Guide for Concentrators

Sophomores, ready to declare English? Juniors and Seniors, ready to transfer to English. Read how to make it happen.

English concentrators can pursue either the Elective Program or the Honors Program. The Elective Program allows more scope for course selection within and outside the English Department. Students in the Honors Program engage in more intensive study through seminars and thesis options. A GPA of 3.40 or higher in the concentration is required in the Honors Program, beginning in the junior year. A third option, for honors candidates only with a GPA of 3.60 or higher, is a joint concentration, which culminates in a thesis supervised jointly by a member of the English Department and a member of the allied department. Concentrators (both honors and elective) must take all three of our Common Ground courses, described below; these may be taken in any order, and are best taken early on. Note: Ordinarily, at least one of the three Common Ground courses shall be taken before the second semester of the junior year.

Concentrators who pursue an honors degree have the opportunity to write a senior thesis, which may take the form of an investigation of a critical topic of a creative writing project (which requires a separate application). All theses are directed by a professor in the English faculty. Honors seniors who choose not to write a thesis take two undergraduate seminars in place of the senior tutorial.

Concentration Requirements

Elective Program: 11 courses (44 credits)
Honors Program: 14 courses (56 credits)
Joint Concentration: 8 courses (32 credits) in English

All English concentrators take three Common Ground courses:

English 40-49: Arrivals
English 50-59: Poets
English 60-69: Migrations

Elective concentrators take eight additional courses:

  • one must involve Shakespeare
  • one must meet the Diversity in Literature* requirement
  • two may be creative writing workshops
  • two may be related courses** from outside the English Department with DUS approval

Honors concentrators take eleven additional courses:

  • the Junior Tutorial (English 98r)
  • the Senior Tutorial (English 99r, two terms) or two additional 90-seminars
  • Foreign Literature
  • seven electives: one must involve Shakespeare; one must be a 90-level seminar; one must meet the Diversity in Literature* requirement; two may be creative writing workshops; and ordinarily, two may be related courses** from outside the English Department with DUS approval

Joint concentrators take five additional courses:

  • the Junior Tutorial (English 98r)
  • the Senior Tutorial (English 99r, two terms)
  • Foreign Literature
  • one course involving Shakespeare
  • Joint concentrators are not required to fulfill the Diversity in Literature requirement but are strongly encouraged to do so with an elective

*A note on the Diversity in Literature requirement: applies to concentrators in the Class of 2020 and beyond. Courses meeting this requirement attend to the creative achievements associated with alternative traditions, counter-publics, and archives of dissent. Students will encounter diverse perspectives and aesthetic traditions without which it is difficult fully to understand long-canonized literatures. Topics include, but are not limited to: (1) the historical construction of markers of difference, such as race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality—and their intersections, including intersections with dialect; and (2) the imaginative and formal innovations produced by disenfranchised groups. These fall courses and spring courses will fulfill this distribution requirement.

**A note on related courses: students on either the elective or honors track have the special, flexible feature of using up to two related courses from outside the English Department. For this option, generally, you may declare any course in the humanities to count as a concentration elective. To petition a course for inclusion in your English plan, you should contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies and include the course syllabus, your final paper or project, and the reason you wish to count the class for concentration credit.

The Concentration Grade Point Average (GPA)

Grades from all courses used to fulfill concentration requirements (including related courses and courses used to meet the Foreign Literature requirement) are used to calculate the concentration GPA. In addition, grades from English Department courses taken beyond the required number of concentration courses also count. Any course taught by an English Department faculty member, even if it is offered in the General Education curriculum, for instance, is considered an English course and will be factored into the concentration GPA.

Any course taken to fulfill a concentration requirement must be taken for a letter grade. Grades without assigned numerical values (e.g. CR, W, and SAT) do not figure into the concentration GPA. Grades from courses taken outside the University, including courses taken abroad, may count toward concentration requirements but do not count toward the GPA. Failing grades (E) will count toward the concentration GPA, but the failed course will not satisfy the intended concentration requirement.

The Honors Program requires a concentration GPA of 3.40 and the joint concentration requires a GPA of 3.60. Note that the concentration GPA used by faculty for degree recommendations includes only those courses taken through first term of the senior year.

The English Department uses a 4.00 scale to calculate grades in the following way:

A        4.00 A-      3.67
B+     3.33 B        3.00 B-       2.67
C+     2.33 C        2.00 C-      1.67
D+     1.33 D        1.00 D-      0.67
E         0.00