English Major Requirements

As an English major, you take, in addition to ISUComm Foundation Courses, at least 36 credits in English.

The Department of English at Iowa State University offers a flexible 36-credit English BA degree that allows students to gain experience in fields such as literature, rhetoric, creative writing, English education, literary editing, and professional communication. The Undergraduate Program of Study is designed so that majors can experience the broad, diverse scope of English studies and configure a course plan to match their personal interests. Suggested degree plans for several customizations are available, but students other than those seeking teacher licensure in English education may choose and combine courses in any way that meets the minimum requirements for the degree. Students seeking licensure in English education must meet specific requirements indicated below by asterisk (*). More information on specific teacher licensure requirements is available in the ISU Catalog or from the English Education Advisor, Madison Akers.

General Requirements for the English BA or BS Degree

All English majors, regardless of their interests, must complete at least 36 credits of coursework in English Department classes. These 36 credits are distributed across four English Major Group Requirements (Texts and Language, Critical Reading and Textual Analysis, Advanced Communication, and 200-, 300-, or 400-level English Electives) and one set of Additional and Overlapping Requirements that may be met with courses taken in the Major Group, General Education Requirements, or Electives. Students may receive the English BS degree by taking 12 additional credits in natural science, social science, mathematics, or selected kinesiology courses.

Texts and Language (15 cr.)

The Texts and Language group includes courses that introduce the discipline and its components.
Students choose 5 of the following:

  • Engl 201: Introduction to Literature
  • Engl 207: Introduction to Creative Writing
  • Engl 220: Descriptive English Grammar
  • Engl 225: Survey of British Literature to 1800*
  • Engl 226: Survey of British Literature since 1800*
  • Engl 227: Survey of American Literature to 1865*
  • Engl 228: Survey of American Literature since 1865*
  • Engl 237: Survey of Film History
  • Engl 260: Introduction to Literary Study*

Critical Reading and Textual Analysis (6 cr.)

The Critical Reading and Textual Analysis group includes courses that provide theoretical frameworks for reading and writing and develop textual analysis skills.
Students choose 2 of the following:

  • Engl 275: Analysis of Popular Culture Texts
  • Engl 310: Rhetorical Analysis*
  • Engl 339: Literary Theory and Criticism
  • Engl/Sp Cm 350: Rhetorical Traditions
  • Engl 396: Teaching the Reading of Young Adult Literature (restricted to students seeking teacher licensure)*

Advanced Communication (3 cr.)

The Advanced Communication group includes courses that teach students to communicate effectively within their discipline.
Students choose 1 of the following:*

  • Engl 302:  Business Communication
  • Engl 303:  Free-Lance Writing for Popular Magazines
  • Engl 304:  Creative Writing—Fiction
  • Engl 305:  Creative Writing—Nonfiction
  • Engl 306:  Creative Writing—Poetry
  • Engl 308:  Write Like a Woman
  • Engl 309:  Report and Proposal Writing
  • Engl 313:  Rhetorical Website Design
  • Engl 314:  Technical Communication
  • Engl 315:  Creative Writing—Screenplays
  • Engl 316:  Creative Writing—Playwriting

200-, 300-, and 400-level English Electives (12 cr.; does not include English 250)

The English Electives group includes most courses taught within the Department of English. It allows students to pursue study in their areas of  interest.

Additional and Overlapping Requirements

The Additional and Overlapping Requirements group is designed to ensure that students

  1. study at all levels of the curriculum,
  2. explore texts produced by different cultures in various historical periods, and
  3. leave the university with a portfolio of work that demonstrates their skill and accomplishments to instructors and potential employers.

All English majors must complete the following within the 120 credits required for the degree. These requirements may overlap with English Major group requirements (see lists above), with General Education requirements, or with electives.

  • 3 cr. Literature of Social or Environmental Justice (Engl 340s series or Engl 352, 355, or 389; counts in General Education US Diversity Group)
  • 15 cr. of study in English at the 300 level
  • 9 cr. of study in English at the 400 level
  • 9 cr. of English with a historical perspective (225-228, 237, 350, 353-354, 360s, 370s, 420)

All English education majors must complete the following within the 120 credits required for the degree. These requirements may overlap with English Major group requirements (see lists above), with General Education requirements, or with electives.

  • Engl 219: Introduction to Linguistics*
  • Engl 220: Descriptive English Grammar*
  • Engl 353: World Literature: Western Foundations through Renaissance*
  • Engl 354: World Literature: Seventeenth Century to the Present*
  • Engl 397: Practice and Theory of Teaching Writing in Secondary Schools*
  • Engl 420: History of the English Language*
  • Engl 494: Practice and Theory of Teaching Literature in Secondary Schools*

Adding a Second Major or Minor

All English majors (except those with an education emphasis) are strongly advised to choose a minor or second major to complement their study of English. All English majors have the option to minor in technical communication, another program offered through the English Department. If you are an English education student, you should consider adding an additional endorsement, not to be confused with a university minor.

Information to help students plan their study in the English Department.


For general information about the English major or for assistance with degree planning, contact the English advisors below.

  • Christiana Langenberg, Literary Studies, Creative Writing Emphasis, Ross 343, 294-1655, clang@iastate.edu
  • Madison Akers, English Education Emphasis, Hamilton 115, 294-4353, akersme@iastate.edu
  • Samantha Robinson-Adams, Rhetorical Studies Emphasis, Ross 307, 294-5206, slr@iastate.edu