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What Can I Do With an English Degree?

 

Myth: I can only go into an English-related field with my degree.

Fact: An English degree opens doors and opportunities that do not have to follow a literary path.

When students take English courses here, they're learning more than just literature: they're learning to read critically, learning to see subtext, and how to write effectively. A common misconception is that English classes are based on the following formula: read a book and talk about it; on the contrary, the classes you take at Bemidji State go beyond such a simple stereotype. You will read selections of Aristotle to see the beginnings of literary criticism, selections of Cicero to understand parts of classical rhetoric, the dramas of Shakespeare, novels by British, American, German, and Native American authors, epic poets such as Homer and Milton, modern poetry with the likes of Walt Whitman and John Keats, and that's just a start.

One of the unique aspects of earning an English degree, as opposed to a degree in science, is that you are not pigeon-holed into one or two career paths; you do not go to school for one specific career, but go to school to discover how you can mold and build a career path, with help from the English faculty, that fits perfectly with your newly gained skills and tastes; in addition, an English degree can serve as a foil for other degrees, particularly if you choose a career path that is not English-related. A common example is a student pursuing degrees in both Mass Communications and English literature; the primary focus of the student may be in mass marketing, advertising, or journalism, but regardless of the student's path, the English degree emphasizes the student's achievements and capabilities. A few other examples include, but not limited to, Political Science majors taking rhetoric courses or Biology majors taking Technical Writing courses; to list all the possibilities would be far too exhaustive. When you take courses here, you build for yourself a future that amalgamates the different paths and courses into a strong foundation for you to continually build on throughout all of academia and into your career path. English courses offer the opportunity to coexist with various other degrees as long as you see them coupled together, as opposed to separate and distinct areas of study. Seeing them together paints the brightest, most detail-oriented picture. The question really is: do you want to see the picture and get 100% out of your time spent here, or just half? The choice, as always, is yours and yours alone.

Career Opportunities for English majors!

  • Publishing
  • Creative writing
  • Technical writing
  • Journalism
  • Education
  • News Reporter
  • Public Relations
  • Professional Blogger
  • Lobbyist
  • Media Specialist
  • Editors
  • Grant Writer
  • Social Media Manager
  • Public Service
  • Educational Researcher
  • Government Service
  • Communications Assistant
  • And many more!


Here is a compiled list of English majors you may have heard of.

  • Alan Alda, actor-activist
  • Amerie, singer
  • James van der Beek, actor
  • Carol Browner, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency and now chair of the Board of the National Audubon Society
  • Vin Diesel, actor
  • David Duchovny, actor
  • Harrison Ford, actor
  • Jodi Foster, actress/activist
  • Cathy Guisewite, cartoonist
  • Randy Owen, lead singer of Alabama
  • Joe Paterno, legendary football coach
  • Sally Ride, astronaut
  • Geoffrey Rush, actor (we're not sure about the monkey)
  • Diane Sawyer, TV journalist
  • Harold Varmus, Nobel Prize laureate, former head of the National Institutes of Health and now CEO of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Research Center
  • Barbara Walters, TV host
  • Reese Witherspoon, actress

 

For Undergraduate Degrees

Bureau of Labor Statistics
Occupational Outlook Handbook
Authors, Writers, and Editors (May 2012 Edition)
Authors, Writers, and Editors (2010-11 Edition)

CollegeBoard inspiring minds
Survivor Face-Off
Career vs. Liberal Arts Majors (includes English majors)

AAC&U American Association of Colleges & Universities
Top Ten Things Employers Look for in New College Graduates
 

For Graduate Degrees

Modern Language Association (MLA)
Advice to Graduate Students: From Application to Career