As an English major, you’ll be trained in the rigors and pleasures of critical thinking, close reading and lucid writing. Through writing workshops and literature courses in a wide range of periods, genres and traditions, you’ll explore the powers of narrative, image and the written word to illuminate the complexities of human experience.


Want to start right away? Here are some basic requirements for students wanting to major in English. Keep in mind this isn’t the complete list of formal requirement — that list can be found on the Courses of Study page.

To graduate with an English major, you must complete 40 credit hours in English, including

  • 12 credits (normally three courses) from courses in which 50% or more of the material consists of literature originally written in English before 1800 (such courses are indicated in the English course listings);
  • 8 credits (two courses) must be at the 4000 level or above;
  • 12 credits (three courses) must form an intellectually coherent concentration.

Sample classes

  • Shakespeare and the 20th and 21st Centuries
  • Literature as Moral Inquiry
  • Medieval Romance: Voyage to the Otherworld
  • Africa Writes Back


All information below is based on the 2022 First-Destination Post-Graduate Survey. Lists are not exhaustive; rather, they are a sampling of the data. If you would like more information, please email as_careers@cornell.edu

What can you do with a degree in English? 

Graduate School:

In 2022, 30% of English students embarked on graduate school journeys. They pursued various advanced degrees, with 26% focusing on their MA, 19% working towards a JD, 14% dedicated to an MS, and more. Their graduate field interest ranges from law (21%) to English language & literature (14%) and creative writing (12%).

These ambitious individuals have chosen to continue their education at prestigious institutions like Columbia University, Vanderbilt University, Northwestern University, and Stanford University. 


59% of English graduates secured employment, and the majority entered sectors in education (19%), communications/media (15%), and technology (12%). Cornell University and Google were the top 2022 employers.

Where 2022 English Graduates Work

Employer Job Titles
Amazon Web Services Technical Writer
Apple Siri Writer
Comcast/NBCUniversal Data Quality Editor
Louisiana Supreme Court Library Assistant
McKinsey & Company Publishing Intern
Musee Magazine Writer
Penguin Random House Publicity Assistant
Politics and Prose Bookseller
The Paris Review Editorial Intern
W.W. Norton & Company  Critical Editions Intern