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English Students at Commencement

English at Cal Poly

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An English major or minor is valuable preparation for any career in which critical thinking, nuanced analysis, and clear communication are essential. Many of our majors pursue graduate study in English, education, creative writing, or law; the major provides an excellent foundation for all of these fields.

First and foremost, however, students of English are humanists, deeply concerned about the welfare of others. Through imaginatively inhabiting the worlds writers create, English students gain empathy, respect and perspective, habits of mind that will benefit them throughout their lives.

Highly qualified Cal Poly English majors can apply for our Blended B.A. + M.A. in English -- the only English program of its kind in the CSU--to finish both degrees in five years.

When you join our English major, you will immediately find a supportive and welcoming home at the University. In your first quarter you will be assigned a faculty advisor to help you navigate the curriculum so that you can graduate in four years.  Indeed, our curriculum is designed with that goal in mind; its flexibility ensures that our students make timely progress to their degree.  Your faculty advisor will remain with you throughout your four years here, and that relationship is just one of many you will have in the department.

Read what Dr. Kathryn Rummell has to say about studying English at Cal Poly

Programs, Certifications, and Degree Focus

The English Department offers many different options for students to focus their Cal Poly career on their strengths and career goals. To learn more about any of the programs or certificates below, just click on the title or feel free to contact the English Department office.

Learning Outcomes and Goals

English B.A. Learning Outcomes

  • Explicate texts from a diverse range of traditions, including texts from historically underrepresented groups.
  • Analyze how power structures and cultural practices shape textual production and reception.
  • Critique and produce texts that account for the rhetorical relationships among audience, writer, text, genre, and discourse.
  • Write clearly and effectively in a variety of genres and media.
  • Successfully incorporate scholarly research into papers.
  • Identify and define an array of historical and critical literary, rhetorical, and linguistic terms and categories.

English B.A. Learning Goals

  • Understand how texts reflect, critique, and produce culture and power structures.
  • Pursue deeper knowledge of particular authors and works, including those from underrepresented groups.
  • Explore the ways identities and affiliations shape texts and traditions.
  • Understand the structure of language and how language varies over time, across social situations and social groups.
  • Participate in face-to-face exchanges of ideas with faculty, fellow students, and authors in the classroom and other academic or social settings.
  • Participate in small seminars where ideas are tested and sharpened.
  • Cultivate relational thinking that encourages students to make connections between the arts and humanities and other fields of study.
  • Sustain a life-long engagement and involvement in aesthetic, cultural, and intellectual matters, including social and political issues.
  • Draw upon multiple literacies to interpret literary, visual, and cultural texts.

Where can this major take me?

These are just some of the career directions that our students can take. Students can learn more about where English can take their career on our Careers page and about networking opportunites with department alumni through our Career Connections Program. 

Writing / Editing:

  • Creative writing
  • Journalism
  • Freelance writing

Technical Communication:

  • Technical writing and editing
  • Science and medical writing
  • Grant and proposal writing


  • Editing
  • Advertising / sales
  • Circulation
  • Production
  • Publicity
  • Marketing
  • Promotion

Advertising and Public Relations:

  • Creative services
  • Account management
  • Media
  • Writing / editing
  • Media relations
  • Social media
  • Fundraising

Senior Project Information 

All Cal Poly students are required to complete a Senior Project in order to graduate. The university and the English Department understand these projects to be a meaningful capstone that allows students to both showcase and extend what they have learned in the major to produce a significant, original text or experience. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination, and the Department's Senior Project Resources are designed to help you make the most of this endeavor.

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