Department of English

What Do English Majors Do?


With an English major, and with the knowledge, values and skills you learn over your four years of study, you will be developing an adaptable set of “tools” that you can take with you to any number of future careers.  You will learn about how the right words can change the world, and how you can find those words.  You will learn how to think critically about the world around you, and become aware of how our world is largely constituted in and by language.  In English, you will deeply analyze how and why language works and what kind of work it can do, and you will learn how to write clearly, coherently, and beautifully. 


Thus, as you might expect, being an English Major isn’t like being in a pre-vocational major such as Accounting or Journalism.  With those pre-professional degrees, it’s very clear what you can do after you graduate: you become an accountant or a journalist.  If you like being an accountant or a journalist, then you’re all set.  But if you spend four years training for those fields and then discover that you don’t like that particular job, you’re in a bit of a bind, since you’ve only really prepared yourself for one thing and one thing only.

Below is some information about what our most recent majors have done.  Please note, too, that several majors have already done more than one thing.  For instance, one student who went into the business field is now retooling himself for a law degree.  A recent creative writing major went to get a graduate degree but then decided to follow a career in advertising.  As a gifted poet, this student was already aware of how the sound of language, and the proper choice of words, can communicate emotions – something the slogans and jingles we hear every day try to do.


With an English major – you have options – lots of them!  Here are some of them:


About 15-20% go on for graduate level education either at the Masters, MFA (the terminal degree for Creative Writers) or PhD level, and continue on to become college professors and administrators.  Creighton English majors have had very good success at winning scholarships and fellowships to study at the graduate level.  Last spring, all 5 seniors who applied to graduate programs were accepted into multiple programs, and all received at least one fellowship offer (some even more).  Our majors have gone on to study across the country – at Brown University, Boston College, University of Minnesota, University of Iowa, State University of New York at Buffalo, Sarah Lawrence, and University of Nebraska, to name just a few schools.


About 15-20% go on to law school and work in the fields of law and politics.  Creighton’s Dean of the Law School, Patrick Borchers, has said publicly that an English Major is the best undergraduate degree to prepare you for law school.  Why is that?  Because the law is a difficult text, and, just like English majors, lawyers spend most of their time making arguments about difficult texts.  Like English majors, lawyers interpret events and people, and try tell coherent stories about what happened and why.  Most recently, we have sent our majors to law school at places like Duke University, Boston College and Marquette University.


Interestingly enough, about 15-20% of our majors are Pre-Health Sciences students as well as English majors!   Recent majors have been successful in getting accepted into medical school, dental school, and even veterinary school!   This is the group of majors who knows what it means to educate themselves as whole people.  They also know how important the critical thinking and coherent writing skills they gain in the department are to their work in the health-care fields.  One recent grad actually was able to win a national scholarship for writing a paper about the images of veterinary science in English literature – who says English doesn’t pay?


About 10% take up work in the non-profit sector.  Recent grads have served in the Peace Corps, Vista, the Jesuit Volunteer Corps or worked with non-profit organizations.  These students use their talents as teachers, administrators, and organizers, and often these jobs allow them to travel to exotic locations to help change the world.  1999 alumna, Kerri McCallister, was recently featured in Creighton Magazine for her work with the Jesuit Volunteers International in Nepal, where she is teaching English.


About 10% work in the business and publishing fields, most often as technical writers and editors, but sometimes working in the PR department or even as financial analysts!  Our recent grads have found employment at Mutual of Omaha, First National Bank, Bozell Advertising, and, one poor recent alum was, at least until last November, an analyst at Enron (he’s applying to law school now!).  Such firms actively seek English majors, because they know that English majors are typically creative, hard-working individuals, gifted with an ability to write in a variety of contexts, situations and genres and to help others in their writing.  For instance, recent grad Nora Spencer is now a features writer at Omaha’s Reader. 


And, yes, despite how clichéd it is – you can teach!  About 15-20% become high school teachers.  Creighton English Education majors have had great success finding jobs in schools all over the area – from Omaha Central High to Creighton Prep and beyond. 


Although our numbers above add up to 100%, our recent grads have done a few other things as well…one is now getting a degree in Library and Information Sciences…another is working as a scriptwriter in Hollywood…another is an officer in the U.S. Army serving in Germany…yet another is doing graduate work at Georgetown’s Graduate School of International Relations and planning a career in international diplomacy (talk about a field where you need to know how to use language carefully!)…other grads have gone on to become Pulitzer Prize-winning novelists or even the Mayor of Omaha!


 What are you going to do with your English Major? 


Don’t hesitate to contact us so we can help you to figure out what you will do!


Brent Spencer,

Chair, Department of English