English Major

If you want to ensure career readiness, become an English major because these three skills—communication, critical thinking, and teamwork—are what students acquire in our courses and what potential employers seek the most in new hires. The English major teaches you not what to think, but how—how to frame questions of power, justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Students learn how to read and write effectively and how to analyze and use creative imagination to solve problems, either independently or as part of a team. With dedicated, active, and award-winning faculty, students in our department discover how stories shape our world, study multiple points of view, and learn how to communicate visually and verbally across an ever-changing landscape of digital and social media. The English major is also one of the most effective ways to prepare for graduate and professional schools, particularly law school and any business or profession that involves these three most sought-after skills—communication, critical thinking, and teamwork.

Click here for more information

  • How to Think Critically
  • How to Communicate, Read, and Write Effectively
  • How to Frame Questions about Power and Justice
  • How to Analyze Issues of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Lawyer
  • Law Clerk
  • Paralegal
  • Social Justice Activist
  • Non-profit Advocate
  • Research Assistant
  • Teacher
  • And More...
FAQs for Prospective English Majors

English is the study of imaginative texts in English (but not necessarily of English origin) and the history of their production.  The study of English is devoted to appreciating and critiquing thought and art, but equally to developing important skills, such as close reading, critical analysis, and cogent, forceful writing.  Through reading novels, plays, poems, watching films, and discussing these texts in their classes, English majors deepen their attentiveness to language, culture, and history.

At John Jay, Literature and the Law is a unique set of courses designed to help students think about law from a literary viewpoint.  All students in the English major will take the course

LIT 305, Foundations of Literature and Law, which introduces them to the basic questions that Literature and Law can ask of each other, such as “How does a story become fact?” or “What should we do when the law conflicts with morality?”  Once a student has taken this course, s/he can decide either to concentrate in Literature and the Law, or to concentrate in Literature. The Literature and the Law concentration requires a student to take (A) four electives, three of which are designated as Literature and Law electives, and (B) the senior seminar in Literature and the Law.  The Literature concentration requires a student take (A) any four electives, and (B) the senior seminar in Literature.

The short answer: anything.  A degree in English is universally applicable to virtually any profession because it helps you develop as a writer, a thinker, a communicator; these skills, as any recruiter will tell you, are highly desirable in any job.  Our own research shows us that English majors thrive in many of the professions seen as desirable by John Jay students: lawyers, judges, police officers, public policy specialists, crime reporters, FBI agents, etc. While an English degree may open doors to these professions, it won’t limit you to them. English majors run their own businesses, are communications experts, work in the publishing industry, write technical manuals… you name it, an English major has done it.

To learn more, please contact Professor John Staines.