BA in English

The major in English (EN) offers students access to a thousand years of literature, from Beowulf to contemporary books in English from all over the world. Under the guidance of internationally known scholars and writers, students are exposed to a wide range of approaches. Many courses have an interdisciplinary dimension, making connections between literature and such fields as philosophy, religion, the arts, politics, science, material culture, and history. In small classes, students learn techniques of analysis, interpretation, and research that are applicable to many fields and professions (e.g., teaching, law, education, business, politics, journalism, and publishing). Courses in creative writing are also available to undergraduates.

Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with a major in English are expected to demonstrate:

  • A critical understanding of English and American literary culture and its traditions.
  • A critical understanding of at least one area of literary study outside of the English and American canons.
  • Proficiency in written literary analysis, interpretation, and research.
  • Proficiency in the oral discussion of literature.
  • A deepened understanding of literary culture through study abroad, if that is feasible.


All first-year, first-time students will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, a general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements are flexible and can be satisfied in many different ways, through coursework in and beyond the major and, in some cases, through cocurricular activities. Students majoring in English will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, fulfill units in the following BU Hub capacities: Philosophical, Aesthetic, and Historical Interpretation; Scientific and Social Inquiry; Diversity, Civic Engagement and Global Citizenship; Communication; and in the Intellectual Toolkit. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses or cocurricular activities outside the major.

The total major requirement is eleven 4-credit courses. A grade not lower than C is required in all courses toward the major.

All students must complete:

  • CAS EN 220 Seminar in Literature
  • CAS EN 221 Major Authors I
  • CAS EN 322 British Literature I
  • CAS EN 323 British Literature II

These courses are usually taken consecutively.

English majors should consult the Undergraduate Coordinator in English to determine which faculty member will serve as their advisor. With the aid of their advisors, students should design a coherent major of at least seven additional English courses. At least six of these must be numbered 300 or higher. One course numbered CAS EN 121–201 or 203–215 may count toward the seven additional courses, provided it was taken before or concurrently with EN 220. Of the seven additional courses, at least one course numbered 300 or higher must fall in each of the following four groups.

Group 1.

American Literature before 1900: CAS EN 333, 334, 345, 396, or courses specified as equivalent in any year.

Group 2.

Concepts and Methods of Literary Study: Any literature course listed from CAS EN 404, EN 406 through EN 490, or from EN 493 through EN 498, or courses specified as equivalent in any year.

Group 3.

British or American Literature before 1800: CAS EN 324, 325, 363, 364, 372, 521, 527, or courses specified as equivalent in any year.

Group 4.

Diverse Literatures in English: CAS EN 326, 347, 370, 371, 386, 393, 396, 481, 484, 537, 572, 586, 587, 588, or any courses specified as equivalent in any year.

Note: Students may not satisfy the requirement for multiple groups with a single, overlapping course.

Upon approval of their advisor and the director of undergraduate studies, students may elect to substitute one upper-level literature course from Classical Studies, Romance Studies, the Editorial Institute, or World Languages & Literatures for one of their seven upper-division course requirements outside of the four categories specified above.


Majors planning on graduate study in English should continue work in foreign languages beyond the level required by the college. French, German, and Latin are the languages most commonly required for the PhD in English.