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Frequently Asked Questions:


English
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What introductory courses does the department offer? What should a first- or second-year student consider taking?
Course offerings vary from semester to semester, but single- or double-digit course numbers (e.g., ENG 7a or ENG 33a) are suitable for first- or second-year students. Very few English courses have prerequisites, so students may enroll at will in almost any course in the department. Courses numbered 100-199 are open to graduate and undergraduate students. Courses numbered 200 or above are graduate-level seminars.
How should I choose courses? Which courses fit well together?
For help in constructing an individualized plan of study, students should consult with their academic or departmental advisers or with the Undergraduate Advising Head.
Where can I find information about the courses being offered next semester?
Brief course descriptions and tentative schedules of the upcoming semester's offerings are available online and in the main office of the English department. If you are interested in finding out more about a particular course, you may also want to e-mail the professor.
How do I find an adviser in the English department?
You will be assigned an adviser in the department when you declare the English major or minor. If you are not a major or minor but have questions about the department or the discipline of English, then you may want to contact the Undergraduate Advising Head.
How do I declare a major or minor in English?

To declare a major or minor in English, you simply need to meet with the department's Undergraduate Advising Head. Students normally declare a major in the spring semester of the sophomore year, although you may change your major or add a second major at any time.

The declaration of the major usually takes place during the Undergraduate Advising Head's office hours. You may want to prepare for this meeting by completing the form available on the Registrar's Office website. When you declare your major or minor, you will be asked to review requirements of the major and to choose a hypothetical schedule of courses that will fulfill those requirements. When you declare a major or minor, you will also be assigned an adviser in the department.

Where can I find descriptions of the current requirements for the English major or minors?
The current requirements for majors and minors are printed in the Brandeis University Bulletin.
I'm still a little fuzzy about the requirements; what should I do?
Speak with your adviser (if you are a major) or the Undergraduate Advising Head. Alternatively, you may consult the Bulletin.
Do creative writing courses count towards the English major?
Students completing the English literature major may count one creative writing workshop towards the English major. (Obviously, creative writing courses count towards the major and minor in creative writing.) University Writing Seminars are not considered creative writing courses, nor they do count towards the English major.
How do I apply to a creative writing workshop or to the creative writing major?
Please visit the Creative Writing FAQ for information about workshops and that major.
I'd like to substitute a course taken in another department or at another university for one required for the English major. What should I do?

If the course you have taken elsewhere is a suitable substitution (that is, if it meets the spirit of the departmental requirement), then you should complete an online substitution request at the Registrar's website.  The Undergraduate Advising Head will receive notification of your request and make a decision to approve or deny it; if the substitution is accepted, the change will reflect in your Undergraduate Audit on Sage.

Please bear in mind that the Brandeis English department allows majors to count a maximum of three courses taken outside the Brandeis English department towards the Brandeis English degree. This includes courses taken while studying abroad, cross-listed courses and transfer courses.

Should I write a senior essay or thesis?

Any English major may elect to write a one-semester senior essay or a two-semester senior thesis. The essay or thesis counts towards graduation requirements just like a regular course for credit, and it will be graded. You also need to register for the essay or thesis by completing an add form from the Registrar's Office.

You do not have to have any particular grade point average to write an essay or thesis; some restrictions do apply to an honors essay or thesis (see below).

If you think you would like to write an essay or thesis, the first step is to identify a few possible topics; then, you should discuss those with a faculty member in the department who could serve as your adviser for the project. This person need not be your academic adviser in the major, although it could be. If you need help finding a faculty member to advise an essay or thesis, you can consult with the Undergraduate Advising Head. In special cases, a faculty member from another department may advise or co-advise an essay or thesis.

After you have found an adviser, you should write up a description of your essay or thesis topic, have your adviser approve and sign it, and submit a copy of the proposal to the Undergraduate Advising Head. You should plan to complete these three steps (identifying topic, finding an adviser, and submitting the proposal) before the end of the first week of the semester in which you begin working on the essay or thesis. Realistically speaking, you will probably want to complete these steps before the end of the preceding semester.

All other deadlines and procedures for researching and writing the thesis are to be determined in consultation with the essay or thesis adviser. Students writing a year-long thesis will need to find a second faculty reader to whom they can submit a late draft of the thesis for approval.

What does it take to be eligible for departmental honors in English?
Graduation with honors in English requires a GPA of 3.5 or higher in courses counting towards the major, and satisfactory completion of a Senior Honors Essay, which counts as a tenth course. In rare cases, students may elect instead to complete the Senior Honors Thesis.
How can I get more information about graduate school in English?
If you are interested in learning more about graduate school in English, you can speak with your adviser, the Undergraduate Advising Head or any professor in the department. It is a good idea to review web sites of various departments at other universities, so that you become familiar with their admission requirements and areas of expertise. You may also wish to consult the U.S. News and World Report rankings of various graduate programs, paying special attention to the various subfields that interest you. The Hiatt Center also regularly runs workshops for students interested in applying to graduate school.
What good will an English major do me later in life? Why should I study English?
In addition to being inherently pleasurable and intellectually exciting, a major or minor in English will help you develop important skills. English majors and minors learn how to read carefully and closely, write skillfully and stylishly, and argue analytically and critically. These "communications" skills are widely in demand. Understanding the history and conflicts that have shaped English-speaking cultures is also enormously valuable for anyone interested in human services, politics, travel, cross-cultural exchanges or creative and artistic projects. Studying English can help you perfect your understanding of a language that you already use and enhance your appreciation for cultures you inhabit and/or recognize.
What are the special strengths of the Department of English?
The faculty currently have special interest in a number of areas: women's studies, gender and sexuality, modern American literature, Anglophone literature and postcolonial theory, early modern (especially Renaissance) English literature, literature and science, literary theory and philosophy, and contemporary poetry.  Learn more about our faculty.