English and Writing

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

We're so much more than Dead Poets Society or Freedom Writers...

What can you do with an English Major?

The most common alumni response: "Anything you want to."

Students in the English major and English or Creative Writing minors develop strong skills in critical thinking, analysis, empathy, cultural competence, leadership, written communication, research and reading--skills that are essential in a range of careers. English majors become non-profit administrators, corporate executives, wine consultants, restaurant or film reviewers, attorneys, secret service agents, stand-up comedians, musicians, librarians, governors, writers, editors, video game designers, CEOs, 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. 

Our Curriculum

The English curriculum exposes students to the full breadth of English studies--from linguistics to creative writing, from Shakespeare to digital media and film. Students choose their own path through advanced courses in

  • Literature and Film: Students can take as many as ten film classes, including production, writing, and analysis, to fill requirements in the English major. The literature and film emphasis also provides a great foundation for cross-cultural understanding and interpersonal communication and empathy, and the curriculum offers solid preparation for students pursuing graduate study.
  • Creative and Professional Writing/Rhetoric: Students explore creative genres in fantasy, young adult literature, creative non-fiction, and novels. Professional writing courses in grant writing, Web writing, coding and design, social media and multimedia production combining text and video/audio in digital storytelling and messaging.
  • English for Speakers of Other Languages: Students learn linguistic and second language acquisition principles and apply them in service learning experiences with English Language Learners in adult education or area K-12 schools. Some students even take their service learning global through spring break study abroad in Central America.
  • or a combination of all areas through General English Studies: Can't pick just one area of focus? Try sports writing, Harlem Renaissance literature, Apocalyptic Fiction, linguistics for language learners, women writers, and mythic and classical literature.

What do English Alumni Say?

  • "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."

Empowering Your English Degree

Many of our courses, such as Linguistics for Second Language Learners (ENSL U351), Digital Storytelling (ENGL U345), Freelance Writing and Publishing (ENGL U345), and Digital Humanities and Archival Research (ENGL U345), offer service learning experiences that allow students to apply course content and skills to achieve goals with community partners.

Students also complete individualized internship experiences in film, writing, editing, English for speakers of other languages, literacy advocacy, media, and legal writing and research. Some examples of internship locations include the following: 

  • Adult Learning Center
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Hub City Press and Hub City Writers Project
  • Law Firms throughout the Upstate
  • Make-a-Wish Spartanburg
  • Spartanburg Public Library
  • Spartanburg Public Schools
  • Style A to Z Fashion and Style Blog
  • Wunderlich PR, Inc. (New York)

To complete an internship for academic credit, please contact Dr. Tom McConnell, LLC Internship Coordinator, at 864-503-5681 or tmcconnell@uscupstate.edu. For other external internships, contact Career Management and sign up for Handshake. 

For more information find us on Twitter at #UpstateEnglish or follow us at @LLC_Upstate.

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.

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

  • Entrepreneurship and small business innovation (B.A. with internship or minor in entrepreneurship)
  • Informatics and Computer Information Science (B.A. with minor, internships, additional experience)
  • Linguistics and English for Speakers of Other Languages (B.A., world language study helpful, possible graduate study especially for cryptography, computational linguistics, forensic linguistics, and applied 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 world language skills)
  • Technology and design thinking teams (B.A. with internships and service learning experience)
  • Medical or health Industry leadership and support (B.A. with internships, service learning, minor in Child Advocacy or Health Communication, possible graduate degree in related fields)
  • Civic Planning, Urban Development, Social Justice (B.A. with independent study/service learning/internship, with possible graduate degree in related fields)
Careers in 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 writersInc. literary magazine, the Carolinian student newspaper, and other 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, video games, and screenwriting. See Pursuing a Career in Creative Writing below for more information. (B.A., M.F.A., or Ph.D.)
  • Grant writing for non-profit organizations, government organizations, and other groups to secure funding for special projects. (B.A. with internships)
  • Technical and science writing for businesses, health professions, computer/technology magazines, and science media outlets. Technical writers and science bridge the communication gap between the public and expert engineers, computer scientists, researchers, and scientists in a variety of fields. They may write instructions, public announcements, brochures, community guidelines, or other examples of informational or feature writing focused on science and technology topics. 
  • Producing public relations and business communications. (B.A. with internships)
  • Reviewing books, music, arts events. (B.A.)
  • Writing for media in television, radio, video games, or the World Wide Web. (B.A. with internships)

Pursuing a Career in Creative Writing

Students who wish to 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. 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 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.

Publishing and Editing

Students interested in publishing and editing are encouraged to

  • enroll in Understanding English Grammar (ENGL U252) as well as Topics in Professional Writing focused on editing (ENGL U345),
  • enroll in graphics design courses, 
  • complete an internship with local or national publications,
  • serve as a tutor in the Writing Center and
  • participate in editing on-campus publications to develop experience.

Some career options for graduates with strong editing skills include the following:

  • Copyediting (B.A.)
  • Proofreading—often freelance (B.A.)
  • Manuscript reading (B.A.)
  • Indexing (B.A.)
  • Book acquisitions (B.A., M.A. or Ph.D.) 
  • Book promotions (B.A.)
  • Literary journal publications (B.A., M.F.A., or Ph.D.)
  • Editing online and/or print publications (B.A. with internships)

Graduates may also pursue master's degrees in Digital Publishing or Literary Editing and Publishing in order to gain more experience and expertise before entering the job market.

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 for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) for at home or in other countries. Find out more about preparing for careers in Teaching with an English Degree

  • 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 for Speakers of Other Languages programs (B.A. for work in China, Spain, Latin America, and other locations around the world, B.A. with possible certification, additional training or graduate work in ESOL)
  • 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).
Careers in Book Culture
  • Book sales (B.A.)
  • Non-profit reading and literacy 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.). 

Goals and Student Learning Outcomes

1. The student graduating in English at USC Upstate should be able to demonstrate a knowledge of literary periods, movements, genres, and authors that is informed by literary criticism, theory, and linguistic analysis.

1.1 Demonstrate an ability to situate and interpret texts in their historical and cultural contexts.

1.2 Utilize appropriate literary and/or linguistic theory in discussing the assigned texts.


 2. A student graduating in English at USC Upstate should be able to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate a variety of texts.

2.1 Interpret meaning and significance based on close observations of details within and among texts.


3. A student graduating in English at USC Upstate should be able to communicate in a clear and concise manner for a variety of audiences.

3.1 Write with clarity and precision as appropriate for the given audience.


4. A student graduating in English at USC Upstate should be able to incorporate, engage in and utilize well-planned and well-executed research.

4.1 Critically engage the ideas of other scholars.

4.2 Incorporate research in writing about the assigned texts.