Career Opportunities

What can you do with a bachelor’s degree in English?

At Mount Mercy, we recognize that this is the question on everybody’s minds: studying English is fun, but what kind of job can you actually get with an English degree?  That is why Mount Mercy has one of the few English programs specifically designed to help you answer that question.

Starting as early as their sophomore year, Mount Mercy English majors receive explicit career preparation throughout their academic careers from activities such as career panels, internships, and job shadows.  Plus, the size of our major enables students to easily complete second majors and minors that will make their English major even more marketable, and our faculty work individually with students to figure out the double-majors and minors that will best help them accomplish their professional goals.  This ensures that our English majors are better prepared to find a job after graduation than students in most English programs.

Because of this, Mount Mercy’s English majors recognize that an English degree is more than a literature degree.  Our English majors not only learn about great books, but they also become great critical thinkers, problem solvers, writers, and communicators through their English classes.  These skills are highly sought after by employers and recruiters in a wide variety of fields, which is why many feel that English majors are the hot new hire for a large number of jobs, even if they have little or nothing to do with literature.

Everybody knows that English majors can become successful writers, teachers, publishers, and editors, but did you know:

English majors are lawyers – students with English degrees are frequently among the highest scorers on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), and the research, writing, communication, and analytical skills they gain by studying literature enable them to do well in law school and forge successful legal careers

English majors are public relations professionals – businesses and organizations are always looking for people who can effectively communicate their message and promote their brand to the public. That’s why they frequently look to English majors, whose writing, communication, argumentation, and storytelling skills enable them to persuasively shape their employers’ image in a wide variety of print, electronic, and social-media forums.

English majors are business professionals – successful businesses need employees who can think critically and logically to craft effective business proposals and communicate them persuasively to their target customers. For this reason, businesses in a variety of fields love to hire English majors that possess the analytical and communication skills that can help them tell their story more effectively to the consumers they want to reach.  Also, for people wishing to pursue their Masters in Business Administration (MBA), the communication, writing, and critical thinking skills English majors gain by analyzing literature help them score highly on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) and greatly prepare them for successful careers in marketing and finance.

English majors are doctors – the same analytical and problem-solving skills that enable English students to thrive on the GMAT also help them succeed on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) and perform well in medical school. Also, English majors can weigh multiple perspectives against each other to arrive at an effective solution. These creative analytical skills improve their ability to make effective diagnoses and treatment decisions.  Plus, their study of literary characters improves their ability to see the world from other people’s perspectives, which better enables them to treat their patients compassionately and improves the quality of care their patients receive. Angira Patel best sums it up:

Studying the humanities helps students develop critical-thinking skills, understand the viewpoints of others and different cultures, build a capacity for empathy, and become wise about emotions such as grief and loss.  These are all characteristics that define a good doctor.

The same is true for nurses – just like doctors, nurses need to be effective communicators and critical thinkers to be able to work through difficult problems, make quick decisions, and deliver information effectively to their patients. As Pamela Giles puts it:

we need nurses who can think through problems, not just remember information. And the wonderful thing about joining nursing education with a liberal arts education is that the combination produces a health professional who can quickly think through and make sound clinical decisions, and then communicate them to the patient, their families and other health professionals in a way that everyone understands. There are several ways these kinds of things can be taught in nursing courses; but in order to really be effective, we have to build on knowledge the student has gained outside of nursing.

So, if you’re planning on pursuing a nursing degree at Mount Mercy, studying English can help you succeed as well!

So what can you do with a B.A. in English?  Contrary to popular belief, you can do whatever you want with an English major, and Mount Mercy’s English program is best designed to help you capitalize on that.

For more information on the career opportunities for English majors, you can visit:

MMU’s English Program Career Page – our university website has more information about the career preparation our program provides and our students’ history of professional success.

MMU Busse Library’s English Library Guide – contains more information on the job possibilities available to English majors.

Dear English Major – a fabulous website that provides a host of advice to aspiring English majors and features interviews with people who’ve used their English degrees to land a variety of rewarding jobs.

Liberal Arts Life – another fantastic resource to learn about the importance, practicality, and affordability of a liberal arts education.