As an English major, you’ll be trained in the rigors and pleasures of critical thinking, close reading and lucid writing. Through writing workshops and literature courses in a wide range of periods, genres and traditions, you’ll explore the powers of narrative, image and the written word to illuminate the complexities of human experience.


Want to start right away? Here are some basic requirements for students wanting to major in English. Keep in mind this isn’t the complete list of formal requirement — that list can be found on the Courses of Study page.

To graduate with an English major, you must complete 40 credit hours in English, including

  • 12 credits (normally three courses) from courses in which 50% or more of the material consists of literature originally written in English before 1800 (such courses are indicated in the English course listings);
  • 8 credits (two courses) must be at the 4000 level or above;
  • 12 credits (three courses) must form an intellectually coherent concentration.

Sample classes

  • Shakespeare and the 20th and 21st Centuries
  • Literature as Moral Inquiry
  • Medieval Romance: Voyage to the Otherworld
  • Africa Writes Back


All information below is based on the 2014-2018 First-Destination Post-Graduate Survey. Lists are not exhaustive; rather, they are a sampling of the data. "Other" includes time off, travel, volunteer experiences, and/or preparing for graduate school. If you would like more information, please email as_careers@cornell.edu

55%   Employed
28%   Attending Grad School
11%     Seeking Employment
6%     Other

65% of the Class of 2014-2018 English graduates completed the survey. n = 204

Below, you will find:

  • Top Employment Sectors
  • Where Graduates Work
  • Top Graduate Fields
  • Where Graduates Study

Top Employment Sectors

  • Communications/Media (39%)
  • Education (15%)
  • Technology (12%)
  • Nonprofit Organization (6%)
  • Financial Services (4%), Law (4%), Business - Other (4%), Consulting/Prof. Practice (4%)
  • Government (3%)
  • Real Estate (2%), Retail (2%)
  • Hospitality (2%)
  • Agriculture (1%), Insurance (1%), Biotech/Pharma/Life Sciences (1%)

Where 2014-2018 English Graduates Work

Employer Job Titles
American Express Digital Commerce Analyst
Amherst College Assistant Museum Educator
Apolish-Thinktown Inc Education Consultant
Asia Foundation LankaCorps Fellow
Berkshire School English Teacher
Broadway Technology Software Consultant
Carat Assistant, Integrated Publishing
Cars.com Associate Account Manager
Catamount Wines Business Owner
CBS Corporation Page
Cheddar Production Assistant
Citi Capital Markets Analyst
Citizen Schools Teaching Fellow
City Year Corps Member
College Forward Access Coach (VISTA AmeriCorps)
CollegeVine Program Manager (2)
Comcast/NBUniversal Reporter Trainee
Glamour Magazine Fashion Closet Assistant
Cornell University eCornell Marketing Coordinator
Cravathm Swainem & Moore LLP Litigation Legal Assistant
David R Godine, Publisher

Assistant Editor

Each One Teach One Teacher
Editing for Authors Associate Editor
Epic Systems Project Manager
Examlam Content Editor

Content Strategist

Fundera Search Engine Optimization Associate
Future of Life Institute Freelance Writer
Gamgee Inc Project Manager
Generator Media + Analytics Communications Strategy Intern
Google Associate Account Strategist
Gorkana Media Executive
Graywolf Press Editorial Assistant
Harris, Wiltshire, & Grannis LLP Legal Assistant
Hartford Coutant Intern Reporter
Hawaii home & Remodeling Magazine Digital Editor
Hearst Magazines Editorial Assistant to Editor-in-Chief
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Editorial Intern
IBM Marketing-Digital Optimization
Client Relationship Representative
Impendi Analytics Business Analyst
IOP Publishing Editorial Assistant
Ithaca Times Reporter
JPMorgan Chase & Co Analyst
Kaplow Communications Account Coordinator
Kekst and Company Analyst
Law Office of Carmen Naranjo Law Clerk
Leadership Public Schools 9th Grade English Teacher
Lock Haven Express County Beat Reporter
Macmillan Marketing Assistant
Publicity Assistant
Match Public High School Match Tutor Corps Member
Morvillo Abramowitz PC Paralegal
Musee Magazine Writer
NJ Public Interest Research Group Fellow
New York City Department of Education Middle School Teacher
NY County District Attorney's Office Trial Preparation Assistant
New York Daily News Digital Content Producer
Nomura Global Markets Analyst
Omnicom Brand Coordinator
Oracle Corporation Sales/Business Development Representative (3)
Oxford University Press Editorial Assistant
Paradigm Theatrical Literary Agent Assistant
Penguin Random House Publicity Assistant
Piazza Technologies, Inc Business Operations
Pittleman & Associates, Inc Legal Recruiter
PlantBased Solutions Marketing Manager
PMC Freelance Video Editor
Politics and Prose Bookseller
PwC Management Consultant
Reuters Reporter
Routledge Editorial Assistant (2)
Rubenstein Associates Project Coordinator
Sage English Academy English Language Teacher
Shakespeare Theatre Company Artistic Fellowship
Sher Tremonte LLP Paralegal
Shmoop Consumer Content Editorial Assistant
Sony Pictures Entertainment Writer's Production Assistant
State Farm Insurance Agent
Swirl Networks, Inc Quality Assurance Engineer
Teach for America Teacher (5)
The Ellen Degeneres Show Production Assistant
The Paris Review Editorial Intern
Thermo Fisher Scientific Employer Brand Social Media Specialist
Triple Threat TV Research and Development Assistant
UGallery Marketing Associate
Ulsan Metropolitan Office of Education English Teacher
Unique homes Editorial/Advertising Coordinator
United States Department of Justice Paralegal Specialist
Universal Music Group Business and Legal Affairs Assistant
Viacom Coordinator
WW Norton & Company Critical Editions Intern
Weston Associates, Inc Resident Services Coordinator
Will Packer Productions Development Intern
Williamstown Film Festival Apprentice
Yelp Account Executive

Top Graduate Fields Pursued

  • Law (30%)
  • English (14%)
  • Medicine (9%)
  • English Language & Literature (7%)
  • Education (5%), Journalism (4%), Publishing (4%)
  • Public Policy (2%), Atmospheric Sciences (2%), Psychology (2%), French (2%), Business Admin (2%), Film & Video Studies (2%), Russian & Soviet Studies (2%), Classics (2%), Geological Sciences (2%), Creative Writing (2%), International Development (2%), Public Affairs Management (2%), Education Administration (2%)

Graduate Degrees Pursued

  • JD (29%)
  • MS (22%)
  • PhD (17%)
  • MA (10%)
  • MFA (5%)
  • Certification/License (2%), MPA (2%), MLitt (2%), Post-Bacc (2%)

Where 2014-2018 English Graduates Study

  • Brown University
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell University
  • Duke University
  • Emory University
  • Fordham University
  • Georgetown University
  • Harvard University
  • HEC Paris
  • King's College London
  • New York University
  • Northwestern University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Princeton University
  • Queen's University
  • Rutgers University
  • Stanford University
  • Thomas Jefferson University
  • Tulane University
  • University of Arizona
  • UC-Berkeley
  • UC-Los Angeles
  • University of Heidelberg
  • University of London
  • UNC - Chapel Hill
  • University of Oregon
  • University of Oxford
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Stirling
  • University of Texas
  • University of Virginia
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Yale University