx-, 3xx-, or 4xx- level)
Advanced Writing (must be taken at the 3xx- or 4xx- level)
Total Credits36

English majors must take ENGL301 before they take other 3xx or 4xx level English courses or concurrently with taking their first of those courses.


Literary and Cultural Studies Track

Course Title Credits
Take one course on each of the following topics, leaving the remaining credits open for any literature course:12
Form, Genres, and Poetics
National, Transnational, and/or Global Literatures
Total Credits12

Language, Writing, and Rhetoric Track

Course Title Credits
Take one course on each of the following topics, leaving the remaining credits open for any language, writing, or rhetoric course: 12
History, Analysis, and Theory
Practice, Performance, and Pedagogy
Total Credits12

Media Studies Track

Course Title Credits
Take one course in at least two of the following categories (two courses total), leaving the remaining credits open for any media course: 12
Print and Script
Music and Sound
Image and Moving Image
Digital Cultures
Total Credits12

Creative Writing Track

Course Title Credits
Take one of each of the following course types, leaving the remaining credits open for any creative writing workshop course: 12
2xx-level Creative Writing Workshop
3xx-level Creative Writing Workshop
Creative Form and Theory
Restriction: To enroll in a 3xx-level workshop, students must receive an A or A- in a 2xx-level workshop or must submit an acceptable portfolio of work to the Creative Writing faculty. Students may substitute one approved UMD workshop course taught outside of the English department for their 3xx-level creative writing workshop, but may not take a 4xx-level workshop in the English department without taking a 3xx-level workshop in the department. Students may only count a Creative Form and Theory course once toward their 12 credits for the track.
Total Credits12

Click here for roadmaps for graduation plans in the College of Arts and Humanities.

Additional information on developing a graduation plan can be found on the following pages: