Careers for English Majors
English Majors develop skills in critical thinking, analysis, communication, writing and research that serve them well in a variety of career fields from business, government and non-profit to higher education, law and publishing. Click the links below for tips and timelines on preparing for careers in these fields.
Professional and Creative Writing
Most writing careers require the development of a portfolio of related writing samples. Students are encouraged to enroll in internships and contribute to on-campus publications to develop these portfolios.
- Commercial writing for magazines, trade journals, newspapers, travelogues, political campaigns, non-profit organizations, technical manuals, business management reports and strategic plans. (B.A. or M.A)
- Creative writing in fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, drama and screenwriting. See Pursuing a Career in Creative Writing for more information. (B.A., M.F.A., or Ph.D.)
- Grant writing. (B.A. with internships)
- Producing public relations and business communications. (B.A. with internships)
- Reviewing books, music, arts events. (B.A.)
- Writing for media in television, radio or the World Wide Web. (B.A. with internships)
Students interested in editing are encouraged to enroll in SEGL 352 (Text Editing), to serve as a tutor in the Writing Center and to participate in editing on-campus publications to develop experience.
- Copyediting (B.A.)
- Proofreading—often freelance (B.A.)
- Manuscript reading (B.A.)
Students interested in publishing are encouraged to enroll in graphics design courses and to participate in on-campus publications to develop experience. See Cornell University's guide to Careers in Publishing for more information about entering the field.
- Book acquisitions (B.A., M.A. or Ph.D.)
- Book promotions (B.A.)
- Literary journal publications (B.A., M.F.A., or Ph.D.)
Teaching and Training
Students may pursue careers in teaching English at a range of levels and settings. Students interested in teaching should consider age range, context (e.g. industry, non-profit, higher education, K-12) and areas of specialty, such as a writing focus, literature focus or focus on teaching English as a Second Language (ESL).
Careers in Book Culture
Careers that use Critical Thinking, Research and Writing Skills
Students are encouraged to enroll in internships and to develop cognates or minors that expand educational experience in these areas
- Law-related professions (B.A., J.D.). See Pursuing a Law School Degree.
- Non-profit organizations (B.A. with possible additional training or graduate work in business administration, non-profit administration or public policy)
- Government professions in intelligence, research and communications (B.A. with possible additional training or graduate work in law, criminal justice, public policy or other specialized fields). See Pursuing a Law School Degree.
- Advertising (B.A. with internships)
- Business management and communications (B.A. with internships and possible additional training or graduate work in business administration, strategic communications, crisis communications or other specialized fields)
- International programs in education, foreign service and Peace Corps (B.A. with possible study abroad experience and foreign language skills)