Career Development

This page is designed to provide guidance for undergraduate English majors as they consider work and life after graduation.  Follow the links here to sections below, which are devoted to the following topics:

 
Applying to Graduate School

Ph.D. programs

A Ph. D. in English, which may be undertaken after completing a B.A. or an M.A. (depending on the program), primarily offers students the training needed to teach at the college level. Students applying to Ph. D. programs should expect to pursue a career as a professor, who spends his/her time teaching, researching, and serving the university.

Ph. D. in English programs are available in different areas, including Composition, Creative Writing, Critical Theory, Literature, and Rhetoric. Most students will enter a Ph. D. program in one of these areas and then develop a specialty within the program. For example, a student in a Ph. D. in English (Rhetoric) might specialize in rhetoric and social difference. A student in a Ph. D. in English (Literature) might specialize in 18th-century literature. 

When applying to Ph. D. programs, it is important to recognize the difference between English and comparative literature. A Ph. D. in English literature typically involves engagement in historical periods of British, American, and Anglophone literature, while a Ph. D. in comparative literature involves studying written works from non-Anglophone cultures. Ph. D. programs in comparative literature are housed in comparative literature departments, not English departments.  Be aware of these differences when selecting programs and schools.

The links and sample documents below are intended to help guide you through the Ph. D. application process. 

U.S. News and World Report: "7 Critical Steps to Find the Right Grad School"

The Princeton Review: Graduate Application Timeline

The Princeton Review: “Writing a Statement of Purpose”

The Chronicle of Higher Education: "Dos and Don’ts in Graduate School Essays"

Graduate Admissions Essays' Advice for Requesting References (see chapters 3 and 8 of this book in the LMU library)

Sample Statement of Purpose from LMU alumni pursuing Ph.D. in English Literature

M.A. programs

M.A. programs offer students opportunities for the advanced study of literature, language, or writing without the commitment to completing a Ph. D.  Depending on the program, students may choose a particular track, such as Literature, Creative Writing, Rhetoric and Composition, or TESOL (Teaching of English as a Second Language). Career options upon completing an M.A. typically include literary or commercial writing careers, teaching positions in higher education, or working as editors in the publishing or business world.  

For guidance through the M.A. application process, see links in the Ph. D. section above.  Also, see sample documents below.

Sample Statement of Purpose from LMU alumni pursuing M.A. in English 

Sample Resume from LMU alumni pursuing M.A. in Gender Studies

M.F.A. programs

M.F.A. degree programs provide students interested in creative writing the opportunity to improve their writing style, workshop and receive feedback on their writing, and meet and learn from reputable creative writers. Additionally, receiving an M.F.A. degree offers the prestige and respect that comes from obtaining a professional credential, improving a writer’s qualifications for positions in college and university teaching. 

The links and sample documents below are intended to help guide you through the M.F.A. application process. 

Association of Writers and Writing Programs: Careers Section

Poets and Writers: MFA Database

The MFA Blog: A Creative Writing Community

Law School

English majors develop abilities that make them ideal candidates for Law School.  According to the Law School Admission Council, “Law schools want students who can think critically and write well and who have some understanding of the forces that have shaped the human experience.” With their educational background, English majors are well equipped to succeed in these areas. A legal education will build on the abilities English majors have developed as readers, writers, and speakers.

For guidance on applying to law school, please see the LMU Political Science Department's website's section about Applying to Law School.

Teacher Credentialing

English majors interested in teaching careers can gain employment in a field that not only uses knowledge learned as English majors but also provides the opportunity to share such knowledge with younger learners. The field of education offers a broad range of opportunities, including teaching at the primary, secondary, or collegiate level.

LMU’s School of Education is a highly ranked graduate school, which offers students a personalized education in a convenient location.  For students who participated in the Secondary Teacher Preparation Program (STPP) during their undergraduate careers, LMU’s School of Education offers master’s degrees and doctoral programs in a wide spectrum of areas to support occupations in education. For students who were not part of STPP during their undergraduate education, they can still enroll in the School of Education’s graduate program and receive a teaching credential that will allow them to teach English in primary or secondary schools.

For more information, please contact the School of Education and attend a Teacher Preparation Program Information Session. These are mandatory meetings that will provide applicants with the necessary knowledge to begin the application process. 

Careers in Editing, Public Relations, and Advertising

Many English majors are compelling writers and intelligent researchers, and the combination of these traits is especially useful in careers in editing, public relations, and advertising. In our current age, computers often do the work that requires left-brain abilities, such as logic and sequencing. Right-brain capacities, such as contextual thinking, emotional interpretation, and analysis, are traits that cannot be replicated by computers. English majors have right-brain attributes, making them apt for careers in editing, public relations, and advertising.

LMU Career Development Career Sites (scroll down to Communications)

Public Relations Society of America: Tips for creating a communications portfolio

Sample Resume Humanities with Interest in Journalism

Careers in Business

In an article for the Huffington Post, leading small-business expert Steve Strauss, wrote, “I think what I appreciate most about English majors is that they are taught to think critically, and that is exactly what I want in my business… what I need is to be able to give someone an assignment and have them do it. Period.” English majors not only think critically, they also have the reading, writing, and speaking abilities valued by the business world. English majors can synthesize material from various sources and write or speak about such findings in a meaningful way.

To obtain a position in the business world, a polished resume and successful interview are crucial. See the links below for resources pertaining to these areas.

Forbes.com: Description of CEOs expectations from interview candidates

Sigma Tau Delta Newsletter: Tips from the International English Honors Society for creating your resume

Sample Resume from LMU alumni working in business world 

Teaching Abroad

LMU graduates often describe their experiences studying abroad as one of the most transformative experiences in their undergraduate careers. Teaching abroad can be an enriching extension of this experience, as well as an opportunity to utilize the abilities gained as an English major in a completely new environment. The decision to teach English abroad opens the door to discovery, fulfillment, and adventure.  

That said, applicants should choose the programs through which they teach abroad carefully.  We cannot verify the validity of any program, but the following programs have been recommended to us by linguistics and TESOL (English as a Second Language) professors.  They also recommend that applicants consider completing a certificate in TESOL at an accredited university before teaching abroad.

CIEE Teach Abroad (placement in a number of countries, including Thailand, Spain, and Vietnam)

JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching Program)

EPIK and TALK (teaching programs in Korea; website connects interested persons to both organizations)

EICO (teaching programs in Korea)

Teach for All (non-profit organization that includes a network of independent enterprises, such as Teach for Australia, Teach for India, Teach for Malaysia, etc.; website connects interested persons to specific organizations)

Volunteer Opportunities

Social justice is an important component of LMU's mission statement, and volunteer work can be an enriching way for graduates to extend the mission ideals developed at LMU as an undergraduate.  

PLACE Corps (Catholic teacher service corps)

Keilla Mata, LMU English alum and current PLACE participant, says of the program: "PLACE Corps was appealing to me because of the level of support and community provided to the members. You live with fellow PLACErs who are in the same positions (1st- or 2nd-year teachers) as you. You share your struggles and triumphs, while understanding the unique job of full-time teacher, full-time grad student, and full-time community member. . . . PLACE was the perfect fit for me. The program seeks people who are dedicated to teaching, while being leaders in their school communities, which was exactly what I wanted to do and what LMU’s English STPP prepared me to do."

Teach for America (two-year teaching program in public schools)