Through sustained practice in reading, writing, and discussion, students of English and writing develop critical literacy for a digital age. Our programs foster enduring habits of mind, such as intellectual curiosity, thoughtful analysis, a playful imagination, an openness to change and uncertainty, and a passion of literature in its myraid forms. The English and writing majors at Drake are highly customizable programs that allow you to tailor the degree to fit your interests, career goals, and lifelong aspirations. Our programs invite you to create and explore literary and cultural representations across a variety of genres and media, including literature, linguistics, film, drama, comics, and new media.

Faculty members in the English department are award-winning writers, researchers, filmmakers, artists, and editors whose work has achieved regional, national, and international recognition. So, you'll be learning from experts whose work connects them to a variety of journals, publishers, producers, cultural venues, and media outlets.

The experience you gain as a critical thinker and effective writer as an English or writing major will help you advance your career goals. Students can prepare themselves for a wide range of professions in writing and analysis by taking part in Drake's Writing Internship Program, working as a tutor in the Writing Center, working for the Drake Community Press, or serving on the editorial staff of Periphery—Drake's award-winning arts and literary magazine.

With an English major, you'll have the option to explore other areas of interest throughout  the University. The English department encourages students to pursue interdisciplinary concentrations, second majors, and minors. A number of the department's courses are cross-listed with interdisciplinary programs, facilitating such study. In addition, the English major will allow you to count related courses taken outside the department for credit toward your major.

The English department offers international study seminars in the United Kingdom, India, South Africa, and France. Moreover, students of English and writing are able to spend a whole semester abroad, studying literature, language, and culture in places like Australia, Argentina, and Italy. Many of our majors teach English in China as part of the University's Chinese Cultural Exchange Program during the year after graduation.

Teaching and Learning

Learning experiences in the English department—including traditional courses, independent study, research assistantships, and internships—are distinguished by collaborative, interactive, and lively engagement with texts, contexts, peers, and mentors. You'll develop close relationships to your professors and peers alike even as you learn to know yourself better and to understand the many ways you relate to the world around you. Whether you are hiking the moors of England in search of the Hound of the Baskervilles or working your way through an essay by Ta-Nahisi Coates, you will find your literal and metaphorical horizons broadened. Throughout your time in the English department, you will challenge yourself to read widely, think deeply, and express yourself with nuance and elegance, and you will be able to count on the support of your faculty and peers along the way. As an English or writing major, you will establish friendships and professional relationships that—like the wisdom and knowlege you gain—will last you a lifetime.

Careers and Internships

Simply glance at the world around you, and you will see how much of it is composed of writing of all kinds: stories, novels, and poems, of course, but also advertising copy, editorials, news writing, instructions, descriptions, analysis, and documentation. Effective writing and critical literacy are central to any career or calling where communication, persuasion, and collaboration are essential, including politics, legal studies, management, teaching, medicine, and public relations. The programs in English and writing also prepare students to succeed in graduate school in English, creative writing, cultural studies, law, and related fields. 

As an English major, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in Drake University’s Writing Internship program. You’ll work closely with a Drake adviser as well as a supervisor throughout the experience. Typical job responsibilities include grant writing; research; editing; overseeing social media; conducting interviews; and writing for publications, newsletters, brochures, and more.

Our community partners include:

  • The Above + Beyond Cancer Foundation
  • The Des Moines Symphony Academy
  • Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation
  • State Historical Society of Iowa
  • Young Women's Resource and Action Center
  • Alzheimer's Association
  • Polk County Health Department

Student Organizations/Programs

Many English and writing majors participate in Periphery, our award-winning, student-run art and literary journal. All students may submit creative works for consideration in the journal, and students can also work as editors in the Periphery staff. We also encourage students to take part in judging the Drake Emerging Writing Award and to submit their writing to the Payton James Freeman Essay Prize. The English department hosts the Drake chapter of the international English honor society Sigma Tau Delta.

The English department, with funding from the Center for Humanities, hosts the Susan Glaspell Writers and Critics series of readings, lectures, workshops, and classroom visits by noted writers. Recent visitors have included: Dana Johnson, Keetje Kuipers, George Saunders, Cole Swenson, Judith Roof, and Alison Bechdel.

Additionally, Drake Writer's Night is an occasional community event that invites Drake students, faculty and staff, and local writers to campus to share recent work. 


Course Requirements

Courses offered in the English department include: Adolescence in American Literature, Reading Shakespeare, Detective and Crime Fiction, Reading and Creating Comics, Literature of War, Autobiography and Memoir, Film Noir, the Salem Witch Trials, and Transcultural Literature.

The English major requires 36 credits: A lower-division common core of 15 credits (five classes); 12 upper-division requirements (four courses); and nine elective credits (three courses), at least six of which must be taken at the upper division. English majors specialize in one of four upper-division tracks: Culture & Identity; History & Traditions; Theory & Criticism; or Film, Drama & New Media. Especially self-motivated students can work with their advisers to create an individualized upper-division track.

For more information on faculty and courses, visit the department page at www.drake.edu/english.