Why Study English

English majors develop skills:

  • To think critically and creatively
  • To analyze and interpret complex information,
  • To present their analyses through clear and effective writing

Our students study English, American, and World literatures; the English language; and all levels and genres of writing. You will gain extensive experience analyzing fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, film, and critical theory.

In addition, you can study the history and structure of English, and then apply that knowledge in advanced literature or writing courses. You will become proficient in research methods and online technologies.

Many of our students also choose to supplement their degree with a double major, with teaching certification, or with a minor in another discipline.

Why Study English at Ship

Studying English at Shippensburg University prepares you for any kind of career that involves:

  • Textual analysis
  • Information and content management
  • Critical thinking
  • Clear and convincing writing skills
  • An appreciation for creative expression

More than preparing for a profession, studying English allows you to work closely with accomplished faculty in a field that is at the heart of a liberal arts education. Students have opportunities to meet with distinguished visiting writers, editors, filmmakers, and scholars. The study of language and literature at Ship provides our students with skills that never go out of fashion, skills that continue to develop, nourish, and preserve the legacies of human cultural expression now and for the future.

Students become proficient in online research methods, digital literacies, and multimodal learning. The Department of English has a computer lab, located in Dauphin Humanities Center, specifically equipped for writing instruction and web design. Our students develop their skills in writing and research through a rich array of online resources available through the university's learning management systems and its academic databases.

Ship students undertake individual projects via undergraduate research grants, independent study, and on- and off-campus professional internships, or present their work at regional and national conferences.

Career Opportunities and Salary Estimates

Upon graduation, our students follow a variety of post-graduate educational and professional paths. Many embark on careers in:

  • Publishing
  • Communications
  • Marketing
  • Government
  • Administration
  • Related fields

English majors who pursue teaching certification use their specialized training to find teaching positions across Pennsylvania and throughout the nation. Others earn graduate degrees in English, creative writing, law, and other professional specialties at prominent research universities. Some former Ship English majors, like best-selling writer Dean Koontz or New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen, achieve national reputations.

There are a variety of internships for English majors through area businesses, publications, and organizations. Recently, students have served as interns for Volvo North America, the Red Cross, McCall's Quilt Magazine, the S.H.A.P.E. Gallery, the Franklin County Literacy Council, the Chambersburg Arts Council, and the Philadelphia Police Department. Internships are arranged by the student in cooperation with a faculty member. All students majoring in English with secondary certification student teach for 16 weeks in grades 7-12 throughout the central Pennsylvania region.

The average salary for English professors in PA is $45,000.

Major and Minor Requirements

English majors at Ship follow a varied curriculum that includes courses in writing, the history and structure of the English language, and literature—all designed to develop the critical thinking, research, and analytical skills that are essential for the study of English. Our program features historical breadth and depth, with courses ranging from Medieval and Renaissance periods through the Modern and Post-modern eras, as well as a wide range of culturally diverse courses in Women's Literature, Queer Studies, Ethnic Literature, and African-American Literature. Students in our teacher certification program also take a range of courses in literacy and pedagogy.

To earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, you must complete 39 credits in English courses. Students who wish to pursue the degree with the Writing Emphasis will need to complete additional Language, Writing, and Criticism courses for a total of 42 credits in the major. Secondary certification also requires 42 credits of English courses and an additional 33 credits of professional education requirements. See the Undergraduate Catalog for specific course requirements.

To earn a minor in English, students must take one required course, ENG107 Introduction to Literary Studies and 15 credits of English electives.


The Writing Emphasis concentration requires students to complete all of the courses needed to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. The concentration has a total of 42 credits, with slight variations on the number of credits required in each knowledge area: Core Courses; Multicultural Literature; Language, Writing, and Criticism; Literary Traditions; and Seminar.


The degree programs in English at Shippensburg are accredited and/or evaluated by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP), and the National Council of Teachers of English.

Student Groups

Our students work closely with faculty to design, edit, and publish our premiere literary magazine Reflector and our journal of outstanding undergraduate writing, Write the Ship. A number of English majors also serve on the editorial staff of SU’s literary magazine, the Reflector, and join the Creative Writing club.

If you excel in your studies, you may be invited to become a member of Sigma Tau Delta, an international English major honor society that organizes and participates in a variety of service projects and literacy events throughout the year, including sponsoring a high school writing contest in area schools.

We also have a student affiliate chapter of the National Council of Teachers of English, providing valuable professional development opportunities to students majoring in English with secondary certification.

Dauphin Humanities Center 128, 1871 Old Main Drive, Shippensburg, PA 17257
(717) 477-1495
Department Website