The Department of English offers both major and minor programs, which allow students to choose either a literature or writing emphasis. Central to these programs is a belief that the close study of literature offers great pleasure, intellectual challenge, and incomparable training for today’s workplace. Among the rewards inherent in the study of English is gaining a greater understanding of the power of literary language and thought, the rich diversity of literary traditions and the cultural contexts of literary production. Intellectually, students will mature as readers, thinkers and writers, able to engage in analysis and discussion, and to write with acuity and critical self-awareness.

The literature emphasis provides a background in British and American literature and enables students to develop skills in research, writing, and advanced critical thinking. The writing emphasis combines a selection of courses from the literature emphasis and a concentration of courses designed to introduce students to problems and issues of language and writing and to develop skills in creative writing.

small deans medal winners

2013 Dean's Medal & Valedictorian Winners & Finalists (from left to right): Daniel O'Connell (English major), winner of the Dean's Medal; Gabriela Kirkland (English major), Finalist for Valedictorian; Kirstie Atienza (English minor), Dean's Medal Finalist.


English is one of the most rewarding, enjoyable, and practical majors. As English majors, students read the books they love, explore and refine their ideas through in-depth class discussion, and practice the art of critical and creative writing. An English degree trains you to be a savvy reader of texts, a sophisticated thinker, and a persuasive writer. These are increasingly important traits as the world becomes about the acquisition and distillation of information. Most importantly, students who study English become smarter readers of the world. They become more literate about books of course but also about culture, data, history, and information. And as the world becomes increasingly complex, no trait is more valuable to employers than literacy.

Of course, we hope you will consider majoring in English, but for those of you who have already selected a different major, USF makes it incredibly easy to pick up a minor. There is probably no more versatile minor than English. If your major is science, business, politics, or psychology, you would be a particularly good candidate for the English minor, as much of your job will require communication and writing.

kayla senior seminar

Kayla LaCour presents poems from her senior thesis at the annual Senior Seminars.


The English major has been in the press a great deal in the last year, as parents, students, and employers try to figure out what kinds of training the world will need as old modes of employment give way to new innovations in technology, information, design, and literacy. As several visible employers have stated recently—whether it’s Santosh Jayram telling The Wall Street Journal to send him English majors or Steve Strauss writing in The Huffington Post about why he "hires English majors”—students of English are a step ahead in the new marketplace. The most dynamic article on this topic, "Why English Majors are the Hot New Hires," argues that English graduates possess a unique left brain-right brain mixture that leads to greater insight, better communication, and greater empathy. 

USF English alums have gone on to jobs in law, business, hospitality, writing, publishing, the non-profit sector, the entertainment industry, education and dozens of other fields. Most of our graduates continue on in some form of graduate study. To see what some of our graduates are doing, check out our Student, Faculty and Alumni Accomplishments. To see what Department Chair Dean Rader says about the employability of English majors, read his recent Op-Ed piece for The San Francisco Chronicle

We also recently established an English alumni Facebook page, where graduates can stay in touch as well as network with each other both socially and professionally. Because students and faculty work closely, professors remain a valuable resource even after graduation. So, even when you are no longer on campus, you'll always have the department as a place for career advice.

English Grads

Happy and well educated English grads at the 2013 spring commencement.


The English major is designed to encourage students to develop their talents as thinkers, readers, and writers beyond the classroom. USF's English Department offers a wide range of special opportunities for its students interested in the study of literature, careers in literary publishing, and creative writing. Our students participate in the exciting literary life of USF—and San Francisco itself—attending the many readings by visiting and resident writers, joining the staff of USF’s historic literary magazine, The Ignatian, and curating student readings. Our department has also developed an innovative internship program that enables students to work in the fields of publishing, teaching, tutoring, writing, and translation while at USF. Recent internships include placements with City Lights, Zoetrope One Story, Zyzzyva, Prentice Hall, Poetry Flash, 826 Valencia, Parthenon West Review, Addison Wesley Longman, Aunt Lute Books, The San Francisco Bay Guardian, Chronicle Books, various literary agencies, The Commonwealth Club, KTVU Fox 2, USF Public Affairs, Wired Magazine and dozens of others.

In addition to our many curricular assets, we have a number of exciting opportunities outside the classroom. For example, USF is proud to be the home of the nationally recognized Zeta Pi chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the National English Honor society, which hosts readings, workshops, book exchanges, and volunteer options. Every spring the Department hosts The Emerging Writer’s Festival, in which recently published authors spend time with our own emerging writers. The department also awards a series of distinguished prizes each year to its most talented student poets, fiction writers, and literary critics. We also give a service award to the undergraduate student whose service to the department has been exemplary.

alexandra rare books
English major Alexandra Minnick reads her work at a Sigma Tau Delta event in the Donohue Rare Book Room of the Gleeson Library while Dante, Kimberly Garrett Stone, and a rapt audience listen with both intent and amazement.


Like the departments at the best research and state universities, USF’s English department houses scholars and writers of national and international regard. However, here, these professors are excellent teachers and wonderful mentors. Full time faculty members also teach all levels of the curriculum, whether it is a Freshman Seminar, a core class for non-majors, or a senior seminar within the department. Additionally, our faculty teach outside the department, lending their expertise to other areas, such as the Honors Program in the Humanities, the MFA program in creative writing, the Saint Ignatius Institute (USF’s Great Books Program), Asian American Studies, African American Studies, Chican@/Latin@ Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and the Davies Forum.

English Timeline

Click here to see the progress of the English Department from 1850 to today.