Undergraduate Studies (For Students Entering in Fall 2021 and Later)
The English B.A. emphasizes your individual flexibility and choice, while also offering a strong grounding in areas foundational to English studies. You can tailor your studies to accomplish a wide variety of goals, whether that involves advancing to graduate studies or pursuing your dream career (or both).
On this page, you'll find information about the core courses, capstone, and other major requirements for students entering in Fall 2021 and later. If you have questions about your progress through the major, consult your advisor. You'll find more information about the advising process and how to find your advisor on our Advising page.
If you would like more details about the requirements of the English Major, you can consult the current (2023-2024) version of the English Majors' Handbook . Archived versions of earlier editions are available here: 2021-2022 .
If you began your studies before Fall 2021, you'll find information about your program requirements on the Undergraduate Studies (For Students Entering Before Fall 2021) page.
The BA English Advising sheet summarizes all of the courses and requirements necessary for the BA English degree. You can find more information about the advising process and how to find your advisor on our Advising page.
Planning out your next Fall or Spring semester? Consult this page for listing of upcoming focus area courses, Distributive/Hallmark courses, and ENG 400 seminar descriptions.
Establish Core Skills and Knowledge (4 Courses)
The core of our program offers our students the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in our program and as sharp thinkers, problem solvers, great writers, culturally intelligent analytical readers, and first-rate researchers. All English majors complete the four core courses, usually in their first two years of study.
ENG 201: Introduction to English Studies
The first course you will take as an English major, ENG 201 (Introduction to English Studies) introduces you to the English Studies discipline and its many sub-fields, including literature, rhetoric,comparative literature, film, creative writing, professional and technical writing, writing studies, journalism, linguistics, digital humanities and other fields associated with English.
ENG 202: Research Methods for English Studies Seminar
In ENG 202 (Research Methods for English Studies Seminar), you will develop your ability to conduct and read research. Built around special topics drawing upon faculty’s research, the course introduces you to the diversity and significance of research in the subfields of English. You will learn how to access and analyze peer-reviewed and other forms of scholarship, consider the ethics of research, and analyze which genres are most effective for conveying your research to your intended audiences. This course is capped at 14 students, giving you the opportunity to work closely with your professor and your classmates on your research in your first few semesters in the program.
ENG/LIN 230: Introduction to Linguistics
ENG/LIN 230 (Introduction to Linguistics) introduces you to the field of linguistics, which is the humanistic and scientific study of language. Throughout this course, you will learn about different aspects of linguistic structure, including the ways languages and dialects organize sounds, grammar, and meaning; you will develop the analytic tools to examine language in use, whether spoken, written, or signed; and you will gain a critical consciousness of the way that language shapes our lived experiences as it intersects with issues of culture, power, and identity. In sum, this course gives you a strong foundation in understanding how language works as you move into your focus area courses.
ENG 206: Black Critical Theory or ENG 296: Theory & Criticism for English Studies
For your fourth core course, you will choose one of two options that focus on theory:
- In ENG 206 (Black Critical Theory), you will explore the political, social, cultural, and historical factors that influenced the development of twentieth-century Black Critical Theory. You will develop an awareness of critical, theoretical, and rhetorical approaches to textual analysis central to the field of English Studies as you learn about crucial moments in African American and Diasporic history and culture, such as the Harlem Renaissance, the Realist/Protest Movement, the Civil Rights Era/Black Arts Movement, and the Feminist/Womanist Movement.
- In ENG 296 (Theory and Criticism for English Studies), you will learn theory by practicing it. You’ll study major theoretical currents of the past century, noting how these currents push back on stereotypes about, for example, bodied-ness, gender, race/racism, sex, nationalism, and patriotism. You’ll examine why these critical currents came to be and how they shaped the way we understand meaning in the world, as well as practical rhetorical and multimedia strategies for producing your own theoretical work, in writing and other non-alphabetic modes.
Focus Your Studies (4 Courses)
After completing your core courses, you will select one of our nine focus areas to continue your studies. Each focus area consists of a selection of courses designed to work together to build a focused set of skills or knowledge you can apply to your career or life goals. You will choose four courses from this selection to complete your focus. Our current focus areas are below.
Engage with Critical Hallmarks of English Studies
You will explore topics of interest through our unique interdisciplinary and applied areas of focus and electives. As you select focus area or elective courses, remember that you must take at least one course representing each of three critical hallmarks of English studies:
These courses can be taken as part of your focus area or as an English department elective. Here is a list of all courses that meet these requirements, as well as the courses scheduled for the upcoming semester.
Have a Little Fun (4 Courses)
The BA in English gives you the flexibility to pursue your passion. In addition to the required focus area, you can take a second focus area for credit or take four elective courses of your choosing from our catalog of exciting, topical courses.
Learn a Second Language (2-4 Courses)
Exposure to a second language is a vital job skill in an interconnected world. Study of a second language also helps you better understand the structure and function of all languages, including your own. As part of your English BA, you will choose from one of the following languages to study up to the intermediate (202) level:
- American Sign Language
- Classics (Greek and Latin)
ENG 400: Explore Further (2 Courses)
In ENG 400 (Research Seminar), you will work closely with faculty in a small-class research seminar on a topic that both students and faculty are passionate about. You will take two sections of ENG 400 in your junior and/or senior years, and the topics for the seminars change each semester.
Recent seminars have explored the following topics:
- Toni Morrison: The Trilogy
- Something Wicked: Witches in Youth Literature and Media
- Truth & Authenticity in Contemporary Creative Nonfiction
- Philadelphia Literary Cultures and Networks
- Beyond Walden Pond: Contemporary Environmental Writing
- The Rhetoric of Community Organizing: Persuasive Tools for Our Political Moment
- Race(ing) the Archives: Genealogical Memory and Unforgetting the Lives of Black Students
Current and upcoming seminar topics are available on our ENG 400 (Research Seminar) page.
ENG 499: Prepare to Go Public (1 Course)
In ENG 499 (English Studies Capstone), you will create an original project for publication, a cover letter and resume/CV, and a portfolio of work that showcases the skills you have developed as an English major. You will take this course in your final year, as you prepare to move into your career and/or graduate studies.
As part of the English Department's commitment to providing a high-quality education to our students, we offer specific learning outcomes for our B.A. degree program. We assess these outcomes each semester through a multiple-choice disciplinary knowledge test, an exit survey, and student portfolios. View the learning outcomes for our B.A. degree program.