Why Major in English?
Alumni of English programs listed the following reasons:
- "Mastery of language gives you pleasure in life along with success in business."
- "What better way is there to learn about life?"
- "It helps in all areas of any career path you choose--writing, speaking, listening, creating, thinking."
- "It gives students an opportunity to explore who they really are."
- "As an English major . . . you have the ability to communicate ideas clearly, think on your feet, and read Middle English in the original language. Okay, that last one I haven't had the chance to use yet, but I'm ready!"
- "I would not have enjoyed studying anything else as much--there's just so much to embrace in English."
Source: Beidler, Peter. "What English Majors Do Out There, How They Feel About It, and What We Do About It." ADE Bulletin 133 (2003): 29-35.
What Can You Do with an English Major?
The most common alumni response: "Anything you want to." English majors are non-profit administrators, corporate executives, wine consultants, restaurant or film reviewers, attorneys, secret service agents, stand-up comedians, musicians, librarians, governors, writers, editors, and much more. Minors and internships can supplement traditional English coursework and help students develop a specific set of skills that can give them an edge in specialized job markets.
Source: Conboy, Katie. "What Can You Do with an English Major?" ADE Bulletin 125 (2000): 24-28.
Famous English Majors
- Actor Jodie Foster
- Actor Matt Damon
- Actor Vin Diesel
- Actor David Duchovny
- Actor Harrison Ford
- Actor Paul Newman
- Actor Julia Stiles
- Actor Sigourney Weaver
- Actor Reese Witherspoon
- Astronaut Sally Ride
- CEO Michael Eisner (Disney)
- Coach Marty Shottenheimer (San Diego Chargers)
- Coach Joe Paterno (Penn State University)
- Comedian Conan O'Brien
- Comedian Johnny Carson
- Director Steven Spielberg
- Director James Cameron
- Director Martin Scorcese
- EPA Director Carol Browner
- First Lady Laura Bush
- Mario Cuomo, Governor of New York
- Pete Wilson, Governor of California
- Musician Sting
- Newscaster Barbara Walters
- Newscaster Diane Sawyer
- Nobel Laureate Harold Varmus (Medicine)
- President of Nickelodeon Networks and MTV, Herb Scannell
- Radio Host Garrison Keillor
- Superman (Christopher Reeve)
- Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court Justice
- World Wildlife Fund Director Kathryn Fuller
- Douglas Adams, writer of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
- Gwendolyn Brooks, writer of The Anniad and A Street in Bronzeville, and the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize
- Tom Clancy, writer of The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, and The Sum of All Fears
- Allen Ginsberg, writer of HOWL and Beat poet
- Stephen King, writer of The Shining, Stand By Me, and Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption
- Arthur Miller, writer of The Crucible and Death of a Salesman (and ex-husband of Marilyn Monroe)
- Toni Morrison, writer of Beloved, Sula, Jazz, and The Bluest Eye, and first African American woman to win a Nobel Prize for Literature
- Philip Roth, writer of American Pastoral, The Human Stain, and The Plot Against America
- Amy Tan, writer of The Joy Luck Club and The Kitchen God's Wife
- John Updike, writer of The Centaur and Rabbit at Rest
- Eudora Welty, writer of Delta Wedding and short stories "A Worn Path" and "Why I Live at the P.O."
Source: “Famous English Majors.” Central Washington State Dept. of English. 1 March 2007. <https://www.cwu.edu/~english/FamousEnglishMajors.html>.