The Beauty and the Power of the Written Word

Webster University’s English department puts you in conversation with the best things human beings have ever said. Through deep engagement with literature — canonical, contemporary, multiethnic, global — our students find their own voices and learn how language can change the world. Whether you take one English class or pursue a major, you'll join a close-knit group of readers and writers who appreciate the power and beauty of literature.

Through your coursework with us, you’ll also develop vital skills — like communication, critical thinking, teamwork, empathy, analysis — that will help you advance in most any career field. Explore below to learn more about our discussion-oriented and student-focused curriculum.

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The English Department Reimagined

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Your classes and writing workshops will be small, dynamic and designed to foster discussion and interaction, and the English department's cozy Pearson House will become your home away from home. You’ll be part of a lively literary community, with opportunities like The Green Fuse, our student literary magazine; The Mercury, our yearly publication of outstanding student work; Surfacing, our annual festival where students write, direct and produce their own one-act plays; and the brand new Student Reading Series.

Undergraduate Majors and Minors

Our creative writing major offers classes in poetry, literary fiction, fantasy and science fiction, creative nonfiction, and playwriting. The curriculum includes writing workshops (limited to 15 students apiece) and literature classes that provide you with new creative influences and a variety of strategies for your own writing. Under the guidance of faculty who are published, award-winning writers, you'll widen the range of what's possible on the page.

In this major, you'll choose from courses on a range of literatures written in English, as well as literature in translation from all eras. Many of these courses will span cultures, time periods and aesthetic approaches to explore particular themes or genres, such as "The History of the Novel," "Oppression and Resistance," "Human-Animal Transformations" and "Myth and Classical Literature." You'll also have the chance to study literary criticism and theory, linguistics and film adaptations of literary texts, and to take seminars on authors like Jane Austen and Toni Morrison.

The English major with an Emphasis in Drama and Playwriting provides students with the literary and analytical skills they will need as teachers, writers, scholars and theatre professionals.
Program Accolades

Creative Writing Program Recognized

Webster University’s BA in Creative Writing has been named one of the top creative writing programs in Missouri by . Webster’s program was praised for its exploration of fiction, poetry, drama and creative nonfiction to prepare emerging writers.

Editor's Choice Best BA and BFA Degrees in Creative Writing
Indigo Thompson
St. Louis Public Schools Honor Graduate Scholarship Recipient

“With my Webster degree I plan on writing stories about the small in-between places and bringing them to light to give the world an understanding of the differences and connections between everyone.”

Indigo Thompson
Indigo Thompson

BA in Creative Writing, ’24

English Department Academic Resources

Experiential education is a hallmark of strong academic programs and a key factor in college graduates' success. In the Webster University English department, our practicum courses provide academic credit for experiential education opportunities. These can be off-campus internships or on-campus activities like editorships, research assistantships, event-planning, communications and media, promotions, recruiting and mentoring. Students can develop their own ideas for practicum courses as well. See your advisor or contact Associate Professor Murray Farish for more information about experiential education in the Webster University English department.

Graduating seniors in the English department must complete the Portfolio Review in their last semester. Here's the process:

  1. Register for ENGL 4600: Portfolio Review. This zero-credit-hour course signals your intention to graduate with a degree from the English
  2. Assemble your portfolio. For all English department students, the portfolio includes:
    • A copy of your ENGL 1900 Assessment Essay.
    • A list of courses taken for the major.
    • A personal reading list for the college years. Arrange this list in a thoughtful way that demonstrates your thinking about the relationship among these titles. The list should include at least fifty titles, and can include both course texts and books you read on your own.
    • A 500-word essay in which you reflect on your development as an English, Drama and Playwriting, or Creative Writing major. Some questions you might consider: How has your reading and writing changed over the course of your studies? What changed about your relationship to books and literary culture? What were some experiences that had a significant effect on your studies, your creativity, your ambitions, your direction moving forward? How has being a major in the English department prepared you for your future?
    • Copies of three original graded writing assignments from at least two different ENGL courses at the 2000 level or above. These copies should include the professor's comments and grade. Choose materials that reflect your highest achievement as an English department student.
      • For English majors, submit three analytic essays from literature courses, totaling at least 15 pages.
      • For English majors with an Emphasis in Drama and Playwriting, submit EITHER three analytic essays from literature courses, totaling at least 15 pages, OR one sample of original dramatic writing workshopped in a creative writing course and two analytic essays from literature courses.
      • For Creative Writing majors, submit two samples of creative writing workshopped in a creative writing course and one analytic essay from a literature course.
  1. Submit your Portfolio to your academic advisor by the due date: for May graduates, April 1; for December graduates, Nov. 1; for Aug. graduates, July 1.

Honors Thesis Pathway for Creative Writing Majors, Drama and Playwriting Majors with Creative Thesis

Late Junior Year

  1. Meet with advisor to ensure you meet/will meet all of the requirements for departmental honors:
    1. Complete at least 45 credit hours in residence at Webster University.
    2. Maintain at least a 3.5 GPA in all English department coursework.
    3. Complete at least two semesters of a foreign language with a grade of B or higher in each semester, or test out of the requirement.
    4. Further explore cultures other than British or U.S. in one of four ways:
      1. Complete a third semester of a foreign language.
      2. Complete an approved course in literature in translation.
      3. Complete an approved course in world literature.
      4. Participate in Study Abroad.
    5. Complete at least two credit hours in ENGL 4400: Advanced Creative Writing in the genre in which you’re writing your Honors Thesis, or three credit hours of ENGL 4400 overall.
    6. Complete at least one of the following:
      1. An additional Topics course (ENGL 3030, 3040, 3050).
      2. An additional ENGL course at the 3000-4000 level.
  2. Formulate a plan for your thesis, and meet with the appropriate thesis advisor to get their approval to proceed with the thesis.
  3. Deliver to the chair the Petition to Write Honors Thesis, signed by thesis advisor.

First-Semester Senior Year

Begin independent work on your thesis. You should have a complete or substantial draft ready for your advisor by the end of this semester.

Second-Semester Senior, Term 1

  1. Enroll in ENGL 4900: Thesis Workshop (1 credit hour).
  2. At the start of (or before) the semester, contact your thesis advisor to set up a schedule, and deliver your draft-in-progress.
  3. Meet regularly with thesis advisor during the term, incorporating their critiques into successive drafts of your thesis.
  4. Turn in your final Honors Thesis no later than the Monday following the term break in your final semester.

Second-Semester Senior, Term 2 (upon successfully achieving honors)

If the thesis earns departmental honors, then you will be enrolled in ENGL 4910 Honors Thesis (0 cr) and receive a grade of Pass.

Honors Thesis Pathway for English Majors, English with an Emphasis in Drama and Playwriting with Analytic Thesis

Fall semester of Junior or Senior year (recommended)

Enroll in ENGL 4500 Literary Criticism (3 credit hours).

Summer or Fall 1 of Senior year (required)

1. Meet with your academic advisor to ensure that you have met/will meet all other requirements for departmental honors:

    1. Complete at least 45 credit hours in residency at Webster University.
    2. Maintain at least a 3.5 GPA in all English department coursework.
    3. Complete at least two semesters of a foreign language with a grade of B or higher in each semester, or test out of the requirement.
    4. Further explore cultures other than British or U.S. in one of four ways: 
      1. Complete a third semester of foreign language.
      2. Complete an approved course in literature in translation.
      3. Complete an approved course in world literature.
      4. Participate in Study Abroad.
    5. Complete an additional ENGL course at the 3000-4000 level.
    6. Formulate a general area of study and approach a faculty member about serving as your thesis advisor.

Fall semester or Fall 2 of Senior year (required)

Arrange for an ENGL 4610 Independent Study (with thesis advisor), in which you complete the background research and thinking necessary to crystallize and contextualize your thesis topic (defaults to 1 credit hour, but can be adjusted if the scope of research merits).

Spring 1 of Senior year (required)

Enroll in ENGL 4900 Thesis Workshop (1 credit hour) and complete your thesis no later than the Monday following the semester break in the final semester of study.

Spring 2 of Senior year (upon successfully achieving honors)

If the thesis earns departmental honors, then you will be enrolled in ENGL 4910 Honors Thesis (0 credit hours) and receive a grade of Pass.

The Literature Club

Our mission is to 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. Join us for our regular meetings, for the Halloween Scary Story Night, the Dickens-themed Christmas Party, and our other events throughout the year.

The Webster Writers’ Coalition

The Webster Writers' Coalition is a space for anyone in the Webster community to share their creative writing. Our members will work together to read, discuss and develop each other's writing, as well as offer an encouraging environment for writers of any level. The WWC was voted “Best New Club” at Webster University for 2022!

The Student Reading Series

One evening each Fall, we pack Pearson House to celebrate the work and words of some of our outstanding student writers with readings of their fiction, poetry and nonfiction. Get there early — this event is typically standing-room-only.

The Green Fuse

Webster University's literary magazine is student-written, student-edited and student-produced. Since 1982, student editors have chosen the best fiction, poetry, drama, nonfiction and translations submitted each year by Webster students at the main campus and around the world. Our students get practicum credit for editing The Green Fuse.

The Mercury

The Mercury is the English Department's annual publication for faculty-selected papers and honors theses. Our students receive practicum credit for serving as Mercury editorial assistants.

Our Libraries

Our Clewell Poetry Library contains poetry collections and anthologies, craft books, criticism and poet biographies, and is a gift from former Webster poet David Clewell to the students of Webster University. The library is located on the second floor of Pearson House.

Our Lit-Mag Library is located on the basement level of Pearson House, and contains hundreds of issues of the finest literary journals in America, constantly updated through gifts from the Webster University English and Creative Writing faculty.

Students may borrow books from either library at any time. Take a book or a journal, read it, enjoy it, bring it back, get another one.

The English department at Webster is committed to literature as a living, growing presence in American life. Since 1986, we have hosted the Visiting Writers Series, a mainstay of the Saint Louis literary scene that is popular with students and readers throughout the community.

In 2022, we renamed the series in honor of David Clewell, founder of the Creative Writing Program at Webster University, former Missouri Poet-Laureate and longtime professor in the English Department. After a successful fund-raising campaign, we’ll be able to expand our students’ access to our visiting writers, who’ll visit classes, give readings and Q&As and meet one-on-one with selected students.

Experience some of our past visiting writers.

Webster University's English department graduates are a highly successful group. Alumni have found career success as  CEOs, business owners, attorneys, corporate officers, educators, writers, managers, government workers and executives in IT, finance, marketing and advertising, social media, nonprofits, public relations, staffing and human resources, sales, development and fundraising, and more.

English department graduates succeed because they're smart and talented, but also because Webster's degree programs prepare them for success. In our courses, students learn how the skills their developing in reading, analysis and writing translate into meaningful, profitable 21st-century careers. Our experiential learning program provides demonstrable practical experience to show prospective employers. And there's more we do to prepare you for life after graduation. All Webster University English department students have access to:

  • ENGL 2000: What Next? The English and Creative Writing Major After Graduation — In this one-credit-hour course that we highly recommend for all English department majors, we lay out practical steps to finding fulfilling and meaningful careers. Students learn to research job fields; write engaging and eye-catching cover letters and resumes; build and manage professional networks; and see the ways their English department skills translate into the modern workforce. Students also conduct informational interviews; participate in mock interviews with local professionals; and meet and hear from distinguished guest speakers.
  • Professional Writing courses like WRIT 2090: Writing in the Workplace and WRIT 3400: Editing and Style.
  • The Webster University English Department Alumni Network. Our dedicated alums will talk to you about their career experiences and provide advice about starting your job search.
  • The Webster University Career Planning and Development Center — the CPDC has extensive resources to help launch your career.

And if you're still concerned that a degree in English won't lead to a rewarding career, click on the following links:

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Our Lit-Mag Lending Library

two female students reading

Libraries Open Whole New Worlds

Located in the basement level of Pearson House, our lit-mag lending library contains hundreds of editions of some of America's finest literary magazines. Students can "check out" one magazine at a time, read and return, then get another one.

Pearson House

Pearson House

Pearson House

The Pearson House is located off of Big Bend Boulevard at the northeast corner of the Webster Groves campus.

8260 Big Bend Blvd.
Webster Groves, MO 63119


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