8 Top Colleges for English Majors

The most popular places to get an English degree and how much it will cost.

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Colleges with English departments certainly aren’t sparse. No matter what school you choose to attend, chances are it’ll have a solid literature department. With so many options, sorting the good from the bad can be a challenge.

If you’re thinking about majoring in English, here are eight popular colleges, along with their price tags, that will teach you everything you need to know about literature.

Yale is also home to the Yale Review, the nation’s oldest literary magazine.

8. Johns Hopkins: $43,930

Though Johns Hopkins is known primarily for its medical research, the university also has an excellent English department. The college offers majors in both English and writing, with undergraduate writing seminars ranked number 2 in the nation, placing them above many Ivy League writing programs.

Johns Hopkins’ dedication to research also extends to the English department. Faculty are expected to spend equal time researching and teaching – and the same goes for students.

7. Indiana University, Bloomington: $10,033 (Indiana residents), $31,483 (non-residents)

English majors at Indiana University have the good fortune of sharing a home with the Indiana Review. Founded in 1976, the student-run Review has won multiple awards, including the 1996 American Literary Magazine award.

New to the university in 2007, students can now major in either English or creative writing. A concentration in public and professional writing is also available. With a student-faculty ratio of 19 to 1, English majors are guaranteed to receive one-on-one attention from professors.

6. Boston University: $42,400

The English department at Boston University is a more selective program. The major currently has only 400 undergraduate and 60 graduate students, meaning it’s a little tougher to get accepted. But the English department isn’t just for English majors – creative writing, playwriting, and literature and visual arts are also included in the department.

BU encourages its English students to branch out, whether it be on campus or abroad. The university has programs in London for those who want to specialize in British Literature, and offers interdisciplinary majors.

5. Brown University: $41,328

One of the largest undergraduate degrees at Brown is a BA in English. But an English concentration at Brown is a little different than other schools. The department offers majors in comparative literature, literary arts, and nonfiction writing. Brown is also ranked third in the country when it comes to Fulbright Scholars, all of whom go on to teach English throughout the world.

Recently, the English department added senior seminars to the major. Now, students can take a capstone class that uses all the analytical skills they’ve gained. But Brown isn’t all about serious studying, according to one source, it has the happiest student body in America.

4. University of California, Irvine: $13,970 (out of state residents add $22,878)

UC Irvine might seem like a huge state school at first glance. The English department, however, is an exception. It’s one of the most difficult and competitive undergraduate programs – and the creative writing department is considered one of the nation’s top 10. Incoming freshmen might find it tough to gain admittance to this tiny department in a big school.

Although the English department is relatively new at UC Irvine, it offers a mix of majors and concentrations. From comparative literature to academic English, students can study everything from grammar to poetry writing. UC Irvine also offers a graduate program, which is even more selective than the undergrad one.

3. Columbia University: $45,028

Majoring in English at Columbia is somewhat common – it’s the second most popular major on campus. Students have the chance to get involved with a lot of publications, both in the department and outside of it. From the literary magazine Blue and White to the satirical Jester of Columbia, there are a lot of creative options. After all, Columbia has produced exceptional English graduates like Jack Kerouac.

Columbia isn’t just home to a strong English department. It also administers the Pulitzer Prizes each year and is home to the Columbia Journal of Literary Criticism. English majors will certainly be in good company on campus.

2. Kenyon College: $54,760

Kenyon College is the smallest school on the list – but it boasts one of the most impressive English departments. As the largest department on campus, the English program offers degrees in both English literature and creative writing.

Perhaps most impressively, Kenyon has the Kenyon Review. As one of the top literary magazines, the Kenyon Review has won more O. Henry Short Story Awards than any other literary compilation. English majors at Kenyon get to work for the Review through departmental internships, giving students an inside look at the publication process.

1. Yale University: $58,600

Yale is certainly among the top colleges in the U.S., and it also has one of the best English departments. Out of Yale’s 75 majors and concentrations, English is the fifth most popular major. The program covers an impressively broad spectrum of literary history, stretching from Beowulf to present-day novels.

Yale is also home to the Yale Review, the nation’s oldest literary magazine. Published four times a year, the Yale Review gives students experience in editing and reading as they sift through submissions on behalf of the review board. Additionally, Yale’s English majors have one of the highest success rates. Both current students and graduates are published much more often than graduates of any other English department.

Quick Facts

  • Some colleges require English major applicants to submit a portfolio for consideration along with their application. Even if you’re not a creative writer, pick a few academic essays that show your style.
  • Think an English degree won’t get you a job? Many graduates go on to careers in law, education, or even politics.
  • Many colleges have their own literary journals. These are an excellent place to submit your literary criticism or essays – you’ll not only get published, but some colleges offer scholarships for accepted submissions.

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