In June 2015 College Magazine ranked Purdue’s English Department 3rd in the U.S., and with good reason: our students get jobs—and good jobs. From 2012–14, 83% of our majors had jobs or were in graduate school within six months of graduation. By reading and writing about literature, you will learn the kind of adaptive thinking, empathy, and creativity that the current job market demands and that global citizenship requires. What is more, the study of English promotes ethical thinking, curiosity about other times and places, and the ability to imagine alternatives to the status quo

As an English major, you will read and write about authors who have shaped the consciousness of the English-speaking world over the millennia, such as Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, John Milton, Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, Zora Neale Hurston, William Faulkner, J. R. R. Tolkien, Sherman Alexie, Toni Morrison, and Salman Rushdie. By doing so, you participate in the preservation of human aesthetic achievement for future generations. Ultimately, writing well is a form of considerable power. As the British Romantic poet Percy Shelley once put it, “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the World.” As an English major, you will learn how to exert your rhetorical power responsibly in whatever world you find yourself. 

Points of Pride 

  • Individualized Attention: As an English major, you will get to know your professors and your classmates. Our classes cap at 25. Moreover, you can expect your studies to extend beyond the classroom to frequent consultations with and mentoring from professors.
  • Excellence in Teaching: Not only will you have small classes, but also, those classes will be taught by award-winning teachers. Bob Lamb, who teaches American literature, was named the 2008 Indiana Professor of the Year. Seven of our faculty, including Clayton Lein, who teaches Renaissance poetry, and Kristina Bross, who teaches colonial American literature, are in the Purdue Book of Great Teachers. The list goes on: four winners of the Charles B. Murphy Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award and five winners of the Kenneth T. Kofmehl Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award.
  • Expert Professors: Our faculty are not only renowned for their teaching, however. We are also recognized around the world as experts in literary studies. As an English major, you will have professors who publish books and journal articles that shape how professors at other universities think about and teach literature.
  • Research: Students also have the opportunity to work closely with faculty members on innovative research projects through independent studies, the Journal of Purdue Undergraduate Research, and Wilke internships. Honors students may also conduct research with faculty through Honors College senior projects.
  • Internships: Two of the top journals in literary studies are edited at Purdue by our faculty, and both offer chances for undergraduates to be involved in the world of scholarly publishing. MFS: Modern Fiction Studies was established by Purdue’s English Department in 1955. Today it is the preeminent journal exploring British, American, and postcolonial fiction written since 1890. Arthuriana is the premiere academic journal devoted to the study of King Arthur. The journal publishes cutting-edge research on the legend of Arthur from its origins in the Middle Ages to its enactments in the present moment.
  • Interdisciplinary: English majors are invited to explore the connections of their major with related fields of study across the university.  Our faculty are affiliated or jointly appointed in all of CLA’s interdisciplinary programs, from American Studies to Medieval and Renaissance Studies, to Film Studies, and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. We have also partnered with the Visual and Performing Arts department for creative and scholarly projects. Additionally, our faculty members collaborate with university-wide initiatives, such as Cancer, Culture and Community, and the Purdue Water Community.
  • Study Abroad: Develop an international perspective while earning degree credit.  Recently, our faculty have taken students to London, Paris, and Venice.  Funding available for all study abroad students.
  • Whether on Renaissance drama, Victorian poetry, or contemporary American fiction, our courses all teach critical reading and writing skills necessary to negotiate a complex world. You will learn about 1) the power of figurative language, which means that texts always say more than they seem to; 2) the transcultural importance of narrative and storytelling, which cognitive scientists and humanists agree profoundly shape our understanding of the world; and 3) perspectives on the human condition from authors whose life experiences are completely different from your own, which leads to a greater ability to empathize and interact with others (a highly valued skill in today’s workplace). 
  • Our courses are interconnected, so that each looks back and refers to what you have learned in previous courses. The result is that you will master broad historical, cultural, and aesthetic knowledge while gaining the confidence to produce longer and more complicated writing projects. Our courses enable all students, whether English or Engineering majors, to grapple with broad questions of representation and human existence, all the while imparting the skills that they will be able to use in any career they choose.


  • Editor
  • FBI Agent
  • Graduate School (e.g., UC Berkeley, University of Connecticut, Yale, and Harvard)
  • Grant Writer
  • Law School (e.g., University of Michigan, University of Washington, Indiana University)
  • Librarian
  • Marketing Director
  • Religious Minisitry (Princeton Theological Seminary)
  • Sales Manager
  • Teacher
  • Web Designer

Possible Career Paths

  • Business School (MBA)
  • Educational or Trade Publishing
  • Medical School (M.D.)
  • Politician even Prime Minister
  • Radio, Television, and Theater

Plan of Study

2016-17 Plan of Study

2015-16 Plan of Study

2014-15 Plan of Study

Department of English

Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907 (765) 494-4600

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