English Department: Academic Resources

  • Internships -- Learn more about using an internship to earn course credit and gain valuable professional experience.

  • Portfolio Review -- All graduating English majors must take English 4600: Portfolio Review in their final semester of undergraduate study.

  • Departmental Honors -- See how you can earn this distinguished accomplishment.

  • Student Clubs and Organizations -- Get the most out of your Webster experience by getting involved!

  • Getting to Graduation -- Make sure you're ready to wrap up your English career when the time comes.

  • Beyond the English Major: Career Resources -- If you major in English, sooner or later someone will ask, "What can you do with that after you graduate?" Here's how you can respond.

Internships

An internship is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to be more employable after graduation as well as anyone who simply wants the chance to try out classroom concepts and skills in the "real world." If you are interested in a particular area of professional writing (e.g., writing for nonprofits, grantwriting, editing), an internship can be the perfect way to find out more about it. Even an internship in a field you don't plan to pursue can provide you with valuable experiences and skills that you can apply in other professions. For some employers, the simple fact that you have successfully obtained an internship position and worked in a professional environment will make you stand out from other entry-level candidates. Internships can also provide you with important opportunities to make professional contacts that can help you in your job search and career.

While it is never too early to start thinking about and planning an internship, it's most likely that you are ready if you answer "yes" to the questions below:

  • Are you a junior or a senior?
  • Are you confident in your basic writing and communication skills?
  • Are you ready to represent Webster University in the larger community?
  • Do you have some idea of what you want to learn or what skills you want to develop or apply in an internship?

You can earn course credit by enrolling in Writing 3000: Professional Writing Practicum during the semester in which you complete your internship.
  • You can earn 1 credit for every 60 hours worked (roughly 4 hours per week in a 15-week semester).
  • You need to turn in a Learning Agreement to the faculty advisor as soon as your internship is established. Then, make sure to submit a list of learning objectives (developed with your internship mentor) during the first two weeks of your internship.
  • You need to keep track of your activities and reflect upon how you are achieving your learning objectives throughout the internship (by keeping a journal, for example).
  • At the end of the internship, you need to turn in a final project (often consisting of a portfolio and statement of learning) that demonstrates that you have achieved your learning objectives.
  • The course is typically graded pass/fail

Portfolio Review

If you began the English major in Fall 2005 or later, you must submit a portfolio in order to graduate. If you entered prior to 2005, you may opt to submit a portfolio rather than an overview. 

You should take English 4600: Portfolio Review (0 credit hours) in your final semester of undergraduate study. You must pass English 4600: Portfolio Review in order to graduate. Please submit your portfolio to your faculty advisor by April 1 if you are graduating in May, by November 1 if graduating in December, and by July 15 if graduating in August. 

ENGL 4600 is graded on a pass/fail basis. In order to pass, you must turn in all the required materials (listed below) on time. Putting together the portfolio will allow you the opportunity to reflect on what you have learned and how you have grown as an English major, and the department will use the information you provide as part of our annual assessment of the quality and success of our programs. Portfolios will be retained by the department.

The portfolio will include:

1. Photocopies of three original, graded formal writing assignments from at least two different ENGL courses at the 2000 level or above. Each portfolio submission should be a copy of an original assignment bearing the professor's comments and grade. If ungraded, the work must be initialed by the genre advisor. Material in the portfolio should reflect your highest achievements as an English major.

a. Emphasis in Creative Writing. Submit two samples of creative writing presented and discussed in a creative writing course and one analytic essay from a literature course. 
b. Emphasis in Literature, Society, and Politics. Submit three analytic essays from literature courses, totaling 15 pages or more. 
c. Emphasis in Drama. Submit EITHER three analytic essays from literature courses, totaling 15 pages or more, OR one sample of creative dramatic writing presented and discussed in a creative writing course and two analytic essays from literature courses.

2. A list of courses taken for the major. 

3. A personal reading list from the college years. The list should include at least fifty titles, and may include class texts. Please organize the list in a thoughtful way, such as by genre or theme. 

4. A reflective statement of approximately 500 words in which you evaluate your development during your years as an English major. You might answer the question, “How have my knowledge/understanding and writing abilities changed since I started the English major?” The statement might include discussion of one or more experiences involving reading, writing, or creativity that had a significant effect on your understanding of your purpose as an English major. It may be helpful to consult the department's learning outcomes for English majors (see reverse) as you write your reflective statement. You may also wish to comment on the organization of your reading list or the reasons why you selected the books you did. 

Updated August 2009

Departmental Honors

With the English Department's approval, an English major may earn recognition as an outstanding student in the English Department by completing the additional requirements below:

1. Complete at least 45 credit hours in residence at Webster University. 

2. Maintain a G.P.A. of 3.5 in English coursework completed at Webster University. 

3. Complete at least 15 credit hours in English courses offered at the 3000 and 4000 levels. 

4. Complete at least two semesters of a foreign language with a grade of B or higher in each semester, or test out of that requirement. 

5. Further explore cultures other than British or U.S. in one of four ways: complete a third semester of foreign language; complete an approved course in literature in translation; complete an approved course in world literature; or participate in study abroad.

6. Through consultation with an English department advisor, secure the approval of the Department to proceed with the Honors Thesis. [Note: The advisor may recommend another faculty member in the department as the thesis advisor in order to match faculty expertise with the topic of the thesis.]

7. Complete ENGL 4900 Senior Honors Thesis by writing a thesis that meets departmental standards for exceptional work. Students who complete ENGL 4900 will earn 1 credit hour, for a total of 43 credit hours. [Note: Even theses that do not meet standards for exceptional work and thus do not earn honors will earn 1 credit hour, if completed.]

a. Creative writing emphasis: original creative work by the student. 
b. Literature, society, and politics emphasis: an original scholarly essay. 
c. Drama: an original scholarly essay on dramatic literature or an original play.

[Note: Honors Theses are due no later than the Monday following semester break in the final semester of study. This due date is not flexible due the need to submit the names of honors students to Academic Affairs for the graduation program. Students should meet with their advisors well before the final semester to propose topics and find thesis advisors. They should leave time to turn in multiple drafts to thesis advisors before the due date.]

Student Clubs & Organizations

It's common knowledge that extracurricular activities look good on a resume; what you may not know is that they can help you have a more successful college experience overall. Some of the opportunities students have to get involved in the English Department at Webster include:

  • The Green FuseWebster University's student literary magazine. Each year, student editors select the best poetry, fiction, drama, nonfiction, and translations submitted by Webster University students in St. Louis and around the world. Submissions open in November and close in February. See The Green Fuse Facebook page for more details on this year's deadlines. See samples of past editions here.

    FB The Green Fuse on Facebook

  • The Webster Mercury, the English Department's annual publication of excellent student essays from literature and composition classes (selections chosen by faculty). See past editions of The Webster Mercury here.

  • Surfacing Theatre Community, Webster's primary performance, playwriting, and directing organization. Students have the opportunity to write, direct, tech, or perform in our annual Fall Musical Revue, Spring One-Act Festival, Monologue Festivals, and much more!

    FB Surfacing Theatre Community on Facebook

  • The Literature Club: Our mission is to encourage and engage with the art of the written word both amongst ourselves and within the greater community. We are open to anyone and everyone who shares a love for literature and wishes to join in the promotion of reading and writing. For more information, contact the club's president or Karen Miller.

    FB 
    The Literature Club on Facebook

    Explore the full range of ways to get involved at Webster by visiting http://www.webster.edu/campus-life/clubs.html

Getting to Graduation: A Checklist for Graduating Seniors

1. Even before the semester that you plan to graduate, it's a good idea to check the graduation date on your degree audit. If it's not correct, call the registrar's office at 314-968-7450 to have it changed.

2. Make sure you're enrolled in ENGL 4600 Portfolio Review (0 credit hours) in your final semester.

3. Turn in a petition to graduate to the department chair, who will send it on to the registrar's office or (in the case of double majors) to the next chair who needs to sign it. Petitions are due ten weeks before the semester graduation date, which should be listed on the academic calendar. (Note: Even though Webster has only one graduation ceremony in May, there is a graduation date for each semester: fall, spring, and summer.)

If you do not receive a petition in the mail, stop by the registrar's office or download one.

4. If you are pursuing departmental honors, turn in the FINAL draft of your thesis by the Monday after the semester break. Please see the departmental honors handout for more details.

5. Turn in your portfolio to your advisor by April 1 if you are graduating in May, by November 1 if graduating in December, and by July 15 if graduating in August.

6. Go over your degree audit with your advisor to make sure everything is in order.

7. Find out the details of the May graduation ceremony at http://www.webster.edu/commencement/. Please note that Webster holds ONE graduation ceremony at the end of each academic year in May.

8. Finish and turn in all the work for all your courses.

Note: The graduation candidacy fee is automatically billed after you've completed 110 hours. You should pay the fee as soon as possible or your diploma and transcript will be held.

Beyond the English Major: Career Resources

It's inevitable. If you major in English, sooner or later someone will ask, "What can you do with that after you graduate?" If you are considering a major in English, you may have the same question yourself.

The short answer is "Almost anything."

English majors can be found working in almost every area within corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.English degrees are also excellent preparation for a variety of graduate and professional programs. Webster English graduates have gone on to programs in fields including creative writing, literature, and law.

CAREERS FOR ENGLISH MAJORS

It's true that some majors prepare students for specific professional fields, such as accounting or engineering. However, English, like other liberal arts majors, does not lead to one obvious career path. Instead, English majors have a tremendous degree of freedom to choose among a variety of career opportunities.

While it takes a certain amount of imagination and hard work to unearth and pursue those opportunities, fortunately, a degree in English will provide you with exactly the skills you need to 1) find career opportunities that match your interests and 2) make the case that your background (including not just your coursework but jobs, internships, and/or volunteer experience) fits the job for which you are applying. You will learn how to conduct research, how to communicate effectively in person and in writing, and how to analyze information and solve problems. Even better, your skills will equip you to learn on the job and to adapt to the demands of new career paths, some of which may not even exist today.

With that said, there are a number of jobs which seem to be a natural fit for graduates with English degrees, including teaching, advertising, marketing, and editing. 

A few other considerations to keep in mind if you would love to major in English but worry that it isn't "practical":

  • If English is where your passion lies, an English major will allow you to do your best work, which will be reflected in your GPA.
  • Majoring in something which seems more practical, but which you do not enjoy, will only prepare you for a job which you are unlikely to enjoy.
  • Most people find themselves in professions that have little direct relationship to their college majors. Choosing a major that you enjoy and that emphasizes critical thinking and communication skills is, arguably, the best way to prepare for the range of opportunities that most people find facing them after graduation.
  • There are a few simple measures you can take, such as performing an internship and/or pursuing a relevant minor or certificate (photography and web page design, for example, are often useful complements to an English degree), which can dramatically improve your chances of finding a job after graduation.

PURSUING YOUR CAREER

  • Know your strengths in terms of skills, interests, values, personality, etc.
  • Research a career field or graduate schools, gathering as much information as possible.
  • Talk to people in your field of interest, network, and conduct informational interviews.
  • Obtain an internship or volunteer position.
  • Contact the Career Planning and Development Center for assistance with your job search.
  • Write a clear and effective resume.
  • Practice your interviewing techniques.
  • Be persistent!

CAREER-RELATED LINKS

Don't take our word for it! Click on the following links to find useful information on the value of an English degree in today's job market.

CAREER-RELATED BOOKS

  • Careers for Writers & Others Who Have a Way with Words, 2nd ed. by Robert W. Bly. McGraw-Hill, 2003.
  • Great Jobs for English Majors, 3rd ed. (Great Jobs Series), by Julie DeGalan and Stephen Lambert. McGraw-Hill, 2006.
  • Jobs for English Majors and Other Smart People by John L Munschauer. Peterson's Guides, 1986.
  • What Can You Do with a Major in English: Real People. Real Jobs. Real Rewards (What Can You Do with a Major in...) by Shelley O'Hara. Cliffs Notes, 2005.