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What can you do with an English major?

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English majors are writers (Stephen King), astronauts (Sally Ride), actors (Vin Diesel, Renee Zellweger), Supreme Court Justices (Clarence Thomas, John Paul Stevens),  journalists (Bob Woodward, Diane Sawyer), musicians (Sting), CEO’s (Michael Eisner, former CEO of Disney, Steve Adams), military leaders (Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), and scientists (Harold Varmus, director of the National Cancer Institute, Nobel laureate and former director of the National Institutes of Health). A recent article from Business Insider profiles sixteen well-known people in diverse fields who majored in English.

USI’s Career Center has prepared a comprehensive list of careers for English majors. English graduates go into advertising, business, communications, education, information science, media, public service, publishing, sales, and writing. A recent article in Perpsectives, from the University of Washington, discusses the ways an English degree prepares graduates for success in many fields, many of them not so obvious ones. We live in an age of constant communication: electronic, written, spoken, and personal. Success in today’s world depends on a person’s ability to understand and use language. This is precisely what an English major trains students to do.

English graduates also pursue graduate study in English, education, political science, law, government, library and information science, public administration, psychology, counseling, communications, business, and religious studies. According to Educational Testing Service, English Language and Literature Majors have the second highest mean scores on the GRE in Verbal Reasoning and Analytic Writing out of forty-four majors (Philosophy has the highest score in both categories). According to the American Bar Association, English is one of the traditional majors for preparing students for the study of law. Practicing attorneys and law school deans often cite the study of writing and literature as good preparation for the critical thinking and textual analysis required for the study of law.

An English major prepares students for graduate study in medical fields as well. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, students majoring in Humanities, such as English, score above the mean on all three parts of the MCAT exam, and score higher than any other majors on the Verbal Reasoning section of the exam.

Additional Resources
“My View: What will you do with an English degree? Plenty,” by Michael Berube, President of the MLA

Career Advice from Monster.com

Guide to College Majors in English

Ten Most Popular Careers for English Majors

Famous English Majors