English Major

College of Arts and Sciences

Degree BA, English

Department Chair Rebecca Steinberger, PhD


W. Scott Blanchard, Professor of English, BA Middlebury College; PhD Columbia University

Richard A. Boada, Assistant Professor of English, BA Bellarmine University; MA University of Louisville; PhD The University of Southern Mississippi

Amanda Caleb, Assistant Professor of English, BA Davidson College, MA, PhD University of Sheffield

Patrick L. Hamilton, Associate Professor of English, BA Portland State University; MA University of Arkansas; PhD University of Colorado

Rebecca Steinberger, Professor of English, BA Wilkes College; MA University of Scranton; PhD Indiana University of Pennsylvania

The English curriculum emphasizes the development of critical reading and writing skills as an essential preparation for professional life or graduate school. Students in English most often seek careers in writing, editing, web design, journalism, law, or teaching at the high school or college level. The English major gives students the ability to adapt to different job markets and career changes. In addition to its focus on improving writing and analytical skills, the program ensures a familiarity with different critical approaches to literature and an understanding of different literary forms, movements, and periods.

Program Goals and Outcomes

The program in English helps its major to:

  1. Develop critical reading skills that will allow them to approach primary and secondary sources thoughtfully, independently, and with attention to detail.
  2. Develop writing skills that will make them competitive on the job market and prepare them for professional life or graduate school.
  3. Develop effective research and documentation skills, including the use and evaluation of Internet sources.
  4. Understand the development of the English language, its structure and basic elements, and linguistic theories that help to explain it.
  5. Develop discussion and oral presentation skills that will allow them to speak effectively in front of others.
  6. Acquire a thorough background in English and American literature, and appreciate the perspectives of non-Western literature and the literature of under-represented groups in Western society.
  7. Become familiar with different critical theories and approaches to literature.
  8. Understand the opportunities open to English majors, and behaviors that will assist them in finding employment or entering graduate school.

The English major program goals are realized in the following student learning outcomes:

  1. Recognize the cultural movements, genres, key figures, and social/historical forces that shape the Western literary tradition
  2. Recognize the cultural movements, genres, key figures, and social/historical forces that shape the literary traditions of non-Western society and underrepresented groups in Western society
  3. Construct a clear, original and interesting focus that is enriched by relevant detail/information
  4. Create an organization/structure that is compelling and logical
  5. Write with an appropriate tone and degree of information for the reader(s)
  6. Demonstrate word choice/diction that is appropriate, concise, and interesting
  7. Compose effective and varied sentences that make clear transitions/distinctions among ideas
  8. Effectively use conventions of standard, written English

Students may choose from two tracks: Literature or Professional Writing.

The literature track provides students with a firm background in English and American literature, in addition to courses in a variety of areas of interest to the faculty. This track has the largest number of free electives and allows students to specialize in pre-law, obtain secondary education certification, or minor in any area of interest. The literature track also provides excellent preparation for those planning to go on to graduate school.

The professional writing track is designed for those interested in careers in writing and related fields such as journalism, feature writing, magazine article writing, publishing, editing, technical writing, advertising, script writing for radio and television, screen writing for film, and other kinds of creative writing. It is also appropriate for students interested in teaching writing.

The sequence of required courses below is for the literature track. Requirements for the professional writing track are as follows: 12 credits of advanced writing courses, including three credits of ENG 203 and nine credits selected from ENG 325, ENG 339, ENG 341 (may be taken twice, for up to six credits), ENG 343, and ENG 345; six credits of internship at local media outlets, PR offices, etc; 18 credits of advanced literature, including Shakespeare, at least four 300-level period courses, and at least one ENG 415; three credits of either ENG 420 (Senior Seminar) or ENG 450 (Senior Thesis). Students in the Writing Track also have to meet the advanced history requirement of two upper-level History courses.

In unusual situations, the English department chair may approve changes in specific course requirements. Final approval for transfer credits in English or approval of off-campus courses in English rests with the English department chair.


English majors interested in the legal profession may specialize in pre-law. Misericordia University’s pre-law specialization was developed in accordance with the Association of American Law Schools, which recommends that prospective law students have a broad liberal arts background. The combination of English and pre-law makes an excellent preparation for the LSAT. See Pre-law specialization for further information.

The secondary education program in English prepares students to teach English at the junior-high and high-school level. In addition to providing the necessary knowledge base in language and literature, the program gives students the skills to identify and assist those with learning disabilities and to use technology effectively in the classroom. The program is fully approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and leads to a teaching certificate valid in Pennsylvania for grades 7 through 12 which is transferable to many other states. See Secondary Education Program in English for further information.


English majors often do internships for credit during their junior and senior years at local media outlets and other businesses. These outlets include two daily newspapers, weekly newspapers, several local radio stations and public relations offices, and local TV affiliates for ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and PBS. Internships are available for students in English/Pre-Law at local law offices and offices at the county courthouse. Student editors of Instress, the campus literary magazine, may register one time only for a total of three internship credits. Their work will be supervised and evaluated by the faculty advisor to the magazine.

General Requirements

Incoming first-year students seeking admission to the university as English majors must meet the general and specific admissions requirements of the university as stated in this catalog. When the student does not fully meet those requirements, a personal interview is required. Continuation as an English major requires that the student maintain a minimum 2.0 or “C” average, both in the major and in the overall grade point average.

After transfer credits are applied, transfer students must complete all of the remaining English requirements as listed in the sequence of required courses in this catalog.


To receive a recommendation for graduate school or law school, students must maintain a minimum 3.0 or “B” average, both in the major and in the overall grade point average.