Undergraduate Program overview

student writing

The English Major

Students who choose to major in English Literature and Language develop their abilities to read and analyze texts written in the English language. They study British and American literature of the past and present and learn to view texts through a variety of interpretive lenses. English majors also develop their abilities as flexible, effective writers, capable of moving among a variety of genres, including creative and expository writing.

Within the 36-credit hour program, all English majors take a core of 18 hours, including survey courses on the history of British and American literature; a course devoted to Shakespeare; and a linguistics or rhetoric course. Beyond this core, students may choose to emphasize either the study of literature or creative writing. In their final year, all students select from a menu of capstone options, including a senior thesis (recommended for students interested in graduate school); a seminar on teaching writing (recommended for students seeking certification to teach in secondary schools); or one of many upper-level seminars. Full details about the requirements for completing the English major can be found in the undergraduate catalog.

Extracurricular Opportunities

Students are encouraged to take advantage of the wide range of extracurricular opportunities available through UMKC's English Department. Such activities are an important part of the educational experience for undergraduate students.

  • Undergraduate English Council - student group
  • Number One
  • U-News
  • Readings by Prominent Writers and Scholars

Located in a major metropolitan area, UMKC sponsors numerous writers and scholars, who share their work with students and other members of the academic community. Recent visitors to the University community have included Angela Davis, Whitney Terrell, Eleanor Wilner, Edward P. Jones, C.D. Wright, and U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins. Students are strongly encouraged to attend readings and lectures to bring their experiences into the classroom.

Study Abroad Opportunities

Students majoring in English have often taken advantage of UMKC's many opportunities to study abroad. These include exchanges with Kingston University in London, the University of Stirling in Scotland, and many other opportunities in Europe and other regions of the globe. If you are interested in studying abroad, contact the Center for International Academic Programs at 816-235-5759.

Awards and Scholarships

Undergraduate students in the English Department may compete for a number of awards and scholarships.


Students majoring in English can enhance their career prospects by taking advantage of various internship and part-time employment opportunities. Editorial internships are available with New Letters, a literary magazine featuring the works of new and distinguished writers; New Letters on the Air, a weekly radio program broadcast on a number of NPR stations; and BkMk (Book Mark Press).

Graduate Degrees in English

Undergraduate students who wish to pursue graduate studies in English should fully educate themselves about the process of choosing and applying to graduate schools, the nature of advanced study in the field, and the job prospects for individuals with higher degrees in English. Professors in the department are happy to talk with undergraduate students who are considering advanced studies in English.

In general, students with an interest in graduate school should plan their undergraduate studies so that they develop the broadest possible base of knowledge about the traditions of British and American literature. They should also take a course on critical theory and take two full years of a foreign language. English 499 (Senior Thesis) is also recommended for undergraduate students who are interested in graduate school.

The UMKC English Department offers several graduate degrees. More information can be found here.





Programs of study


Major in English Classics, Medieval, and Early Modern Literature

Major in English Creative Writing Emphasis (PDF)

Major in English Literature (PDF)

Major in English Language and Rhetoric (PDF)


Minor in English Creative Writing (PDF)

Minor in English Literature (PDF)

Minor in English Writing (PDF)

Minor in Manuscript, Print Culture, and Editing (PDF)


CW Capstone Packet (PDF)

Literature Capstone Packet(PDF)

Lang-Rhet Capstone Packet(PDF)

Undergraduate Advising

Students may meet with any of the advisors listed below for major and minor advising. Appointments are not necessary, though they can be made by contacting the appropriate advisor.

Final degree audits, however, must be signed by by Dr. Ellinghausen, Director of Undergraduate Studies.

English Department
Cockefair Hall, Room 111
Advising Hours, Fall 2017:

2-5pm Laurie Ellinghausen
9-11:30am Sheila Honig 
2:15-2:45pm Sheila Honig 
3-6pm Cynthia Jones 

11-2pm  Crystal Doss 

9-11:30am Sheila Honig 
2:15-2:45pm Sheila Honig 
3-6pm Cynthia Jones 

By Appointment: Laurie Ellinghausen

Contact Information

Literature, Language & Rhetoric, and Creative Writing Advisors:

Dr. Crystal Doss

Dr. Laurie Ellinghausen
Director of Undergraduate Studies

Ms. Sheila Honig

Dr. Cynthia Jones