English majors learn to think, read, and write critically about how literature and language influence individuals and society.

They study the major literary movements and genres in British, American, and global literature in English and learn about the many dimensions of literature and how it is created and circulates in the world.

Why Iowa?

The University of Iowa is nationally recognized as a writing university. The Iowa Writers' Workshop and International Writing Program bring world-renowned writers to campus and in 2008 the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) named Iowa City its third "City of Literature" in the world.

English majors learn the skills of close reading, literary interpretation, creative writing, critical analysis, historical research, and rigorous, respectful debate. Our renowned programs in creative and critical writing help students find their own voice while they learn how literature and language have influenced the values and experiences of societies over the centuries and across geographical boundaries. 

English is one of the most popular majors at Iowa, with about 800 students, although classes are small enough for spirited discussions and include abundant opportunities for students to work closely with faculty mentors on research and writing projects. 

Admission Requirements

Students interested in this major need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


  Teaching Licensure
  Honors Courses
  Four-Year Graduation Plan
  Selective Admission
for the English Honors Program
Admission Process

Careers and Outcomes

Iowa graduates have a 95 percent job/grad school placement rate within six months of graduation. Our  Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs. 

About 20 percent of English majors plan to teach, while another 50 percent plan to write or edit for non-profit organizations or for businesses such as marketing, content writing, or book publishing. The rest use English as a background for graduate study in law, business, social work, creative writing, library science, or other programs. 

Student Opportunities

In addition to more than 500  student organizations, Iowa students choose from more than 100  study abroad programs and multiple  undergraduate research opportunities.

The English department is home to two student organizations:

  • English Society is a social group open to all students in the major and which meets a few times a month.
  • ATI is the University of Iowa branch of Sigma Tau Delta English Honors Society and requires an application to join after three semesters in college.

Students have presented at the national conference regularly.


The University of Iowa provides a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students through the Iowa Scholarship Portal. Scholarships are available to first-year, transfer, and currently enrolled students. For additional details on scholarships for your program of study, check directly with the department or college. 

The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships. 


Literature and writing are the main areas of study in the English BA program, with the greatest amount of time spent in literature courses. Students take at least six literature courses, two craft and method courses, and four electives to shape their major to meet their goals.

The department also offers courses in film, critical theory, cultural studies, poetry, nonfiction, and fiction writing. Coursework in English literary studies in historical and cultural contexts teach the significance of texts in the cultures from which they emerged. Students may opt to use three of their major courses to complete the publishing track which, along with extra-curricular publishing activities, prepares students for entry level positions in the publishing field.

Review English in the General Catalog for details about required course work for the major or minor and graduating with honors.

English Honors Program

English majors with a 3.33 overall GPA may declare honors in the major. They then complete three courses, one of which may be an independent literary research project, and English honors fulfills part two of the university's Honors Program.

Teaching Licensure

If you're interested in teaching English at the secondary school level, you'll need to apply to and complete the College of Education's Teacher Education Program (TEP). Your English adviser can help you choose courses to take prior to application.