What Does an English Major Do?


What Does an English Major Do?

Students choose from a variety of courses within every area of the English major and may develop concentrations in a number of fields, including historical periods, cultural studies, popular culture, ethnic literatures, film studies, creative writing, and critical theory.  In any given semester, we offer courses like Medieval Epic, Love in the Western World, Mythology, Revenge in Renaissance Drama, 18th-Century Fiction, American Travel Writing, The Bible as Literature, Crime Fiction, Comedy, The Modern American Novel, and National Cinemas. The department offers both an interdisciplinary creative writing certificate in Creative Writing, staffed by five published poets and fiction writers, and an interdisciplinary Journalism Certificate, staffed largely by working journalists and offering multiple internship possibilities.

Students enjoy a rich array of extracurricular offerings. There are multiple fiction and poetry readings every semester, bringing a range of emerging and established writers to Buffalo. The Buffalo Film Seminar screens great films weekly in the context of discussion led by practicing film makers. Scholarly lectures abound, as do literary events in the city of Buffalo—from poetry slams to opportunities to meet world-famous writers. Students produce their own literary magazine, host their own readings, and form undergraduate clubs on the subjects that most interest them—including, recently, a Shakespeare Club and an Old and Middle English Club.

Students work with faculty on scholarly research projects—for example, on Whitman’s Civil War poetry, on popular fiction in the UK, or on the nineteenth-century literature of politeness.

The English Minor easily complements multiple areas of study and assists students wanting to hone writing and analytical skills in their major areas of study.

For more information about our courses, check out The Whole English Catalog.

What Do Our Students Do After Graduating

Yes, a number of UB English majors become teachers or professors at prestigious universities across the country.  But teaching is only one among many options for English majors.  Learning how to analyze language and literature makes you a better thinker, writer, and communicator--skills that are essential for almost any occupation you could imagine.  Our majors have gone on to successful careers in a wide variety of fields, as doctors, lawyers, civil servants, librarians, clergy, entrepreneurs, foreign aid workers, community organizers, musicians, translators, artists, veterinarians, and even martial arts instructors!

Many UB English majors go into creative writing or journalism, and some have won Pulitzer Prizes for their work.  A number of our past majors now work for national newspapers and television or film companies (ABC, NBC, Paramount Pictures).  Others have gone on to work as copy editors, TV and advertising writers, and magazine editors--including Editor of National Geographic and Associate Editor of Business Week.  One English major became Chief Speechwriter for the Governor of New York and later went to work for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington, D.C.  Another major went on to earn a Ph.D. in Psychology and wrote a New York Times bestseller.

Some of our most well-known English majors include Tom Toles, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist; Stephen Liesman, Pulitzer Prize and Emmy winning economics reporter, currently working at CNBC; and Virginia Schaefer-Horvath, Fredonia State College's first female president.


Walter Hakala

Associate Professor; Director of Undergraduate Studies

301 Clemens Hall

Phone: (716) 645-2579

Email: walterha@buffalo.edu

Nicole Lazaro

Undergraduate Secretary

Undergraduate Office

303 Clemens Hall

Phone: (716) 645-2579

Email: nmlazaro@buffalo.edu