The English Studies major is based on a broad model of interdisciplinary study in the fields that make up English Studies. The Department of English offers a full curriculum of courses in eight disciplines, including literature and cultural studies, children's literature, linguistics, rhetoric and composition, technical communications, creative writing, the Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), and Publishing.

Students learn how to write well, read critically, develop investigative research skills, working hands-on in digital environments and social networking, and frequently win some of the most prestigious awards at Illinois State, such as the Bone Scholarship. Faculty are eager to work with undergraduate students on research projects, and our low student-to-faculty ratio means you will receive guidance from professors who hold the highest doctoral degrees and are internationally recognized as experts in their fields.

This flexibility in the degree allows both the student with interests in a variety of different fields in English Studies and the student who wants to specialize in a particular discipline to meet their goals.

Why Study English?

Students studying English form, evaluate and master the language. They critique and create art forms such as poetry, drama and the novel.

Our career placement is excellent, and our alumni have also been very competitive as they have applied, and been accepted to, graduate programs in a number of fields, including those that further education in our disciplines as well as library and information science, education, law, criminal justice, and even business entrepreneurship and STEM professions. Graduates also teach English abroad, join philanthropic organizations working across the globe, and continue to use their writing and language skills to make the world a better place.

As confirmed by recent articles in Business Insider, Forbes, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, and CNN Money, English majors have always been, and will always be, a "hot" hire.

Related Majors


Related Skills

  • Accuracy, coherency and clarity in speech and writing
  • Ability to simplify and understand jargon
  • Problem solving
  • Creativity
  • Honesty and integrity
  • Strong work ethic
  • Teamwork skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Good computer skills
  • Detail oriented
  • Developing hypothesis
  • Good presenter
  • Think independently

Being Successful in the Field

  • A bachelor's degree in English is sufficient for many entry-level positions in business and industry.
  • A graduate degree is required for teaching at the college or university level.
  • Develop a specialty area of interest via additional coursework and/or work experience for greater marketability within that specific career field.
  • Save samples of written work to be used for a portfolio.
  • Be prepared to be proactive, determined, assertive, and confident in order to secure freelance writing opportunities. Writers typically experience many rejections for each piece that is accepted for publication.
  • Obtain additional areas of expertise such as journalism, broadcasting, technical writing, or politics for specialized positions.
  • Conduct informational interviews or shadow professionals in careers of interest to learn more about their jobs.

Related Fields


  • Creative writing: Books, poetry, plays, screenplays, scripts, greeting cards, lyrics/jingle writing.
  • Journalism: Writing/reporting, editing
  • Technical writing: Science and medical writing
  • Freelance writing


  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Broadcast media companies including television, radio, and the movie industry
  • Trade, professional, or consumer publications
  • Internet sites
  • Large corporations
  • Government agencies including Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, Department of State, Veterans Affairs, National Archives and Records Administration
  • Universities and university presses
  • Technical industries
  • Self-employed/freelance


  • Select elective coursework in a particular area of interest.
  • Write for campus publications such as college newspapers, magazines, or departmental/program newsletters.
  • Volunteer to assist or tutor students in a writing center.
  • For technical writing positions obtain a concentration in technical writing.
  • Become familiar with the proposal writing and submission process involved in freelance writing.
  • Gain as much experience as possible through volunteer positions, internships, or part-time jobs.

Master's degree

  • Librarian
  • Higher education administration: writing center director, student affairs, admissions and enrollment management, alumni services, international affairs, institutional research and planning.

Doctoral degree

  • University professor

Professional schools

  • Lawyer

Career Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Laurenn York  110 Student Services Building  ldjarem@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-0735 

Internship Coordinator

Name Office Email Phone
Jim Kalmbach  421H Stevenson Hall  kalmbach@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-7648 

New Freshmen

Applying to Illinois State

Illinois State's preferred filing period for freshman students for the fall semester is September 1-November 15. Applying early is encouraged, as the University must limit enrollment due to space at the University and in specific majors/programs. Visit the Office of Admissions to apply today!

Plans of Study and Progress Tracking

New Transfer

Applying to Illinois State

Illinois State's preferred filing period for fall transfer students is September 1-January 15. For the spring semester, the preferred filing period is from April 1-August 1. You are encouraged to apply early in the preferred filing period for best consideration for admission into competitive majors. Visit the Office of Admissions to apply today!

Minimum GPA

2.50-3.29 with required coursework listed below or 3.3 with no coursework required

Middle 50% GPA

2.88 - 3.60

Required Courses

Students with a GPA between 2.5-3.29 are required to complete the following courses with a grade of B or better:

  • Introductory-level composition (ENG 101) or Introductory-level speech (COM 110) and
  • At least one of the following:
    • English literature (110)
    • American literature (ENG 130)
    • Children's literature (ENG 170)
    • Introduction to creative writing (ENG 227)
    • Major elective

Recommended Courses

  • Foreign language equivalent to Illinois State’s 115 level
  • American, British, and non-western literature courses

Plans of Study and Progress Tracking

Academic Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Mark Vegter  Stevenson Hall 414J  mavegte@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-5783 

Illinois State Students

Middle 50% GPA

2.88 - 3.60

Plans of Study and Progress Tracking

Application Period

Applications are always accepted, but reviewed during September and February.

Major Requirements

Admission is based on GPA, performance in English courses at the time of application, and a well-written, persuasive personal statement.

Academic Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Mark Vegter  Stevenson Hall 414J  mavegte@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-5783