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Major Checklist

Declaring the English Major:

Checklist and Calendar

If you're considering majoring or minoring in English, we invite you to consult the following advice about what courses to take first. The rest is easy. Just follow the steps below.

  • FIRST: See your College academic advisor to create an official worksheet on Penn in Touch.


  • SECOND: Make an appointment with the Undergraduate Chair (Josephine Park) or Associate Undergraduate Chair (Deborah Burnham) by calling Loretta Williams at 898-7343, or by stopping by her office at 127 Fisher-Bennett Hall. We'll be happy to talk with you about the major, though you should also talk to the professors teaching your current English courses!


  • THIRD: If you decide to declare the major, you will need to choose from among the Standard Curriculum and the versions of the English major that emphasize Creative Writing and Cinema Studies. At the meeting we'll also help you choose a Faculty Advisor. (Remember that you can always change your advisor or your emphasis later if you wish.)


  • Once You've Declared: Begin by taking core surveys (English 017-096) that will fulfill your core requirements and provide you with a broad foundation for creative writing courses (English 110-199) and advanced literature seminars (English 218-399). Most majors find it makes most sense to begin with courses in early (Medieval or Renaissance) literatures and move forward; some, however, like to begin at the present and move back from there.


  • A Semester or Two Later: Majors adopting the Standard Curriculum should decide whether they wish to declare a Concentration. All majors should think about whether they will be applying to the Honors Program or for an Undergraduate Research Grant.


  • FINALLY: Early in the senior year, meet with your Faculty Advisor to make sure you have fulfilled all the requirements of the major.

In addition, English majors should strive to do most (if not all) of the following:

  • Spend the Fall semester studying in London through the Penn English Program in London.
  • Take courses in literary theory, cinema studies, and in African-American, Asian-American, Latina/o, and colonial literatures.
  • Take a couple of non-English department courses to be counted toward the English major. Courses in Linguistics and in Foreign Literatures not in English always count; in the case of Foreign Literatures, however, your courses must be 5th-semester proficiency or higher. Otherwise, check with your Faculty Advisor.
  • Apply for Fellowships and Grants through the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, which also administers the Benjamin Franklin Scholars and University Scholars Programs.