The Four Levels of Courses

There is no set pathway through the major, but there is a general trajectory that English majors pursue. Beginning with courses stressing engagement (100 level) and courses focused on foundational issues and approaches (200 level), English majors advance through an array of topic-based courses (300 level) to courses that emphasize research, broadly defined, and extended writing (400 level). Every student is different, though, and all English majors should expect to choose, in consultation with their advisors, the courses that are best for them.

What Our "Levels" Mean

Majoring in English requires the completion of ten courses offered or approved by the Department. The Department organizes its courses into four levels. If you are unsure whether a course is right for you, just write to the professor and they will help you assess your readiness.

  • 100-Level Courses provide entries for engagement with the English department through small, writing-intensive seminars on a diverse range of topics. They introduce students to a variety of genres and media, entail frequent writing, and cultivate students' skills in close reading.
  • 200-Level Courses emphasize a particular approach to method, genre, medium, period, or discourse. They include introductory courses in creative writing as well as literary, film, or cultural study.
  • 300 Level Courses are electives designed to foster immersion into literary, film, and cultural studies and creative writing. They help students learn skills and/or study materials that will prepare them for independent work in their 400-level seminars. They are open, however, to both majors and non-majors across the college, and generally do not carry prerequisites for admission.
  • 400 Level Courses are junior and senior seminars emphasizing independent inquiry, critical and theoretical issues, and extensive writing. These courses teach students the intellectual skills vital to framing a research question and conducting independent research. Because 400-level seminars can, in the senior year, lead to a thesis project, the Department strongly urges majors to take at least one of their required 400-level seminars before the end of the junior year.  The Department will not guarantee admission to a particular 400-level seminar in the second semester of the senior year.  While special topics and senior tutorial courses for thesis students also have 400 numbers, these courses cannot count towards the 400-level requirements.

A Note on Creative Writing

Creative Writing courses are a popular component of the English Department and have limited enrollment to facilitate the workshop experience.

Information about Creative Writing courses and enrollment