English major and professor talking and laughing while reviewing papers

English

Develop analytical and critical thinking skills. Interpret literature and culture. Write for professional contexts. As an English major, you will be prepared for a variety of careers and experiences!

Degrees & Offerings
  • B.A.
Location
  • Bloomsburg
  • Lock Haven
  • Mansfield
Department
College
Program Contact
Chair of the Department of English, Languages and Cultures / Professor
Illustration of Mountain

Explore your passion for the written word.

Open a book and open new worlds. In your English classes, you will explore wide ranging literary traditions in American, British, and world literature, and practice critical and creative reading, writing, and discussions. You will learn to articulate and defend ideas with confidence and to understand and respond to ideas and values different from your own. In this program, you will develop your ability to read with comprehension, think critically, and write clearly— all of which are skills required by our rapidly evolving global marketplace.  

Did You Know?

Humanities majors in disciplines such as English often surpass other majors in earning potential over the life of their careers, with median salaries no different from psychology or criminal justice.  

The business world is clamoring for students with humanistic skills, such as strong oral and written communication skills, problem-solving skills, emotional intelligence, critical thinking skills, and cognitive flexibility.  

English majors receive some of the highest average scores on graduate school entrance tests such as the GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, and GRE. 

Focus Your Studies

The English major offers three exciting concentrations: Creative Writing, Literature and Society, and Professional Writing. As you acquire skills in writing and build knowledge of literature and culture, you will gain a unique understanding of life and society as well as a competitive edge in today's job market. 

Students most enjoy our upper-division courses dedicated to niche, in-depth study, whether that’s a more traditional course dedicated to Shakespeare or a course that samples literature thematically, such as “Monstrous Mothers.”

For specific course and program requirements, please consult the undergraduate catalog. 

Course Delivery Format

  Bloomsburg

  Face-to-Face
  Online
  Hybrid

  Lock Haven

  Face-to-Face
  Online
  Hybrid

  Mansfield

  Face-to-Face
  Online
  Hybrid

  Clearfield

  Face-to-Face
  Online
  Hybrid

Courses and Curriculum

Begin Your Best Chapter Yet

Have you ever dreamed of creating a strong character like Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, whose multi-book adventures are complex and exciting? Have you ever wanted to build a world as creative and detailed as the one in your favorite video game? Do you have a journal filled with poems and wonder how you can improve them and perhaps get them published?

Then creative writing is the concentration for you.

Students in our creative writing program study a range of literatures, from classical to contemporary, and participate in writing workshops in several genres of their choice. This concentration of the English major also gives you necessary skills for numerous jobs with a writing emphasis, like social media manager, ad copy writer, and corporate storyteller. 

Learning Objectives

  • Demonstrate familiarity with a range of literary/critical traditions and cultural viewpoints.
  • Explain how form, genre, and the history and structure of language relate to the craft of creative writing through critical analysis of varied genres.
  • Write original and inventive creative works.
  • Compose in a range of artistic and professional genres, including new media, showing how creative writing skills can be deployed in a variety of professional opportunities.

Practical Learning

Students in the creative writing concentration benefit from a scaffolded program which requires them to take a literature genre course before they take the corresponding creative writing course in the same genre. This methodology allows them to fully understand the genre before attempting their own creative projects, and underscores the importance of writing as a craft. 

The creative writing program at Commonwealth University hosts a variety of visiting writers, such as National Poet Laureate Billy Collins, NAACP Outstanding Image Award winner Jamaal May, John Newbery Medal winner Susan Campbell Bartoletti, American Book Award winner Li-Young Lee, and the Big Dog Reading Series. With unique experiences like these, students have the chance to engage one-on-one with these creative professionals and experience the power of their work as presented in their own voices. Students are encouraged to engage in Q&As to deepen their own understanding of being a creative writer.

Other professional development experiences include The Voice (CU-Bloomsburg newspaper), The Flashlight (CU-Mansfield newspaper), The Eagle Eye (CU-Lock Haven newspaper), campus writing centers, and in-house social media content development internships.

Creative writing faculty are all published writers, with active scholarly agendas that repeatedly see acknowledgement through literary prizes and ongoing publication.

Degree Requirements Degree Works

Note: Degree requirements effective for enrolled students beginning Fall 2023. All enrolled students, including matriculating students prior to Fall 2023, can review their degree program requirements and track progress to degree completion with our degree audit and advisement tool, Degree Works.

The Literature and Society Concentration offers in-depth study of literary periods, styles, and genres, as well as linguistics and writing courses. It's perfect for students with interests in digital and print publishing, law school, marketing and public relations, and English graduate study. With its strong emphasis on developing students' strengths as creative critical thinkers and effective writers, and on providing a strong foundation in the humanities, this concentration prepares students for careers in a wide range of fields.

We offer a wide array of more than 30 courses that teach students to think critically, read analytically, and communicate effectively. Students interested in literature can choose between American, Non-Western, European, and British texts; while student writers express themselves in the form of fiction, nonfiction, scriptwriting, and poetry. We also offer courses in linguistics that allow students to study the history and structure of language.

Learning Objectives

  • Communicate effectively in multiple modes.
  • Read in multiple contexts.
  • Recognize and apply modes of inquiry.
  • Read analytically.
  • Recognize the power of language.

Practical Learning

Literature faculty teach a range of courses in their specialties, including lower-division survey courses and upper-division close study courses. Literature faculty also create dynamic special topics courses that encourage students to examine literature outside of traditional chronologies and geographies.

The Literature and Society concentration offers significant flexibility for students to pick courses which most interest them. Rather than a prescribed list of required courses, the literature concentration offers multiple options within categories of study.

Degree Requirements Degree Works

Note: Degree requirements effective for enrolled students beginning Fall 2023. All enrolled students, including matriculating students prior to Fall 2023, can review their degree program requirements and track progress to degree completion with our degree audit and advisement tool, Degree Works.

In today’s content-driven world, everyone needs a writer. This concentration will develop your creative skills and prepare you for a future as a writer. Whether you plan to pursue graduate school or dive into the job market, a degree in English writing will help you hone your craft and turn your passion for the written word into a marketable skill set. The Professional Writing concentration offers in-depth study of technical and professional writing in print and online. It's perfect for students with interests in writing for business and industry.

Completion of the Professional Writing program prepares you with highly marketable writing and research skills. Our graduates pursue careers in advertising, banking and finance, business administration, content marketing, copy editing, education, freelance writing, game design, government service, health care, information technology, internet marketing, journalism, law, media, publishing, real estate, sales, social media management, technical writing, and web development. Many of our graduates also pursue advanced degrees.

Learning Objectives

  • Develop skills in writing, rhetoric, and disciplinary conventions.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in a range of software related to document composition.
  • Acquire an awareness of the power of language through textual analysis.
  • Design feasible/usable long-term projects based on the needs of actual clients or commissioning identities.

Practical Learning

With insight and expertise, our English faculty will support and develop your critical thinking and analytical skills as you learn to write and design documentation in our quickly evolving world. As an interdisciplinary concentration, you will have an opportunity to work with other world-recognized faculty in areas like instructional technology and art studio. The experiential learning emphasis of the concentration prepares you for real work situations, developing and honing skills that are in demand in our rapidly shifting online/remote workplace.

The concentration is taught and supported by faculty across the department, through courses in literature, rhetoric, and documentation design, as well as discipline specific writing courses across the university. This concentration maintains strong connections with programs like the 4+1 master’s instructional design program at CU-Bloomsburg. All work provides students with a robust foundation that prepares them to work in positions as non-profit managers to national defense contractors.

This concentration promotes internships that move students beyond the classroom, taking them on a journey from backpack to briefcase.

Degree Requirements Degree Works

Note: Degree requirements effective for enrolled students beginning Fall 2023. All enrolled students, including matriculating students prior to Fall 2023, can review their degree program requirements and track progress to degree completion with our degree audit and advisement tool, Degree Works.

Minors complement a student’s major to increase their areas of knowledge and improve their competitiveness on the job market or for graduate study. With planning, students can easily add one or more minors to their major without delaying their graduation date. Students may also major in one of the English department concentrations and pursue one of our other minors, such as majoring in creative writing and minoring in technical and professional writing. Typically, minors require 18 credit hours to be counted towards graduation.

Other minors chosen by English majors in the past include foreign language, theater, business, communication studies, psychology, anthropology, philosophy, political science, and women, gender, and sexuality studies. Choosing a minor may be a beneficial credential when looking for a career after graduation.

Important Notice

Minor programs are currently under review for approval within the integrated Commonwealth curriculum.

The status of the minors will be updated on this website in accordance with the administrative review process. Students who have previously declared a minor should follow the pre-integration sequence for program completion by working with their minor advisor. Students who wish to declare a minor (other than Creative Writing) must await full program approval. Interested students are encouraged to monitor this webpage for updates.

English Students in all tracks will:
1. Interpret critically and analytically a range of literature from different periods and perspectives. (Core Global Lit requirement, Diversity, Author in Context, and Lit and Culture courses, PDE I.C.)
2. Write clearly and effectively in a variety of creative, professional, and/or scholarly contexts. (Core Lit Studies requirement, Power of Language requirement, and Professionalization/Capstone requirement, PDE I.D.)
3. Research effectively using traditional and emerging resources. (Core Lit Studies requirement, upper division courses, and Professionalization/Capstone requirement, PDE I.F.)
4. Demonstrate an understanding of language, grammars, and linguistics. (Core Grammars requirement and Power of Language requirement, PDE I.A)

Pursue Your Passions

Illustration of Mountain

From honorariums to full-tuition waivers, scholarships exist to reward your hard work and dedication to the major. Find more information on scholarships here

  • Helen and Ervene Gulley Memorial Scholarship
  • Margaret Bittner Parke Scholarship
  • Catherine Oplinger and Clark R. Renninger Memorial Scholarship
  • Cecil Seronsy Scholarship
  • Louis F. Thompson Scholarship
  • Writing Awards
  • Peters Award for Creative Non-Fiction
  • Fuller Fiction Award
  • Baillie Award for the Critical Essay
  • The Savage Poetry Award 
  • Isabel Miller Award for Creative Writing
  • Dr. K. B. Rao Memorial Scholarship
  • Frank and Dorothy Vaughn English Scholarship
  • Clara M. Clendenen Scholarship
  • L. R. & M. E. Gocella Family Scholarship    
  • Bruce Barton Memorial Scholarship
  • Fielding-Eliot Scholarship in English and World Languages
  • James York Glimm Memorial Scholarship
  • Kristin Sanner Memorial Scholarship
  • Perfect Song Scholarship
  • Bernie Koloski Book Award
  • Creative Cause Award
  • Friends of George Dolph Book Award
  • Henry Dyck Book Award
  • Judith Sornberger Poetry Award
  • Larry K. Uffelman Book Award
  • Professional Writing Book Award 
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Education Tailored to You

Internships

Students with more than 60 credit hours are strongly recommended to seek an internship. Internships provide you with hands-on experience that better prepares you for the work force.

Professional U is also offering the following:

  • Geisinger Children's Miracle Network Telethon
  • Harrisburg (more than a dozen government offices and projects)
  • Arc of Chemung
  • Bradford County Heritage Village and Farm Museum,  
  • Corning, Incorporated
  • The Daily Review  
  • 171 Cedar Arts Center
  • Arch of Chemung
  • Bradford County Heritage Village and Farm Museum    
  • Corning, Incorporated
  • 171 Cedar Arts Center
  • Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble
  • Bloomsburg University Foundation, Inc.
  • Bloomsburg Town Hall
  • Bloomsburg Chamber of Commerce 

Professional Engagement

Many English majors participate in several professional development opportunities, including campus newspapers, writing centers, literary journals, in-house social media content development internships, and library tutors, such as peer research consultants.

Campus Reading Series: Each semester the Commonwealth University-Lock Haven English department brings today’s top writers and English scholars to campus to read from their work and share their literary journey with the campus community. Past visiting writers and scholars include:

  • National Poet Laureate Billy Collins
  • American Book Award winner Li-Young Lee
  • NAACP Outstanding Image Award winner Jamaal May
  • John Newbery Medal winner Susan Campbell Bartoletti

CASSH Con: CASSH Con offers students within the College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities (CASSH), as well as any undeclared students seeking information about what CASSH has to offer, two days of panels and workshops focused upon alumni engagement and professional development.

Taking place simultaneously on all 3 campuses (Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, Mansfield), programs in CASSH will host alumni panels and other programming so that students can learn about the rich career opportunities awaiting them. Additionally, there are a variety of sessions designed to help students think about their professional identity and learn ways to build their resumes through experiential learning.

Big Dog Reading Series: The Big Dog Reading Series at CU-Bloomsburg began in 2000, bringing nationally recognized and regional poets and writers to present public readings and interact with students through class visits and workshops. The Series was started by Professor Jerry Wemple and Claire Lawrence to contribute to the University's creative writing program. Events are free and open to the public.   

The Commonwealth U Difference

Affiliation
Commonwealth University enjoys an agreement with Rosemont College for their MFA in Creative Writing and MA in Publishing, ensuring streamlined program admission with a 3.0 GPA. Students with a 3.5 GPA receive 25% reduced tuition.
Literature Courses
These classes strive to offer representative content, engaging with authors from all walks of life, including LGBTQ, BIPOC, economic diversity, and non-Western traditions.

Careers

CU English majors hold jobs around the world in a variety of fields. The breadth of their experience speaks to the versatility of the major. English majors are highly sought after in today's job market, especially because of their strong professional competency in writing, analysis, and research.

Potential Job Opportunities

  • advertising
  • banking and finance
  • business administration
  • content creation
  • marketing
  • copy editing
  • education
  • freelance writing
  • game design
  • government service
  • healthcare
  • information technology
  • journalism
  • law
  • media
  • publishing
  • real estate
  • sales
  • social media management
  • technical writing
  • web development

Program Contacts

Decker

Mark Decker

  • Chair of the Department of English, Languages and Cultures / Professor
  • Bloomsburg
CommonwealthU University Employee

Steven Hicks

  • Assistant Chair of the Department of English / Professor of English and Philosophy
  • Lock Haven
CommonwealthU University Employee

Robert Myers

  • Professor of English and Philosophy
  • Lock Haven
Entzminger

Tina Entzminger

  • Director of High Impact Experiences- Bloomsburg Honors
  • Bloomsburg
Martin

Michael Martin

  • Associate Professor English / Director of the Professional Writing and Digital Rhetoric Program
  • Bloomsburg
CommonwealthU University Employee

David Russell

  • Associate Professor, English and Philosophy
  • Lock Haven
Roggenbuck

Ted Roggenbuck

  • Professor, Director of the Writing and Literacy Engagement Studio
  • Bloomsburg

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