What is English? UCSB offers a coherent and comprehensive program of literary studies leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree. There is an opportunity to explore a great diversity of literary texts, texts written in Old English, American novels, Anglo-Irish literature, queer fiction, Chaucer, romantic poetry, science fiction, modern poetry, Shakespeare, hypertext fiction, and many more. At the heart of literary study lies the simple yet striking recognition that language not only provides a technology of thought but constitutes much of our reality.

The major in English transforms this recognition into a program of study that develops the critical skills required to negotiate complicated literary and cultural texts. It provides a thorough preparation for graduate studies and a strong program for those students desiring a broad liberal arts background. At the same time, the English major provides the opportunity to develop and sharpen skills in writing and in critical reading.

The English Department offers more than a hundred courses on British and American writers which emphasize their literary forms, the movements they initiated, and the social contexts of their major works. Typical class size is 35 students, although classes range from large lecture courses to seminars with 15 students or fewer.

General Major Information

How Can I Tell If I Would Like English?
Students who study English learn how to think independently. They are trained to read a variety of literary and cultural works from across centuries and continents, to write proficiently, and to make lively arguments. It is important for students to have excellent reading and writing skills, as well as an interest in discussing the ideas of others.

What Are Potential Topics Within This Major?
Although the following list can provide students with topics that may be covered in this major, look at the UCSB catalog and consult with the Undergraduate Department Advisor for more detailed information about requirements and course offerings.
English Lit. from the Medieval Period to 1650
American Lit. from 1900 to Present
Shakespeare, Poems and Earlier Plays
Writing of Fiction
Practical Criticism
Women and Literature
Literary Genres
Detective Fiction

To learn more about whether you might enjoy this major, check with a peer in the Career Resource Room for details on:

- Focus 2 to explore college majors and careers.

- The Strong Interest Inventory®, an assessment that compares your interests against six broad categories of work. This assessment helps match your interests and suggests potential careers to explore.

General Career Information

What Are Some Possible Career Options?
Note: On its own, your major does not dictate what your job will be. The following list provides only a handful of possibilities. English majors with strong liberal arts background may pursue career options in many fields. Depending on experience, specialized coursework, and possible graduate study, options include:

Editorial Assistant
Media Analyst
Technical Writer
Management Trainee
English Professor
Public Relations Worker
Human Resources
Advertising Assistant

To learn more about these and other occupations, please visit:
O*Net Online

Occupational Outlook Handbook
Come visit the Career Resources Room to see our vast collection of career books and resources.

See what other UCSB alumni are doing with their major on LinkedIn.

What Can I Do With a Major in English?
A short guide of types of employers and strategies for English majors.

Putting Your Degree to Work
Mississippi State University provides some career possibilities for English majors.

Career Opportunities for Majors in English
Gives a brief introduction, sample of related occupations, and types of employers for English majors.

What Can I Do With an English Degree?
Provides career specialties, interests, and skills for English majors.

Focus 2
Check out “What Can I do with a major in…?” under Focus 2.

Graduate and Professional Schools

This is a comprehensive website that provides information about where graduate programs are offered throughout the nation.

This is a database to help find where graduate programs are offered throughout the U.S.

Come to the Career Resource Room to view the CHOICES lab version of graduate schools.

Generates a customized list of English language and literature graduate programs.

Applying to Graduate School
Information about applying to graduate school for English, provided by University of Florida.

Advice for Those Interested in Graduate School
Discusses differences in graduate degrees and how to improve your chances of getting into graduate school and flourishing, provided by Washington & Jefferson College.

Experience Search Strategies

Get Experience

Build your qualifications by exploring various opportunities to get experience in your field of interest.

Job Listings

UCSB Career Services “Job Search” section

Check out job links in the following categories: Local/CA, National, Industry Specific, and UCSB Careers By Majors.


When you join LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, you get access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do.

Guide to Writing and Journalism Jobs
A collection of resources for jobs in writing, journalism, and publishing.

NewsJobs Network
Provides links to numerous writing and English-related jobs.

Posts entry-level jobs and year-round internships from over 35 book publishers.

The Daily Nexus
Gain journalism experience right here on campus!

Professional Associations

Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication
A non-profit, educational association of journalism and mass communication faculty, administrators, students and media professionals.

American Society of Journalists and Authors
The American Society of Journalists and Authors is the nation's professional organization of independent nonfiction writers.

Public Relations Society of America
The Public Relations Society of America is the world’s largest and foremost organization of public relations professionals.

Modern Language Association
The Modern Language Association of America provides opportunities for its members to share their scholarly findings and teaching experiences with colleagues and to discuss trends in the academy.

The International Society for the Study of Narrative
The International Society for the Study of Narrative (ISSN) is a nonprofit association of scholars dedicated to the investigation of narrative, its elements, techniques, and forms; its relations to other modes of discourse; its power and influence in cultures past and present.

UCSB Resources