English and Writing

Being a true English major is knowing a little bit about everything, always wanting to learn more and being able to use the knowledge that you have to analyze, interpret, draw conclusions and make verifiable arguments in a way that no one else has before.

- Madelaine Hoptry '12

  • Students in the English major and minor develop strong skills in critical thinking, analysis, written communication, research and reading--skills that are essential in a range of careers. USC Upstate alumni are working as lawyers, journalists, sports writers, business owners, professors, teachers, military officers, film-makers, bloggers, bankers, novelists, poets, public relations writers, fashion merchandisers, coaches, Peace Corps volunteers, librarians and much, much more. 

    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."
  • In the classroom
    English courses share common guidelines for conducting research, interpreting literature and writing about literature. These reflect the shared rules and values of the discipline or field of English Studies. In English 300, students learn about these guidelines in depth.

    Outside the classroom
  • 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.

    • 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."

English Studies and Your Future

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.

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.)
    • See "The Realities of Jobs in Publishing" from The Chronicle of Higher Education for advice from working acquisitions editors.
    • See Rosemont College for an example of a Master's program in English Publishing
  • 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).

  • English Education (pre-K-12). 
    • Elementary education (grade school) (B.A. with certification)
    • Non-profit literacy and reading programs (B.A. with possible certification, additional training or graduate work in special education or literacy education)
    • Secondary education (middle and high school) (B.A. with certification with possible M.A.)
    • English as a Second Language programs (B.A. with possible certification, additional training or graduate work in ESL)
  • Higher education (community college and university) (M.A. or Ph.D.)
    • Literary studies (M.A. or Ph.D.—Ph.D. preferred). 
    • Cultural studies/Film Studies (M.A. or Ph.D—Ph.D. preferred). 
    • Rhetoric and composition (M.A. or Ph.D.—Ph.D. preferred for tenure-track jobs). 
    • English education (M.A., M.Ed. or Ph.D.—Ph.D. preferred). 
  • Library instruction (M.A., M.L.S., M.S.L.S. or M.S.L.I.S.). 
  • Training and development in industry (B.A. with possible certification or additional training or graduate work in business administration, workforce education or other specialized fields).
Book Culture
  • Book sales (B.A.)
  • Non-profit reading programs (B.A.)
  • Community arts programs and book clubs (B.A.)
  • Book stores (B.A.)
  • Library occupations, especially in preservations and collections development (B.A., M.A., M.L.S., M.S.L.S. or M.S.L.I.S.). 
Careers that Uuse 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

  • Linguistics
  • Law-related professions (B.A., J.D.). 
  • 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). 
  • 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)

English Education

Pursuing Careers in English Education

The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Beliefs Statement emphasizes the role of English teachers as providing access “to the intellectual traditions and debates that inform English and education;” conveying the realities of “English studies [as] a contested subject that encompasses multiple fields of inquiry and ideological perspectives;” and encouraging “the teaching of classic literary texts when appropriate, in addition to other valued literary genres.”

Our graduates teach in Boiling Springs, Spartanburg, Greenville, Columbia, Charlotte and throughout South Carolina.

Pursing Careers in Creative Writing

Students who wish pursue careers in creative writing may begin during college by participating in writing courses, on-campus and off-campus creative publications, and community-based writing groups.

What you can do with a B.A.

After graduation, becoming a creative writer takes determination to keep submitting your work until you find a publisher and inspiration to keep writing original projects. National organizations like the national Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) and local groups, such as the Hub City Writers Project and the South Carolina Commission Literary Arts Program can connect you with other writers through conferences, publications, readings, writing groups, workshops, and other programs.

What You Can Teach with a B.A. in English or English Education
  • With a  B.A. in Secondary Education, English from USC Upstate and attainment of teacher certification, you are qualified to teach English in grades 9 through 12. Since  the USC Upstate English Education program is nationally accredited, your South Carolina teaching license if valid in most other states.
  • With a B.A. in English, you are qualified to teach English and English Language Arts in grades 7 through 12 in some private/parochial school settings. A B.A. in English also qualifies you for programs leading to teacher certification at the graduate level, such as the M.A.T. in English. See information on graduate education below.
  • With a M.A. in English Education, you are qualified to teach college writing in most two-year and community colleges.
  • With a Ph.D. in English Education, you are qualified to teach future teachers in college and university education departments.     
Tips for Completing a Secondary Education, English Degree
  • As an English/Education major, you will take courses in both English and education.  Naturally, time devoted to education classes will prohibit an English/Education major from taking as many English-oriented classes as a typical English major would.  In close consultation with your advisor, enroll in a variety of classes in all the major areas of the English discipline to ensure that you will be familiar with the content you will teach in your future classrooms one day.
    • Some areas to consider:
      • Grammar
      • Writing
      • Literature and Diversity (e.g. African American, World Literature, Postcolonial Literature, Gender and Sexuality in Literature, etc.)
      • Area Courses (e.g. American Literature, British Literature, Shakespeare, etc.)
      • Genres in literature (e.g. poetry, drama, novels, short fiction, etc.)
    • Other classes to consider if you can make the time in your schedule are:
      • Philosophy, or any other course that particularly focuses on critical thinking skills
      • History
      • Speech/Communications
      • Film and related courses. These courses are reflective of how the English major is growing along with modern technology.  Film and other media can be evaluated using the same strategies applied to the analysis of texts.
  • Education students are required to engage in many group activities and project requirements that require work outside of the university and time outside of your normal schedule.  An English/Education major will also complete many hours of clinical observation, tutoring, and teaching time within the local school systems outside of the university.  An education student should try not to burden him- or herself with any other courses during the student teaching semester.  Think seriously about course scheduling and schedule a day free of classes in which to complete these requirements.  Have your advisor on campus assist you.
Teacher Certification

Instead of going through the entire Education Program of a specific school, a person with an English (or other) major can gain a Teaching Certificate in order to teach in South Carolina schools. Below are the major requirements for these certificate seeking students. At USC Upstate, all students must have at least a 2.5 GPA and pass the PRAXIS I exam to begin earning a certificate. 

  • Requirements
    • Earn a bachelor’s or master's degree either from an institution that has a state-approved teacher education program and is accredited for general collegiate purposes by a regional accreditation association, or from a South Carolina institution that has programs approved for teacher education by the State Board of Education, or from an institution that has programs approved for teacher education by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). Professional education credit must be earned through an institution that has a teacher education program approved for initial certification.
    • Submit the required teacher area examination score(s) as adopted by the State Board of Education for purposes of certification. Effective July 1, 2006, the required score on the examination of general professional knowledge (pedagogy) as adopted by the State Board of Education for purposes of certification will be required for initial certification. Until that date, the general professional knowledge (pedagogy) examination will be required only for professional certification.
    • Be at least eighteen years of age.
    • Undergo a criminal records check by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and a national criminal records check supported by fingerprints conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. If the applicant does not complete the initial certification process within eighteen months from the original date of application, the FBI fingerprint process must be repeated. Eligible applicants who have prior arrests and/or convictions must undergo a review by the State Board of Education and be approved before a certificate can be issued to them. Background checks from other states are not transferable to South Carolina.
  • Credential Classification
    • An initial certificate is valid for three years. Beyond the initial three-year validity period, teachers who do not yet meet the requirements for professional certification, but who are employed by a public school district at the provisional or annual contract level, as defined in S.C. Code Ann. Section 59-26-40, may have their certificates renewed annually at the request of the employing school district.
    • Teachers who hold initial certificates and are employed in a nonpublic school educational setting may have their certificates renewed annually for an indefinite period at the request of the educational entity, provided that certificate renewal requirements, as specified in R 43-55 (Renewal of Credentials) are met every five years.
  • Types of Certifications
    • Initial
    • Professional
    • Alternative Route: includes PACE and other programs for obtaining teaching certification after earning a BA in English or another field
    • International Certificate
    • Internship
    • Temporary
  • Links
How Graduate Study Enhances English Education

Graduate study can serve many different functions for K-12 English educators.

  • For students who do not obtain certification as an undergraduate, a Masters of Arts in Teaching will provide advanced coursework as well as requirements for certification.
  • Students who are certified and/or those who have worked as teachers after graduation may wish to return for a Masters of Education or higher degree in order to gain further expertise in practicing education. Often higher education is a requirement for advancement and pay increases within the teaching profession.
  • Some students may also wish to pursue a Masters of Arts in English to develop greater expertise in their subject area. Often higher education is a requirement for advancement and pay increases within the teaching profession.
  • Students, particularly those who have worked as practicing teachers for some time, may wish to return to graduate education at the Ph.D. level in order to become college-level educators of future teachers.     
Finding the Right English Education Graduate Program for You

Students should consider their goals for graduate education and select a program that offers the desired specializations. Specializations range from reading and literacy, to curriculum and instruction, to Teaching English as a Second Language. 

  • Search directories of English Education graduate programs to find schools with relevant programs. Gradschools.com offers a directory of Teaching English Graduate Programs.
  • Research individual programs through websites and published materials.
  • Consider needs for financial support.
    • At the graduate level, programs may offer research or teaching assistantships that may make out-of-state programs more affordable than in-state ones. Most programs list financial support opportunities on their Web sites, but also feel free to contact program directors to ask for more information about possible support.
    • Working teachers should also research funding assistance through your school district or state.
    • Also, contact your student loan adminstrators for undergraduate and graduate loans. Many loan programs offer loan reductions or forgiveness for teachers who work in high needs areas.
  • Match your level of teaching experience to the requirements of the programs. Some programs require between 2-5 years of teaching experience before entering the graduate program.
Applying for English Education Graduate Programs
  • In the junior year of study, the English/Education major should consider whether to attend graduate school after college or to pursue a particular position within the field.  Students who wish to pursue higher education immediately should look into the requirements for specific graduate schools or job positions to ensure that he or she is taking courses that reflect program need.  Your university may or may not require the specific courses applicable to your graduate degree or job field requirements.  It is therefore up to you as an individual to ensure that you are preparing yourself as much as possible for your intended future.
  • Remember, an English/Education major does not have a lot of “wiggle” room in scheduling; it is therefore imperative that you familiarize yourself as much as possible with the area of English you intend to pursue after graduation with your Bachelor’s degree
  • Though each school has different requirements, the general requirements for entrance into graduate school are listed below.
    • Completion of undergraduate studies
    • Recommendation letters from professors and mentor teachers in the schools
    • Completion of either the GRE general test or the MAT.
      • The GRE (Graduate Record Exam) is an aptitude test aimed at measuring quantitative and verbal reasoning and analytical writing skills required for graduate studies. For more information, go to www.ets.org/gre/. For test-taking assistance, see www.majon.com/testprep/about-gre.html.
      • The MAT (Miller Analogies Test) is a high-level test of analytical ability that requires the solution of problems stated as analogies. It is intended to measure your ability to recognize relationships between ideas, your fluency in the English language, general knowledge of the humanities, natural sciences, mathematics, and social science. For information, go to www.milleranalogies.com/
  • Work with your advisor to prepare your statement of purpose or application essay. Drew and Karen Appleby list several tips for avoiding application mistakes in "Kisses of Death in the Graduate School Application Process," published in Teaching of Psychology 33.1 (2006): 19-24. Several online communities also offer advice and serve as a sounding board for students applying to graduate school.
  • Select and edit a 10-page writing sample. Consult your advisor for help in selecting and editing your sample.
English Education Graduate Programs
  • Clemson UniversityM.Ed. Secondary EducationM.A. English
    • An undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
    • A GRE score of 500 on the verbal and quantitative sections, and 4.5 writing score. Those with a GPA or GRE score lower than the requirement may be considered for admission under probationary status.
    • Two letters of recommendation from those familiar with the applicant’s academic or work experience
    • Students applying for the M.Ed. are required to have a minimum of one year of teaching experience and a valid teaching certificate

  • Emory University, D.A.S.T, M.Ed., M.A. Education, M.A.T. (Teaching), Ph.D. Educational Studies
    • D.A.S.T. (Sixth-Year Diploma for Advanced Study in Teaching) for practicing teachers
    • M.A.T. (Masters of Teaching) for those seeking both a master's degree and initial teaching certification
      • GPA of 3.0 or above in junior and senior undergraduate years
      • GRE in 50th percentile or above in 2 of the 3 exam areas
      • Undergraduate degree in a major appropriate for an area of specialization (English, math, science, social studies)
      • Statement of purpose
    • M.Ed. (Masters of Education) for practicing teachers
    • M.A. Education (research-focused--requirements will be more rigorous than those listed for the M.A.T.)
    • GRE test scores
    • Application Packet
    • Transcripts
    • Three Graduate School Rating Sheets from persons familiar with the candidates academic and/or professional performance
  • Ph.D. in Educational Studies (research-focused--requirements will be more rigorous than those listed for the M.A.T.)
  • Statement of purpose
  • GRE test scores
  • Application Packet
  • Transcripts
  • Three Graduate School Rating Sheets from persons familiar with the candidates academic and/or professional performance 

  • Florida State University, M.A. English Education, M.S. English Education, Ph.D. in English Education
    • The M.A./M.S. in English Education offers five tracks for students:
      • Traditional Track for teachers or prospective teachers who wish to expand expertise, and a Traditional Track with Secondary English Certification for students who did not obtain certification in their undergraduate career.
      • National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) Track for practicing teachers with three years of experience who wish to obtain NBPTS certification.
      • Community College/Junior College Track for experienced teachers who wish to qualify for teaching above the K-12 level, including dual-enrollment high school courses and college composition courses.
      • Teaching English as a Second Language Track.
      • Reading Track for teachers and prospective teachers who wish to add a reading emphasis to their certification.
    • Requirements for the M.A./M.S. tracks include the following:
      • 3.0 or better GPA during last two years of undergraduate work
      • Score of at least 1000 combined verbal and quantitative GRE
      • 21 credits or more in undergraduate English courses, not including English 101/102
      • Academic writing sample
      • Letter of intent/statement of purpose
      • Three letters of recommendation
      • Application form
    • The Ph.D. program is open to students who have already earned a Masters Degree in English, Linguistics, English Education or a related field. Applicants must also have at least three years of teaching experience.

  • University of Georgia, M.Ed. Secondary English Education, M.Ed. with Certification, M.A. Secondary English Education, Ed.S. in Secondary English Education, Ph.D. in Language and Literacy
    • The M.Ed. in Secondary English Education is designed for students who have obtained certification. Students may specialize in areas of ESOL, Reading, Gifted, or Educational Leadership.
    • The M.Ed. with certification is designed for students who majored in English and did not earn certification as undergraduate.
    • The M.A. in Secondary English Education is designed for students who wish to enhance their expertise and plan to pursue doctoral study later in their careers.
    • The Ed.S. offers a specialist in education degree to teaching professionals who wish to pursue leadership roles in their schools. Students are required to have a masters degree before entering this program.
    • The Ph.D. offers advanced study in Language and Literacy Education. Students must have earned a masters degree before entering this program.
    • Requirements for the Masters programs include the following:
      • Undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university with cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
      • Teaching certification (except for programs that include certification)
      • Minimum of 900 total (400 verbal) on the GRE or minimum 402 on the MAT
      • Application form
      • Three letters of recommendation
      • Statement of Purpose and cv

  • University of North Carolina at Pembroke, M.A. English Education
    • The M.A. English Education program includes courses in language, literacy, literature, and pedagogy. Students may apply at any stage in their careers, including those without teaching certification and those who have been practicing teachers.
    • Requirements for this program include the following:
      • Application form and transcripts
      • Three letters of recommendation
      • GRE or MAT scores
      • Current teaching licenses

  • Western Carolina University, M.A.Ed. (Education), M.A.T. (Teaching), M.A. English
    • The M.A.T. is designed for English majors who would like to obtain teaching certification and education expertise in order to enter the teaching field.
    • The M.A.Ed. allows students to specialize in English or English/Language Arts and Reading.
    • Requirements for these programs include the following:
      • GRE test scores
      • Three recommendations from instructors and/or employers who can speak to potential for success in graduate school
      • 3.0 GPA or better for last 60 hours of undergraduate career
      • Eligibility to hold a North Carolina Class A teaching license or a comparable license from another state (M.A.Ed. only)
      • Writing Sample for M.A.Ed. in English or Two-Year College Teaching
      • M.A.Ed. in Education Supervision must have at least three years of teaching experience