English Major classroom with students

English Major

Our English major fosters adaptability, crucial in today’s job market, wherein creative thinking, effective communication, and artful uses of language are in demand.

Students encounter a wide array of literature including fiction, poetry, drama, and nonfiction from around the world and throughout history. This leads to an understanding of how literature reveals the complexity of human nature and expression. Students develop critical thinking skills, conduct research, and learn to write well in a variety of genres. You will also develop your critical and creative thinking skills, conduct original research, and learn to write effectively in a range of expressive modes.

Alumni Profiles

Read about graduates from our English program.

What Sets Us Apart

Bethany’s English program offers noteworthy advantages:


English students at Bethany benefit from both small class sizes and an excellent student-to-faculty ratio. In upper division and general education classes the number of students in a classroom rarely exceeds 25. In fact, most upper division classes average between eight and fifteen students.

Because of our close community, students get to know each other very well and experience strong camaraderie with their professors. Our students create informal and formal cohorts that study, read, and write texts together, and share challenges and breakthroughs. As a result, the discussion of texts, ideas of authors, and responses and viewpoints of students is more personal and meaningful than in larger classroom settings.

Academic Advising

English majors work closely with an English faculty professor who acts as their advisor during their time at Bethany. Required coursework, elective options, internships, and professional and graduate school goals are all primary topics our majors discuss with their advisors on a regular basis. Even more significant, however, are the opportunities in advising sessions to have one-on-one discussions regarding specific reading and writing questions and theoretical debates and issues.

Graduate School

Many English majors are interested in careers in writing, publishing, teaching, or related professions that require an advanced degree in reading, writing, critiquing, editing, and other communication skills. Bethany graduates have completed graduate degrees in literature and writing at Princeton, Harvard, Wake Forest, the University of Maine, Marquette University, and Minnesota State University—Mankato.


Juniors and seniors may request enrollment in ENGL499 English Internship, for academic credit upon successful completion. Recent graduates have completed internships at newspapers, publishing houses, law firms, and historical societies.

Options on campus include working on the literary magazine or newspaper, as well as working in the Writing Center as an Assistant Coordinator.


Capstone Courses

English majors in all three tracks enroll in ENGL493 Senior Seminar I, followed by ENGL494 Senior Seminar II.

Students select one of the two options.

A. Thesis Option: Students conceive, research, write, present, and defend an original, substantive, and rigorous analytic essay. The essay is based on a close reading and analysis of literary and theoretical texts.

B. Creative Text Option: Students produce, present, and explain a creative work in any genre. The creative work is accompanied by a self-reflective consideration of the craft, method, and processes used in the creative production.

Both options result in a significant credential for inclusion on one’s resume. Graduates with an essay have submitted their essays with applications for graduate school and employment. Graduates with a creative work have additionally expanded their texts larger works for publication.

Examples of Senior Thesis Papers:
  • The Truth Behind the Lies: Why Research is Important to Creative Writing
  • Creating a Legend: The Ingenuity of Linguistic Design
  • Friendship in Young Adult Literature
  • POW!  Creating and Using Graphic Novels to Trick Students into Reading (and Even Liking) Shakespeare
Examples of Senior Creative Works:
  • The Orichalcum Campaign
  • Neriya
  • Train Dance
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Graphic Novel

Recent Department Events

A Conversation and Reading With…

Inkwell organizes and hosts the “Conversation and Reading With…” series, which brings published authors to Bethany’s campus, to discuss and answer questions about their experiences and writing processes, as well as to give readings from their works.

All students at Bethany are invited to attend these events to gain knowledge from leading authors in Minnesota. The speakers provide students with an inside look at their profession and offer advice about how best to prepare for entry into the job market.

Speakers have included Candance Black (English Professor at Minnesota State University—Mankato),  Michael Torres (Author), Nicholas Kaminsky, (History Professor at Bethany Lutheran College), and Geoffrey Herbach, (English Professor and Screenwriter at Minnesota State Univerisity—Mankato).

21-Day Writing Challenge

Inkwell sponsors an annual writing challenge open to all students, with prizes awarded to everyone who completes the challenge.

Participants receive optional daily writing prompts. They then write and submit electronically at least 400 words every day.  Students select their genres.

Contact for more information

English Faculty

For more information, visit the English Department page.

Opportunities for Involvement

Writing Center

The Ada Stokes Writing Center, managed by the English Department, helps BLC students grow as independent critical thinkers and writers. Tutors offer support in the areas of academic essay writing, creative writing, cover letter writing, resume writing and graduate application writing. The center is staffed with friendly and effective tutors who are dedicated to the writing process, including understanding assignments, brainstorming techniques, thesis statements, topic sentences, source integration techniques, drafting, revising and editing.

Bethany Student Publications

Visit our Student Publications page to learn more about opportunities for English majors to participate in the Inkwell (literary magazine), Scroll (newspaper), and Fidelis (yearbook).

English Honor Society

Sigma Tau Delta is an International English Honor Society. A member of the Association of College Honor Societies, it was founded in 1924 at Dakota Wesleyan University.  Over 800 active chapters are located in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and the Caribbean, with more than 1,000 faculty sponsors, and approximately 9,000 members inducted annually.

Sigma Tau Delta’s central purpose is to confer distinction upon students of the English language and literature in undergraduate, graduate, and professional studies. Sigma Tau Delta also recognizes the accomplishments of professional writers who have contributed to the fields of language and literature.

Alpha Rho Tau

Local chapters, like Bethany’s Alpha Rho Tau, provide cultural stimulation on college campuses, promote interest in literature and the English language in surrounding communities, foster all aspects of the discipline of English (literature, language, and writing), promote exemplary character and good fellowship among its members, and serve society by fostering literacy. Explore the benefits of membership on the Sigma Tau Delta website.

Membership Criteria and Application Process
  • Students must be currently enrolled at Bethany Lutheran College and have completed at least three semesters of college course work, ranking in the top 35% of their class overall (cumulative scholastic record).
  • Students must have completed a minimum of two college courses in literature or writing beyond either ENGL100 and ENGL101, or ENGL110, and beyond the general education required literature course.
  • Students must have a minimum of a 3.0 average in English.

Students who meet the above criteria should complete and submit a Sigma Tau Delta Membership Application to one of the faculty advisors (Dr. Lars Johnson or Dr. Robert Hanna). The application is then reviewed for approval. If approved for membership, the student must submit Sigma Tau Delta’s required membership fee, for processing with the application.   There are no annual or other dues.

English Major Requirements

Note Bethany’s Program Requirements Disclaimer when planning your course work.

Mission Statement

The English major at Bethany Lutheran College provides students with opportunities to think critically and creatively; to situate, interpret, and criticize written and other types of texts in American, British, and world literature; and to generate texts of their own in a variety of media across a wide range of expressive modes. This major stresses the formal elements of texts and examines social, historical, philosophical, and political contexts that inform authors, works, literary movements, and the production and circulation of discourse.

Bethany’s English major emphasizes reading, writing, and interpretive skills. As a student in this program, you will encounter a wide array of literature. You will learn to interpret texts through research, analysis, and discussion. Most importantly, you will come to appreciate a more complex and expansive view of how literature reveals human nature, especially from the Christian perspective.

Students select from three different English major tracks: the Literary Studies track, which emphasizes the historicizing and theorizing of texts (this track requires a minor or concentration); the Multimedia-Writing track, which stresses the production of texts in a variety of media; and the Minnesota Teaching Licensure track, which is for those students who seek state licensure in Communication Arts and Literature for grades 5–12.
The following learning outcomes and entry requirements apply to students in all three English major tracks.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Students are able to adjust their use of spoken and written language to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  2. Students are able to comprehend and create written and multimedia texts.
  3. Students demonstrate basic cultural literacy of the eras, genres, and historical events pertinent to particular course content, and can identify correctly allusions, excerpts from particular works, and works written by key authors, as well as exhibit a foundational knowledge of literary terminology.
  4. Students can respond to and ask insightful questions about texts and answer those questions analytically.
  5. Students are able to apply theoretical perspectives to their interpretations of texts.
  6. Students exhibit familiarity with the databases, archives, and scholarly sources common to the discipline, and regularly gather and apply the data contained therein, using an appropriate citation format.

Bethany’s English major prepares students for graduate studies and careers in writing, editing, journalism, publishing, and others. Our graduates demonstrate superior comprehension, decision making, research, and writing skills that are highly valued by employers and are also suited for careers in the fields of marketing, public relations, management, and business administration.

Please see the Program Requirements Disclaimer when planning your course work.

Entry into the Major

Students who major in English select one of three tracks. In order to be admitted by the English Department, students must first meet the prerequisites of passing the following courses with at least a “C” for the Literary Studies track and the Multimedia-Writing track, and with at least a “C+” for the Minnesota Teaching Licensure track.

Both of:

Literary Studies Track

Students pursuing the Literary Studies track are required to take the following courses.

All of:

Two of:

Three electives not already taken above, with a maximum of one course at the 200 level:

Required Minor or Concentration

English majors in the Literary Studies track must also fulfill the requirements for a minor or a concentration (excluding an English minor and an English concentration). This requirement does not apply to students who (1) major in the English Multimedia-Writing track, (2) major in the Minnesota Teaching Licensure track, or (3) complete a second major in another approved academic discipline.

Multimedia-Writing Track

Students pursuing the Multimedia-Writing track are required to take the following courses (a minor or concentration is not required).

All of:

One of:

Two of:


Students in the Multimedia-Writing track also create and develop a cumulative portfolio.

Minnesota Teaching Licensure Track

Students who seek state licensure for secondary level (grades 5–12) teaching of Communication Arts and Literature are required to consult an academic advisor in both the English and Education Departments. Minnesota Teaching Licensure track students are required to take the following courses and earn at least a C+ in those designated with an asterisk(*) (a minor or concentration is not required):

Additional requirements for all students completing the English major’s Minnesota Teaching Licensure track at Bethany Lutheran College:

  • Maintain a 2.75 GPA
  • Pass two Minnesota Teacher Licensure Exams: MTLE: Either Pedagogy K–6 or 5–12, and MTLE: Subject matter/content 5–12 English.
  • Complete the Human Relations/Diversity Component
  • Complete all courses required for Minnesota State Licensure
  • Satisfactory completion of Teaching Internships and Seminar
  • Satisfactory completion of Professional Portfolio
  • Proof of completion of Adult and Child First Aid/CPR/AED

Note: An appeals process is outlined in the Education Department’s Elementary and Secondary Education Handbook. According to Minnesota Statute 122A.09 Subdivision4(c), a candidate who remains unsatisfied with a dispute regarding recommendation for licensure may appeal the decision to the Minnesota Board of Teaching.

Bethany Lutheran College Education Programs are accredited by the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB).

Next Steps

Interested in majoring in English at Bethany? Schedule your campus visit today, or learn more about becoming a Bethany student.