Many students who enjoy literature and are interested in majoring in English are nervous about what they can do after graduation. They often believe that majors in the sciences or business lead to successful, lucrative careers, but majoring in English isn’t practical. That is not true.
English majors are ideally suited to the contemporary job market. The evidence clearly indicates that English majors are just as likely to be employed as their peers who study business and that they are likely to earn as much over the course of their careers as their peers in science and technology fields. English majors, in fact, have a significant competitive advantage over other majors. According to a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the attributes employers most want in new hires are written communication skills, problem-solving skills, and verbal communication skills. These are precisely the skills that English majors develop, but this isn’t the most important reason to major in English.
English majors learn how to think critically, empathetically, and creatively. These are the most important skills a person can learn in college, and these are the skills that most contribute to a productive and successful career. After you graduate from Mercer, you will face the challenges of a complex and interconnected world. You will be presented with information in many forms, and you will be asked to understand it, interpret it, and make decisions based on it. Over the course of your career, you will likely have many positions across multiple fields, so you will be constantly required to adapt to new situations. The thinking skills you cultivate will always be useful no matter how the job market changes.
As an English major at Mercer, you will discuss literature in small classes led by expert scholars who are dedicated teachers. You will read broadly and deeply in a curriculum that implements literary study as a mode of understanding. Our major allows you not only to immerse yourself in great works of literature but also to analyze modern culture. You will learn how authorship, historical context, and genre influence the text. You will discuss works of literature from numerous critical perspectives, you will write frequently, and you will develop a strong set of critical thinking skills. You will also apply your skills in a learning experience that moves your thinking beyond the classroom through an independent research project, internship, study abroad program, teaching placement, or service project. When you finish the major, you will be well read, you will be an effective writer and communicator, you will be a versatile critical thinker, and you will know how to use your skills.
Mercer English majors have gone on to careers in business, medicine, law, teaching, publishing, and numerous other fields. They have earned extremely prestigious fellowships, including Fulbright scholarships and Davies-Jackson scholarships, and they have gone to graduate and professional degrees at some of the world’s best schools, such as Cambridge, Oxford, and Harvard. After you graduate from Mercer, you will be prepared to do anything.
Want more reasons to major in English?
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Top Medical School Revamps Requirements to Lure English Majors
Future Law Students Should Avoid Prelaw Majors
Major in the Humanities for a Good Life
Why English Majors are the Hot New Hires
The Employment Numbers
Why I Hire English Majors
Lessons from the Humanities and Social Sciences
English Major Career Stories
Christopher K. P. Brown
A 2007 graduate of Mercer University, Christopher K.P. Brown launched his own chapbook publishing company for poets in 2008. Since then, he has published over two hundred and fifty writers including poets from overseas. He is currently the host and curator of Philadelphia’s only weekly poetry event, Pecola Breedlove & The Freedom Party, which features performance poets from across the nation.
“The professors in the English department truly expanded my career options. My experience at Mercer prepared me to tour the nation as a performance poet, launch a career as a poetry editor/publisher, and organize poetry events in Philadelphia, the second largest city on the east coast. The event I currently host, which focuses on self-care and mental health in minority communities, was actually influenced by Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, a book that I read as a student in the English department at Mercer.“
Hannah Corrine Smith
After graduating from Mercer in 2010, Hannah Smith completed a Master’s degree in Victorian Literature at Oxford University. She taught English and test prep classes for a year in Atlanta and Taipei before going to Harvard Law School. She practices transactional law in Seattle, where her work focuses on startup and nonprofit formation as well as corporate sale transactions.
"My English degree from Mercer helped me to develop strong skills in reading, oral and written communication, and analysis. These skills have been useful in my career both academically and professionally. The support of the department helped me to find my own voice and style as well as to pursue my research interests."
Amanda Rountree graduated in 2013 with a major in English and minor in technical communication. After attending NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute, she moved to New York to pursue a career in publishing, where she has works in library marketing and special sales for Macmillan Publishers.
"English has to be the most versatile degree you can get. No matter what field you go into, never underestimate the power of a persuasive, well-written sentence. The skills I gained studying English—from writing, to critical thinking, and even to copy editing—provided a strong foundation to jumpstart my career in marketing and sales."
Josh Coleman graduated from Mercer with degrees in English and French literature. He joined Teach For America and worked as a 10th grade special needs teacher in Charlotte, NC. He then spent a year in Paris, France, as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, and he is now a PhD Candidate in the Reading/Writing/Literacy program at the University of Pennsylvania where he is studying diverse children’s literature.
"Working with Mercer’s English faculty allowed me to cultivate my skills as a critical thinker and writer and helped me transform into a shaper of word and thought. Studying at Mercer led me to a career as an educator committed to service and to using language to change society into an ever more loving and equitable place."