English majors at Central gain a strong academic background that prepares them for careers in law, medicine, business, teaching, music, architecture, publishing, library science and many other fields. Many students choose to go on to graduate school, and the English faculty are prepared to assist with guidance and letters of recommendation.

The English department offers a flexible curriculum that is easily paired with other majors and prepares graduates thoroughly for professional life and advanced degrees in a wide array of disciplines. By studying language with respect and rigor, English majors cultivate two of the most essential habits of successful people: self-reflection and empathy for others.

Central hosts award-winning writers, including National Poet Laureates and Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners
full-time English faculty are active scholars, published writers and have significant international experience
English majors have interned at the British Parliament and at London magazines and publishing houses

The Central Difference

Academic Quality

We know the study of literature and creative writing produces agile professionals. Central College English graduates have thrived in fields as diverse as journalism, architecture, business management, education, law, medicine, public administration and library science. Our English majors cultivate essential skills of successful people: self-reflection and empathy for others.

Follow the Leader

Experiences at Central have helped Parker Majerus ’20 become a leader on campus.

Portfolio Review

Our English faculty guarantee personal and thoughtful mentorship of student writing. When students declare an English major, we request a portfolio of at least three papers demonstrating critical reading and mastery of style. Majors submit a second portfolio in their senior year to be approved for graduation. English faculty meet to discuss portfolios and return detailed feedback to each student on strengths and areas for improvement in his or her writing.

The combination of individual attention from professors and the collective opinion of the English department helps our majors understand their writing process and grow more reflective about ways they may continue to improve.

Writing Outside the Curriculum

The English department offers a number of opportunities for students to serve, study and write outside of the classroom including, service learning through the Writing for Nonprofit Organizations course, internships with literary magazines, newspapers, state governmental offices and local and area hospitals and businesses, independent studies in various fields including poetry writing, literary criticism and travel writing and earning practicum credit while team-teaching lower-level courses.While abroad, English majors can study Shakespeare and contemporary theater through the yearly offerings of the Royal Shakespeare Company in London, Welsh heritage, language and literature in Wales or explore internships in Chicago in writing, editing, publishing and teaching.

Off-Campus Experiences

Central students can study off-campus — both internationally or domestically in the United States. These opportunities give students the chance to prepare to be global citizens, equipped to compete in the global job market. Students can check out experiences led by Central faculty or attend select academic programs across the world that provide opportunities for study, service, internships and other types of experiential learning. Options include experiences in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Central America, Ghana, England, the Scottish Highlands and more.

Central College student

Beyond Central

Putting the “Hire” in Higher Education

  • Emma Chervek ’21, Reporter, SDxCentral Corporation
  • Matthew Dickinson ’21, Sports Editor, Tipton Conservation and Advertiser
  • Brooke Jansen ’18, Correspondence Specialist, Pella Corporation
  • Gerrit Visser ’17, Pella Printing, Customer Service Representative
  • Kaylee Micu ’15, Account Manager, Mudd Advertising
  • Kelly Spavin-Silvermintz ’13, Library Events Coordinator, University of Kansas

Two Central College Students Named Gilman Scholars

Lily Bardwell ’25 and Veronica Johnson ’26 received the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships to study in Murcia, Spain, during Spring 2024.


  • REaD: Creative Writing Magazine
  • Writing Anthology (outstanding writing from across the curriculum)

Graduate Placement

Central English majors have recently attended graduate school at:

  • Bowling Green State University, Ohio
  • London Metropolitan University
  • University of Washington, Seattle
  • Iowa State University
  • Indiana University, Bloomington
  • Minnesota State University
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Minnesota


Students with internship experience have a proven track record in a professional environment, which often leads to employment after graduation. Central also offers distinctive internship experiences for English majors studying in Chicago, Washington, D.C., or London. Recent internships include:

  • Writer/editor, The Iowan magazine
  • The British Parliament, London
  • National Archives, Washington, D.C.
  • One Iowa, Des Moines
  • Marketing assistant, DeMarquette Chocolate Makers, London
Central College student

Courses & Faculty

English majors usually begin with the introductory course The Literary Imagination, with surveys in English and American literature, and with courses in genre and issue studies, such as Nature Writing and Environmental Literature, Literature by Women, African and Caribbean Literature, Illness and Health in Literature and Readings in Poetry. Students take two courses in advanced literary studies, one linguistics course and a course in advanced writing. English majors are encouraged to explore courses in history, philosophy or other disciplines, as well as competency in a modern foreign language. The major culminates with the senior seminar, a capstone experience which usually features a detailed look at the work of a single author.

Writing is also an essential part of the English program, and students choose from an array of courses in Short Story Writing, Poetry Writing, Personal Essay, Literary Journalism, Travel Writing and Writing for Nonprofit Organizations. The English major with an emphasis in writing is designed for students who want to couple literary and linguistic study with intensive work in creative or professional writing.

Learn more about this discipline in the course catalog.

Meet the Faculty

  • Valerie Billing, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of English
  • Lance Dyzak, B.S., M.A., Ph.D., Lecturer of English
  • Linda Laine, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., Professor of Communication Studies
  • Kate Nesbit, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of English
  • Mary Stark, B.S., M.A., Ph.D., John and Anna Poole Endowed Chair in the Humanities and Professor of English

Sample Coursework

First Year

  • The Literary Imagination
  • British Literature I
  • Survey courses in American and British literature
  • Genre and issue studies courses

Sophomore Year

  • Literature by Women
  • Illness and Health in Literature
  • Survey courses in American and British literature
  • Genre and issue studies courses

Junior Year

  • Studies in 19th or 20th Century Literature
  • Travel Writing
  • Linguistics course
  • Off-campus experience

Senior Year

  • Shakespeare
  • Advanced literature course
  • Seminar in literary studies


Learn More

Want to find out more about English at Central? Contact us to learn more about this discipline and our other strong academic programs.

Visit campus to observe classes and experience The Central Difference firsthand.


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