Undergraduate Major Requirements

Fulfillment of the English major requires the completion of at least TEN courses in the Department of English and Comparative Literature, with a grade higher than D. 

One of the ten courses used to fulfill the English major must be Literary Texts, Critical Methods ENGL UN3001, along with the accompanying seminar section ENGL UN3011. ENGL UN3001 and ENGL UN3011 comprise a single course.  Students may take this course in any year, although majors are urged to take it as early as possible, preferably in the freshman or sophomore year. ENGL UN3001 does not fulfill any distribution requirements.

Of the remaining nine courses, two may be taken outside the English and Comparative Literature Department (please consult the “Options and Restrictions” section).  Courses taken within the department, however, must satisfy the following distribution requirements: 


Three courses dealing primarily with periods before 1800
Restriction: only one course in Shakespeare may be used toward this requirement


One course in each of the following three generic categories: poetry, prose fiction/narrative, drama/film/new media



One course in each of the following three geographical categories: British, American, comparative/global

NOTE:  a single course may fulfill more than one distribution requirement.  For example, a single lecture in medieval poetry would fulfill the following three requirements:  the period distribution "pre-1800", the genre distribution "poetry", and the geographical distribution "British."

Course Distribution Lists for the current term are available and can be found in hard copy in the department office.  An archive of past courses, and the distribution requirements they fulfill, can also be requested at the department office. If you feel that a course is not designated correctly (for instance, a course is not designated as fulfilling the poetry requirement, but in fact it covered a great deal of poetry), please contact the DUS to discuss.


Courses that DO NOT count toward the major:

  • Core classes such as University Writing (ENGL C1010 or F1010) and Literature and Humanities
  • Courses taken Pass/Fail, or receiving a grade of D;  note, however, that the first course taken in the department can be taken P/F, and can count toward the major, so long as it is not LTCM 

Courses that DO count toward the major:

  • English Department courses used to satisfy the Global Core requirement
  • Barnard English courses; there is no limit to the number of Barnard courses that can apply towards the major, and these can also fulfill distribution requirements, in consultation with the DUS
  • Up to two courses offered through Creative Writing, comparative literature (these will have course numbers beginning with CL), and foreign language departments (if they are upper-level courses concentrating on literature, rather than language proficiency);  important: courses taken outside English do not fulfill any distribution requirements; note, however, that Comparative Literature courses with the designation CLEN are in fact English Department courses; there is, therefore, no limit on how many can be taken, and they do fulfill distribution requirements
  • Up to two summer classes 
  • The Senior Essay, or an independent study course (although there is no limit to the number of independent studies you can take in the department, only one of these can count toward the major) 
  • Transfer and Study Abroad credits (in consultation with the DUS)