9 Surprising Successful English Majors You May Know

Classrooms Team

Jan 3, 2021

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If you’re looking to study English in college — or perhaps you’re already well into your degree — you might be wondering how far your education can actually take you. While you may have a pretty good idea already of what kinds of careers you can have as an English major, you might be wondering what kinds of role models you can look up to from your very own field of study. If that’s the case, you’re in luck, because there are so many English majors that have made it big across plenty of industries — from comedy, to music, to journalism, to the sciences. There’s so much that you can do with your education, and these figures are proof of just that.

Even if you may not have intentions to go into any of these fields, it can still be encouraging to see all the areas of skill an education in English can enhance. And perhaps you can consider the ways in which an English degree has benefitted some of your favorite celebrities and creators. Think you can guess who some of the surprising English majors are who made it big? Here are just a few of them.

1. John Mulaney

Those who love John Mulaney may already know about his college major and study habits, because he has a well-known bit about being an English major in one of his Netflix stand up specials. Although he doesn’t mention his specific school, a quick search will show that he graduated from Georgetown University with a double major in English and religion in 2004, and apparently, he, too, still gets mail from his alma mater.

2. Sting

Although Sting technically studied English education at Northern Counties College of Education, he deserves a spot on the list not just for being a student of English, but a teacher as well. Before he rose to fame as the frontman of The Police, he practiced his music during his nights and weekends while he taught English as his main gig.

3. Mitt Romney

While having a way with words may be a virtue on screen or on the stage, there’s somewhere else it tends to serve quite well, and that place is the senate floor. Mitt Romney is a US politician, where he currently serves as a senator for Utah, the same state in which he graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English.

4. Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg is quite the storyteller, which shows just how well he puts his English education from California State University, Long Beach to use. However, after being offered a directing contract, he actually left his degree unfinished after three years, returning years later to complete a degree in film and electronic arts.

5. Emma Watson

Although she was already quite famous from her acting career before she went off to college, Emma Watson certainly gained a lot from her English degree at Brown University. While she laments that her degree took five years instead of four due to her acting career, her eloquence, charm, and intelligence certainly speak to her quality of education.

6. Mario Cuomo

Just like Mitt Romney shows how English can help with a political career, Mario Cuomo does the same on the democratic side of things. The former governor of New York earned his English degree from St. John’s University before moving on to further his education in law school. He even worked as an adjunct professor.

7. Diane Sawyer

Diane Sawyer shows how English majors can use their skills to communicate eloquently and smoothly, even with millions of people watching on a show like “Good Morning America.” She studied English at Wellesley college, earning her degree in 1967.

8. Judy McGrath

Looking for a role model who has made a big splash on the business side of things? Look no further than Judy McGrath. You may know her as the former CEO of MTV, and the brilliant mind in charge when shows like “Jersey Shore,” “Spongebob Squarepants,” and “The Daily Show” came into being. She received her English degree from Cedar Crest College in 1974.

9. Sally Ride

Sally Ride was the first American woman in space, and the third woman in space overall, and the journey started with her double major in English and physics from Stanford. Sally Ride is a prime example of an English major who didn’t stay within the humanities, proving that the success can come from just about anywhere.

English Majors Can Truly Do Anything

From the senate floor to outer space, this list truly runs the gamut. If you’re looking to study English in your college years, you never know what it might lead you to. You could end up like one of the people on this list, or perhaps going your own way entirely.

Looking for career advice for English majors? Check out this top pick from our reading list:

I’m an English Major — Now What? (Amazon) by Timothy Lemire

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