Most universities’ English or literature programs are quite similar in their major requirements for students pursuing an undergraduate degree in literature. Choosing a literature program requires a student to research English electives because these are the courses that make the foundation of the program. Some English departments offer a strong writing curriculum while others may present a diverse range of course offerings in a specific genre, such as British literature. The course offerings are contingent upon the expertise of the faculty and their teaching availabilities. Awarded degrees from an English program will indicate a Bachelor’s of Arts in English, but a student’s concentration will be evident in the academic transcript.
A concentration is a similar group of courses that focus on a specific subject area within the major. For example, all students seeking an undergraduate degree in literature will need to take a required number of American literature courses; a student who chooses a section of American literature as a concentration will take additional courses in this area beyond the minimum requirements. A concentration should represent a student’s area of interest. When a student is choosing a university, he or she should closely evaluate a program’s major elective offerings and the credentials of the professors who teach them.
Some students may minor in literature rather than choose it as a major. A minor in literature differs greatly from a major because a student must first declare a major outside of English. A minor does not offer the same benefits as an undergraduate degree in literature; however, it greatly complements any major. An English minor can improve his or her abilities in writing, reading, and critical evaluation and these skills are highly regarded in most fields! Generally, students who minor in English or literature do not seek positions that require an undergraduate degree in literature, but they become prolific writers in their own areas of expertise.
After students receive a Bachelor’s in English, they can gain additional credentials by enrolling in a program that awards a Teaching Certificate. This is required to teach secondary education; while it is not mandatory unless a student would like to teach, it is an additional enhancement to undergraduate programs in literature. Another common certificate is the Certificate to Teach English to Speakers of Other Languages. A student seeking this must have a Bachelor’s Degree, but the degree can be in a discipline other than English. Like a Teaching Certificate, the ability to teach to non-native English speakers is another practical credentialing to have!