When a student is choosing a program in literature, he or she needs to compare the major electives of the prospective schools. At the undergraduate level, the degree conferred will be a Bachelor’s of Arts in English; the degree will not likely identify the concentration, but an academic transcript will certainly identify the area of concentration. Undergraduate programs in literature will maintain similar major requirements regardless of the school, but the major electives can differ drastically; these are what should be considered when choosing a school.
Since undergraduate programs in literature generally share similar major requirements, the major electives are strong indicators of the foundation of the program. For example, a program that emphasizes diversity may have a larger course offering in multicultural literature, gender and feminine issues, or specialized world literature. A concentration is simply a collection of courses that are similar in content and can be drawn from the major courses. Students may use their personal interests to guide their concentration choices, so the major electives should factor heavily in the final decision of what school to attend.
A minor in literature can be richly rewarding for students who major in other disciplines outside of English. Students who choose to do this gain critical reading skills and improve their writing skills; naturally, this is looked favorably upon for any major! Though undergraduate programs in literature offer this minor, students who choose not to major in English must understand that this minor is used to complement their current major. This track is best sought by students who intend to use their literary skills to enhance their writing abilities in their own majors, but will not necessarily pursue a career directly related to literature.
Some undergraduate programs in literature also work in conjunction with the school of education in their university to assist English majors in gaining teaching certificates. Any student interested in teaching secondary education must first obtain a teaching certificate and follow the guidelines to receive a state license. Though none of this is required, it is a useful credential to hold. In addition, students can pursue a certificate to Teach English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL); though this requires a Bachelor’s degree, the degree does not have to be in English.