Majors and Minors

English Major | English Minor

General Distribution Requirement

All courses in the English department count toward the general distribution requirement in humanities except for creative writing courses (ENGL 150, ENGL 280, ENGL 281, ENGL 282, ENGL 283, ENGL 284, ENGL 405, and ENGL 406). Courses numbered ENGL 150, ENGL 280, ENGL 281, ENGL 282, ENGL 283, ENGL 284, ENGL 405, and ENGL 406 count toward the requirement in fine arts. ENGL 101 and 600-level courses do not count toward any distribution requirement.

General Education Requirements

Courses that meet the general education requirements in writing, quantitative thinking, internationalism and U.S identities and differences  will be posted on the Registrar's web page in advance of registration for each semester.

Additional information regarding the general distribution requirement and the general education requirements can be found in the graduation requirements section of this catalog.

Honors Program

The English department participates in the honors program. Eligibility requirements, application procedures and specific project expectations are available from the department office or the Director of Academic Programs.

Topics Courses

ENGL 194, ENGL 294, ENGL 394, ENGL 494 

Topics courses offer alternative and exploratory approaches to literary works and issues through, for example, interdisciplinary study, studies of single authors or groups of authors from several periods, or studies of recurrent themes in literature. These courses often reflect faculty members' interests in new approaches to literary study or new areas of study. Several topics courses are offered each year, and students should consult the detailed course descriptions in the English department offices and the English department website. Every year. (4 credits)

Independent Study

The department offers independent study options in the form of tutorials, independent projects, internships, preceptorships and Honors independent projects. For more information contact the department and review the Curriculum section of the catalog.

English Major

Major Requirements

Students earning a major in the English department choose between two paths: Literature or Creative Writing. For all majors:

  • No more than two 100-level literature courses may count towards either major path. The only exception is ENGL 150 - Introduction to Creative Writing, which may be counted in addition to these two courses.
  • Neither AP nor IB credits nor ENGL 101 - College Writing may count towards either major path.
  • ENGL 125 taken at Macalester may count towards a major path, but when it is granted by the Registrar as credit for AP or IB it may not count.

NOTE: Because the content of topics-based courses varies widely based on who is teaching them, all programs of study should be planned in consultation with an English department advisor to confirm which requirments a particular course number fulfills in any given semester.


The Literature path consists of ten courses (40 credits) in English, which includes the capstone experience in literature and requires students to distribute coursework across a range of categories. Any given course may count towards only one of the requirements on a student's plan of study. The major path requires courses covering the following categories:

  • Foundation course: one course at the 100-level (except ENGL 150). These courses, except ENGL 150, serve as prerequisites for courses at the 300-level.
  • Pre-1900 courses: three courses at the 200-, 300-, or 400-level, each of which must cover a different historical period from the following list: Medieval/Renaissance, 18th Century British, 19th Century British, 19th Century American
  • Writers of Color/Postcolonial/Diasporic Literature: one course at any level
  • One capstone experience in literature, taken as a senior, and selected from the following options:
    - Senior Seminar (ENGL 400);
    - another literature course in the 400-level sequence;
    - an Honors project;
    - an independent study.
  • Four electives, which may be any other courses in the English department, or may include one or more of the following:
    - no more than one literary course in a language other than English (for which prior approval of your departmental advisor or the chair is required);
    - up to two courses from a study abroad program (with prior approval of the chair);
    - no more than one internship;
    - no more than one preceptorship.
  • ENGL 125 taken at Macalester may count towards a major, but when it is granted by the Registrar as credit for AP/IB work may not count towards a major.

Creative Writing

The Creative Writing path mirrors the requirements for the Literature path and also consists of ten courses, meeting the requirements as listed above, with the following differences:

  • in addition to a 100-level foundation course, students on the Creative Writing path must take ENGL 150 at Macalester as a prerequisite for all other creative writing courses;
  • instead of four electives there are three, all of which must be creative writing;
  • the capstone experience must be in creative writing rather than literature.



English Minor


Minor Requirements

A minor in English give you flexibility to choose an area of concentration that particularly interests you (e.g. creative writing, a specific historical period, a particular genre, or literature by women, etc). The minor consists of six courses (24 credits) chosen in consultation with your English department advisor, with the following stipulations:

  • no more than two 100-level courses may count towards the minor
  • no internships or preceptorships may count towards the minor
  • no more than one literature course taken on a study abroad program may count towards the minor (for which prior approval of the chair is required)
  • neither AP nor IB nor ENGL 101 may count towards the minor
  • ENGL 125 taken at Macalester may count towards a minor, but when it is granted by the Registrar as credit for AP or IB it may not count.