Utility Menu

Great American Smokeout

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>.


English Programs
English Courses

Student Support
Advising Help
Careers for English Majors
Guides for Literary Study
Guide to Senior Seminar
Writing Center

Department Faculty in the News 

Our Students 
Student Achievements
Writers Inc. Literary Magazine
English Literary File: Undergraduate Journal
Literary Club

Beyond Campus
Study Abroad Opportunities

Contact Us
Dr. Celena Kusch
Department Chair

USC Upstate
Department of Languages, Literature & Composition
HPAC 222
800 University Way
Spartanburg, SC 29303
Phone: 864-503-5688
Fax: 864-503-5825
Faculty & Staff Directory