BA in English

Degree Program Description

English majors are asked to think in terms of both the breadth and depth of their knowledge, studying a wide variety of topics, periods and methods; developing skills in reading, critical thinking, and writing; and delving deeply into a particular area of interest. Students study literature from around the world and from all historical periods, learn about the theory and practice of writing through the study of rhetoric and composition, and acquire skills as writers of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. The BA in English requires the following types of courses: period studies and surveys, author studies, genre/thematic studies, and theory/method studies. Students must also take several courses in an area of specialization such as Medieval Literature; Renaissance/Early Modern Literature; 18th and 19th Century Literature; 20th and 21st Century Literature; African Diaspora Studies; Post-Colonial Literature; Literary, Critical or Rhetorical Theory; Creative Writing; Composition; English Language and Linguistics; Folklore Studies; Film and Digital Studies; or Gender and Sexuality Studies. A degree in English is intended to provide a broad, open-ended education that can lead to many different careers, especially those requiring excellent communication skills and analytical thinking. Recent graduates have gone on to careers in teaching, publishing, television, film, advertising, public relations, insurance, government, public service, management, and law.

In addition, students must complete all College of Arts and Science and University graduation requirements, including University general education.

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Major Program Requirements

English majors must complete a minimum of 30 credit hours in English. At least 24 credit hours in the major must be at the 3000-level or above. At least 9 credit hours must be at the 4000-level. A minor in a different discipline is recommended.

No more than 40 credit hours in English may be counted toward graduation. The required English composition credits are excluded from this maximum and are recommended to be taken before the student enrolls in any English courses numbered above 2009.

Honors: Students may take an additional 3 hours (33 total) to complete ENGLSH 4995 Senior Honors Thesis. Note that ENGLSH 4996 Honors Seminar in English, will count towards the 9-hour requirement for 4000-level classes, ENGLSH 4995 Senior Honors Thesis, will not.

Internships and Independent Research: Students making satisfactory progress towards completion of degree requirements are encouraged to explore possibilities for gaining professional experience through internal or external internships. They are also encouraged to follow up on opportunities to pursue independent research sponsored by the department, the College of Arts and Science, and other divisions of the University. Note that only 3 credit hours of internship or independent study (ENGLSH 4940, ENGLSH 4950, ENGLSH 4955, or ENGLSH 4960) will count towards the major's 4000-level requirement or towards the 24 hours at the 3000-level or above.

Major Core Requirements


ENGLSH 2100 Writing About Literature

Body of Major

  • At least 30 credit hours in English (including 3 hours of ENGLSH 2100) satisfying requirements listed below.
  • Courses may count for 1, 2, or 3 of the three requirements for Breadth of Study, Historical Coverage and Depth of Study.
  • At least one course must meet the Diversity Requirement.
  • At least 24 hours must be at the 3000-level or above. At least 9 hours must be at the 4000-level.

Breadth of Study

Students take at least 1 course from each of the following areas (3000-level and above).

a. Period Studies and Surveys

Courses in this area examine texts in their historical context, and consider how historical events and developments shape culture and texts.

b. Author Studies

Courses in this area focus on an individual or several authors or artists.

c. Genre Studies; Thematic Studies

Genre Studies introduces students to a textual kind (e.g. the novel, poetry, drama, the essay, etc.), its conventions, and its history.

Thematic Studies explores a shared theme among works that may or may not belong to the same period.

d. Theory and Methods

Courses in this category give primary attention to the frame of inquiry and/or the method by which knowledge-making takes place.

Historical Coverage

Students take 3 courses that focus on literature written prior to 1890. One of these must focus on literature written prior to 1603.

Depth of Study

Students must take 3 courses in a single area of specialization listed below.

a. Medieval Literature

b. Renaissance/Early Modern Literature

c. 18th and 19th Century Literature

d. 20th and 21st Century Literature

e. African Diaspora Studies

f. Postcolonial & Global Literatures

g. Literary, Critical, or Rhetorical Theory

h. Creative Writing

i. Composition & Studies in Writing

j. English Language and Linguistics

k. Folklore Studies

l. Film & Digital Studies

m. Gender and Sexuality Studies

n. Other (subject to English Department Advisor approval)

Diversity Requirement

English majors must take one 3-hour course that focuses on issues such as race, ethnicity, gender, or sexuality. Each semester a list of approved courses will be made available to students.


ENGLSH 4970 Capstone Experience (or ENGLSH 4996 Honors Seminar in English if choosing the honors sequence)

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Semester Plan

Below is a sample plan of study, semester by semester.  A student's actual plan may vary based on course choices where options are available

First Year
ENGLSH 1000*3MATH 1100*3
Foreign Language*^5Foreign Language*^5
Behavioral Science Course*3Social Science Course*3
American History OR Government Course3Humanities/Fine Arts Course*3
IS_LT 11111Elective Course1
 15 15
Second Year
ENGLSH 2100^3Biological/Physical/Mathematical Science Course w/lab*3
Biological/Physical Science Course w/lab*4ENGLSH 31003
Foreign Language*^3Behavioral Science Course 2000+*3
Humanities/Fine Arts Course*3Social Science Course*3
ENGLSH 10603Elective or Course for Minor3
 16 15
Third Year
Humanities Course 2000+*^3ENGLSH 4166^3
ENGLSH 3210^3ENGLSH 4600^3
ENGLSH 4310^3Elective or Course for Minor 3000+3
Biological/Physical/Mathematical Science Course*3Elective or Course for Minor3
Humanities/Fine Arts Course3ENGLSH 49503
 15 15
Fourth Year
ENGLSH 4240^3ENGLSH 4970^3
ENGLSH 46103Elective or Course for Minor 3000+3
Elective or Course for minor 2000+3Elective or Course for Minor3
Second Depth Area Course 2000+*^3ENGLSH 41003
Humanities/Depth Area Course 2000+*^3Second/Third Depth Areas Course 2000+3
 15 15
Total Credits: 121

Depth Areas are courses that are 2000 level or above chosen from four areas: the sciences, social sciences, behavioral sciences, or humanities and fine arts.  Arts and Science students are required to complete 9 hours in at least 2 of the four areas.

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Degree Audit

The degree audit is an automated report reflecting a student’s academic progress toward the completion of a degree.  Degree Audits are not available for all programs; however, please consult with the appropriate college or school for audit information.

MU students can request a degree audit by logging in to myDegreePlanner.  Students may also access myDegreePlanner via myZou, in the Student Center, by clicking on the Request Degree Audit link. The audit automatically pulls in the student’s MU course work, transfer courses and courses in progress.  This is available to current students, admitted students, and those who last attended less than three terms ago.

Past MU students can request a degree audit by contacting the Academic Advising Unit of the division in which they were last enrolled at MU. For contact information, go to

Prospective students, can access a preliminary MU degree audit via Information on the college credits already earned will have to be manually entered before it can be evaluated against current degree requirements.

For additional details on degree audits, go to

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Major and Career Exploration

The University of Missouri has many resources to assist you in exploring majors and career possibilities.  For guidance, visit the Majors and Careers website or view specific resources below.

  • If you would like to learn more about your career interests, abilities, values and talents, visit the MU Career Center in the lower level of the Student Success Center.  No appointment is necessary to explore career options with one of our staff members.

For additional major and career exploration resources, visit Major & Career Exploration in the catalog.

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