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English Literature

College Magazine ranks Purdue’s English Department #1 in the United States, and it’s easy to see why. Our degree programs offer individualized attention and access to excellent teachers and experts who shape how people think about literature, linguistics, and writing.

While pursuing a BA in English, students may select from three distinct concentrations: English Literature, English Education and English Language in a Global Context. In all three, students have access to unique learning communities, internships, scholarships, study abroad opportunities and more, providing them with the foundations for collegiate success, and beyond.

The English Literature student is a reader. In this concentration, students read authors who have shaped the English-speaking globe and practice the skills necessary to negotiate a complex world.

By reading and writing about literature, you learn the kind of adaptive thinking, empathy, and creativity that the job market demands and that global citizenship requires. The study of English also promotes ethical thinking, curiosity about other times and places, and the ability to imagine alternatives to the status quo. Ultimately, reading and writing are forms of considerable power. As the British Romantic poet Percy Shelley put it, “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the World.” As an English Literature student, you learn how to exert your power responsibly in whatever world you find yourself.

A flexible and versatile program, English Literature also lets students take electives in Creative Writing and Professional WritingEnglish Language in a Global Context, and English Education.


All Purdue University College of Liberal Arts majors prepare students with skills contributing to professional and managerial success: communicating and listening well, understanding and appreciating of diverse points of view, creative thinking and problem solving, collaborating with others, synthesizing complex ideas and expressing them clearly, and a Boilermaker work ethic.

Within the field of English, students develop skills that are applicable to many different careers. These may include, but are not limited to:

  • Exceptional writing for multiple audiences, and in multiple styles (stories, poems, reviews, reports, memos, essays, and critical analyses)
  • Deep reading (how to read patiently, with empathy and insight; how to recognize patterns in texts; and how to express your observations about them effectively)
  • Creative and literary thinking (metaphorical and other non-literal reasoning; historical and global awareness; connecting the dots and telling stories with data)
  • Analytical and research skills (how to take texts and ideas apart for a greater understanding of the whole; how to find, compile, and synthesize important information)
  • Cutting-edge presentation skills (how to produce, read, and understand images and digital texts; how to present your ideas in the most effective manner)