Why Major in English?

Majoring in English provides you with skills coveted by today’s employers. Period.

Well-read, articulate liberal arts college graduates who can read with a critical eye, write well, analyze, critique . . . in short, think in sophisticated ways and communicate effectively—all employers know that’s what they get when they hire an English major. Indeed, according to the MLA publication “English: The Preprofessional Major,” in the areas of legal, medical, industrial, and government jobs, “English majors have a distinct edge over graduates with other preparations.”

So whether you want to write for a living, teach, go to law school, work at a publishing company, or you just know that you love to read and/or write, pursuing your bachelor’s degree in English at Mars Hill University is likely to open more doors than common perception might lead you to believe. Participating in organizations like Sigma Tau Delta (the International English Honors Society), and combining the study of literature that you love with a well-chosen minor or double major (at 128 hours, English works well with many majors and minors), an internship, on-campus work, or volunteer work, will assure that following your passion will also lead to a satisfying career. MHU English majors have gone on to graduate school, and/or successful careers as lawyers; doctors; teachers; technical, grant, and creative writers; librarians; and business professionals (http://www.mhu.edu/english/alumni ).

But don’t take our word for it:

To be or not to be ... an English major
English majors, like many of their liberal arts counterparts, have hundreds of career opportunities to choose from. The versatility of the degree, in fact, is what makes the post-graduation job hunt so hard.

Traditional fields of work include writing and editing for newspapers and publishing firms, public relations and broadcasting, where many end up producing and writing scripts or on the airwaves themselves. Assuming they've earned their state certifications and completed an approved education program, English grads with a bachelor's degree also can teach on the elementary and secondary school levels. Anything higher, including academic and research posts at colleges and universities, generally requires a higher degree.

Many, too, use the major as a proving ground of sorts for law school, which requires strong writing and analytical skills. And still others simply defect from the field altogether once they toss their cap and gown, lured away by higher paying posts in the insurance, real estate and securities industries. But increasingly, insiders say, one of the fastest growing career choices for English majors is broadly defined as "business." The verbal and written communication skills that English majors possess remain in top demand at nearly every company in America. Specific jobs can include contract and grant writing or editing, sales and marketing, technical writing for high-tech industries, management training and administrative tasks such as record keeping and office management.

excerpted from “Working your Degree,” on CNN.com

Famous English majors:

Douglas Adams (author—Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
Russell Baker (journalist)
Dave Barry (humorist, writer, actor)
Joy Behar (writer, comedienne, co-host of “The View”)
Carol Browner (former head of the Environmental Protection Agency)
Edward Burns (actor, director, producer, writer)
James Cameron (director, editor, producer, screenwriter—Titanic, Avatar)
Johnny Carson (talk show host)
Chevy Chase (comedian, actor, writer)
Mario Cuomo (former governor of New York)
Matt Damon (actor, screenwriter)
Vin Diesel (actor, director, producer, screenwriter)
Michael Eisner (former Walt Disney CEO)
Harrison Ford (actor)
Jodie Foster (actor, filmmaker)
Kathryn Fuller (former World Wildlife Fund-U.S. CEO and President)
A. Bartlett Giamatti (President, Yale University, and Commissioner of Baseball)
Cathy Guisewite (cartoonist—”Cathy”)
Mary Hart (former co-host of “Entertainment Tonight”)
Don Henley (singer, songwriter, musician, environmental activist)
David Henry Hwang (playwright—M. Butterfly)
Chris Isaak (songwriter, singer)
Ken Jennings (software developer and million-dollar winner on “Jeopardy”)
Garrison Keillor (humorist, author, host of NPR’s “A Prairie Home Companion”)
Stephen King (writer, novelist)
Kris Kristofferson (singer, songwriter, musician, actor)
Tommy Lee Jones (actor)
Toni Morrison (Nobel & Pulitzer prize-winning novelist—Beloved)
Paul Newman (actor, activist, food entrepreneur/ philanthropist)
Conan O’Brien (talk show host, writer)
Randy Owen (singer, songwriter, musician)
Joe Paterno (football coach, Penn State)
Christopher Reeve (writer, director, actor—Superman)
Sally Ride (astronaut)
Joan Rivers (comedienne)
Richard Rodriquez (journalist, TV commentator)
Geoffrey Rush (actor, director, playwright, musician—Lionel Logue in The King’s Speech)
Susan Sarandon (actor—Thelma and Louise, Dead Man Walking)
Diane Sawyer (anchor of ABC World News Tonight)
Martin Scorsese (director—Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Gangs of New York)
Marty Schottenheimer (former NFL coach)
Paul Simon (songwriter, singer)
Sting (singer, songwriter, musician, actor, environmental activist)
Steven Spielberg (filmmaker)
Dr. Seuss, a.k.a. Theodor Geisel (children’s author)
Amy Tan (writer—Joy Luck Club)
Brandon Tartikoff (television executive)
Clarence Thomas (U.S. Supreme Court Justice)
Emma Thompson (actor, producer, screenwriter–Sense and Sensibility)
Grant Tinker (TV executive and producer)
James Van Der Beek (actor—“Dawson’s Creek”)
Harold Varmus (Nobel Laureate in medicine, Director of National Institute of Health)
Barbara Walters (broadcast journalist)
Sigourney Weaver (actor—Alien saga)
Pete Wilson (former governor of California)
Reese Witherspoon (actor)
Bob Woodward (journalist, writer—All the President’s Men)
(credit to the English departments of Mississippi State University,
University of Arkansas-Little Rock, and Washington State University)