FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What can I do with an English major?
Many students choose the English major because they enjoy reading, analyzing, and writing about literature and other cultural texts. Beyond personal enrichment, however, the English major cultivates habits of critical thinking and appreciation of alternate perspectives that help students to engage more effectively with problems in the workplace, in the community, and as global citizens. The skills honed in literary analysis can be applied to many subjects, and the research, writing, critical and creative thinking, and collaborative skills that one acquires in pursuing the English degree are valuable in many fields. Employees who can think carefully and explain themselves clearly will distinguish themselves in any field. From the BA in English, many students go on to pursue a law degree, Masters in Library Science, MBA, medical degree, or graduate degrees in English as preparation for academia.
I’m interested in teaching English: which program is best for me?
NU offers two different versions of the English major designed specifically for students interested in middle or high school teaching careers. Their names sound similar but each has unique features:
The Major in English with Preliminary Single Subject Credential (California) combines a traditional BA in English with a California Single Subject Teaching Credential. In addition to completing the program requirements, students will also need to pass the CBEST and CSET exams required of all teachers by the State of California.
The Major in English with Single Subject Matter Preparation allows students who complete its requirements to waive the CSET exam required of all prospective secondary teachers in California. It does not confer the teaching credential, but this can be earned by taking the credential classes as post-baccalaureate (i.e., graduate) classes.
Which program you choose will depend on several factors:
- How many classes are you transferring in? Depending on how many classes or units you are transferring into National University, one program may take you less time to complete than the other. Keep in mind, though, that if you choose the Single Subject Matter Preparation program, you will still need to complete the classes for the credential at some point.
- How confident are you taking standardized tests? The Single Subject Matter Preparation program allows you to waive the CSET exam, which is a content-based exam testing your knowledge of various English-related topics and your writing ability. The exam has four parts, each of which is scored separately, and you can retake parts that you don’t pass. In considering whether to enroll in the Single Subject Matter Preparation program, you may want to weigh the time and expense of taking the test against the time and expense of taking additional classes.
- In some school districts, you may be eligible for higher pay based on the number of graduate units you have completed, so it may be that you could earn more money to start if you take the credential classes as graduate rather than undergraduate courses. You should check the policies of the district(s) to which you are considering applying for teaching positions.
- Nevada students who are interested in teaching English in that state should consider the Bachelor of Arts in English Education with Nevada Secondary Licensure program. A description of this program can be found on pp. 299-300 of the National University Catalog.
Can I combine the two teaching programs and both waive the CSET and receive the credential?
This is possible, though it requires students to take more than the usual required 180 units for an undergraduate degree. To do this, you would enroll in the Major in English with Preliminary Single Subject Credential (California) and also take the additional courses required by the Major in English with Single Subject Matter Preparation; you would also need to submit the portfolio required in the latter program. Before choosing this route, though, you should consult with both your admissions advisor and the English program Faculty Advisor to make sure it is the most effective and efficient way to meet your goals.
I completed an English major at another college or university: can you review my transcripts to see whether I qualify to waive the CSET?
We can write equivalency letters for students who have met all of the requirements of our Single Subject Matter Preparation program in English. This means the student needs to have taken courses that are equivalent to each of our required courses and must be able to submit the required portfolio of graded work from those courses. In most cases, students would not have taken equivalents of all of the required courses unless they had already been enrolled in such a program in the first place, so it is very rare that a student will be able to transfer in courses that cover all of these requirements. Even if a student can do that, she or he would still need to be able to submit the required portfolio of work completed in those courses. The program Faculty Advisor can review your transcripts to see which of your previous courses might be considered equivalent, but in most cases students will need to take at least a few additional courses to meet all of the program course requirements.
I am planning to submit a portfolio for the Single Subject Matter Preparation program, but I don’t have copies of graded work from classes I transferred in from previous colleges or universities: can I still complete the portfolio?
Yes, though in some cases you may be required to write additional papers to represent your work in those classes. You should discuss your specific circumstances in advance with the program Faculty Advisor.
I have taken graduate courses in English: can these courses be used to meet requirements in the Single Subject Matter Preparation program?
Yes, if those graduate courses covered content equivalent to courses required in the BA English program.
I am interested in creative writing: do you have any undergraduate creative writing degrees?
We have two undergraduate programs that allow students to study creative writing:
The Associate of Arts with Major in Creative Writing is a two-year degree in which students take a minimum of five creative writing classes, along with several related literature and communications classes. Students take introductory courses in fiction, poetry, and screenwriting, and then choose two advanced courses from the following: fiction, poetry, screenwriting, or nature writing.
The Major in English with Concentration in Creative Writing combines our literature-focused English Major with a further specialization in creative writing. Students in this program take a minimum of 10 literature classes and five creative writing classes. Students in this program who are interested in further study of creative writing may also be eligible for the MFA Creative Writing Transition Program.
Can I take graduate courses in English or Creative Writing as an undergraduate?
Students who qualify may apply for the MA English or MFA Creative Writing Transition Programs. These programs allow students to take one or two graduate classes while still undergraduates. The classes will count as undergraduate electives.
What is the Capstone requirement, and what can I do to prepare for it?
All English majors must complete LIT 498, the English Capstone class. You do not need to take this as your last class, but you must have completed at least eight other upper division LIT courses before enrolling in LIT 498. In LIT 498 you will develop a research project on a literary topic of your choosing and work on it over the course of eight weeks to produce a 4500-6000 word (about 15-20 page) work of original scholarship. You can do two things to prepare for the course. First, as you take courses in the major, consider possible topics: if you encounter works, authors, or literary problems that you find particularly interesting or would like to spend more time with and learn more about, these might make good capstone project topics. Second, work on your writing. Review all feedback you get from instructors and fellow students on your writing and try to apply that feedback in subsequent writing. Take advantage of National’s small class sizes to work directly with your instructors. Don’t be shy! You will find NU faculty happy to work with you individually to help you meet your goals.