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Earn A Degree In Communication Arts and Literature Education English - Discover. Engage. Lead.


About the Program

English plays a critical role in contemporary society, both as a tool for understanding and creating culture and as a means of communicating in the professional world beyond graduation. Students who major in English will develop their abilities to recognize and prefer good literature, to respond to written works intelligently and sensitively, and to create a variety of texts of their own. Careers open to English students include secondary and higher education, publishing, technical communication, public relations, journalism, law, and business.

Facilities & Services

Well-equipped computer labs across campus provide students with computing resources that support writing and electronic research. Students also have access to e-mail and the Internet via our Macintosh and PC labs. The SMSU Writing Center, an on-campus facility staffed by student employees, offers prospective teachers the opportunity to work first-hand with students seeking help with their writing skills.

The McFarland Library gives students access to research, books, and other materials needed for every class. Plus it has many online movies and CDs for borrowing. It is also a great place to study alone or with classmates in private study rooms. English majors have their own lounge, the Holm & Dacey Lounge, which houses a lending library of books and literary magazines. All English majors are encouraged to join the English Club. Campus residents may opt to live in the Fine Arts Community, the home for all English, Speech, Theatre, and Art majors.

English Student


The English Program provides many opportunities for students to gain additional experience outside the classroom. SMSU’s student literary and arts journal ( Perceptions) and the student newspaper ( The Spur) provide practice and expertise for students interested in participating in such activities as part of their career training. Many nationally known writers visit SMSU for readings and events such as Marshall Festival and the Visiting Writers' Series. Students also have the opportunity to work in the Writing Center, where they tutor other students on their writing, and in the process sharpen their own communication and teaching skills. Mentorships allow students to work one-on-one with faculty on writing, teaching, and research projects as early as their freshmen year. Students who intend to become teachers participate in numerous regional junior high or high school related activities under the auspices of the Education Program. Student teaching placement may be local, but for those who are interested, opportunities to student teach in metropolitan or suburban areas are also possible. International student teaching is an option.

The one-on-one interaction with talented and knowledgeable professors was invaluable. The opportunities that I had at SMSU are something I could never experience at any other university, which has made all the difference to my education and professional growth.

Neil Polzin LIT major, Class of 2011

Majors in this Program

English with Creative Writing Emphasis

The Creative Writing Program balances writing practice and literary study in the context of a liberal arts education. Students work closely with our faculty of published writers and often have the opportunity to work with other renowned writers as part of the SMSU Visiting Writers’ Series. The flexibility of the program allows students to choose courses which suit their needs, goals, and interests. Specific courses are chosen by students with the advice and approval of their advisors and the Director of Creative Writing. Senior creative writing majors are required to enroll in the one-credit Senior Portfolio Workshop during the Fall Semester of their final year. SMSU has a long tradition of teaching creative writing. Our professors are actively publishing in their chosen genres. Our workshops and literature courses will strengthen our students’ writing abilities and bring them closer together as classmates.

An English with Creative Writing Emphasis Major should...

  • should read a broad spectrum of classic and contemporary literature;
  • have experience writing fiction, poetry, personal essays, and/or dramatic scripts.

English with Literature Emphasis

Writing and literature courses broaden students’ communication skills, as well as their general cultural and aesthetic awareness. The program offers a full range of American, British, and world literature classes. Ample attention is also given to modern and contemporary literature and living writers. The English Program faculty actively publish books, essays, stories, poems, and articles.

Mentor scholarships allow students to work one-on-one with faculty on writing, teaching, and research projects. Many nationally known writers visit SMSU for readings and events, such as the Marshall Festival. All English majors are encouraged to join the English Club. Campus residents may opt to live in the Fine Arts Community, the home for all English, Speech, Theatre, and Art majors.

An English with Literature Emphasis Major should...

  • possess strong grammar and writing skills;
  • have strong reading skills and a broad reading background;
  • have advanced writing and reading classes from high school that include Shakespeare and other major contemporary American, British, and world writers.

Communication Arts & Literature Education, English

The English Program at Southwest Minnesota State University offers the Communication Arts & Literature Education, English (CAED) major leading to Minnesota licensure to teach English. Courses in the CAED major are intended to prepare students to teach English and Speech in grades 5-12. Courses offered by the English Program focus on preparation for the effective teaching of language arts, literature, and composition.

A CAED Major should...

  • possess strong grammar, writing, and reading skills;
  • have taken college prep courses in writing and reading;
  • have been involved in the high school newspaper, drama, forensics, and/or the yearbook;
  • have a wide background in reading, especially in the classics, such as Shakespeare and more contemporary American and British writers.

Professional Writing & Communication

Students become flexible and ethical writers and communicators through the Professional Writing and Communication (PWC) major. Faculty in the Professional Writing and Communication Program are committed to working together to provide students with a liberal arts education that is enhanced with practical experiences such as internships and service learning opportunities that prepare students to earn a living as writers. The major is cross disciplinary in order to give students the tools to communicate in writing, through graphics, and orally.

A PWC Major should...

  • have taken high school prep classes such as advanced writing and reading classes;
  • have been involved in high school activities such as the newspaper, drama, forensics, or the yearbook;
  • possess strong grammar and writing skills;
  • have strong reading skills.

Placement Opportunities

Our graduates have found jobs throughout the country and world (e.g., Germany, Sweden, and Iceland). Their job titles are listed below.

  • Advertising Designer
  • Author
  • Copy Editor
  • Copywriter
  • Director of Communications
  • Domestic or International Teacher
  • eCommerce Marketing Director or Assistant Director
  • Editorial Assistant
  • Journalist
  • Manager of Internal Communications
  • Manager of Social and Digital Media
  • Managing Editor
  • Paralegal
  • Professional Writer
  • Quality Assurance Editor
  • Social Media Specialist
  • Technical Writer
  • Web-based Training Developer

Contact Information

English Program - Office

BA 221, Southwest Minnesota State University
1501 State St.
Marshall, MN 56258

Continuing Education Opportunities

  • Law School
  • Medical School
  • M.A. in Creative Writing or Technical Writing
  • M.A. in Medical Writing
  • M.A. in Education with English Emphasis
  • MBA
  • Post-baccalaureate Certificates in Various Fields


  • Complete Application
  • $20 Non-refundable Application Fee
  • Official High School Transcript(s)
  • ACT or SAT Test Scores

Schedule Your Visit Today!


  • Rank in the upper half of graduating class
  • or
  • Score a composite of 21 or above on the ACT or 990 on the SAT

Last Modified: 4/10/24 2:09 PM | Website Feedback