English Major Requirements

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Requirements Overview

There are many different ways to pursue an English major, based on students' interests and career goals.

  1. Students must first complete the EN 11-12 core curriculum sequence; all of the requirements below are in addition to EN 11-12.
  2. All English majors complete the department core curriculum of five EN literature classes beyond EN 11-12; the five EN literature courses can include the literature course taken as part of the core curriculum.
  3. All English majors complete a concentration of five additional courses. All concentrations include at least one EN/W writing class (other than Internship or Independent Study) and a capstone experience; students develop the concentration in consultation with their department academic adviser.


Department Core Courses

Given the large number of literature courses, students have considerable freedom to pick classes that will both interest them and benefit them in terms of education and career plans.

After completing EN11-12, most majors begin the program by taking a 100-level literature class that also counts as their final English core course. With instructor permission, they can take a 200-level lit course instead of the 100-level. Students can use only one 100-level course to fulfill the requirements of the English major. They then take four additional literature courses at the 200 or 300 levels. At least one course must be at the 300 level.

Of the five literature courses in the department core curriculum, at least two must be centered in the years before 1800 and at least one must be centered in the years after 1800. The historical period is listed as follows in the catalog: A (before 1800) and B (after 1800). 

English Minor

Students who wish to have a general minor in English must take five EN or EN/W courses beyond EN 12. Only one EN 100-level course will count toward the minor.

Note: Students may also complete any concentration as a minor in English.  By fulfilling the five-course concentration requirements, students will be awarded a minor in that area of study, which will be listed by concentration name on their transcript.


The Concentrations

All English majors also complete one of the Department's five concentrations. The coursework is in addition to the University core and 16 department core courses. The Department of English also houses the new major in Digital Journalism.

All concentrations include at least one EN/W writing course (not including Internship or Independent Study) and a capstone experience. Students are allowed to complete more than one concentration; the second concentration will be listed as an academic minor on a student's transcript for graduation. 

Concentration In Literature

The Literature concentration is designed for students interested in a challenging and stimulating study of literature and culture. It offers a rich reading experience in important and influential works of literature as well as a study of  theoretical and interdisciplinary approaches that move beyond national and canonical boundaries. Students learn to interpret texts within the sociohistorical contexts of their production and reception. They will acquire knowledge in a number of theoretical frameworks to develop this approach (e.g., historical materialism, post structuralism, feminist theory, postcolonial studies, queer studies, race and ethnic studies, science studies, and critical theory). Students completing the concentration are able to offer a historically grounded and rigorous critique of global formations that structure literature, culture, and the self. The concentration prepares students for a variety of careers, and is especially helpful in preparing students for graduate or professional school.

The requirements for the Literature concentration include:

Introductory Courses

Students take one of the following:

  • EN 351: Literary Theory
  • EN 352: Cultural Studies Theory

Specialized Courses

Students take all of the following:

  • One EN course at the 200 or 300 level
  • One EN/W course
  • One EN course cross-listed with an Interdisciplinary Program (e.g., Program on the Environment, The Program in Peace and Justice Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies)

Capstone Experience

Students in the Classes of 2018-2019 will take EN 390, the capstone course for the Literature concentration. Students in the Class of 2017 must take EN 390  or an alternative approved by the Chair.


Contact the English Department's director of literature, Dr. Shannon Kelley.

Concentration In Creative Writing

The Creative Writing Concentration seeks to develop writers in various genres, including poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction and drama, as well as writers who wish to express themselves in more than one genre.  The concentration is both rigorous and flexible to student needs, by offering a wide variety of classes in various genres and at various levels, and by allowing students to follow their own interests.  In addition to preparing students to write creatively, the Concentration also prepares students to go into the field of publishing and editing by offering a sequence of publishing classes.  In conjunction with publishing, students may elect to work on our national literary magazine, Dogwood: a Journal of Poetry and Prose.

Students in the Class of 2018 should follow the curriculum outlined below for creative writing.  Students in the Class of 2015-2017 should follow the curriculum or alternate courses with permission of Coordinator of Creative Writing.

Introductory Courses

Students take two of the following:

  • ENW 200: Introduction to Creative Writing
  • ENW 202: Creative Writing: Poetry I
  • ENW 204: Creative Writing: Drama
  • ENW 205: Creative Writing: Fiction I
  • ENW 206: Creative Writing: Nonfiction I


Intermediate Courses

Students take at least one of the following:

  • ENW 302: Creative Writing: Poetry II
  • ENW 305: Creative Writing: Fiction II
  • ENW 306: Creative Writing: Nonfiction II 


Specialized Courses

Students take at least one of the following:

  • ENW 207: Themes in Creative Writing
  • ENW 307: Form & Theory of Creative Writing
  • ENW 340: World of Publishing
  • ENW 341: World of Publishing II
  • ENW 350: Special Topics: Writing

***Or another ENW course with permission of Coordinator of Creative Writing


Capstone Experience

Students take at least one of the following:

  • ENW 345/6: Internship
  • ENW 347/8: Independent Writing Project
  • ENW 399: Advanced Portfolio Workshop


Students who concentrate in creative writing at Fairfield have the opportunity to:

  • Take a range of courses in their chosen genre (fiction, nonfiction, or poetry)
  • Study literary publishing in a dynamic three-part publishing sequence that allows students to work as an Assistant, Associate, or Managing Editor of Dogwood, a nationally distributed literary journal
  • Work on individual writing projects with creative writing faculty
  • Take courses in special topics pertinent to writers
  • Combine the study of writing with the study of literature
  • Participate in a close and supportive community of young writers who take the improvement of their peers' work as their serious charge
  • Pursue internship opportunities within the field of editing and in public sector arts administration
  • Work closely with published writer-teachers in small workshop classes
  • Participate in a senior thesis seminar with other creative writers.
  • Receive professional development in order to prepare for application to graduate writing programs, if desired. 


Recent concentrators in creative writing have had their work published in national literary magazines such as Quarterly West, Indiana Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, and Writer’s Forum and have interned at magazines such as The New Yorker and Cosmopolitan and publishers such as Greenwood Press, Harper-Collins, and St. Martin’s Press. Our alumni have gone on to graduate programs in creative writing and have published in commercial outlets while still enrolled as undergraduates. 

Fairfield University’s undergraduate creative writing program operates in tandem with the Fairfield low-residency Masters of Fine Arts program. Our undergraduate students interact with graduate students, attend readings in the Inspired Writers’ Series, and have the opportunity for personal interaction with high profile writers we regularly bring to campus. In addition, undergraduate students have the opportunity to intern during an MFA residency at Ender’s Island in Mystic, CT. 

Creative writing students join a rich and vibrant community. All who are interested in creative writing are welcomed to join our Fairfield Creative Writing Listerv by emailing shuber@fairfield.edu to get updates on literary events, news, and publication opportunities. 

The concentration hosts regular events specifically for undergraduate creative writers, including readings, open mic nights, and social gatherings. 

Careers for a Creative Writing Student

Students who graduate with a creative writing concentration have received a rigorous education in writing and editing but also in inventive and critical thinking. Careers open to such students include working in social media, in public relations, journalism, and in a variety of corporate and nonprofit settings in which creative problem solving skills are required. Our alumni frequently enter the fields of education, publishing, journalism, and editing. 

“Organizations far and wide--perhaps even yours--will compete intensely for workers who are adaptable, resourceful, and can quickly learn and apply new skills to a variety of challenges. Where can you find such workers? One answer runs counter to much conventional wisdom: Ask an artist.” 

Is an MFA the New MBA?” Stephen Tepper, Associate Director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University

Concentration In English Studies

The Concentration in English Studies provides students with special interests the opportunity to create a customized program of studies across literary, various writing concentrations and literacy studies in consultation with their adviser. Students might put together a coherent package of literature courses of their own choosing, mix and match writing courses in different concentrations, or combine relevant literature and writing course work. All department core requirements must still be met; at least one course must be in writing (other than Internship or Independent Study).


Students take at least one of the following:

  • EN/W 345/6: Internship , or an Independent Study in either literature or writing
  • EN 390: Literature Capstone can also count for the English Studies Capstone

Concentration In Professional Writing

The professional writing concentration is designed for students who want to strengthen their writing and speaking skills as preparation for careers in business, the non-profit sector, legal studies, government, public relations, fundraising, politics, or education. Courses in this concentration focus on using writing and communication to make information accessible, usable, and relevant to a variety of audiences. Internships are available to students in the professional writing concentration, including placements in corporate communication, grant writing, advertising, marketing, technical writing, and the mass media.

The requirements for the professional writing concentration include:

Introductory Course

Students are required to take the following course:

  • EN/W 332: Business Writing

Specialized Courses

Students take at least two of the following:

  • EN/W 214: Professional Presentations: Writing and Delivery
  • EN/W 222: Journalism Editing and Design
  • EN/W 317: Traditional and Structural Grammar
  • EN/W 335: Technical Writing
  • EN/W 336: Issues in Professional Writing (e.g., Writing for Public Relations)
  • ENW 337: Multimedia Writing
  • EN/W 338: Persuasive Writing
  • EN/W 339: Grant and Proposal Writing

Capstone Experience

Students are required to take the following course:

  • EN/W 345/6: English Internship

Students must also complete a fifth EN/W course of their own choosing.

Did you know?

Professional writing is about making information accessible, usable, and relevant to a variety of audiences. It requires clear communication and good visual design, as well as a process of learning key writing principles and skills. Our majors and minors learn to write and revise a wide variety of documents, including:

  • business memos
  • grant proposals
  • press releases
  • marketing brochures
  • job application materials
  • incident reports
  • business plans 

Students examine a company’s web presence, learning how functionality, content, design, and social media usage work together to create an overall representation of the company. In addition, they learn key communication skills, such as:

  • how to build goodwill
  • how to deliver negative messages
  • how to tailor messages for specific audiences

Concentration In Teacher Education

This concentration is designed for students who interested in careers teaching English in elementary or secondary schools. It prepares students with the content knowledge needed for successful student teaching, the Praxis exams, and a career in teaching. This concentration is designed both for students who plan to enroll in the joint B.A./M.A. program in teacher education at Fairfield University and for students who seek other teaching positions, such as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant or a Teach for America Fellow. Qualified students who minor or major in the Education concentration in the English Department are given preferred admission status in graduate programs in Elementary, Secondary, and TESOL education in the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions.

The requirements for the teacher education concentration include:

Required Courses

  • EN/W 311: Teaching and Writing
  • EN/W 317: Teaching and Learning Grammar
  • EN 141, 213, or 214 [any course on Shakespeare]
  • EN 200- or 300-level course in American literature
  • EN 200- or 300-level course in British literature

Recommended Courses

Students are encouraged to take one or more of the following:

  • A course on African American literature (e.g. EN 105; 261, 262, 264, 265, 284)
  • A course on Latino/a literature (e.g. EN 282)
  • A course on world literature (e.g. EN 102, 111, 113,114; 274; 375)
  • EN 172: Literacy and Language
  • EN 292: Contemporary Children's Literature
  • EN/W 290: Writing and Responding

[The EN courses listed above may also be used as Department Core courses.]


Students who enroll in the joint B.A./M.A. program take their capstone course at the end of the M.A. program. Students who do not enroll in the joint B.A./M.A program take at least one of the following:
EN/W 345/6 Internship or EN 399, Independent Study.

Did you know?

Some English majors choose this concentration because they plan to teach English in elementary or secondary schools. Others plan to apply for the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program or Teach for America. Still others want to serve as a Teaching Assistant in graduate school. No matter how you plan to teach, the Teacher Education concentration offers you a strong foundation in literature, writing, and language study. cas_eng_student6

If you want a career in teaching, you may also want to study education in courses outside the English Department.  Students in the Teacher Education concentration often also do a minor in Educational Studies or enroll in the combined five-year B.A./M.A. program. Faculty in the Teacher Education concentration in English work closely with faculty in Education to ensure that our students are well prepared for careers teaching English. 

You can get a head start on teaching by taking English courses that include community engagement or service learning. In Literacy and Language (EN 172), for instance, you can put what you learn about literacy into action by tutoring second graders at Cesar Batalla School. 

To learn more about teaching English, see the National Council of Teachers of English. This is the major professional organization for English and language arts teachers.  It offers information on everything from grammar, to censorship, to careers. 

For information about the Teacher Education concentration, contact Dr. Betsy Bowen, Coordinator, DMH 105.

Digital Journalism Major

Note: Students entering Fairfield University in Fall 2015 and thereafter must pursue a digital journalism major if they are interested in the subject area. Students who enrolled earlier have the option of pursuing the new major or the five-course Journalism Concentration.

The Bachelor of Arts degree in digital journalism is a rigorous, 12-course program designed to provide you with the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to understand and take part in today’s quickly changing, digital journalism world. The major includes a large focus on ethics, consistent with Fairfield’s mission, and a multidisciplinary approach that will draw on courses offered by other departments at Fairfield. It is inspired by the eloquentia perfecta approach to which the English Department aspires, consistent with Jesuit ideals.

The digital journalism major is designed for students interested in strengthening their news gathering, reporting, and writing skills. Many students in this concentration pursue careers as writers, editors, and reporters at websites, newspapers, magazines, radio/television stations, and/or marketing and publishing companies.

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