Students on campus

Program Description 

The English major includes four tracks, each of which entails a minimum of 22 credit hours of upper-division coursework. Each track advances students’ skills in writing and analytical/creative thinking, deepens their understandings of the major developments in literature written in English, and strengthens their competence in applying critical methodologies to a wide range of literary and cultural artifacts. The major thus contributes to the education of the whole person. Studying literature and writing sharpens the skills necessary to succeed in the workforce and, as importantly, those skills needed to build a fulfilling life. Students leave the program ready to read anything and explain what it means and why that matters, able to adapt their writing to any new context, and empowered to see the world as their text to analyze, understand, and impact.

Learning Outcomes 

Graduates with an English degree will:  

  • Value the study of literature as the basis for a lifelong enjoyment of literary works, a spur to social engagement, a perspective on the diversity of human experience, and a guide for making ethical choices in their lives
  • Demonstrate an ability to function as close readers and critical thinkers by applying higher-order thinking skills to the analysis, interpretation, and critique of texts 
  • Demonstrate skill in writing by generating and focusing ideas, by maintaining audience awareness, and by exhibiting formal competence 
  • Make relevant connections between texts and contexts such as history, the cultures of science and politics and religion, literary theory, and other art forms 
  • Apply research skills, including integrating sources purposefully and gracefully into their writing 

Prospective Students 

Current Students 


  • English Club and the English Honors Society, Sigma Tau Delta, bring students together for activities ranging from presenting their literary analysis at national conferences to holding marathon readings of Harry Potter to judging local poetry slams. 
  • Similarly, the English Department publishes the University’s two literary journals, Rockhurst Review and Rockhurst Reader. Students have the opportunity to develop their editorial skills by evaluating submissions, soliciting writers, editing accepted work, laying out the journals, and publicizing them on campus, across the city, and internationally through social media. 
  •  As director of the Midwest Poets Series, Dr. Elizabeth Barnett brings to campus the very world-renowned poets that her students read in her creative writing classes. The Midwest Poets Series thus offers English majors the rare opportunity to meet and discuss poetry with famous poets. Dr. Charles Kovich runs the Plays-In-Progress Workshop, which brings contemporary playwrights to campus for a staged reading, by Rockhurst students, of their works-in-progress. English majors thus see literature as it is being made, which makes it easier for them to see themselves as makers of literature.  
  • The English department also helps students connect the analytical and ethical skills they build in their English classes to our Jesuit mission. English department chair Jason Arthur is Rockhurst’s liaison to the Kansas City Race Project, which brings together local high schools to learn the history of race relations in Kansas City and discuss how to improve those relations in the future. Rockhurst English students serve as mediators of these challenging, transformative conversations. 
  • All English majors are required to take Advanced Composition, where Dr. Dan Martin teaches them not only how to write beautiful sentences but what they can do with their English majors after graduation. At the end of each semester, Dr. Martin invites English alums from a variety of professions to visit the class, giving students advice and valuable contacts in the real world. 
  • Our resident education specialist, Dr. John Kerrigan, connects students to teaching opportunities across the city and the globe. Dr. Laura Forsberg, our newest faculty member, comes fresh from Harvard and the Huntington Library. In addition to making the Victorian era come alive for our students through her inventive pedagogy, she gives them practical advice on successfully navigating academia.


An English major provides students a foundation for careers in a wide range of fields, including:

  • Teaching 
  • Writing  
  • Print and online journalism 
  • Copywriters 
  • Lawyers 
  • Editors 
  • Paralegals 
  • Digital content managers or specialists 
  • Website developers 
  • Social media managers 
  • Marketing consultants 
  • Human resources specialists 
  • Public relations specialists 
  • Account representatives 
  • Fundraisers