Undergraduate Program in English


Welcome to the English Department at Emory University. As an English major at Emory you will enjoy a program that is at once intellectually stimulating and practically valuable. The Major has three fundamental emphases: the study of literatures written in English; the development of critical, analytic, and interpretive skills in reading texts; and the cultivation of effective and elegant writing.



The study of literatures in English--including literature of the Americas, the British Isles, Asia, and Africa--gives one a greater understanding of the role language plays in shaping the world. Working closely with a variety of texts, you will develop critical, analytical and interpretive skills needed to read with intellectual awareness and aesthetic sensitivity. These skills develop further through the major's emphasis on writing. English majors have many opportunities to focus on research and writing, and they learn how to communicate ideas clearly and convincingly. By reading and writing about literature you have the opportunity to extend your understanding of your own and others' cultures at the same time as you enhance practical linguistic abilities that can serve you in a variety of professional and academic settings.


The English major has flexible and individualized requirements. The only course required of all majors is English 205, Poetry. This course emphasizes critical reading and writing about poetic art and prepares students for work in more advanced courses. It is capped at 15-18 students. Advanced courses (300-level) are capped at 25 students and seminars (400-level) at 12-15 students. Majors thus have the opportunity to get to know their professors and work closely with them. A description of undergraduate courses offerings and schedules can be found here.


English is an excellent major for pre-professional students, but it is something more than a pre-professional program. It gives you a wider and deeper perspective on your education and your choices in life. English majors enjoy the beauty and creativity of great works of art and they ask tough questions about meaning and value. The English major is thus an excellent stepping stone to a variety of professional careers and graduate programs. It provides foundational skills for areas as varied as business, law, journalism, medicine, teaching, public service, and, indeed, any other career that requires critical thinking and clear writing. In an era of globalization in which information has become a crucial commodity, English majors enter the marketplace with a decided advantage. Emory's English major also prepares interested majors for graduate study in English. Students who wish to dedicate their lives to teaching and research receive the training in literary history and analysis they need to pursue academic careers at leading institutions. Majors interested in pursuing graduate work may also apply to the 4+1 BA/MA program. Additional academic opportunities include Honors and summer study abroad at Oxford.

Beyond the Classroom

The English Department at Emory encourages a sense of literary community that extends beyond the classroom. Poets, novelists, playwrights and scholars come to campus every year to read their work and deliver lectures. Recent visitors brought to Campus by the Program in Creative Writing have included a Nobel Prize Winner, ten Pulitzer Prize winners, four winners of the National Book Award, four winners of the National Book Critics Circle Award, two Tony Award winners, one Booker Prize winner and four Poet Laureates of the United States;Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass, Rita Dove, and Mark Strand. Other visitors have included Gwendolyn Brooks, Pearl Cleage, Athol Fugard, Jorie Graham, Ernest J. Gaines, David Henry Hwang, Mario Vargas Llosa, Salman Rushdie, and Ellen Bryan Voigt.

Literary Union

Majors and faculty work together as part of Emory's Literary Union to organize attendance at theatrical productions, panel discussions of important literary issues, and study breaks. In recent years, students have attended productions of Beckett and Shakespeare, panels on graduate study in English and the value of literary study, and a department-wide literary reading to celebrate New Orleans.


Departmental policy and decision-making rests with the faculty. The chief administrative officer of the department and its representative within the administrations of the College and the University is the Chair. To assist the Chair in the day-to-day administering of departmental business, the department appoints a Director of Undergraduate Studies and a Director of Graduate Studies. The departmental and faculty offices are located in North Callaway. The main office is in North Callaway 302, and it houses the offices of the three departmental administrators.