Apr 12, 2024  
2023 - 2024 College Catalog 
2023 - 2024 College Catalog

English, BA

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View English Department website

Literature is a treasury of our cultural heritage and an expressive human creation embodying both beauty and knowledge. Close examination of literature improves our thought and our use of language, enhances our understanding of past and present, and provides insight into our interior lives. So, too, does the practice of accurate and carefully crafted writing. Consequently, the English major at St. Mary’s is designed so that students will read a broad historical and cultural range of literatures and develop a variety of writing skills.

To achieve these goals, the English program begins with a required course on reading and writing in the major and two required literature-in-history courses, as well as 200-level elective courses that concentrate on either writing or a specific literary topic. In the surveys, students encounter influential writers, works, and ideas, which provide necessary background knowledge for further study of writing and literature. At the upper level, students define their individual course of study by taking “Methods of Literary Study” and more specialized literature and writing classes. During their senior year, students make use of the knowledge and skills learned in previous courses by choosing to do a St. Mary’s Project or by taking additional advanced coursework. Within this overall framework, faculty advisors help each student select courses that will best meet his or her interests, needs and goals.

With its stress on clarity of thought and expression, and its focus on choices within the program, the English major provides an excellent foundation for a meaningful liberal arts education as well as a strong preparation for a variety of careers that require analytic rigor and clear, precise communication. The English major also provides the basis by which students can enrich their lives through an ongoing contact with stimulating authors, evocative language, and significant ideas.

Learning Outcomes

  • Write effectively and perceptively as determined by the appropriate rhetorical context
  • Craft language with precision in a variety of genres of writing
  • Generate connections among literary texts within and across historical periods, national literatures, cultural groups, and formal categories
  • Analyze how language is used in a range of literary texts
  • Create complex interpretations of a variety of texts
  • Use information from a variety of sources in order to support interpretations of literary texts
  • Demonstrate knowledge of how literature and writing contribute to a full and meaningful life
  • Speak effectively and perceptively as determined by the appropriate rhetorical context

Degree Requirements

General College Requirements

  • General College Requirements (see “Curriculum ” section), including the following requirements to satisfy the major.
  • A total of 44 credit hours of coursework, at least 24 of which must be at the 300 or 400 level.

Required Courses

8 hours of historical approaches to literature, consisting of:

8 hours of writing and methodology courses, consisting of:

Capstone Experience

This requirement may be satisfied by one of the following options:

Each student who is not completing an SMP registers for ENGL 492, a zero-credit course, concurrently with the 400-level course in which the Signature Project is to be written.

Instructors provide students in 400-level seminars with parameters, guidance and feedback throughout the process of proposing, preparing, drafting, reflecting upon, and revising substantial, independent projects. Students in each 400-level English course actively support the work of their peers, whether or not they are using the course for the capstone.

The Signature Project must be completed in a 400-level English seminar. It cannot be completed as part of a guided reading, independent study or internship, or as part of a course originating in another department.

  • Credit Hours: 1-8 AND
  • Credit Hours: 1-8

  • Two additional upper-level English courses not used to satisfy any other requirement of the major; and a Signature Project completed for any 400-level English seminar. All students in each 400-level English seminar are required to complete a substantial, independent project. A student using a particular 400-level seminar’s work as their Signature Project is required to present the project publicly.


Electives: at least 16 credit hours of ENGL coursework, of which at least 8 credits must be at the 300 or 400 level.

Please note that ENGL 101  and ENGL 102  may not be counted towards the major. Course content and focus for classes will vary, and will be announced in the online “Schedule of Classes” prior to registration. Any course, with the exception of ENGL 106 ENGL 270 , or ENGL 304 , may be repeated for credit provided the majority of the content is different.

Elective coursework in the major may also include the following:

  • Up to four credit hours of guided readings, independent study, or credit-bearing internships.
  • Up to eight credit hours of approved classes originating in other departments. The current list of approved courses includes:

Minimum Grade and GPA Requirements

Students must earn a grade of C- or better in each course counted towards the major, and maintain an overall GPA of at least 2.0 in these courses.

The St. Mary’s Project

All students may apply, usually in the spring of their junior year, to undertake a St. Mary’s Project (SMP). Projects approved by the department will receive eight hours of credit to be counted towards the major. Application deadlines and procedures will be announced each semester. Students contemplating an SMP in another discipline may petition the department to accept this work for elective credit towards their major. All such petitions must be received by the end of Exam Week the semester prior to the commencement of the intended project. See the English Department website for more details.

Requirements for Teacher Certification

A Master of Arts in Teaching Program is available at St. Mary’s College of Maryland after completion of the baccalaureate degree. Students who are interested in becoming teachers should contact the chair of the Department of Educational Studies or an education adviser in their major field of study for suggested coursework in educational studies, and their specific major. These consultations should take place during the first semester of the sophomore year.

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