What can you do with an English degree?

Find four solid reasons to pursue your passion in literature, language and writing while mastering sought-after job skills.

An English major at her desk, seen from directly above. On the desk are various books, notebooks, a computer, and the necessary cup of coffee.

Many students are forced to choose a degree path very early in their college careers. And it’s great to pursue a specific academic degree if you know for sure what you want to do for the rest of your life. Want to be a teacher? Get a teaching degree. Want to own a business? Go for a business or accounting degree. Interested in becoming a doctor? Choose a pre-med degree in biology.

But for those who don’t know what their career future may hold, or for those who want to pursue their passion in a certain subject like writing or literature, the choice to obtain any kind of liberal arts degree is sometimes met with skepticism.  

Times are changing. And KU Edwards Campus (KUEC) is changing with them. KUEC offers two types of bachelor’s degrees in literature, language and writing, allowing students to experience all that an English degree can offer! 


1. Pursue your passion in literature, language and writing

Have you been keeping a journal since you could write? Were you always top of the class in “most books read?” Did you win every argument with your college roommate? If your passion is communication — written or verbal — you have the opportunity to follow it. A degree in English can give you just that!  

With KUEC’s literature, language, and writing degree, you’ll immerse yourself in American and world literature analysis, persuasive, and technical writing techniques, and so much more. You learn about yourself and the world around you through traditional courses in literary theory, poetry, and writing complemented by practical, experiential opportunities such as internships and independent research.

Not only will you enjoy your college experience learning marketable skills for the job market, but you’ll also grow as a person and enhance your personal life as well. English majors can become the shapers of the world and the communicators of great ideas. You can excel in human-centered endeavors and citizen engagement. As Mark Edmundson said in his 2013 article titled  “The Ideal English Major”:

“Love for language, hunger for life, openness and a quest for truth: Those are the qualities of my English major in the ideal form. But of course, now we're talking about more than a mere academic major. We're talking about a way of life. We're talking about a way of living that places inquiry into how to live in the world, what to be, how to act, how to move through time at its center.”


2. Master the 21st-century skills most wanted by employers

If you’re waiting to learn more about the things you're passionate about, STOP! You can actually perfect the skills employers want most with a degree in English. 

A liberal arts degree — non-vocational degrees that include natural and social sciences, mathematics and the humanities, such as history, philosophy and languages — used to be considered only for the privileged few who were in school only to learn for the sake of learning. 

However, according to Darren Canady, professor and director of Undergraduate Studies for the KU Department of English, today’s liberal arts degrees, like the Bachelor of Language, Literature and Writing offered at KUEC, allows students to pursue their passion AND build the skills they need to succeed in the professional world today.

“You’re hearing a lot of employers and leadership talk about wanting people who can think with some creativity,” Canady said.  “And I think what’s interesting about literature, language, and writing is that we really do make the case that creativity is not only the province of creative writers or artists. It actually takes creativity to do everything that we’re looking at. Creativity can be hard to define, but one way I go at it is being able to look into a void and seeing something there — being able to dream up something that is not immediately apparent. So, if you’re thinking about it that way, when you’re interpreting literature, that interpretive move is based in creativity.”

Canady said the study of literature, language, and writing depends upon that ability to look at something and say, “There’s something that is not apparent in this that I still think is nevertheless there,” and that calling forth of the thing to being is at the core of creativity. 

Each year the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) surveys employers on a variety of topics related to hiring. The NACE Job Outlook 2020 survey found that beyond a relevant major for the position and a strong GPA, the attributes employers most want to see on resumes are problem-solving skills and the ability to work as part of a team. 

In fact, the eight top skills desired by employers are all non-technical skills. Besides problem-solving and teamwork, the rest of the skills are strong work ethic, analytical/quantitative skills, written communication skills, leadership, verbal communication skills, and initiative – all of which are developed by an English major. 


3. Prepare for a wide range of career opportunities

You may be thinking, “It’s great that I can pursue my passion and develop these essential skills, but how do I translate that into a profession?” Good news. English majors are trained to write well, to organize ideas in a logical way, and to develop arguments. You can analyze complex information, research, and critically read and observe. An English degree develops these lifelong writing, communication and critical thinking skills that set you up for career paths to diverse, sought-after jobs including:

  • Marketing Research
  • Publisher or Editor
  • Copywriter
  • Technical Writer
  • Grant Writer
  • Speechwriter
  • Content Creation
  • User Experience (UX) Writer
  • Teacher/Professor
  • Marketing & Communications
  • Public Relations Manager 
  • Advertising/Social Media
  • Social Media Manager
  • Project Management
  • Medical Writer
  • Brand Strategist
  • Advertising Manager 
  • Business Analyst
  • Project Management


4. Add a certificated credential to hone in on your highest interest

At the KU Edwards Campus, you can also earn a certificate in creative and analytical writing, or one in critical thinking and writing. The curriculum allows you to choose courses that match your interests and goals and to build on your strengths to develop the skills necessary to compete for high-paying jobs in the workforce. These certificates can also be added to any college bachelor’s program at KU, increasing your marketability when it comes time to find that higher-paying job you will love.

So if you love communicating effectively and surrounding yourself with books, then get that degree in English. A KUEC bachelor’s degree in literature, language, and writing will equip you with a long list of complex, adaptable skills that are transferable to a variety of careers. This degree program will develop interpersonal, speaking, and writing skills that employers love, and create a profitable career that you may just love for a lifetime.

Learn more about the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of General Studies in Literature, Language and Writing.


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