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 do writing or editing of some kind in fields such as marketing, book publishing, or writing for business or non-profit organizations. The rest use English as a background for the study of law, business, theology, social work, or other graduate 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 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. Each student takes at least seven literature courses and one writing course with the option for four additional courses in an area of their choice.

The department also offers courses in film, critical theory, cultural studies, poetry, nonfiction, and fiction writing. Courses in English literary studies focused on particular historical periods, geographical areas, and communities, teach the significance of texts in the cultures from which they emerge. Due to the wide variety of courses available, many English majors also choose a second area of concentration, major, or minor.

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 may apply to the English Honors Program. Admission is selective and requires a grade-point average of at least 3.33. The English Honors Program also fulfills Part 2 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.