English majors learn to think, read, and write critically about how literature and language influence individuals and society. They become familiar with the major literary movements and genres in British, American, and global literature in English. The major also offers students opportunities to learn about the many dimensions of literature, how it is created and circulates in the world, from creative writing workshops to editing, book design, and print and digital publication. This major provides excellent preparation for careers in many fields, including the arts, education, business, and government.

Why Study at 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.

The English major offers students the skills of close reading, creative writing, literary interpretation, 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. 

Course Work

Literature and writing are the main areas of study in the English BA degree 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. Course work in English literary studies, including courses focused on particular historical periods, geographical areas, and communities, teaches 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 more details about required course work for the BA degree 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 University honors.  

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. Visit the Office of Education Services website for application information and program guides. Your English adviser can help you choose courses to take prior to application. 

Minor in English

Review English in the General Catalog for more details.

Admission Requirements

English majors need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Admission Requirements Tabs

Student Opportunities

In addition to nearly 500 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from multiple Living-Learning Communities, Study Abroad Programs, and Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

English majors may enjoy living in the Living Literature Living Learning Community or the Iowa Writers Living Learning Community in the UI residence halls.

Faculty, Facilities, and Resources

The English department produces several notable literary journals and publications, including the Iowa Review, considered one of the best-known and most highly respected literary reviews in the country; the scholarly journal Philological Quarterly; and the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, the official journal of the Walt Whitman Studies Association.


Iowa graduates have job placement rates ranging from 86-100 percent, depending on their area of study, and our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.

About 20 percent of English majors plan to teach following graduation, 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. 


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

Application Process

Application Process Tabs

Apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


English (BA)
Teaching Licensure
Honors Courses
Four-Year Graduation Plan
Selective Admission
for the English Honors Program