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Why Study English at UW?

English graduates can do anything. In a culture increasingly driven by information and its communication, we stand at the hub. Trained in the understanding of how words work, and how we make meaning in the world-or how the world makes meaning through us-English majors are uniquely prepared for the twenty-first-century. (See our Goals and Objectives. Lovers of literature, professional writers, authors, theorists, we are ready to lead in any profession where critical, creative, and communicative abilities matter-which is pretty much everything.

Explore Our Degree

But don’t trust us. Listen to the experts:

JobBound.com: "An English major with good work experience, who can think critically and write effectively, is a very attractive candidate."

For a career in academia, focus on the area of English studies in which you want to proceed. Most English PhD's presume extensive experience in literature in your major, and also substantial work in a foreign language. You might pursue a minor in an additional English field.

For a career in technical writing, select electives in composition and professional writing (beyond 1010 and 2020), or add the professional writing minor. Do a professional writing internship.

For a career in creative writing, take as many creative writing courses as you can, perhaps through the creative writing minor.

For a career in law, medicine, business, entertainment . . . amass critical skills in literature classes, and writing skills in professional or creative writing.

We welcome your visit to the Department of English.  Please go to campus visits to schedule a visit today.

ACADEMICS

Stephen Watt (MA 1975): "I'm a UW English graduate and I write, teach, and administer a large program as a professor of English and associate dean at Indiana University in Bloomington.  So, I actually have three jobs—all different, all challenging, all enormously satisfying.  My career as a scholar has led me to England often and to Ireland and Northern Ireland almost a dozen times to work in archives and lecture.  Like the pleasure of reading great texts and then trying to write cogently about them, teaching has its own unique pleasures, perhaps the most gratifying of which are to rise to the intellectual challenge of teaching advanced students and, later, to watch them succeed.  But my other job as an administrator is equally rewarding, and when I was in school I knew very little about this professional opportunity or 'career path.'  Most of the assistant deans with whom I work have advanced degrees in the humanities.  These talented professionals manage everything from the curriculum to academic advising, from programmatic initiatives to the funding of scholarships, fellowships, and conferences.  Colleges and universities recruit people who communicate clearly, think critically, and are committed to students.  And, if you love the intellectual and cultural environment of the university, as I do, academic administration might be something to consider."

BUSINESS & FINANCE

Foster Thomas, higher education consultants: “There is a reason why these candidates get snapped up by the likes of Goldman Sachs and McKinsey and, eventually, Columbia Business School. The reason is this: Strong critical thinking and leadership skills.”

The Chronicle for Higher Education: “The liberal arts always situate graduates on the road for success. More Fortune 500 CEOs have had liberal arts BA's than professional degrees. The same is true of doctors and lawyers. And we know the road to research science most often comes through a liberal arts experience.”

CNN Money: “Strong communications skills are the single most important attribute a [job] candidate can have and also the one most lacking among job applicants.”

Tamara Linse (BA 2000, MA 2002): "I'm a UW English graduate, and I have done a lot of things with my degree. (UW English rocks!) Development, which means I use my writing, editing, and marketing skills to help a nonprofit raise money. Technical editing for an environmental firm, where I edited single-page proposals to thousand-page reports. Creative writing, including short stories and novels.  Freelance writing and editing, where I swooped in to save the day—or served as a mercenary, depending on how you look it at.  Think about it: you are helping people change their worlds."

ELECTRONICS & ENGINEERING

Vivek Wadwha, Director of Research at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke University:

"When students asked what subjects they should major in to become a tech entrepreneur, I used to say engineering, mathematics, and science—because an education in these fields is the prerequisite for innovation, and because engineers make the best entrepreneurs. That was several years ago...It takes artists, musicians, and psychologists working side by side with engineers to build products as elegant as the iPad." 

ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS

Michael Eisner, Disney CEO: "Literature is unbelievably helpful because no matter what business you are in, you are dealing with interpersonal relationships. . . . It gives you an appreciation of what makes people tick."

Beverly Seckinger (BA 1981): "I'm a UW English major and I teach college students documentary film production and studies, make films, organize screenings and other public events, and coordinate promotions for New Day Films, a co-op of social issue documentary filmmakers.  My English education at the University of Wyoming taught me to read and think critically, to write clearly, to appreciate the power and beauty of language and the nuances of voice and perspective, to navigate the world with intellectual curiosity, creative energy, and compassion, and to strive to make a meaningful contribution to the beloved community of humankind.  (It has also made me an eagle-eyed copyeditor, and master of the witty and eloquent memo.)  Write on, UW English!"

Elizabeth Main (BA 1965): "I'm a UW English major and I write mysteries. When I graduated from UW in 1965, I had no idea that I’d ever be doing such a thing . . . heavens to Chaucer! . . . or explaining in Spanish forty years later that my husband and I wanted to rent a sleazy motel room near Acapulco for a whole night, not just four hours, as the skeptical manager assumed. (We were lost, it was late, and it was much too dangerous to be out on the streets.) My point is that in college, I had no idea what the rest of my life would bring. I thought I’d be teaching high school English, so I prepared academically for that career. A good start, certainly, and I taught English for some time, but who knew about computers back then, let alone the explosion of data soon to be available on the Internet?  What I needed from my UW education was a broad base of knowledge that would allow me to leap from one career to another, to synthesize information, and, sometimes, to speak Spanish. My college education was not so much about coursework as it was about preparation for life in a rapidly changing world.  Ask employers. They can teach the specifics of a job, but they can’t teach people how to think. A humanities background provided me with invaluable skills and attitudes, most of them useful in situations I never expected to encounter. For example, I didn’t realize in college that killing people in print would eventually provide me with a career I love far more than teaching. Who knows? Maybe Chaucer would approve, after all."

LAW

Princeton Law Review: “If you major in English, say, or History, you’ll still be on the right track. Crucial to a pre-law major are critical reading, writing, and thinking skills. After all, as a lawyer, you will be required to draft cogent arguments and solutions to problems, then communicating those arguments and solutions effectively to persuade and convince a judge or jury.”

MEDICINE   

Medschoolhell.com, an advice site for aspiring doctors: “English majors perform better on the verbal reasoning section of the MCAT. It’s been known for a while that students who practice verbal reasoning and deduction throughout college outperform other students on the verbal reasoning section of the MCAT which is often the most difficult section for students.”

Jen Riley (Craig Hospital): "I'm an English major, and earning that degree has served me well in every job I've held.  After graduating, I began working as a meeting coordinator for a small nonprofit, and today I am part of my hospital's 'C-Suite' executive team. My degree has prepared me to work in any job or industry. English majors graduate with the ability to communicate in writing and verbally. Employers want employees with those skills.  Employers look for employees with strong critical thinking skills, another strength of English majors.  I feel strongly that anyone who graduates from the University of Wyoming with a degree in English has the tools to be successful."

NON-PROFITS

Cody Hartley (BA 1997) (Director of Gifts of Art, Boston Museum of Fine Arts): "I'm a UW English major, and I have the privilege of working with many of the world’s leading art collectors and some of the brightest curators in the field to secure gifts that build the museum’s collection. We are united by the art, but it is language that allows us to communicate and negotiate. Every day I use the skills I developed as an English major to craft passionate arguments about the value of a gift and the benefits of putting artwork into a public context."

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