Frequently Asked Questions

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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 you 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.

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How should I choose courses? Which courses fit well together?

For help in constructing an individualized plan of study, you should consult with your academic or departmental advisors or with the Undergraduate Advising Head.

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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 email the professor.

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How do I find an advisor in the English department?

You will be assigned an advisor 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.

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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 advisor in the department.

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I'm still a little fuzzy about the requirements; what should I do?

Speak with your advisor (if you are a major) or the Undergraduate Advising Head. Alternatively, you may consult the Bulletin.

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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.

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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 the substitution request on 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 in 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.

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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 can register for the essay or thesis by receiving a consent code from the faculty director.

Please visit the Honors Information page for more information.

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How can I get more information about graduate studies in English?

If you are interested in learning more about graduate studies in English, you can speak with your advisor, the Undergraduate Advising Head, or any professor in the department. It is a good idea to review websites 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 Career Center also regularly runs workshops for students interested in applying to graduate school.

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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.

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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.