Willamette students studying outside on campus


Whether you want to change the world via your creative writing, business venture, or advocacy work, the English major will help equip you with skills to lead a life of achievement, contribution, and meaning in service of your home, region, nation, and world.

Programs Offered: Major, Minor

Willamette’s English Department prepares students to become writers, readers, and creative and critical thinkers empowered to participate in all aspects of today’s world from government to Hollywood, law to education, and NGOs to wide swaths of the private sector that in one way or another involve written communication.

The study of literature, creative writing, and culture 

Approaching the study of writing, literature, and culture from a variety of historical and methodological perspectives, students tailor the major to their personal interests by following tracks in literature or creative writing and selecting from a wide range of elective courses. Emphasizing discussion, collaboration, and active learning, classes in English prepare students to turn their knowledge into action via:

  •     Versatile, sophisticated, and effective writing
  •     Informed and adept reading and interpretation
  •     Critical and creative thinking
  •     Library, digital, archival, and field research skills
  •     Aesthetic, cultural, and social advocacy
  •     Valuing, promoting, and creating artistic expression

English faculty members participate in many of WU’s interdisciplinary programs including American Ethnic Studies, Cinema Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies. Likewise, many other WU faculty members offer courses that students can take for credit toward the English major. Students can also earn English credit by completing internships and by studying abroad.

Beyond the major

The Department offers minors in literature and creative writing as well as many classes that fulfill WU’s general education requirements in writing and the humanities. Students in English work closely with the Writing Center and frequently double major. They regularly apply for grants to pursue collaborative and independent summer projects, and they gain experience by participating in programs like the Chemawa Indian School Partnership Program and Willamette Academy. They write and edit for the Collegian newspaper and the campus literary magazine, The Mill. They attend readings and workshops offered by visiting writers through the Hallie Ford Literary Series, and all WU students are eligible to compete in the annual Mark and Melody Teppola Prizes for Creative Writing.

What others are saying

E.M. Lewis ’94 (

Playwright champions common ground in controversial topics

E.M. (Ellen) Lewis ’94 sparks conversation surrounding topics such as climate change and the divide on American gun ownership through theatre.

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Gabriel Tallent '10

A first-time novelist earns critical acclaim

Gabriel Tallent ’10 takes the literary world by storm with debut novel “My Absolute Darling.”

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