The Major


To be eligible to declare a major in English, the student must have completed:

  1. at least 30 units
  2. the L & S Reading and Composition requirement
  3. two major requirements: English 45A or 45B, and one of the following: English 45A, 45B, 45C, or Shakespeare.


To declare a major in English, students will need to see the Major Adviser. Students who have taken all coursework towards their major at Cal do not need to bring anything with them; students who are articulating coursework from other universities should confirm that their transcripts are uploaded to CalCentral (Under "My Academics" the Transfer Credit Report should show all of your coursework. If full transcripts are not available on CalCentral at the time, please bring an unofficial copy of your transcript with you.) After reviewing the coursework with the Major Adviser, students will fill out a Major Record Card and be declared in the major. After that, English majors should meet periodically with an adviser to monitor their course of study.



The English Major consists of no fewer than 12 courses, of which at least 7 must be upper-division courses. Students majoring in English are expected to complete the majority of their coursework within the department.  Transfer courses and extra-departmental coursework as defined below should constitute no more than 5 courses total.  To graduate with a degree in English, a student must achieve at least a 2.0 GPA in:  a) all work undertaken at the University of California (all campuses), b) all courses required for the English major, and c) all upper-division courses in the English major.


The following 6 courses are required of all majors and must be taken for a letter grade:

Four Foundational Courses:

One Pre-1800 Course:

One Seminar Course:

Only English 190 or H195A/B will satisfy the Seminar Requirement.


The remaining 6 courses are elective:

Six elective courses in the English Department; an elective course is any four unit course in the English Department*. These are courses that you take based on your personal interest in the study of English. Two of the 6 elective courses for the major may be taken P/NP.  The P/NP option in English is subject to the regulations set forth in the L&S Announcement.

*Please read the “Additional Information” on page 3 for possible exceptions for electives. All exceptions must be approved by a Major Adviser and noted on your major record card. Also, please keep in mind that a minimum of 7 out of 12 of your major requirements must be upper-division; this means the majority of your electives, if not all, will be upper-division.

Please note: The English Department has one Commencement Ceremony a year in the spring semester. Students who complete their major and university requirements are eligible to participate in this ceremony. There is an additional University-wide Ceremony in the fall and spring should students wish to attend. Commencement information is on-line at: /commencement/.




Supervised Independent Study. A student may use a total of four (4) units of independent study as one of the 6 electives required for the major. The four units need not be taken in a single course. Independent Study courses are taken on a P/NP basis only. Independent study courses are subject to the regulations set forth in the L&S Announcement.

Internships. Students wishing to receive academic credit for an internship must coordinate with an English Department faculty member who agrees to sponsor an Independent Study course (99/199) based on the internship. Students should provide the faculty member with official documentation from their internship employers. Credit is based on completion of a critical or creative work on a topic related to the internship. No more than two units will be awarded per internship. Please note that students must register for Summer School Session C for summer internships.

The options below are provided for enrichment and flexibility, not to replace regular semester courses within the department.  Students approved to use two or more courses toward the English major from education abroad programs will not be permitted to count additional upper-division coursework from other UCB departments.  With the exception of two UCB English Department summer courses, all of the following must be approved by a Major Adviser and recorded on the student’s major record card:

Summer Session Courses. Two 4-unit Summer Session courses taken at UCB may be counted toward the major, one of which must be taken through the English Department. One of these courses may be taken at another institution with approval.  This includes courses taken through an education abroad program.  Courses taken through the English Department at UCB during summer session do not require Major Adviser approval.  For courses taken elsewhere (or outside the department – see below), students must petition for approval by providing documentation, including a course syllabus and a transcript showing the completion of the course.  A course taken elsewhere during the summer may only satisfy an elective for the major.

Courses taken outside the department. With the approval of a Major Adviser, students may count up to two upper-division courses in departments other than English for the major.  Only one such course may be taken during the summer.  Students will submit a Petition for Approval of a Course Taken Outside the Department; this form can be found on the counter in the English Department Advising office, 319 Wheeler Hall.  The student’s request for course approval will include a course syllabus and a compelling intellectual rationale, one that explains how the student’s work for the English major will be enriched through the inclusion of the particular outside course the student wishes to include.  There is no pre-approved list of courses.  For possible courses outside English, consult the listings for Anthropology, Celtic Studies, Classics, Comparative Literature, Ethnic Studies, History, Linguistics, Philosophy, Rhetoric, Women’s Studies, etc.

Education Abroad Programs. A faculty Major Adviser determines credit toward the major for coursework completed through an Education Abroad Program on a case-by-case basis. Students must meet with a faculty adviser once they return to UCB and provide documentation (e.g., course descriptions, syllabi, completed exams, papers, and other written work) to demonstrate that the education abroad course is comparable in coverage, rigor, and substance to a UCB upper-division course.  This could include up to 2 education abroad literature courses in a foreign language.  Although there is no official limit on the number of courses transferred from education abroad programs, generally two courses will be counted easily.  Closer scrutiny will be given to subsequent course work.  Only one summer course taken abroad may be approved for use toward the major.  Although the Major Adviser determines the number of courses approved for use towards the major, the College of Letters and Science makes the final determination of unit credit for any and all courses taken abroad.



On-line and Extension Courses. Only one UC Berkeley Extension or on-line course may be counted toward the major. No UC Berkeley Extension or on-line course may be used to satisfy a core requirement for the major: 45A/45B/45C (or their upper-division equivalents), Shakespeare, the Pre-1800 course, or the seminar requirement. To count toward the major, UC Berkeley Extension or on-line courses must be comparable in coverage, rigor, and substance to department courses. Students seeking to count a UC Extension or on-line course toward the major should submit course materials and other relevant documentation to an English Department Major Adviser or to the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Course Equivalents for 45A, 45B, & 45C. With approval and in consultation with a Major Adviser, the 45A-B-C requirements may be satisfied by substituting for each course two appropriate upper-division courses. To meet the 45B and 45C requirements, one course equivalent must be in American literature and one must be in British literature in the appropriate historical periods. Any and all courses used to satisfy the 45A, B, & C requirements must be taken for a letter grade.

Additional Exceptions. With the approval of a Major Adviser, additional exceptions to the English major requirements may be approved. These exceptions must be noted on the student's major record card with the signature of the approving Adviser. Exceptions are only granted for circumstances based on documented student needs and goals.

Department of English
322 Wheeler Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-1030
Main Office: (510) 642-3467
Fax: (510) 642-8738

Chair of the English Department:
Steven Justice

Director of Undergraduate Studies:
Oliver Arnold

Undergraduate Adviser:
Katie Schramm
(510) 643-3771

Course descriptions can be found each semester in The Announcement of Classes. It is available on-line one week before enrollment begins for the upcoming semester. Creative Writing (fall and spring) and Honors Course (in spring only) applications are available at the same time and a link for them can be found within the description for each course.


All students should meet with an Adviser in the College of Letters & Science, as well as an English Department Major Adviser. The information on this handout refers only to the requirements for the English major. Be sure to consult an L&S Adviser (in 206 Evans Hall) about fulfilling all College requirements (Reading & Composition, Quantitative Reasoning, Foreign Language, Seven-Course Breadth, unit and residency requirements). For information concerning completion of University and Berkeley Campus requirements, please contact the offices listed below:

College of Letters and Science
206 Evans Hall

Entry-Level Writing
112 Wheeler Hall
(510) 642-5570

American History & Institutions
120 Wheeler Hall
(520) 642-5006

American Cultures
120 Wheeler Hall
(510) 642-2264