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Page Index: English

Academic Information: -  top

What is English? top

Students in English can choose from an exciting variety of undergraduate and graduate courses in such areas as American, British, and world literature; the English language and linguistics; professional writing, including technical writing, business writing, and journalism; expository writing, rhetoric, and composition; and teacher training. It is knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

Career Information  -  top

Possible/Typical Job Titles  -  top

  • Administrative Officer
  • Advertising Occupations
  • Archivist
  • Book Editor
  • Book Reviewer
  • Bookstore Owner
  • Community Relations Worker
  • Computer Systems Analyst
  • Congressional Aide
  • Copy Editor
  • Copywriter
  • Critic
  • Editor
  • Editorial Assistant
  • Film Editor
  • Foreign Services Information Officer
  • Free-Lance Writer
  • Information Specialist
  • Interpreter
  • Job Analyst
  • Journalist
  • Lawyer
  • Congressional Aide
  • Information Abstractor
  • Product Manager
  • Copywriter
  • Insurance Agent
  • Program Manager
  • Corrective Therapist
  • Interior Designer
  • Proofreader
  • Creative Writer
  • Interpreter & Translator
  • Property Manager
  • Critic, Art/Book
  • Investment Counselor/Manager
  • Public Administrator
  • Journalist
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Curator
  • Labor Relations Specialist
  • Public Speaker
  • Customer Service
  • Lawyer
  • Publicity Assistant
  • Desktop Publisher
  • Legal Assistant
  • Publisher
  • Director
  • Librarian
  • Publishing Assistant
  • Radio-TV Commentator
  • Sales Representative
  • Special Events Coordinator
  • Radio-TV Newscaster
  • Sales/Service Manager
  • Speech Writer
  • Reading Consultant
  • Script Reader
  • Sports Writer
  • Reporter
  • Singer/Voice
  • Stockbroker
  • Research Assistant
  • Teacher
  • Talent Agent
  • Comedy Writer
  • Human Service Practitioner
  • Politician
  • Communications Manager
  • Humorist/Comedian
  • Probation and Parole Officer
  • Human Resource Specialist
  • Legislative Assistant
  • Literary Agent
  • Management Occupations
  • Medical Secretary
  • Network Story Editor
  • Newspaper Editor
  • Personnel Director
  • Personnel Officer
  • Proofreader
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Publishing Occupations
  • Radio/TV Coordinator
  • Reporter
  • Research Assistant
  • Researcher
  • Speech Writer
  • Teacher
  • Technical Writer
  • Translator
  • Underwriter
  • Visual Arts Specialist
  • Writer
  • Account Executive
  • Literary Agent
  • Actor/Actress
  • Loan Officer
  • Administrative Assistant
  • News
  • Lobbyist
  • Newspaper
  • Magazine Writer
  • Management Trainee
  • Analyst Editor
  • Publications Manuscript Reader
  • Artist
  • Editor
  • Writer
  • Market Research
  • Editorial Assistant
  • Marketing Specialist
  • Attorney
  • Education & Training
  • Marketing Writer
  • Author - Fiction Non-Fiction
  • Educational Program Specialist
  • Mass Media
  • Assistant Scientific Writer
  • Entertainment Agent
  • Media Planner
  • Bank Officer
  • Fashion Merchandiser
  • Medical Records
  • Biographer
  • Foreign Correspondent
  • Narrator
  • Book Critic
  • Freelance Writer/Consultant
  • Novelist
  • Business Manager
  • Fundraiser
  • Paralegal
  • Circulation Assistant
  • Greeting Card Writer
  • Paralegal Assistant
  • City Manager
  • Hearing Officer
  • Personnel Manager
  • College Professor
  • Hotel & Motel Manager
  • Playwright
  • Columnist/Commentator
  • Poet


Writes advertising copy for display in all media: newspaper, magazine, billboard, packaging, television, radio.


Writes instructional and tutorial manuals and course materials for internal and customer training. Works for manufacturers of computer hardware and software. May require coursework or experience in teaching, as well as some technical background.


Writes brochures, data sheets, and other marketing materials to promote a computer product. May include video scripting. Works for manufacturers of computer hardware and software. Typically requires some technical knowledge.


Writes and edits scripts for broadcast announcers, noting the sequence and length of each segment and charting the inclusion of commercials. Works for radio and television producers.


Edits printed copy for grammatical and stylistic errors. Works in a variety of settings: book and magazine publishers, newspapers, advertising agencies, in-house publications of business and agency newsletters and releases.


Writes press releases, speeches, annual reports, and other material to promote a corporation and its image. Works for all corporations in all fields.


Writes freelance reports for one or more publications. Usually has special knowledge of the subject or geographic area covered. Works as an independent contractor.


Evaluates manuscripts; reviews and edits copy; coordinates photography, illustrations, and graphics; secures copyrights and permissions to quote copyrighted material. Works for
book publishers.


Writes for and edits an employee newsletter. Works for employers in all fields. Requires skills in graphic design and layout.


Reviews scripts, checks for factual and technical accuracy, rewrites copy, assists in creating storyboard representations of scenes. Relevant coursework or prior experience preferred.
Works for entertainment, documentary, educational, and industrial film producers.


Writes for publications on an assignment basis for a negotiated fee, usually after submittal of a query letter proposing ideas for articles or stories. Typically works as an independent contractor.


Writes manuals on internal operating procedures and policies. Works for employers in all fields.


Researches story and script ideas; maintains research files on topics and people, checks stories for accuracy. Works for newspaper, magazine, or book publishers.


Writes and rewrites scripts for broadcast media. Entry-level posts are available in news departments.


Researches story and script ideas for broadcast media. Maintains research files on topics and people; checks stories for accuracy. Works for radio and television producers.


Works and writes for a publication on a regular basis. Usually works under pressure of deadlines on general assignments before specializing in a particular area. In addition to newspapers and magazines, employers include corporations and agencies with in-house newsletters.


Instructs high school and junior high school students in specialized subject areas. Most secondary school teachers teach several courses in a single subject area. Public schools
generally require certification; private schools typically do not.


Instructs students enrolled in special education programs. Settings (e.g., churches, social service agencies) and topics (e.g., vocational training, preschool Head Start, drug-abuse prevention) vary widely.


Edits and proofreads material prepared by technical writers. Typically requires less technical expertise than technical writing does. Primarily employed by high-tech companies.


Researches, writes and edits publications that communicate scientific technical information to readers with no technical background. Employers include corporations, professional associations, and government agencies.


Writes instructional manuals for computer users. Works for manufacturers of computer hardware and software. May require limited technical background.

Typical Places of Employment  -  top

  • Advertising departments &firms
  • Libraries
  • Business corporations
  • Literary periodicals
  • Colleges & schools
  • Magazines and newspapers
  • Department stores
  • Political action groups
  • Educational institutions
  • Public relations firms
  • Film companies
  • Publishing companies
  • Research & Development firms
  • Radio/TV stations
  • Education Department
  • Travel agencies
  • Government Printing Office
  • Library of Congress

Required Skills and Abilities -  top

  • Composing, writing
  • Enlightening, guiding
  • Working independently
  • Helping
  • Acting, performing
  • Selecting and training
  • Summarizing ideas
  • Thinking independently
  • Editing skills
  • Creative writing
  • Oral and written communication skills
  • Comparing interpretations
  • Decorating, designing
  • Informing, organizing
  • Teaching, explaining
  • Solving problems
  • Leading discussions
  • Creative thinking
  • Influencing and persuading
  • Presenting alternative view points
  • Clarifying ideas
  • Making oral presentations
  • Problem solving
  • Developing hypotheses

Alumni Resources  -  top

(Listed below are examples of SU Alumni and their Jobs in this major-For more alumni resources, go to Mentor Network)

-Elizabeth Coccia - Metuchen, NJ 08840 - University of Medicine and Health Sciences - Associate Director of Enrollment Management
-Simon Drew - St. Louis, MO 63109 - Kirkwood School District - English teacher/professor
-Byron Hughes - Blacksburg, VA 24062 - Virginia Tech - Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life
-Dianna Leonard - Silver Spring, MD 20905 - University of Maryland University - College Graduate Advisor
-David Lybarger - Bloxom, VA 23308 - Lockheed Martin - Project Management and Planning Operations Representative, Sr.
-Erin Marks - Davis, WV 26260 - Tucker County Board of Education - 10th Grade ELA teacher
-Terri Morris - Pittsville, MD - Enterprise Holdings, Inc. - Talent Acquisition Manager

Related Links: Further Explore this Career Field - top

Professional Associations:

Magazine Publishers of America

National Newspaper Publishing Association

Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network

Small Publishers Association of North America

Association of American Publishers

Association of Directory of Publishers

Investigative Reporters & Editors

Other Career-Related Sites:

What can you do with an English Degree - from CNN

Careers in Journalism

Careers in Editing

Careers in Technical Writing

Careers in English as a Second Language (ESL)

Careers in Writing and other English Pursuits

Graduate School In English-Helpful Sites

Interesting facts: Famous English Majors

Compiled by Mississippi State University English Department

As might be expected, a large number of writers hold degrees in English. The list includes:

Douglas Adams: SciFi writer; wrote "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" series; Dirk Gently series

Gwendolyn Brooks: poems include "We Real Cool"

Tom Clancy: suspense writer; "Clear and Present Danger "

Allen Ginsberg: Beat Generation poet; poems include "Howl "

Joseph Heller: author of "Catch-22"

David Henry Hwang: author of "Madame Butterfly"

Stephen King: extraordinarily successful and prolific author of horror fiction; writings range from "Carrie" through "The Green Mile" and "The Stand" to the short story on which the movie "Stand by Me" is based

Bobbie Ann Mason: short story writer; collections include Shiloh

Arthur Miller: playwright most noted for "Death of a Salesman" and "The Crucible"

Toni Morrison: author of "Beloved"

Joyce Carol Oates: prolific author

Philip Roth: esteemed Jewish author

Amy Tan: author of "The Joy Luck Club"

John Updike: most noted for the "Rabbit" books, from "Run, Rabbit, Run" to "Rabbit at Rest"

Then there are those English majors who have made non-traditional use of their degrees, including:

Russell Baker--journalist

Dave Barry--humorist writer, actor

Linda Bloodworth-Thomason--television writer/producer (Designing Women, Evening Shade)

Carol Browner--former Head of the Environmental Protection Agency

Chevy Chase--comedian, actor, writer

Mario Cuomo--former Governor of New York

John Cuzack -- actor

David Duchovny -- actor

Michael Eisner--Walt Disney CEO (former)

Jodie Foster--actor, filmmaker

Kathryn Fuller--World Wildlife Fund CEO

Cathy Guisewite--cartoonist (Cathy)

Tommy Lee Jones -- actor

Kris Kristofferson -- songwriter, actor

Paul Newman--actor, food entrepreneur

Joe Paterno--football coach (Penn State University)

Sally Ride--astronaut

Joan Rivers--comedienne

Diane Sawyer--broadcast journalist

Herb Scannell -- President, Nickolodeon Networks, MTV Networks Group President

Paul Simon--songwriter, singer

Steven Spielberg--filmmaker

Marty Schottenheimer--Coach of San Diego Chargers

Christopher Reeve--late actor, activist for the disabled

Clarence Thomas--U.S. Supreme Court Justice

Emma Thompson -- actor

Grant Tinker--TV Executive and Producer

Harold Varmus--Nobel laureate in medicine, former Director of National Institutes of Health

Barbara Walters--broadcast journalist

Sigourney Weaver--actress

Pete Wilson--former Governor of California

Bob Woodward--journalist, wrote All the President's Men

Renee Zellweger -- actress

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