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About the Undergradute Program

 Mark Matheson teachingThe undergraduate program in the Department of English is frequently recognized as one of the strongest in the university. The variety of courses and the quality of the faculty create an excellent environment for undergraduate education. Most English courses are taught by full-time faculty, and most have fewer than 40 students. As a result, English majors at the University of Utah receive a level of personal attention not possible at most large public universities. Faculty members consistently win teaching awards, and hold PhDs from the top universities in the world - among them Yale, Stanford, Berkeley, Oxford, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Chicago, Cornell, Columbia - meaning that English majors receive the same elite education.

Students in English enter a world rich with intellectual possibilities. In addition to studying the vast range of literature written in English, from the 8th century AD until the present day, students have the opportunity to explore theory, film, graphic novels, video games, digital humanities, and popular culture, and to develop their skills as critical and creative writers. These skills are not limited in application merely to the study of literature. They are central to any career or subsequent degree that demands the ability to think, argue, write, and speak about complicated issues.

Jeff Metcalf teachingA degree in English prepares you for no particular job, because it prepares you for any job. Instead of being given problems to solve, English majors discover them; instead of memorizing narratives, they challenge them; subtle interpreters of meaning, they learn how to make it themselves. They emerge with a highly adaptable creative intelligence, capable of analyzing complex systems and exploiting nuance in a world that is seldom black and white. They become lawyers, doctors, politicians, activists, artists, educators, scholars, journalists, advertisers, entrepreneurs, and CEOs - producers of culture rather than consumers of it. On average, English majors score near the top on graduate entrance exams, and are frequently admitted to the nation’s best law schools, medical schools, and business schools. English produces not just attractive employees, but smarter, more self-aware people, who can master new fields quickly and move between them successfully. The ultimate cognitive performance supplement, English takes whatever you want to do - from public relations to publishing, from government to investment banking to health care - and simply makes you better at it.

This kind of versatility is especially valuable in today’s economy, in which those with the most successful careers often switch not only jobs but entire fields. All English courses are designed to foster analytical agility: students read compelling, intricately-constructed works of literature and are then made to pull them apart, turn them inside out, and understand how they work by putting them back together again. At the core of the English major lies the conviction that such exercises in rigorous and imaginative thinking, pursued under the guidance of dedicated teachers and scholars in small classes - in particular, the Introductory and Advanced Seminars which are required of all majors - constitutes the best preparation for the world that awaits students after graduation. 

Last Updated: 11/8/16