The English Major

Mrinalini Chakravorty

Director of Undergraduate Studies, Associate Professor

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Declaring the major

If you have completed most of the area requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences, and you have enrolled in the prerequisite course(s) for the major as detailed below, you may declare your English major at any time. Detailed instructions for declaring the major are available here.

The Prerequisite

Students may take one of two paths into the major.

  1. In the recommended path, students complete one ENLT (or ENGL) 2000-level course with a grade of C- or better. This course prepares students for upper-division departmental coursework, and also provides three hours of credit toward the major.
  2. In the alternative path, a student who takes any two upper-division courses in the department (3000-level or above, in literature not creative writing), with an average grade of B across those courses, may declare the major without enrolling in an ENLT 2000-level course. Again, these courses provide credit toward the major.

The program of study

The degree in English requires ten courses (30 credits), as specified below. All courses must be at the upper-division level (numbered 3000 or above), with the exception of the single ENLT 2000-level prerequisite course.

  • Two semester sequence (ENGL 3810 and ENGL 3820), "History of Literatures in English." ENGL 3810 covers literature from the Anglo-Saxon to 1800 and is offered only in the Fall semester. ENGL 3820, offered only in the Spring semester, covers literature from 1800 to the present, with an emphasis on American and global Anglophone literature in addition to literature from the British Isles. 
  • One course in literature before 1700 (usually ENMD or ENRN) and one course in literature 1700-1900 (usually ENEC, ENNC, or some ENAM).
  • One 4000-level seminar in literature.
  • Elective courses to bring the total number of courses to ten. Most students will need four electives, not including the single ENLT 2000-level course, in addition to fulfilling the requirements above.

Additional Rules

  • The “eight course rule”: Eight of the ten courses for the major must be taken in the English department at UVa. With permission of the Director of Undergraduate Studies, up to two major electives may be taken either in other departments on campus, or as transfer credit from other institutions, including study abroad programs. Courses taken outside the department may not fulfill distribution requirements.
  • One of the two courses from outside the department allowed to count as a major elective may be in the literature of a language other than English, taught either in that language or in translation. These courses may be taught at the 2000-level or above. Grammar and composition courses do not count. Examples of such courses include CPLT 2010 or 2020, ITTR 2260, RUTR 3910, SATR 3000.
  • The “three course rule”: No more than three courses in the major course of study may fall into any single mnemonic category (ENMD, ENRN, ENEC, ENNC, ENMC, ENAM). As well, no more than three courses in total may fall under either of the main writing rubrics (ENWR and ENCW). Exceptions to this rule include students participating in the Distinguished Majors Program, who must take five courses in the ENGL category; and students enrolled in one of the area programs, who may take additional courses within appropriate rubrics as specified.
  • A minimum GPA of 2.0 in major courses is required. Courses in which a student receives a grade lower than C- will not count toward the major.
  • Independent study: Only one semester of independent study, in literature or writing, may be counted toward the major. Students may apply to take an independent study only if they have completed four 3000- or 4000-level courses in English and they have achieved a major GPA of at least 3.30. Both ENGL 4993 (critical projects) and ENWR 4993 (creative writing projects) allow considerable flexibility, with no formal limitations on the project’s nature, as long as a faculty member is willing to direct the independent study. To request an independent study course, students (and their faculty advisors) should apply to the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the semester prior to that in which they wish to pursue their project. The application form may be accessed here or in Bryan 236.

English Students Association

The English Students Association brings English majors and prospective majors together socially, creatively, and academically as they navigate their time together at UVA and begin to prepare for the future. The group is structured around monthly main meetings, which include food, presentations given by featured students, department announcements, and programs geared toward career development. The organization also runs a mentorship network, to connect undergraduates in a peer advising system and alumni to undergraduates for career counseling. The English Students Association seeks to foster the already vibrant English community, inspiring and equipping its members to cultivate relationships, build dreams, and bring about new realities at UVA. For more information, contact Samuel Dennis (sd8dg@virginia.edu), ESA's 2018-19 President.


The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only.  The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at http://records.ureg.virginia.edu/index.php.