English Major Frequently Asked Questions

Can I still study creative writing with the English major?

Yes, it is possible to choose a concentration of creative writing.  Concentrations require three courses but students can take as many as 5 creative writing classes if they choose their literature courses carefully.  You are limited to TWO CW prefix courses.  You are allowed to take unlimited CNW courses and ENGL 472* courses.  ENGL 472* are advanced writing courses open to English majors after early registration has completed. Contact Kate Torno at kate-torno@uiowa.edu if you are interested in those courses and have at least two other writing courses completed.  

Do I have to take a Shakespeare course?

Students planning to teach high school English are required to take a Shakespeare course.  Others are not required to take Shakespeare and can choose medieval and early literature courses from any of the other offerings.  However, we must say that if you had a bad experience with Shakespeare in high school, we encourage you to take a course at the college level just to enjoy it taught by a talented and dynamic professor.  We have excellent Shakespearean scholars and there are often opportunities to see rare books from that time period and understand broader publishing and book making issues of the time period as well. 

Everyone says I need a back-up major to get a job after college, is this true?

There is some general confusion in our country about the link between major and career.   For those who major in accounting, engineering, TV broadcasting, computer science or nursing, obviously these are "career" majors.  But for any of the other B.A. degrees (business, economics, sociology, psychology, communications studies or english) the major is just the lens through which you are studying.  You will all get the same basic degree.  We find our majors go out and choose careers from all the same fields as those who major in business or journalism.   We have graduates working in sales, marketing, advertising, publishing, fashion management, administrative positions, editing, website design/writing, film/TV, non-profit fundraising, lobbying, speech writing, psych-social research....the list could go on forever.  

The real determination of your career is NOT your major.  It is the real life experience you gain while you are in college.  If you are interested in a field you should be volunteering, working part-time or interning in that field while you are in college.  Sometimes we DO add another major or minor to really follow a passion that may lie outside of English and that's great.  You have time for that.  But the major is not what will hold you back in most career fields.  Our major teaches the ability to read, comprehend, write clearly, research and communicate with peers.  These skills are valued in many fields in the working world.  It is up to you to put those to real life practice while you are in college and to build your resume.  See your advisor for ideas on how to do that.

What classes can I take toward the major as a first-year student?

Officially none of our courses in the 2000-3999 range are off limits to first-year students.  But some are meant to welcome you to the major in a gentler manner than others.  We recommend at least two of the following for the first year:

ENGL 201* : Reading and Writing about..... should be the very first course you take with us

ENGL 2010: Foundations of the English Major can be taken at the same time or the semester after Reading and Writing course.

CNW/CW 2000 level course 

ENGL 22**/21**/23**/24**/25** can be taken if you have finished ENGL 201* course.