Majoring in English

Do you dream of being a poet or a teacher? Becoming a lawyer or an editor? Going to graduate school? A major in English can help you achieve these goals and more. As an English major you will learn to think critically, read carefully, and express your ideas effectively.

The English major at Iowa State allows you the flexibility of focusing on your own areas of interest. The department offers English Education (the 2010 national teacher of the year graduated from our program), but there are many other options. You can combine courses in creative writing, rhetoric, literature, and even linguistics (which also has its own major) to make a degree program that best suits your interests. For example, you could take a group of classes related to film and screen writing or classes dealing with environmental literature and writing.

If you like the idea of combining writing and science/technology or Web design, our major in technical communication may be for you.

Those interested in civic discourse and oral communication can major in speech communication. Students in secondary education can also earn an ESL endorsement through classes in the English department.

Find out more about our programs below, or contact an advisor today.


The 36-credit English BA degree program allows students to create their own emphasis area tailored to their interests, for example, literature, creative writing, rhetoric, literary editing, etc.

For general English major questions, contact the English Advising Coordinator, Christiana Langenberg, Ross 343.

English Education

A student may choose the English Education Emphasis and earn a BA degree from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, qualify for a secondary (grades 5–12) teaching license from the Iowa Department of Education, and position themselves to earn extra teaching endorsements in reading, English as a second language, or other disciplines.

More information on specific teacher licensure requirements is available in the ISU Catalog or from the English Education Advisor, Madison Akers, Hamilton 115.

Additional Majors

Technical Communication

A major in technical communication prepares you to help those who create ideas to communicate better with those who use them. As a technical communication major, you learn to compose a wide range of print and electronic documents for use in business, industry, schools and other institutions, and communities. To meet the needs of this demanding profession, coursework for the BS in technical communication helps you to understand scientific and technical information and teaches you strategies for producing texts to communicate that information to others.

For more information, contact the Technical Communication Advisor, Samantha Robinson-Adams, Ross 313, or use this link: Bachelor of Science in Technical Communication


Students of linguistics study the structure, meaning, uses, and history of human languages. They gain insight into how language is processed by the human mind and by computer, and they learn about cultural and linguistic diversity through the study of how language reflects meaning and worldviews. Through these perspectives, students discover how language reflects unique characteristics of humanity by connecting linguistic structure with the functional meanings that are used in communication.

Students learn how linguistic analysis can be used in practice through the study of such areas as second language acquisition and assessment, language teaching, computer processing of human language, and communication disorders. Linguistics courses are taught by outstanding faculty in language-related departments such as Anthropology, Computer Science, English, Philosophy and Religious Studies, Psychology, and World Languages and Cultures.

The link address is linguistics-major-requirements

For more information, contact Professor John Levis, Chair or Samantha Robinson-Adams, Advisor.

Speech Communication

We promise you that as a Speech Comm major you will learn

  • Rhetorical Theory & History. You will be able to understand and apply technical vocabularies, theories, and perspectives to analyze contemporary problems and your own communication practice.
  • Rhetorical Practice. You will be able to speak and listen well, and have the self-confidence to become an active leader in your communities.
  • Rhetorical Criticism & Critical Thinking. You will be able to recognize persuasive strategies, assess reasoning, and perform research in the discipline.

For more information, follow these links for Speech Communications Requirements and Speech Communication in the Course Catalog.

For more information, contact the Speech Communication Advisor, Samantha Robinson-Adams, Ross 313.