About The Program
As an NSU English Major, you'll learn to write clearly, read critically, connect ideas meaningfully, understand diversity, relate historical context to human interactions, and see others empathetically. Northern's English program is structured to help students tailor their major to suit their needs. Each student chooses from several program emphases, each of which prioritizes different skill sets and content to suit students’ own career goals.
NSU's English degree pairs well with other specializations, and students are encouraged to take minors, or even to double major in areas such as history, business, political science, and art design.
Many English majors go on to earn master's degrees in education or business. Explore NSU's graduate programs to learn more.
- Students interested in an English B.A. with literature emphasis prepare themselves for post-graduate ambitions that include law school and graduate study in English (in pursuit of the M.A. or Ph.D. in English). At Northern, this emphasis includes extra surveys in British and American literature as well as training in literary theory and an elective literature course.
Creative Writing (BA)
- Students interested in an English B.A. with a creative writing emphasis may focus on at least two of three creative genres: non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. This emphasis also includes instruction in literary criticism and an additional survey of British literature.
- Students interested in the Teaching Emphasis within the BA degree in English prepare themselves either for the teaching they are likely to be called upon to do as graduate students in English (in pursuit of the BA or PhD) or for tutoring or teaching that does not require state certification. This emphasis includes coursework in linguistics (modern grammar), rhetorical theory, and additional surveys of British and American literature. Students wishing to earn a state-certified teaching degree should consider the English B.S.Ed. degree instead of the B.A.
Teaching English as a Second Language (BA)
- Students interested in the Teaching English as a Second Language Emphasis within the BA degree in English prepare themselves for teaching English either in the U.S. or abroad to students coming to English as their second language. This emphasis includes linguistics coursework (modern grammar, second-language development, and methods of teaching English as a second language) and cultural anthropology. Students preparing for careers in this area may also wish to pursue NSU’s twelve-credit Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.
Professional Writing (BA)
- Students interested in an English B.A. with professional writing emphasis prepare themselves for business-oriented careers that include advertising, publicity, and grant writing. This emphasis includes coursework in graphic design, HTML, grant writing, and rhetorical theory. Students wishing to pursue a career in professional writing may wish to consider NSU’s minor in Professional Writing and Rhetoric, which may be taken along with the B.A. in English or any other four-year program.
Media Studies (BA)
- Students interested in an English B.A. with media studies emphasis receive interdisciplinary instruction in writing, design, programming, and marketing - skills that are in demand in the evolving world of media and media production. Courses offer theory and hands-on practice, teaching students to create content and reflect upon media while acquiring skills in communication, problem solving, planning, designing, writing, editing, producing, and collaborating. Career options include journalist, web content manager, advertising or public relations representative, art designer, news analyst/producer, production assistant, broadcast programmer, editor, publisher, and teacher.
- News reporter, writer, editor, lawyer, marketing and public relations specialist, business owner, human resource specialist, web designer, university admissions consultant, sales representative, academic adviser, librarian, teacher, and college instructor
- News reporter, writer, editor, lawyer, marketing and public relations specialist, business owner, human resource specialist, web designer, university admissions consultant, sales representative, academic adviser, librarian, teacher, college instructor, artist, broadcaster, entertainer, administration and sales
– Educator, teaching English as a second language in the U.S. or abroad, employee development or training specialist, interviewer, education administrator, personnel specialist, public relations specialist, sales representative, media relations representative, non-profit administrator or educational consultant - Students wishing to earn a state-certified teaching degree should consider the English B.S.Ed. degree instead of the B.A.
Teaching English as a Second Language
- School educator, adult educator, employee development or training specialist, interviewer, education administrator, personnel specialist, public relations specialist, sales representative, media relations representative, non-profit administrator or educational consultant
- Technical writer and/or editor, medical writer, science writer, publications specialist, media and marketing associate, editorial assistant, copywriter, research assistant, reporter
- News reporter, writer, editor, lawyer, marketing and public relations specialist, creative writer/copywriter and editor, fiction and nonfiction writer/editor
For more information on careers in your major or help choosing a major, contact NSU Career Services.
NSU's English program supports career readiness through internships that require students to apply their skills in the workplace. A three-credit internship is required of all English majors.
Internship requirements vary based on the chosen emphasis.
Potential internships include tutoring in the NSU Writing Center; co-editing the English Department’s student-run literary publication, Northern Lights, or The Exponent; the NSU student newspaper; assisting in communications and publicity at an area business or volunteer agency; working with regional marketing firms; tutoring in the NSU Writing Center; assisting an English faculty member in the delivery of a literature or writing course; writer/copy editor at the hometown newspaper; grants assistance at the university; public relations for the community theater; or web design and archival work in a museum.
“I knew after graduating high school that I wanted to pursue degrees in both English ed and musical theatre. Once I started looking at colleges, however, I saw a lot of schools that had a great program in one or the other, but not both. Northern, on the other hand, had a fantastic education program as well as a fantastic theatre program. I originally thought that I wanted to attend a larger university, but by attending a smaller school like Northern, I have had opportunities that I never would have gotten at a larger university such as bigger and more challenging roles in theatre productions, and most recently the experience of directing my first show. These types of hands-on experiences throughout my curriculum have challenged me, but also pushed me way more than I would have been pushed at a university with a more lecture-based curriculum. In my year and a half here, I have already noticed an exponential change in everything from my writing to my acting. Northern has been a perfect fit for me and I can’t imagine attending anywhere else.” – Judah McKinley, Pierre #beNORTHERN #unleashYOURpotential #NorthernStateU
Dr. Lysbeth Em Benkert arrived at Northern State University in the fall of 1995, one year after receiving her Ph.D from Washington State University.
Her specializations include rhetorical theory and early modern literature, including Shakespeare. She also teaches creative writing. In addition to her academic scholarship, she has published original poems in a variety of literary magazines and a chapbook titled #girl stuff (Dancing Girl Press, 2018).
Ph.D. in English and American Literature, University of South Carolina, 2020
M.A. in English, Gannon University, 2009
B.S. in English/Secondary Education Track, Towson University, 2001
After teaching in the eastern and southwestern U.S., Dr. Kristen Brown joined Northern's faculty in 2022. Her approach to teaching, learning, and research is interdisciplinary, guided by a conviction that a foundation in the humanities provides fertile ground for other academic disciplines to connect and animate each other in innovative, impactful ways. While earning her Ph.D. in American literature and completing a postdoctoral fellowship, she designed and taught courses focusing on indigenous and environmental themes in composition and literature courses.
M.S. English Education, Northern State University
B.A. English, Northern State University
Vicki Evans, a Northern graduate, teaches English and directs NSU Tutoring Services. Her graduate thesis focused on composition and rhetoric, and she holds an emphasis in teaching English as a second language.
Second language learners.
B.A., Benedictine University
M.A., University of Northern Colorado
Ph.D, University of South Carolina
Dr. Ben Harley joined the Northern faculty as an assistant professor of English in 2018. His work focuses on rhetoric and composition - ways in which humans create and circulate texts in order to persuade and be persuaded. Many of his courses focus not only on creating persuasive texts but also on critically and ethically engaging with traditional and new media. His research largely focuses on public rhetorics, both digital and traditional, with his most recent work focusing on how the material nature of sound intimately affects bodies and can be used to create diverse communities. He has published in an array of scholarly journals, including …
Dr. Pen Pearson is a professor of English at Northern. Pearson also advises Northern Lights, Northern’s student literary magazine, and mentors high school English teachers in Northern’s Rising Scholar program.
Her novel about Edwardian poet Charlotte Mew, Bloomsbury’s Late Rose, was published in 2019 (Chickadee Prince Books). Dr. Pearson has also published two books of poetry: Trespass to Chattel (Atomic Press) and Poetry as Liturgy (Mellen Poetry Press). Her current project is a memoir about her late father.
“Crafting Strangeness: Wonder Terminology in the Exeter Book Riddles and the Anglo-Latin Enigmata.” Review of English Studies 69.289 (2017): 201-15.
“The Riddle of Beauty: The Aesthetics of Wrætlic in Old English Verse.” Modern Philology 114.3 (2017): 457-81.