English Major

Haverford College’s English major offers students the opportunity to engage with a vast range of literature and culture—British, American and global—that reflects the diversity of our world.

Our program is distinguished by its theoretical and global breadth—of subject matter as well as disciplinary and methodological approaches, and every member of our faculty is committed to nurturing in students the ability to respond thoughtfully and critically to any text. Students emerge from the major as discerning readers, powerful writers, and incisive and intensely human thinkers.

The academic rigor that marks our major goes hand-in-hand with a strong sense of community. Student collaboration, close faculty mentorship, as well as a rich array of learning opportunities outside the classroom are additional hallmarks of our vibrant program.

Curriculum & Courses

Majors pursue a demanding curriculum that progresses from introductory courses in literature, critical theory, and writing to advanced courses to independent research. Our requirements, which include course work across time periods, genres, and geography, and theoretical fields and at a range of levels, reflect that commitment.

The crux of our programming occurs in junior and senior years, when our majors are involved in especially rigorous and rewarding work. Junior Seminar, our two semester-long tutorial course, introduces majors to key texts in British, American and global literatures and a broad range of critical theory. Junior Seminar is followed by Senior Conference. In this year-long course, seniors work closely with faculty to develop and write their theses. They also prepare for and take oral exams covering a range of coursework for the major.

  • Major

    Admission to the major requires completion of at least two courses, one at the 100 level and 1-2 at the 200 level, by the end of the sophomore year; note: WRPR H150 may be counted as one 200-level course (since its rubrics are in line with 200-level materials).

    In total the major requires eleven credits, including a .5 credit tutorial (ENGL H298J) as part of Junior Seminar. Note: ENGL H399F and ENGL H399B  comprises a 1.5 credit course taken over the full senior year.

    • Seven courses at the 100, 200 and 300 levels of which:
      • at least two must be in literature written before 1800;
      • at least two in literature written after 1800;
      • at least one (and no more than two) must be at the 100 level; a minimum of two, preferably three, must be at the 200 level (WRPR 150 counts); and a minimum of two must be at the 300 level.
    • ENGL H298 and ENGL H299, the two-semester Junior Seminar in English
    • ENGL H298J, the .5 credit yearlong Junior Seminar tutorial
    • ENGL H399F (fall) and ENGL H399B (spring) for a total 1.5 credit Senior Conference

    Note: The department will give major credit for one semester course in a foreign literature in the original language or for Comparative Literature 200. No more than four major credits will be awarded for work done beyond the Tri- College Consortium, whether abroad or in the U.S. Courses taken in the Bryn Mawr English Department, the Swarthmore English Department, and the U. Penn English Department may also be counted towards the major at Haverford.

Associated Programs and Concentrations

Research & Outreach

All English majors produce a thesis, a critical essay 25-30 pages long based on independent research and reading. Work on the thesis occurs throughout senior year as Senior Conference, in which students work closely with faculty advisors on the development of their research, conceptual frameworks, and writing strategies.

Seniors also participate in oral comprehensive exams. The exam, which occurs at the close of senior year, requires each student to participate in a dynamic conversation with several faculty members. The exchange focuses on the student’s thesis as well as a selection of works studied over the course of the major. For students as well as faculty, the thesis and oral exam represent the major at its most powerful and inspiring.

After Graduation

Majors graduate from our program exceptionally prepared to enter graduate programs in English as well as a range of disciplines. Many also pursue other paths, applying the analytical acumen, communication skills, and creative insight that they developed in the major to fields that include law, business, non-profit arts, publishing, government service, and social work, as well as many others.

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You can find detailed instructions and information on the Application Instructions page. If you need to contact us directly, please send an email to admission@haverford.edu.

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