English Major

Why English?

Your understanding of how narratives are formed and how they function to generate meaning and motivate action in the world around you matters.

The skills you will gain in writing, editing, communication, independent research, analysis, interpretation, and critical thinking all matter.

Bottom line: Employers seek out your unique skill set. Studying English matters more now than ever before.

UIC Department of English

Overview of English Studies

Students studying English are introduced to cultural, historical, political, and critical perspectives and leave the major with increased research skills and heightened theoretical acumen.  They also graduate with sharpened analytical abilities, and, of course, a deeper sense of what makes for effective communication, both in oral and written forms.

Our program stresses the “real-world” humanistic skills of being able to analyze the meaning of complicated texts and synthesize abstract or theoretical information from multiple sources. Courses emphasize writing as central to narrative interpretation and critical understanding; employers in a variety of career fields, from corporate to governmental to nonprofit, consistently cite the skills developed by English majors at the top of their lists of desirable qualities in a new hire.

Our curriculum emphasizes both broad and specific skills that students can take into the job market or to graduate school. As an important complement to our curriculum, students have the opportunity to participate in a robust internship program to try out their skills in the workplace while earning college credit.

To learn more about the major and see a sample 4-year plan, please visit the undergraduate catalog.

UIC student Jillian Tempestini discusses why she chose to major in English.

  • 1. Intern A majority of graduating English majors choose to pursue one or more internships while earning college credit.

  • 2. Learn Students can pursue independent studies in critical or creative projects, work closely with faculty mentors, and present their research at conferences.

  • 3. Work What can you DO with an English major? A whole lot, it it turns out. English majors work in every sector from business to law, nonprofit to science research, marketing to publishing.

Learn more about these resources


A UIC English degree prepares students to write well, read well, and think deeply. The English major curriculum provides for broad-based knowledge as well as a degree of independent choice and specialization. It is designed to ensure a dynamic and coherent intellectual experience, to train students for further work in the discipline, and to draw on the diverse strengths of the English faculty.

Core Sequence

All English majors, regardless of concentration, are required to take four core courses. Through the core sequence, students will become familiar with a wide variety of primary texts, a sense of literary history, and a methodology of contemporary literary practice in the discipline.

Students will demonstrate knowledge of literary theory and methods, i.e. how and what literature practitioners “do” with literary and cultural texts. In order to continue in the program, students must earn a grade of ‘C’ or above in the four core courses (ENGL 240, 241, 242, 243).

  1. Introduction on how to read and write critically about literature and other cultural productions, includes methods of literary and cultural theory and criticism, issues of form and interpretation, rhetorical analysis.

English Electives and Distribution Requirements

Students must take five electives in the major. There is a variety of  departmental offerings, cross-listing with other departments (such as Latin American and Latino Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, African American Studies, Religious Studies, etc.), and pre-approved courses taught in other departments that may be advantageous to English majors (such as Philosophy, Russian, Polish, Classics, etc.) For a breakdown of requirements and restrictions, please visit the course catalog.

Majors must also complete advanced-level coursework (two courses above the 300-level) as well as three distribution requirements via their concentration or the electives. One such course can fulfill more than one distribution requirement.

  • One course in materials before 1900
  • One course in materials after 1900
  • One course in U.S. Social and Cultural Diversity

To review specific course requirements and your progress in the major, make sure to schedule regular semester visits with your academic advisor.