Program Requirements and Opportunities

The information listed below is a direct excerpt from the 2014-15 Course Catalog.

Published annually, the Course Catalog sets out the requirements of the academic programs--the majors, minors, and concentrations. Each Bryn Mawr student must declare her major before the end of her sophomore year. Students may also declare a minor or a concentration, but neither is required for the A.B. degree. Students must comply with the requirements published in the Course Catalog at the time when they declare the major, minor and/or concentration.

The Course Catalog also sets out the College requirements. Students must comply with the College requirements published at the time they enter Bryn Mawr College.

2013-14 Catalog
2012-13 Catalog
2011-12 Catalog
2010-11 Catalog



Students may complete a major or a minor in English. Within the major, students may complete a concentration in Creative Writing. Students may also combine an English major with or minor in Africana Studies, Environmental Studies, or Gender and Sexuality Studies; alternatively, a concentration in Gender and Sexuality Studies is available.

A rich variety of courses allows students to engage with all periods and genres of literature in English, as well as modern forms such as film and contemporary digital media. The department stresses critical thinking, incisive writing and speaking, and a sense of initiative and responsibility for the enterprise of interpretation. With their advisers, English majors design a program of study that deepens their understanding of diverse genres, textual traditions, and periods. We encourage students to explore the history of cultural production and reception and also to question the presuppositions of literary study. The major culminates in an independently written essay of 30-40 pages, developed during a senior research seminar in the fall semester and individually mentored by a faculty member in the spring. Students are expected to take at least two English courses at Bryn Mawr before signing up for the major or minor.

As students construct their English major, they should seek to include courses that provide:

  • Historical depth--a sense of the construction of traditions.
  • Formal breadth--experience with more than one genre and more than one medium: poetry, prose fiction, drama, letters, film, epic, non-fiction, essays, documentary, etc.
  • Cultural range--experience with the Englishes of more than one geographical location and more than one cultural tradition, and of the exchanges and transactions between them; a course from another language or literary tradition can be valuable here.
  • Different critical and theoretical frameworks--the opportunity to experiment with several models of interpretation and the debates that animate them.

Summary of the Major

  • Eight courses, including at least three at the 300 level (exclusive of 398 and 399)
  • ENGL B250 Methods of Literary Study (prerequisite: 1 or preferably 2 200-level English courses)
  • ENGL B398 Senior Seminar (offered Mondays in the fall, 2:30-4pm)
  • ENGL B399 Senior Essay

Summary of the Minor

  • ENGL B250 Methods of Literary Study (prerequisite: 1 or preferably 200-level English courses)
  • Five English electives (at least one at the 300 level).
  • At least half the courses for the minor must be taken at Bryn Mawr.
  • Students must declare their minor by the end of their junior year.

Minor in Film Studies

There is no limit to the number of courses in film studies that may count toward the English major, except for a student majoring in English who is also seeking to declare a minor in film studies. In that case two (and only two) of the courses that comprise the six-course film studies minor may also count towards the 11-course English major. The minimum number of courses required to complete an English major and a minor in film studies will thus be 15 courses.

Concentration in Creative Writing

Students may elect a concentration in creative writing. This option requires that, among the eight course selections besides ENGL 250, 398 and 399, three units will be in creative writing; one of the creative writing units may be at the 300 level and may count as one of the three required 300-level courses for the major. Students enrolling in this concentration must seek the approval of their major adviser in English and of the director of the Creative Writing Program; they must enroll in the concentration before the end of their sophomore year.

Other Concentrations

The Department of English contributes courses toward minors in Africana Studies, in Environmental Studies, and in the Program in Gender and Sexuality.

Students Going Abroad

Students should complete both English 250 and one 300-level course before leaving for a semester or year abroad.

English Majors and the Education Certification Program

English majors planning to complete an education certification in their senior year should file a work plan with the chairs of the Education and English Departments no later than December 1 of their junior year. English majors on this path will follow an accelerated writing schedule in their senior year.

Extended Research

Some students seek a longer horizon and a chance to dig deeper into their research interests. Rising juniors and seniors in English frequently apply for fellowship support from the Hanna Holborn Gray program, to pursue original research over the summer or through the year. The projects may be stand-alone or may lead to a senior essay. In either case, students work closely with faculty advisers to define the goals, methods, and potential outcomes of their research

Departmental Honors

Students who have done distinguished work in their courses in the major and who write outstanding senior essays will be considered for departmental honors.