Choosing the right college for your major can be a formidable task, especially in a field as versatile and rich as English. Whether your interests lie in the sweeping epics of antiquity, the nuanced narratives of postmodern literature, or the artful crafting of your own stories and essays, you’ll want a program that nurtures and challenges you.
In this guide, we’ve compiled a list of the top Best Colleges for English departments in the United States for 2024. We’ve based these rankings on factors like academic reputation, faculty expertise, resources, diversity of the curriculum, and alums’ success.
Whether you’re an aspiring writer, a prospective academic, or simply passionate about literature and language, these departments offer exceptional opportunities to study English at a high level.
The Best Colleges for English 2023
10. Rice University
The Department of English at Rice University, situated in the heart of Houston, Texas, offers a well-rounded and innovative English program. The department emphasizes critical thinking, imaginative response, and expressing ideas through writing. Rice English students benefit from small classes, personal attention from accomplished faculty, and the resources of a top-tier research institution.
9. University of California – Los Angeles
The Department of English at the University of California – Los Angeles is one of the most diverse and vibrant in the country. Their faculty include esteemed poets, novelists, and scholars who have received numerous awards and accolades. The department strongly focuses on interdisciplinary studies and offers a range of courses that cross traditional boundaries of literary periods and genres.
8. Johns Hopkins University
The Department of English at Johns Hopkins University provides an intellectually rigorous and creatively stimulating environment. The department is renowned for its strength in the humanities and liberal arts, with particular emphasis on the study of literature, critical theory, and writing. Graduates are well-prepared for careers in academia, publishing, law, and more.
7. University of Chicago
The University of Chicago’s Department of English boasts a rich intellectual tradition. Students are encouraged to explore the production and interpretation of textual forms, ranging from novel and lyric poetry to film and digital media. Emphasizing analysis and critical thinking, the department seeks to cultivate readers and writers who are deeply informed and creatively imaginative.
6. Yale University
Yale University’s Department of English is among the nation’s most prestigious. Yale’s English curriculum is known for its broad scope, encompassing everything from Old English and medieval literature to postmodern theory and digital humanities. A renowned faculty, a dedication to nurturing student potential, and an impressive alum network make Yale a standout choice.
5. Princeton University
Princeton’s English Department offers a variety of unique opportunities for undergraduates, including the chance to pursue certificates in creative writing, theatre, and medieval studies. With a low faculty-to-student ratio, students receive personalized attention and mentorship from scholars who are leaders in their fields. This department is known for its commitment to scholarly research, theoretical rigour, and creative innovation.
4. Harvard University
Harvard’s English department allows students to broadly study literature, language, and creative writing. A high academic rigour, combined with a rich array of resources and renowned faculty, has solidified Harvard’s place in the top ranks of English programs. Harvard’s long-standing commitment to the humanities fosters an environment where students can explore complex ideas and grow as scholars.
3. Stanford University
The English Department at Stanford combines traditional literary scholarship with innovative approaches to studying language and culture. This department is celebrated for its interdisciplinary research, encouraging students to draw connections between English and other disciplines. Stanford’s commitment to teaching and research aims to prepare students for successful careers inside and outside academia.
2. Brown University
Brown University’s Department of English offers a unique program that balances traditional areas of study with innovative literary and cultural theory. Their curriculum encourages students to read widely while pursuing their interests in depth. An open curriculum and a supportive, collaborative environment make Brown a top choice for English majors.
1. Columbia University
Columbia University’s English Department. Columbia’s program offers a comprehensive and globally-minded exploration of English literature and language. Students are encouraged to engage with various texts, from classic literature to contemporary works, and they can delve into fields like postcolonial studies and film theory. Columbia’s English Department provides an enriching and intellectually challenging program, making it the top choice for 2024.
The Best Colleges for English 2024
- Rice University
- University of California -Los Angeles
- Johns Hopkins University
- University of Chicago
- Yale University
- Princeton University
- Harvard University
- Stanford University
- Brown University
- Columbia University
Frequently Asked Questions: The Best Colleges for English
1. What factors were considered in ranking these English departments?
The rankings of these English departments were based on several factors, including academic reputation, faculty expertise, resources, diversity of the curriculum, and alums’ success. We also considered the unique opportunities offered by each program, such as interdisciplinary studies, special certificates, and research opportunities.
2. Are these rankings applicable to both undergraduate and graduate students?
While these rankings are primarily based on undergraduate programs, many qualities that make these departments stand out – such as faculty expertise and diverse course offerings – also apply to graduate studies. Prospective graduate students should consider additional factors like faculty research interests and the department’s placement record for Ph.D. students.
3. I am interested in creative writing. Are these programs suitable for me?
Absolutely! Many of these universities offer strong creative writing components within their English departments. Schools like Princeton University offer certificates in creative writing, and most of these departments provide a wide range of courses in creative writing, including fiction, poetry, and non-fiction.
4. Can I expect to find job opportunities after graduating from these programs?
Yes. An English degree from a top university can open doors to various career paths. Graduates often find opportunities in education, publishing, journalism, law, public relations, advertising, and more. Some universities also offer vital support services for career planning and job placement.
5. How important is the choice of university for an English major?
While choosing a university is an important consideration, it’s not the only factor determining success. Personal motivation, engagement with course materials, relationships with faculty, and practical experience (like internships) also play crucial roles. A prestigious program can provide a strong foundation, but each student’s journey will significantly shape their academic and professional outcomes.\
6. What kind of courses can I expect in these programs?
While specific course offerings will vary between institutions, students can generally expect a wide range of courses covering various periods of English literature, different genres, literary theory, and the craft of writing. Many programs also offer courses that intersect with other disciplines, like film studies, postcolonial studies, and digital humanities.
7. Can an English major be combined with other disciplines in these universities?
Yes. Many of these universities encourage interdisciplinary studies. For example, Stanford University is known for integrating English with other disciplines. The flexibility will depend on the specific university, but students can often combine their English studies with subjects from the humanities, social sciences, and beyond.