The 5 Types of English Majors

Carolina Jacobs

Feb 25, 2022

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Going to college means that you’ll have to declare a major to begin your core classes. Some majors have different concentrations, and English is no exception. Depending on the university you attend, you may see several different types of English majors. 

These types, often called concentrations, likely focus on different classes than others. Since English is such a diverse field, choosing a concentration to work on ensures that you get the best education possible for the field you find most interesting.

5 English Major Concentrations to Know

While your school may have more or fewer concentrations than this list, you can break down most universities’ types of English majors into five categories. You should find where you fit in most and declare a concentration among these concentrations. By declaring your specialized field of study, you’ll take more relevant and exciting classes to you.

1. English Literature

English Literature may be the concentration everyone thinks of when they picture an English major. This student is the one who spends their days reading and studying the work of renowned authors. Students with a Literature concentration can expect their classes to emphasize discussions and essays about the works they read. This concentration could be a dream for people who love to read, especially those fond of the classics.

Literature-based classes will help students develop their analytical and critical thinking skills. These tools are essential for understanding the words of literary masters who have gone before. They can help in all walks of life, too — every career path values critical thinking skills.

2. Creative Writing

Everyone has a story in them. A Creative Writing concentration can help even the shiest of students bring their words to the surface. Creative Writing concentrations typically include fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction, though some universities choose to include screenwriting, too.

Students in this concentration may receive the opportunity to read their words aloud to groups of people — a small taste of what they will do in the future if they choose to publish their writing after graduation. Creative Writing concentrations teach the skills you need to publish your compelling writing.

Students who graduate from the Creative Writing concentration could pursue an MFA in Writing for further instruction. An MFA could be an excellent option to pursue past your undergrad career if you are looking for more critique and wish to polish your work.

3. Language Composition

Language Composition concentrations are similar to Creative Writing ones. Instead of using their compelling writing for entertainment purposes, these students use their writing skills in copywriting and other variations of professional and technical writing. Some schools may choose to include creative writing under a larger composition umbrella.

Language Composition teaches students how to address certain audience types. Writing for all audiences in all tones and styles of voice is an essential skill that could benefit an English major in any field beyond graduation. In some cases, a student in this concentration may earn a certificate alongside their degree, making their resumes stand out from competitors even more.

4. Linguistics

People who study Linguistics have no shortage of career opportunities. Linguistics majors study communication, culture, language, and how language evolves. They can go into virtually any field, including advertising and artificial intelligence. The main focus of the Linguistics concentration is the English language.

Learning linguistics can help someone understand sounds and patterns in the English language. This field encourages critical thinking skills and understanding of how language patterns work, both within the English language and how it connects to other languages.

5. English Education

The English Education concentration typically focuses on students who want to be educators, particularly those who want to teach English at a higher educational level. English educators serve others in the classroom and can work their way up from teachers to principals to potential school board members. This path is perfect for the student who wants to make a difference in education and prefers to teach others above all else.

This concentration can come in a certification that signifies a person can teach at a specific grade level. As it is more specialized, high school education may require extra coursework or a different type of certification than for lower grade levels.

What Different Types of English Majors Do

If you’re interested in becoming an English major, ask yourself which of these concentrations seems like the right fit for you. For example, do you like reading or writing more? If you don’t enjoy reading, focusing on a Literature concentration may not be a great fit for you. Each of these types of English majors has something unique while also overlapping with one another.

English Education and Linguistics may focus more on education classes, especially if a student in Linguistics is planning to go the speech pathology route. Literature and Creative Writing disciplines may mean studying classical novels more than the other concentrations. Language Composition and Creative Writing are bound to have more writing, and Linguistics and English Literature should use more analytical or critical thinking skills.

Think about the natural skills you possess. Consider what you like to do. If you see any overlap, you have identified your plan. Remember that English majors can even start careers in business or law. English is as diverse a major as a language, and you can’t go wrong with choosing it and one of its many concentrations to focus on during your years at college.

Finding the Right Concentration for You

Your skills may fall into multiple categories. When you pursue a degree in English, you should look at which skills can carry you furthest and take you down an enjoyable career path. Many of these types of English majors can overlap in terms of courses and experience, so you should feel free to switch between them until something feels like it sticks. Focus on your studies, and you’ll be a successful English major with the whole world ahead of you.

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