The English Major

Susan Fraiman

Director of the Undergraduate Program, Professor


**As of 2019, our course numbering system has changed.  Please read the page linked here for a summary of the new course numbers and how they apply to the major requirements.  **


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 ENGL 2500-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 ENGL 2500-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 ENGL 2500-level prerequisite course (not including ENGL 2559 "New Course in English").

  • Two courses in the “History of Literatures in English” sequence: ENGL 3001 (Fall only) and 3002 (Spring only).
  • One course in literature before 1700.
  • One course in literature from 1700-1900.
  • One 4000- or 5000-level seminar in literature.
  • Elective courses to bring the total number of courses to ten. Most students will need five electives, one of which will be the ENGL 2500-level course, in addition to fulfilling the requirements above.

Additional Rules

  • Eight of the ten courses for the major must be taken in the English department at UVa. With permission of the Director of the Undergraduate Program, 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.
  • No more than three courses in total may fall under the writing program rubrics (ENWR and ENCW).
  • 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.

Third-Year Transfers

Third-year transfers may petition the Director of the Undergraduate Program to receive 3 hours of transfer credit toward the major for a literature (not writing) course taken at their previous institution. For such a course to count, students must document its reading load (substantial) and writing requirements (10-15 pages of formal writing). If major transfer credit is approved by the DUP, third-year transfers may complete the major with 9 additional courses. One of these must be an ENGL 2500 course, with the other 8 at the 3000-level or above. Note that credit in this case is given for a major elective only, meaning that all area requirements for the major must be satisfied at UVA.

Independent Study

  • Only one semester of independent study may be counted toward the English 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 3.300.  Independent study allows considerable flexibility, with no formal limitations on the project’s nature, so long as a faculty member is willing to direct the independent study and the proposed course does not duplicate what is already available in regular department offerings. To request an independent study course, students should apply to the Director of the Undergraduate Program 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.

The English Minor

Students wishing to minor in English must complete 18 hours of English courses. A single ENGL 2500-level course may (but does not have to) be included among the six required courses; otherwise, courses must be at the 3000 level or above. These must include ENGL 3001 and ENGL 3002. No more than two courses in total may fall under the writing program rubrics (ENWR and ENCW).

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.

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