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.

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's 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

Learning Outcomes

  • Think critically and creatively about literature and language.
  • Write clearly and effectively about literature and language in a variety of formats.
  • Explicate literary texts from the diverse range of works and traditions.
  • Incorporate scholarly research into papers.
  • Understand a wide range of historical and critical literary linguistic terms and categories.

Learning Goals

  • Understand how literary texts reflect, critique, and produce culture.
  • Pursue deeper knowledge of particular authors and works.
  • 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 with and delight in literature, art, and culture.
  • Perpetuate an interest 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 also learn more about where English can take their career 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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